Gluten Q&A

It's strange which videos I expect to cause a furore. I'd been telling friends for a few weeks now, "you know what? I have a video I think I need to make but I have a feeling it's going to cause a stir. No, not gay marriage or Islam...gluten." And so it did. Anyway, here's the video, and we'll get into some of the comments below...

Quite a few of the most hostile comments betrayed the fact they hadn't watched the full video. Roger wrote, "celiac disease is a real disease", while Jason wrote, "some people have celiac disease". Isaac meanwhile mentioned that GMO wheat should be taken into consideration, as did Cindy who said, "You have to consider the GMO's". Watch the video to the end and you'll see that exceptions were explicitly made for both these things - genuine celiacs and GMO crops. Perhaps I should have put those disclaimers at the start in anticipation that some viewers wouldn't get all the way to the end, but it was stated several times that if you genuinely have celiac disease, you should avoid gluten. It was also stated clearly that if man has interfered with the crop, then the likelihood increases it will have negative consequences and that GMOs should probably be avoided. 

A few commenters mistakenly thought the message of this video was, "you have to eat bread or God will be offended." Sarah, for example, wrote "I think you might be reaching a bit with the whole 'if we turn our nose up to this bread we're saying God's perfect creation isn't good enough'". It was pretty clear in the video, illustrated by noodles being processed by industrial machinery, that the more man tampers with food, the higher chance it will have negative side effects. Since it's widely known that the mass produced bread available in supermarkets today has been over-processed, stripped of its goodness, and isn't particularly wholesome, feel free to turn your nose up at it! But 'turning our nose up at bread' isn't the problem highlighted in the video. Turning our nose up at gluten is the problem. Specifically vilifying a protein within grain that God decided should be there is the problem.

On a very similar track, Thalia wrote that "The wheat in the Bible is completely different from the wheat we eat today in the way it is processed and prepared." That's true. But again, it was stated in the video that the more man tampers with i.e. processes the food, the higher the likelihood it will be bad for us. How we currently process and prepare food should absolutely be criticised by the way. Our consumerist society often reduces mass-produced food into parodies of what they should be, and much of what is on the shelves is quite unfit for human consumption. We're not talking about what industry does with the gluten in this video, however. We're talking about the gluten itself. People in Africa are eating gluten all day long and not experiencing the side-effects many in the West do. Our ancestors ate gluten all day long for thousands of years and didn't experience the side-effects people complain of today. So is it the gluten, or is it how we're processing our food in the West these days? An interesting idea would be to buy hand-crafted, artisan bread, or indeed to make it yourself, to avoid the negative aspects of mass production, and then see what the effects are. I also have a friend who, for example, has problems with glutenous bread in the United States, but when they go to Europe, it's not a problem. Evidence like this indicates that gluten probably isn't the issue...but something else. 

That neatly brings us to the two most compelling arguments left in the comments section. 

A few people mentioned that the symptoms people experience from wheat products are due to glyphosate herbicides that are sprayed on the crop before harvest, rather than the gluten. That makes a lot of sense. Spraying poison on our crops seems a sure-fire way to poison the population. Here's a fairly in-depth article that explains this in detail.

And finally, another very compelling argument put forward by some was that hybridisation in the past 40-50 years has led to mutations in the gluten levels of wheat. In other words, man has already altered the genetic makeup of wheat and it has become something God didn't intend. If it's true, obviously that would be a valid argument. There are two problems with this idea though. One is that wheat hybridisation has been happening for centuries, and gluten sensitivity has apparently only become an issue in the past 5 years. And secondly, academic studies don't seem to support the premise.

Which brings us back to the glyphosate theory again as the most compelling of all. If we want to avoid health problems associated with wheat, the primary suspicion shouldn't be on the gluten. It should be on the poisons that are sprayed on the wheat, and the way we process the wheat thereafter. The fact remains the same - the closer you can get to what God intended, the better.