Is Gluten Really Evil?


Fresh Loaf of Homemade Bread

 

The awareness of gluten in the general public stems from a combination of the low-carbohydrate diet movements and the publicity surrounding celiac disease, which is a hereditary autoimmune disorder. People with celiac disease mount immune responses to gluten when they eat it... and that inflammation damages the intestines. It occurs in roughly 1 in 140 Americans, and an estimated 2.5 million Americans are undiagnosed.

For just about everyone else, gluten is not a damaging substance. A whole wheat seed aka kernel is made up of bran, which is like the seed coat, germ, which is the tiny wheat seedling, and endosperm, which is the energy storage for the seed (the starchy part). Gluten is actually a protein that is found in the endosperm of the wheat grain.  It also occurs in spelt, barley, and rye. Gluten is what gives bread the capability of supporting the air bubbles that are made by yeasts, making it lighter, fluffy, and chewy.   

It is advisable to reduce the amount of processed or empty carbohydrate, such as bleached white flour, potatoes, or white rice that is in the diet in order to maintain a healthy weight. But whole grains, including wheat, do not fall into the category of white flour. Whole wheat, which retains the wheat bran and the wheat germ contains carbohydrate along with a great deal of beneficial protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which are desirable in a long-term dietary plan. Wheat germ, in particular, is packed with B vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids, phytosterols (which lower LDL's or “bad cholesterol”), and iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, selenium and manganese.

So go on and make whole wheat a regular part of a daily healthy diet plan. Wheat (including gluten) isn't a bad thing.  In fact, gluten is one of the components of the most common staple whole grains available to the western diet.  

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