For most of my life, I didn't really give gluten much thought. I became aware somewhere along the way that it appeared almost trendy to become 'gluten-free'. There were periods of time where I dabbled with giving it up, only to have a little bit of wheat in a pizza here, and then some oatmeal there. I never really actively eliminated it or noticed it much. Until now.
Recently I eliminated all processed sugar from my diet. I had gone through this process successfully before, for quite a long time, and reaped profound psychological and physical benefits. This time I decided to also eliminate gluten and pasteurized dairy in a step-by-step process - the aim being greater physiological clarity.
Saying goodbye to sugar again was FANTASTIC. There were brief withdrawal symptoms for a day or so, but then the fog that in insidiously induced even through occasional consumption lifted, and I felt really quite good. A month later, I actively eliminated all sources of gluten, which then unconsciously meant I was reaching for much more nutrient dense food choices when hungry. Within a week I felt much more vital.
A few days ago, I visited a local farmer's market as we were out of our usual buckwheat loaf for my son's school lunches. There were no gluten free options available but a very beautiful traditionally fermented rye loaf containing no sugar or yeast was on offer. Great, I thought! Time to experiment. I wanted to see if this a naturally fermented loaf reacting different in my gut now that I was totally gluten free. I had had rye several times through the years, and actually loved the taste - so it did not even occur to me that this might be a problem.
What ensued was very interesting. My partner immediately complained of an achy gut. I also noticed an ache within minutes of eating the bread. We were gassy for a couple of days, and some members of the now officially gluten-free family were having loose bowels. Everybody's bowel function changed, but not everyone went in the same direction. My son complained of his 'waist hurting' in the morning, something he sometimes says but I finally 'clicked' that he always says it after eating some gluten containing product (which he doesn't have all the time, but usually once a week outside of the home). It was quite remarkable just how OBVIOUS the distress gluten, even the naturally fermented variety, was placing our digestive systems was once we had eliminated it and had a chance to experience life without it.
So why is it like this? I decided to do some research.
Gluten is actually the Latin word for glue, which I found a very telling fact. I have noticed in my Arvigo Practice that my gluten-consuming clients often have a distended descending colon. It almost feels like a swollen sponge or the like is residing within the gut. I have experienced this on my own belly doing self-care when I have had a gluten heavy diet in the past. This 'glue', it appears, literally sticks and absorbs moisture, and causes a palpable mechanical swelling.
Historically, gluten only really exploded to be present in much of the world's diets in the amounts it is during the industrial revolution. Prior to that it was only really consumed by the ethnic groups that learned to cultivate and farm it. The Romans were largely responsible for spreading gluten containing grain throughout the Old World, and it was only introduced to the Americas during the the large few hundred years. Our guts, therefore, may not have had ample time to catch up.
In people with coeliac disease, gluten attacks the villi of the small intestine, which in turn prevents optimal nutrient absorption. There is some debate about whether everyone's villi sustain some damage.
Lots to think about!
For a very long time, I have had a strong intuitive sense that people with intolerances or allergies are also displaying a strong psychosomatic rejection of what the object of the allergy represents. For example, people with dairy intolerance almost always have mothering issues (I have seen this in my practice). People who cannot process sugar almost always have 'lost child' syndrome - a part of their own innocence was sullied or damaged in a way or they were denied being a child. I have always had a strong intuitive sense that those with gluten issues have a strong rejection of the 'oppressive father' archetype. Gluten containing grain is historically tightly interwoven with cultures that occupied and took over indigenous lands.
So, for myself, I have found the elimination of white sugar, gluten and pasteurized dairy (NOT the elimination of raw dairy - different blog!) provide me with a clarity I just don't experience when those substances are inside my organism. In a sense by eliminating them we are also eliminating curtains hanging over our inner child, inner mother and inner father and we have to confront the emotions that come up.
Just some food for thought!