Gluten-free means avoiding the diverse group of proteins lumped together as “gluten.” Being gluten-free means avoiding foods that contain either gluten proteins or other proteins that cross-react (immunologically) with glutens. This includes modern wheat, spelt, and kamut; barley; rye; and oats (though variable).
The gluten-free movement is expanding rapidly. In fact, analysts are predicting that the gluten-free food industry will boom to $5 billion by 2015.
The unfortunate situation this has created, however, is that it leads people to believe that, if they are not gluten-sensitive, there is no benefit to eliminating wheat. Wrong. Flat wrong. It would be like avoiding venturing into the bad part of town because the pizza there isn’t as tasty–there are plenty of other reasons not to go there.
What is in modern wheat beyond gluten? The biggies:
1) Gliadin–Gliadin is a subfraction of gluten. Even if you are not gluten-sensitive, continued exposure to wheat means you are still exposed to the unique and plentiful gliadin proteins that have emerged from the genetics laboratories, the gliadin that is a very effective appetite stimulant. Eat wheat: get hungry, eat more. Gliadin explains why we have all-you-can-eat lunch buffets and why overweight athletes.
2) Amylopectin A–This is the highly-digestible carbohydrate that accounts for wheat’s high-glycemic index and ability to increase blood sugar higher than table sugar or candy.
3) Lectins–The wheat lectin, wheat germ agglutinin, that is resistant to digestion in the human intestinal tract, is the protein that “unlocks” the normal intestinal barriers to foreign substances. Not everything that goes in your mouth should have access to your bloodstream, so intestinal cells are designed to be selective in allowing or preventing various components in foods to be absorbed. Wheat germ agglutinin disables this selectivity, allowing all manner of foreign substances to gain entry. This is why wheat consumers have more inflammatory and autoimmune diseases like type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, and inflammatory bowel disease.
You might not be gluten-sensitive, but you can still get fat, become diabetic, get arthritis, cataracts, acid reflux, irritable bowel symptoms, and lose emotional control from consuming wheat.
Wheat elimination is not just for gluten-sensitive. It’s for everybody.