In the restaurant trade, we are confronted with more and more allergies and special dietary requirements these days. Part of this is awareness of how different foods affect us, part of it is greater sensitivity of diagnostics for people who actually have a medical condition, and part of it is just a food fad.
So, why the sudden increase in gluten intolerance in the past 50 years? Experts have given the following reasons as potential causes (courtesy of Three Bakers):
- Wheat grain has been altered to provide crops that are more resistant to drought and bake more easily. Our stomachs, however, have not adapted as quickly to these changes. We are eating more wheat products now than ever before.
- Damaged gut flora or dysbiosis is also on the rise due to the high usage of antibiotics or consuming food that we can’t digest. The immune system may see the undigested gluten particles as a microbial invader and attack them.
- Our environment has become much cleaner over the past 50 years. This means, to some scientists, that our clean and sterile environment has made our antibodies not able to fend off so many bugs and infections. As a consequence of this clean environment, our bodies overreact to any items that should be harmless. Wheat and peanuts are the common culprits in these studies.
- Our constant use of diets has led to vitamin-deficiency. This interferes with the body’s ability to suppress immune cells. Therefore, diets suppress the body’s immune system which then overreacts to gluten particles.
- Genetics may also play a part, though somewhat smaller than others. Diseases are a combination of genetics and environmental factors. So, people react differently to changes in external factors.
There is another reason which was published on the Real Farmacy, which states that the wheat harvest protocol in the United States is to drench the wheat fields with Roundup several days before the harvesters work through the fields. This is because withered, dead wheat plants are less taxing on the farm equipment and allow for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest.
This practice is not just widespread in the United States either. The Food Standards Agency in the United Kingdom reports that the use of Roundup as a wheat desiccant results in glyphosate residues regularly showing up in bread samples. Other European countries are waking up to to the danger: in the Netherlands, use of Roundup is completely banned with France likely soon to follow.
When you read the back story to these pieces, you often see that when people eat natural produce (like when the husband ate natural wheat in the Real Farmacy article), they don’t usually suffer as they do when they eat the processed, mass-produced items sold in grocery stores.
“I can’t eat wheat, but I want to eat wheat so make me something so I can pretend to be like everybody else.”
That’s good for people in the business of selling you some other, probably even more processed, foodstuff to substitute your bread. But is it good for you in the long run?
Gluten for Punishment
I have to wonder why we actually need to invest so much money on ‘gluten-free’ products just so the people who are (for whatever reason) able to feel like they are like the rest of the population and eating something that is pretending to be wheat.
Look Ma, this pizza base is made from cauliflower!
How cool is this, a gluten and dairy-free chocolate cake! I feel so decadent. Shame about having to use almond powder as a substitute to wheat, neh?
Nothing to see here. Just dipping my gluten-free bread into my hummus. Everything’s normal. Move along.
We get asked in our restaurants if we serve gluten-free bread. Guests suggest that we start to serve it when in reality there are only a very small number of people who actually ask for it.
Our menu has over 90 dishes on it, all freshly made without additives. You know — proper healthy food. A guest can substitute a selection of crudités for a basket of bread. But it’s not good enough for some people. I am told I simply must serve gluten-free bread, make some of the dishes without gluten, basically change my menu to suit a minority of guests when there are still dozens of options available since Lebanese food is considered one of the broadest and healthiest tables you can eat at.
When you really look at it, there are so many different food types available today, and more and more healthy and fresh options are coming into supermarkets, so why do you need to substitute one processed thing for a processed alternative “just because.” After all, it was processed things that got you to this point in the first place.
Eat a healthy diet. Choose the right, natural foods. Enjoy life. And, please, stop asking me to mess around with the food that Nature provided.