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Should I go gluten-free?

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Mar 24, 2016

One of the latest food fads is the “gluten-free” craze. Should we follow this, or is it a pointless fad?

Should we keep eating wheat, which the Bible refers to as the “staff of life”? What if you love bread?

Are “gluten-free” foods worth your money? How do you avoid gluten?

After 20 years of watching and studying this movement, here are my comments about it in a short video. Let me know if you’ve given up gluten and how did you decide to do that? Do you miss flour and bread?

Here’s my “gluten-free” video! Enjoy the discussion and share your thoughts on gluten with us!

Posted in: Nutrition, Robyn Recommends, Whole Food

26 thoughts on “Should I go gluten-free?”

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  1. Stefanie Dawson says:

    Curious to know your thoughts on organic wheat products? Are they any better or still hybridized? I’ve only been eating organic & I don’t have issues but do try to keep it to a minimum because of the reasons you mentioned. I’m torn because it is a biblical food despite how it’s changed over the years but hasn’t all our food changed?

    1. Cat says:

      I love this question. Can’t wait to see the reply.

    2. Emily says:

      Organic wheat is nontheless hybridized. You need to go for one of the ancestors of wheat, emmer or einkorn. I’ve also heard that kamut and spelt are lower in gluten than the modern US wheat.

  2. Kristen S. says:

    I went gluten free about 5 years ago and it has helped my hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism tremendously.

    Here’s the key: you MUST replace gluten with real, whole, organic foods. Lots of green smoothies, fresh pressed juices and real food…organic pasture raised chickens and eggs and grass fed beef. Lots of organic veggies. You can’t (!!!) sub gluten for gluten free processed garbage from the grocery store (bagels, breads, crackers, etc)

    I think this is the real key with the gluten free fad. It’s about transitioning to real food.

  3. Julie says:

    Yes, I gave up gluten because I was diagnosed with celiac disease. This video has some great points in it and earlier in the video you did mention autoimmune diseases but when you spoke of celiac you referred to it as an extreme gluten intolerance when in fact it is a very serious autoimmune disease. Giving up gluten was not difficult for me because I was willing to do anything to get out of the extreme health crisis I was in. I completely agree with your thoughts on some gluten free packaged foods not being healthy for you. An oreo, whether it is a regular oreo or a GF version, isn’t a healthy food. Eating good clean food is what is best for our bodies for sure. While I know that this video was about gluten and not celiac disease, I have to say that all the discussions that combine the word gluten and fad make it so difficult for those of us with celiac. So many do not even believe it exists or understand just why we need to be so careful when it comes to cross contamination, etc.

    1. Karen says:

      I too would like to no longer see the word ‘fad’ with ‘gluten-free’ or ‘gluten’. It catches people to draw them in to a certain extent but I think its to the point where its become a gross dis-service to those with Celiac Disease. There was an NPR interview a couple years ago and the question was is the ‘gluten – free fad here to stay’ … I cringe when I hear or see that because most people don’t listen past that. The hybridized gluten is a time bomb and if it’s not organic, just ass glyphosate onto it … in buckets. I think Robyn did a great job communicating the issue in the short spurt, but to clarify that Celiac is a genetic predisposition to gluten intolerance, you must have the genetic markers, and that 98% who have it have not been diagnosed yet … hence the skyrocketing, Yes, I would describe it as gluten intolerance to the extreme. So much education needs to be done in this area as people are walking around with other autoimmune not knowing that it’s Celiac Disease without the gastrointestinal symptoms.

      1. Karen says:

        Sorry, I didn’t mean to swear! a – – = add 😉

  4. Naomi Roberts says:

    I have been gluten free for 3 years, after coming down with a life changing diagnosis of colitis. I also have Hashimoto’s and adrenal issues. My autoimmune system was a train wreck. When I eat gluten my colitis symptoms return. It is painful and very inconvenient.

    When people tell me now that they are going gluten free, I tell them that is not easy by any means. Not just to find food, but how people look at you when you say you are gluten free. But if it helps worth whatever issues you are having, it is worth it. But, I think for many people it forces you to eat more whole foods, which is probably what helps the most.

