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Yours in health: Is wheat and gluten really the enemy?

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Wheat and gluten have been demonized by modern dieting philosophies. PHOTO COURTESY OF PEXELS.COM

By Dr. Andrea Wick EBS CONTRIBUTOR

Wheat and gluten have received a lot of press in the last few years and odds are you may know someone or be someone who has opted to go gluten-free. What is gluten and why has it been given a bad rap?

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat. Gluten is literally the “glue” that holds breads together. The reason why more and more people may be gluten sensitive is that gluten has a difficult time being broken down by protease, a protein in the digestive system. This can create symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, gas, nausea or skin reactions.

However, research is finding that glyphosate may be the culprit to gluten sensitivity.

What is glyphosate? Glyphosate is an insecticide and is found in a popular weed killer known as Roundup. Spraying Roundup on wheat crops helps protect the expected yield and helps the crops stay alive and healthy until they are harvested for the season. However, Roundup is detrimental to our health.

A new analysis done by researchers at the University of Washington found that glyphosate increases the risk of cancer by 41 percent. This includes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. This study was done on 54,000 participants that are exposed to the insecticide.

The issue with going gluten-free is that many gluten-free products are processed and filled with corn and soy instead of wheat. Corn and soy are nearly impossible to be all organic and are also often contaminated with glyphosate.

Corn is also high in sugar, specifically, high fructose corn syrup, which is converted into fat because of the large amount of fructose it contains. Fructose is okay in small quantities, such as fruit, however high fructose corn syrup cannot be broken down by the liver and causes many health problems including diabetes, fatty liver disease, weight gain and obesity. It is found in soda, sweets, soups and crackers. Be mindful by reading labels to avoid this ingredient.

Many people with digestive disturbances may actually have an issue digesting fructose, which can be misunderstood as a gluten sensitivity. Trouble digesting fructose can lead to malabsorption and the inability to break down carbohydrates, leading to irritable bowel syndrome. Following a FODMAP—fermentable oligo-, di-, mono-saccharides and polyols—diet can be helpful in treating IBS. For more information about following a FODMAP diet, visit ibsdiets.org.

The best solution to all of this: Eat organic whenever possible. For those who love their breads—who doesn’t—try sourdough and organic wheat.

Eating organic can be expensive, so to help on the pocketbook, try switching to organic options for foods that are known for pesticide exposure. The Environmental Working Group updates a list every year called “The Dirty Dozen,” which is a compilation of the foods that were grown using the most pesticides. The 2019 Dirty Dozen list includes strawberries, spinach, kale, nectarines, apples, grapes, peaches, cherries, pears, tomatoes, celery and potatoes. Whenever possible, try to buy organically grown variations of these products.

A good rule to live by: We are what we eat and our food is thy medicine.

Dr. Andrea Wick is a chiropractor and applied kinesiologist. She graduated from Life University in Marietta, Georgia, and now practices in Big Sky. She has a passion for holistic health care and being active in the outdoors. Her practice, Healing Hands Chiropractic, is located in the Meadow Village Center. Visit drandreawick.com to learn more.

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