I feel better when I avoid gluten, but I really miss bread! How can I find out if I’m really gluten intolerant?
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. If you notice you feel better without gluten, then that’s the best test available. For some, this may mean more vitality or a clearer, happier head. For others, a smoother digestive system and less bloating.
For others less inflammation in the joints or other areas. There are tests your doctor can offer, but only for Coeliac disease, a severe degree of intolerance, and the results are generally unreliable.
Gluten is a large protein found in wheat, and there’s also a little in barley and rye. Humans never used to eat it and still struggle to digest it. Your stomach converts gluten to gluteomorphine, which travels to your small intestine, where enzymes try to break it down.
In some cases however, gluteomorphine creates inflammation in your intestines – and, in severe cases such as Coeliac disease, damage to your intestinal wall.
This makes it difficult to absorb other nutrients, and has an impact on the balance of your gut bacteria. This is bad news, as your gut bacteria is a fundamental part of your immune system.
Not only that, but your gut bacteria and intestinal wall produce most of your seratonin, dopamine and other neurotransmitters. Thus directly affecting your mood, concentration levels, behaviour (including addictive behaviour) and how your body responds to stress.
How bad is gluten really?
Sometimes a reaction to gluten is immediate and severe. For others it may be more insidious, and you might not think gluten is having any adverse effect at all. Either way, recognise that gluten is neither evil nor to be feared. Just acknowledged as something you may want to avoid or reduce.
What can I eat instead?
Sourdough rye bread. Rye contains very little gluten, and the sourdough process seems to break most if not all of it down. Gluten-free bread, cakes and biscuits are now widely available, but you may be surprised at how much sugar they contain. It’s so easy – and much tastier – to make your own.
Gluten free pancake stacks
225g buckwheat flour
250ml water or nut milk
1tbsp lemon juice or yoghurt
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- Gradually whisk egg and water/milk into the flour to make a thick batter
- Stir in lemon juice/yoghurt, leave at room temperature overnight if possible, or at least half an hour
- Stir in bicarb
- Melt a little coconut oil or butter in a frying pan, use a tablespoon to pour in 3-4 separate dollops of batter (to make 3-4 pancakes)
- Turn over when bubbles appear, cook until light brown on bottom.
Why not try with…
Almond butter and alfalfa sprouts
Berries, bananas, sheep’s yoghurt and cinnamon
Avocado and mushrooms
Poached egg and wilted spinach
Houmous and sun-dried tomatoes