  5. Emily says:

    First, would someone please give me chapter and verse for “bread is the staff of life”? I’ve looked for it off and on over the yrs, and never been able to find it.

    Second, I recently did some of my own research on this, and found that people who have been diagnosed with Celiac in the US, then gone to Europe and eaten wheat bread/baked goods there, were able to consume those products with ZERO symptoms. Why? The Europeans don’t hybridize their wheat! They also tend not to use yeast, instead using sourdough or similar methods as leavening agents.

    This is why, btw, going on a “Mediterranean Diet” in the U.S. could actually be very unhealthy, b/c the pastas and breads here contain much more gluten than they do over there.

    1. Blaine says:

      I was looking for this comment (: I have a close friend with Celiac who is religious about a gluten free diet in the US. When she travels to Italy, however, she can eat pasta and basically what she pleases. I am not educated on the hybridized wheat issue and always thought it was something tied to the GMO issues we have here. At any rate, I do think whatever we’ve got going on here in the US is what’s causing the issue and not “glutens” in general. I guess US glutens are bad glutens because European glutens seem fine – at least for my friend (I completely understand that an n of 1 does not “gospel” make – so, this is just an observation). Cheers

    2. Robyn says:

      Emily, yes, I mentioned that in the video, that in Europe, since the grains aren’t hybridized, many “gluten intolerant” Americans find that they have no reaction to even their white/processed-grain bread. And of course, they don’t use the quick-rise yeasts, which contribute to gut issues and candida overgrowth here in the U.S. (Probably there, too, but maybe not as much since they don’t have the hybridized grains.) That said, although I’ve read the same things you say, there’s so much international commerce, it’s hard to imagine that we aren’t all buying the wheat from all over the world.

  6. Kristen says:

    Then there is also the issue of phytic acid. That too makes grains hard to digest. (Same with seeds and nuts) The solution is to soak these first before consuming. If you want to eat bread, make it homemade with a natural yeast start. (Do not use commercial yeast.) This natural yeast, is a lactobacilli bacteria that will eat/break down the gluten. While it feeds, it releases carbon dioxide and this is what rises the bread. It rises/soaks for several hours (16 hours or more overnight) and at the same time the phytic acid is neutralized making the whole wheat (or any grain for that matter) a ton better for you by releasing the vitamins and minerals that are in the grain. Bread made with natural yeast where the gluten is broken down will not raise your blood sugar either – the lactobacilli loves to eat the carbs for you. People with gluten intolerance have eaten my bread and it does not bother them. (I also use wheat that has not been sprayed with glyphosate.)

  7. kallie says:

    I love your take on this and couldn’t agree more. I didn’t think I had any food sensitivities until I did your GSG 28 Day Detox, when I added foods back in I noticed some mild gut issues and sinus issues, it wasn’t severe, but it was obvious that something was causing my body to react. The 2nd time I did the 28 Day Detox I decided to take a longer time to add foods back in and narrowed it down to wheat/gluten and dairy. Over the past few years I’ve done a lot of work to determine what my exact issues are and finally found someone to work with to do the right tests. I have an autoimmune condition and taking out both of those foods has helped immensely. I’ve also done some DNA testing and discovered that I have the marker for Celiac, which doesn’t mean I have it, but now that I know, I’m certainly going to avoid foods that can flip that switch on.

    I also decided not to just swap out gluten or dairy containing foods for gluten free or dairy free items. Instead I focus on adding foods that naturally don’t contain these ingredients. The reality is they are usually in low nutrition foods or high sugar foods anyway. Since I’ve removed these foods I started to drop weight like crazy, I lost 20 lbs in about 3 months without calorie restriction or exercise, 1 week I lost 4 lbs. I started the process at a BMI of 26.5 which is overweight, now I sit at 22.9 which is solidly in the middle of the healthy range. It’s been 9 months and my weight hasn’t fluctuated more than 2 lbs without any effort. My waist has reduced by several inches. It is so obvious now if I eat something that causes inflammation because my waist will increase at least 2 inches overnight.

