Selection of breads and pasta

Gluten free – let’s get real!

Gluten free – let’s get real!

I’m probably going to upset a few people with this blog post but I do feel that the whole ‘gluten thing’ is getting out of hand and to be honest it is really starting to niggle me! Every week I get a call from someone, who before any testing, has already decided that they need to have a gluten free diet. GLUTEN FREE is everywhere! Pick up any magazine, online, restaurants and shops. Supermarkets are even sending mail-outs encouraging you to try their new range.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat. It contains gliadin which is known to cause irritation to the gut in some individuals. Symptoms can include stomach cramps, diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and general fatigue. Those who are highly sensitive to gluten (celiac) will experience serious, long term health problems caused by this autoimmune inflammatory disorder of the small intestine.

I have been testing my clients for food intolerances for nearly 15 years and I would say that a very small percentage of them (no more than 15%) actually show to be intolerant to wheat or gluten. There are other foods that are far more common for sensitive individuals.

In general as a population, we eat far more wheat products than our ancestors did. We are over-eating this food type because it is easy and readily available. Take a look at your daily eating habits. Are you eating bread, pasta, biscuits, pastry and cereals every day? These high quantities are where the problems can begin.

If you are conscious of eating healthily, you should naturally choose less wheat. Many wheat products are highly refined, such as those made from flour, and can cause weight gain and fatigue due to poor blood sugar control. Personally, I enjoy baking with gluten free flour. It makes a really light and easily digestible cake. But everything needs to be in moderation.

I do feel that we need to let go of our obsession with gluten. The huge commercialisation of gluten intolerance sends out the message that this is now the norm. It gives nutrition a bad name!

So before you run out and invest in the cookbooks, the high priced ingredients and the ‘alternative products’, you might want to come and find out for sure if you really are gluten intolerant. Eliminating foods can be tricky, so why go through the hassle un-necessarily? Any dietary change should be seen as a short term therapeutic tool not your lifestyle forever. Many food intolerances can be overcome with the right nutritional advice and immune support.

jackie barber