Two weeks ago I lived on boiled eggs and raspberries. No, it’s not a new fad diet I’m trying! I was at scout camp all week and my choices were pretty limited. You may have noticed I’m not a 12 year old boy or a male leader, so what in the world was I doing at scout camp?? Well, that story started 8 years ago.
My husband was asked to attend an adult scout training called Woodbadge, and he hated to leave us all behind while he played in the mountains for a week. So we found a camp in Idaho that allowed him to do the training while we all played with groups of kids and adults at the camp. It was amazing, and we have been fortunate to help organize and run the same type of camp here in Utah called Family Odyssey with WoodBadge.
Fun on the mountain
To attend the camp, you either need to have an adult being trained, or you need to have an adult on the family camp staff. Because we’ve been involved from the beginning, we get our pick of staff jobs, and we pick the best! We were the leaders of the 14-17 year old group and we had 23 of them to play with all week. We had a blast! (see the photo – it is of the cardboard canoe we built for a race – complete with a full mouth of shark teeth!)
I have lots of stories about all the fun we had, but the bigger deal for me was the food. They actually have a special diets cook that comes to this camp to help out problem people like me. He is great and works very hard, but his job is simply to try and make scout camp food edible for those with food sensitivities. He substitutes gluten and dairy free alternatives for the standard camp fare, but it’s still scout food.
I was on the second week of my Summer Fat Flush, so I was not supposed to eat any grains, starches or beans (wheat, rice, corn, potatoes, beans, even gluten free grains). Well, that was interesting. Some of the meals were nothing but these foods (baked potatoes with beans). Thankfully I had anticipated this issue so I brought a big bag of boiled eggs knowing they would keep through the week, and I had purchased a big tray of raspberries. So I would bring a baggie with two boiled eggs to every breakfast, and some mornings that was my meal. Then midday I would fill a cup with raspberries and eat those as a snack. If not for those two things, and the very sparse salad bar at lunch and dinner, I would have starved!
The gluten and dairy free alternatives I was offered are the perfect examples of what I promised to write more about. Instead of preparing foods that don’t contain gluten and dairy naturally, we think we have to make modified versions of everything that resemble the foods we are no longer eating. Thus the very money-driven gluten free food industry. And I’m sure I’m not the only one that thinks these versions mostly taste awful!!
First of two emails about gluten
So this is the first of two emails I’ll write about gluten. In this first one, I am going to talk about why I think so many of us are suffering from a gluten sensitivity. In the following email I will talk about strategies to eat gluten free that won’t break your budget or have you choking down wanna-be versions of your favorite foods.
For thousands of years, people made bread and other baked goods the same way – through fermentation with natural yeast. They used a pre-fermented yeast starter to leaven their bread. This yeast is slow rising, and often times these breads would rise for 8-24 hours before baking. That is when the magic happened. There are 5 things this fermentation process does to the wheat or other grains:
- Increases lactic acid. The lactic acid in the natural yeast breaks down phytic acid on the grains and makes a healthier bread. There is another long email devoted to phytic acid that will come later, but for now, know there is an anti-nutrient on the outside of grains called phytic acid. This makes a lot of the nutrients in the grain unavailable to your body. Lactic acid fixes this problem for us.
- Predigests the starches. The bacteria and yeast in the starter predigest the starches and make them more digestible for you.
- Breaks down gluten. The long soak and rise time breaks down the gluten into amino acids which makes it more digestible.
- Preservative. Along with the lactic acid, acetic acid is produced. This inhibits the growth of mold and preserves the bread naturally.
- Better blood glucose (sugar) regulation. Sourdough bread causes lower blood glucose levels. And this lasts through a few meals. So you don’t spike and crash and don’t need food again quickly. The worst bread for your blood sugars – traditionally made wheat bread (isn’t that interesting).
In the mid 1900’s rapid rise yeast was created. Listen up moms out there. Instead of taking 2 days to make a loaf of bread, you could now go from flour to bread in 3 hours or less. Amazing! And all our grandmothers jumped on board with two feet for this modern day marvel, ditching their sourdough starters for something much easier.
When are we going to learn easier is not always better?? Well, in this case that is absolutely true. Without that long rise period, the gluten in the wheat is not predigested, and there is much more for our bodies to handle. Thus the sensitivities. I do make a slow rise spelt or Kamut bread (two gluten containing grains), and I’m fine with it. Thank goodness some of that knowledge is still around.
The second reason is that gluten (wheat) is now in everything. You realize this when you start avoiding it. Did you know that the #1 ingredient in soy sauce is wheat?? I guessed it was soy, but I was wrong. We are meant to have grains as the “staff of life”, but are they supposed to be in every food that we eat? I don’t think so! And of course none of that filler wheat has been fermented to make it more digestible. Double whammy!
The third reason has to do with the changes in the wheat itself in the last century. I’m going to let Green Smoothie Girl walk you through this one because she doesn’t mince words:
“The problem isn’t with wheat in its original form. It’s with hybridized grains. A few generations ago, industry began hybridizing our wheat in order to increase protein content and make “better” bread. Many experts are calling what now masquerades as food “FrankenWheat.” Dwarf wheat, the genetic result, bears little resemblance to what your great-grandmother baked in her bread. Your great-grandmother’s wheat had 14 chromosomes. Yours now has 28, causing the body to produce antibodies to fight inflammation, and causing celiac disease and gluten intolerance….
Long story short, the gluten, or protein, in wheat, is now so altered that it causes all kinds of auto-immune problems in human beings. There are several other problems with wheat now. According to Dr. Mark Hyman, M.D., our hybridized wheat, even “whole grain,” not only contains a “super gluten” that causes gut inflammation, it also contains a starch that causes you to gain weight and a chemical drug to make you crave more.
The gluten-free label is now on a million different products all over North America. Ill-educated Americans often believe that “gluten free” means “good for me.” Nothing could be further from the truth. Gluten-free products are usually full of corn syrup, sugar, chemicals, hydrogenated fats, and not much of nutritional value.
Sure, wheat is referred to as the “staff of life” in the Bible. But 2,000 years ago, mankind had not yet started to alter Mother Nature.”
So, should you avoid wheat? That depends on what wheat you are talking about and how you are handling it. I know how difficult it is to avoid gluten in our world today. I’ve been doing this awhile. But I also know there are strategies to maintain your health while enjoying food as well. Stay tuned for next week – that’s when I’ll talk about how to make this happen for you and your family!
Dr. Michelle Jorgensen
This information is not meant as medical advice. It is provided solely for education. Our American Fork, Utah dental practice would be pleased to discuss your unique circumstances and needs as they relate to these topics.
Total Care Dental – Avoiding Wheat
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