    If anyone isn’t sure eliminating this or any other food can make a difference then I strongly encourage you to do a food elimination diet and the GSG 28 Day Detox is a great one to try. I do encourage you to slowly add the eliminated foods back in 1 at a time. I would wait 3 days minimum before adding the next food, it can take a few days to notice a difference.

    1. Karen says:

      Yay! Congratulations! I’m so happy for you that you figured it out!!!

  8. Becky says:

    Thank you for this excellent video. Myself and three of my boys tested positive for celiac disease four years ago. Since then we have been gluten free. The biggest benefits I have seen is the elimination of one of my son’s chronic headaches, and all of us have also had a huge reduction in seasonal allergies (which is huge!! and awesome!! the allergies were really bad). However, going gluten free did not help my terrible eczema. My gut had been damaged enough that just eliminating gluten did not help that. I have just begun the GAPS diet in order to heal my gut, and after just one week, it is 50 percent cleared. So excited!

  9. Nancy A says:

    I am striving to go gluten-free and there are several reasons for this: 1) I have gut issues – when I eat yeast breads regularly I have terrible flatulence – it goes away when I stop eating products containing wheat; 2) I have had thyroid issues – I learned too late that people with thyroid issues also usually have issues with wheat – this I did not know until after my thyroid malfunctioned and I had it removed. 3) I’ve done muscle testing and wheat has tested as something I am sensitive to and 4) I am finding that wheat, along with peanuts and corn, is something that causes me inflammation – so much so that the joints at my shoulders and hips ache within days after eating it. I consider these 4 very good reasons to choose to take wheat out of my diet.

  10. Mary says:

    I found this interesting article by Jane Birch, including her research and thoughts about ‘gluten-free’ diets. http://discoveringthewordofwisdom.com/qas/food-sensitivities/

  11. Annette says:

    to Emily – look at Ezekiel 4:16 in the King James Version of the Bible. Also, in the Doctrine & Covenants (LDS scriptures)….look at Section 89:14 “All grain is ordained for the use of man…to be the staff of life…”

    I enjoyed this video very much, thank you GSGirl! One thing I would add is that in addition to being hybridized our grains (some of them) are treated with pesticides and herbicides. Also, our ancestors ate whole grains in abundance; however, they usually “prepared” them first. It is important to note that they usually soaked or fermented or sprouted the grains before making their breads, cereals, pancakes, etc. This is what the majority nowadays are failing to do; thus, our guts are suffering. WE NEED TO PURCHASE ORGANIC, PESTICIDE-FREE GRAINS–THEN PREPARE THEM before consuming !

    1. karahavertz says:

      Thanks for your insight Annette! Interesting to think about preparing them before consuming. I have Hashimoto’s and have struggled with the thought of taking out “the staff of life”. I am thinking I need to do a detox and then try introducing prepared grains to see how my body reacts.

  12. Nancy Elliott says:

    Can any one tell me if sprouted wheat is better for you? I just bought some wheat today and planned to sprout and grind to make bread. I also got some soft wheat to sprout and make rejuvelac. .What is yoour thoughts about that? I am currently recovering from an accident, resulting in surgery. I also have an auto immune disease.I started juicing and also continue with the green smoothies.

    1. It depends on whether it is ancient wheat or modern wheat. Ancient forms of wheat should be healthy for most people whether they are sprouted or not. Modern wheat in the U.S., even if it is organic and possibly sprouted should be avoided. People with celiac disease should avoid all wheat. I can eat ancient wheat but seem to have health problems on modern wheat.

      Sprouting can change the properties of grains, but there are times in the process when it is beneficial and times when it may be somewhat toxic. I am not an expert on sprouting but I do know that sprouting improves the the protein quality of some seeds and degrades it for others. There is a lot of misinformation floating around about sprouting in terms of protein quality as well as how many days it is necessary to wait after sprouting before it should be eaten.

  13. John says:

    My choice about a year ago was to go gluten free. It is as so many have chosen out of necessity. It is not a fad for me due to health issues and the chronic problems that have ensued. Regarding the comment of bread being the Staff of Life and a food from Biblical days this article covers the symbolism very well http://www.icr.org/article/staff-life/. Blessings and Happy Resurrection Day to you Robyn and all your followers.

