An observant mom reached out to me with a thought-provoking question. Having removed gluten from her child’s diet, she noticed obvious positive changes in behavior. Her query yields an answer that webs many ways.
“If gluten should be fine why does it seem to affect [my child] so much?”
In short, GLUTEN IS FINE! That is, gluten as God designed it is fine. Gluten that is in ratios unnaturally created, gluten that is sprayed with glyphosate (Click here for details), gluten that is doused with bug and weed poisons (yikes!), gluten that is contained within products comprised of genetically modified ingredients… That GLUTEN IS NOT FINE!
Lest I appear double-minded, allow me to explain.
Broadly interpreted, man interfered with what God called good – in this case, grain – and morphed it into something not so good. Today’s flour products – whether organic, conventional, sprouted, etc. – have a significantly larger quantity of gluten than a freshly milled flour. This is readily seen when reading ingredient lists on packaged foods as ingredients are listed in order of quantity – large to small. Gluten is usually toward the top of the ingredient list, as shown here: third ingredient.
(Please, please, please don’t eat bread like this! It’s pitiful!)
Extra gluten extends the shelf life of bread, enabling commercial bakeries to crank out and sell more loaves.
We, as Westerners, are spoiled to expect hyper-fluffy, super-soft baked goods which – you guessed it – are the result of adding more and more isolated gluten to the baking flour. This addition of gluten upsets the original God-designed ratio of bran, germ and endosperm to the misunderstood and maligned, gluten.
Here are approximate protein contents for common types of flour (1):
- Bread Flour: 14 – 16%
- All-Purpose Flour: 10 – 12%
- Pastry Flour: 9%
- Cake Flour: 7-8%
Varying gluten quantities are desirable for certain recipes
To achieve the light, airy structure of cakes, only a little gluten protein is required. To form the dense, chewy structure of bread, a larger amount of protein is needed to generate more gluten formation. Gluten creates structure and determines the final texture in your baked goods. Make sense?
Grains with a low protein content will generate less gluten while grains with a high protein content will generate more. The levels of gluten in freshly milled grain vary from those depicted above, depending on the grain used. For example, Hard Red Wheat is a high gluten grain that makes an excellent loaf bread while Soft White Wheat is a lower gluten grain useful for cakes and cookies. Kamut is in the middle of Hard Red and Soft Wheat as far as gluten content, and is a versatile grain that performs well as a sandwich bread or in a dessert recipe! The amount of protein in various grains explains why certain recipes do best with certain grains.
Our gastrointestinal systems were perfectly designed to digest proper, inherent ratios of protein, bran, germ and endosperm tucked away instead the grains God made! Gluten, bran and germ ratios as found in whole, freshly milled grains are the natural ratios our bodies were created to digest without problems. It’s the manipulation of these ratios and most specifically, the larger amount of gluten, that can be quite a chore for our (commonly somewhat compromised) digestive tracts to assimilate.
Is gluten free “the fix”?
Could it be going gluten free cleans up a child’s diet to the point parents observe improvement? Absolutely!
BUT HOLD ON ONE SECOND!
In attributing gluten elimination as the sole cause for positive changes, though, I depart from views commonly held by professionals in my field. Let’s be pragmatic! Anytime you trade salad for donuts, there will be benefit! Gluten isn’t the main problem. Chemical laden foods, a chemical laden home, poor eating habits, sugar, over use of antibiotics, a struggling intestinal microbiome, stress and fear, nutrient deficiency…these things are! I’m trained in nutrition, but I’m first a follower of Jesus (who actually had much to say about bread).
JESUS TAUGHT US THAT BREAD IS GOOD!
He ate it. He told parables about seeds and sowers. He compared Himself to bread and even incorporated it into a Holy Sacrament of the Christian Faith, The Lord’s Supper. Jesus wants you to eat the food He’s provided for you in peace.
There’s no need to feel angst over whether or not you choose gluten free. The conclusion of the matter is to seek God’s perspective FIRST and FOREMOST, and to do so with a teachable, peaceful heart.
Consider studying the Bible to find God’s opinion about food. You very well may discover His perfect insight regarding your dietary choices. As I did, you may recognize a need to realign your beliefs about food so that they honor and obey the Bible. After all, God cares about every detail of your life…even food!
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks, it will be opened.” Matthew 7:7-8 MEV
With love and butter,