“What does the word ‘GLUTEN’ mean to you or make you think of?”
Recently, I polled my social media audience by asking them that question. Survey says!
Gluten Poll Results:
Do these results surprise you? Not me. In fact, they’re proof gluten is one hotly contested and vastly misunderstood nutritional topic. Take a look at a few replies from poll responders and you’ll quickly see what I mean.
“Never really thought about it.”
“Good. I miss it.”
“Beautiful…devastating for me.”
“Painful. Inflammatory. Allergenic.”
“Something I never heard of in my childhood.”
From Paleo to Plant Based
Gluten is a buzz word in most all food communities. Gluten leaves no GAPS (pun intended) in the genre of diet it infiltrates.
My heart grieves
To be perfectly honest, I am troubled over misunderstandings surrounding the good and perfect gift God gave us in bread…in grain…in gluten. I observe God’s people being robbed of joy and vitality due to a range of ills from minor physical inconveniences to severe health concerns. I observe God’s people reaching out for medical, dietary and lifestyle help only to end up more frustrated and confused. It ought not so to be. As sheep following the Shepherd, we need not feel as Matthew 9:36 describes; “faint and scattered, like a sheep without a shepherd.”
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, spoke to you and me when He said, “The thief (Satan) does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly.” John 10:10 MEV
I am an educated, avid nutrition science researcher (aka nerd), but I am foremost and unashamedly a follower of Christ! Therefore, the science I study must line up with the Bible or else…I toss it. God, our Creator, made ALL things and called ALL things good.
Does this include bread?
Does this include grain?
Does this include gluten?
YES, YES, YES!
If Jesus came to give us good things – to give us abundant life – then why would something He created cause us pain, inflammation, fatigue and confusion?
Either we trust God that what He made is good, or we accuse Him otherwise.
Weighty words, aren’t they?
Those same words convicted me
In fact, they were a catalyst in my passion to dispel nutritional lies using the Bible and science. God is good and only does good for His children. The buck stops there.
Again, if Jesus compared Himself to a food group then there must be something to it!
God undoubtedly provided the food we need, and thereby the nutrients we need, to attain and maintain health. However, the quality of God-made food has been altered for man’s convenience.
Is our wellbeing the price we pay?
Hearkening back to John 10:10; it is the thief who has tampered with food God called good! The food itself – in this case, grain – was bestowed for our benefit and pleasure!
3 Questions to Untangle the gluten web
1. What is gluten?
Gluten is protein. That’s it. In simplistic terms, gluten is one of three main types of protein in wheat and other glutenous grains. These three are gluten, globulin and albumin. You might recognize albumin and globulin as proteins also found in egg whites. The term gluten portrays a group of water-insoluble proteins inherent in wheat – gliadin and glutenin. These two proteins help bread become, well, a loaf, a bun, a roll, a biscuit… They’re what make bread hold its shape.
Grain, when freshly milled, has God-designed, very specific ratios of grain to starch. When we talk about gluten as it relates to bread making, we are talking about a specific protein and a specific amount of said protein in relationship to the starch in a flour.
2. What is gluten’s purpose?
Gluten does a lot of things! It causes bread to hold its shape, lends a chewy texture and indirectly, helps bread rise. When water is added to flour, gluten strands swell to form the structure of bread. Bread flour, customarily speaking of hard wheat flour, is a higher gluten flour. Again, the main purpose of gluten is to help bread rise and develop elasticity (chewiness). Without gluten (or in the case of gluten-free baking, without adding special dough conditioners), bread bakes up flat and dense like a brick.
Bread flour is sometimes referred to as “strong flour” or “hard flour.” Hard flours are my favorite for their nutty flavor. The gluten in hard red and hard white flours comes from the time of year in which these grains are planted. They are usually planted in the fall and are tough enough to thrive through bitterly cold winter growing seasons in regions like the upper Midwest. This resilient hardiness is why hard red and hard white wheat boast a high gluten content and is also why they make great bread.
3. Do all grains have gluten?
No. Many commonly known grains have varying quantities of gluten. Hard wheat is a high gluten grain, soft wheat is a lower gluten grain. Remember: Gluten is the protein that helps bread to rise. Due to its high gluten content, wheat reigns supreme as the best bread making grain both for flavor and texture. Other grains such as spelt, kamut, barley, oats and rye have smaller quantities of gluten yet still make excellent baked products, especially when combined with high-gluten wheat. Generally, hard wheat bread flours have higher gluten content than do soft wheat pastry flours.
Six grains have absolutely no gluten. Rice, corn, millet, buckwheat, amaranth and quinoa comprise these six. Keep in mind that unless labeled and verified gluten-free, even these six grains can be tainted with traces of gluten. Do your own research!
the struggle is real
I will not diminish the very valid, very painful, very frustrating struggles attributed to gluten for those who are sensitive and especially for those diagnosed with true Celiac Disease. For some, it’s flat out unsafe and unwise to eat wheat. I’ve been there. And yet, as one who dealt with many of the same health concerns as my polled audience…the negatives may be overcome! This, if you so choose, is a journey for only you, your doctor and the Lord to embark upon together.
Let’s all remain grateful for the measure of health we presently enjoy and for the increasing measure of health we will have in the future!
God’s plans are good.
His creation is good.
His bread is good!
“For the kingdom of God does not mean eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Romans 14:17 MEV
In future posts, we’ll dig deeper to explore possible roots to problems associated with gluten.
For now, be at peace in your learning process!
And by all means, please comment.
With love and butter,