  14. Margaret Napier says:

    Let me posit something to you, would you eat grass? Would you go out to your lawn and eat the grass? Most people would say no, but not all. OK, so would you eat grass seed? No, I wouldn’t either. I would like to suggest that it was a truly desperate ancestor in a truly desperate desolate famine that tried soaking and eating things like acorns and grass seeds – grains.

    I have been gluten free for over two years. I have known I should be gluten free for closer to three and a half. Hey, it’s hard to change. I no longer have any cravings for bread or wheat products.

    My advice to everyone is to go gluten free. My advice to everyone is to go cold turkey, no ‘I’m trying but it isn’t working.’

    Wheat interacts with your brain. It’s addictive, literally. After two to three weeks your chemical dependency on wheat will ease. After a little longer you’ll start noticing differences in things wheat shouldn’t effect like joint swelling (mentioned by others) mood improvement, gut improvement and a whole list of things.

    I want you – and everyone – to go gluten free. I am completely convinced wheat is harmful. I have one more challenge. After you have been gluten free for at least two or three months experiment with reintroducing just one serving.

    I believe more than half of all humans will have a negative reaction. It may be as simple as a bout of depression. Wheat causes or effects depression and anxiety. It may be more extreme, some gut issue or pain you forgot you always had. My body reacts to wheat as if wheat is a poison. Yours might not be so extreme, but seriously, do you really want to eat the lawn?

  15. Cindy May says:

    Great answer! I don’t eat any grains at all right now because of the fungal candida I’m fighting.But other than that I didn’t see any problems with it. Once I’m healthy, maybe I will stick away from gluten for the reason you mentioned: hybridization. Too bad. I feel like 100% stone ground wheat should be good for us. But it sounds like it’s not because it’s been hybrydized too. Is that right?

    And there’s no way to, I don’t know, grow your own healthy wheat or buy non-hybridized wheat?.

    1. Robyn says:

      Most wheat is hybridized, yes, but you might be able to buy heirloom seeds if you’re serious about growing wheat! If it’s not Kamut, spelt, or einkorn—I’d be 99 percent certain telling you it’s made from hybridized wheat.

  16. wpgz406 says:

    I had chronic gallbladder disease and lots of horrendous attacks, but they told me it was because I was fertile, fat, forty and ate too much meat (blind doctor at the time–I was 30, thin, and mostly vegetarian and my problems predated children), so I wanted to find out what caused the gallbladder problems before surgery. I worked at the 12 steps to whole foods for a year and nothing changed. In fact it got worse. I slept 10 hours a day and took two naps and was still always exhausted, I was terrified my small children would get injured when I was asleep, but I couldn’t stay awake. I had the surgeon’s number all ready to dial. I had been keeping a food journal for a year to help me kick sugar. One day my husband laughed at me for keeping a journal for a year and not analyzing it. So, I looked through it and circled the food I ate before the very worst bouts of exhaustion and found a match. I didn’t eat it very often, but over the year I had pretty much passed out after eating pizza three times in a row, the next worst thing was 100% whole wheat bread which I ate at least once a day. I googled pizza and sleepy and was overwhelmed by a plethora of articles on celiac disease. Apparently commercial pizza is gluten ENHANCED, which is why it is so chewy and yummy. I’ve been gluten free since that moment four years ago. My gallbladder got better right away and I easily got off sugar once the gluten was gone. I got pregnant right away (everything was working too well). It was my fifth and most amazing pregnancy. Although I was newly pregnant, I was no longer tired. I dropped all the naps and got down to about six-seven hours of sleep. All the discomforts I associated with pregnancy like gas, anemia, the runs, depression, mental fog, and gallbladder attacks were apparently gluten and sugar related, because I didn’t have them this time. Since then I have gotten back on sugar and lost a bit of energy and clear headedness, but gluten was really what caused the most immediate obvious damage and has motivated me perfectly. A few times the first year I tried gluten just to be sure it wasn’t in my head and my gallbladder would swell up and hurt for a few weeks, so I just stay away now. I read somewhere that in some celiacs gluten inhibits the production of the hormone that opens the gallbladder and signals satiety which rang true for me.

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