Power Kitchen’s most important nutritional rule is ‘gluten free’. We feel so passionately about the detriments of this anti-nutrient that we made the bold choice to eliminate it entirely from our menu, and from our restaurant.
‘But gluten doesn’t matter if you’re not coeliac’ is something we hear quite often. However, research is revealing in more and more diverse areas of healthcare – from food allergies, to ASD – that gluten is indeed a problem for almost everyone’s health. In the words of Bogie, ‘maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of your life.’ Even so-called ‘healthy’ gluten grains such as wholewheat and spelt are not exempt from the damage gluten wreaks on your health.
So what is gluten? It’s a protein which appears in wheat, barley and rye. Oats are also often an issue for people who suffer gluten sensitivity, because they contain avenin (a gluten-like protein) and because gluten contamination is highly likely due to the way that oats are cultivated and processed.
What are the problems with gluten? Most people know that gluten causes a severe and debilitating allergic reaction in those with the autoimmune coeliac disease, but why is gluten also problematic for most non-coeliacs.
Gluten is one of the most prolific gut irritants in the western diet. It acts like a splinter digging into the lining of your gut, causing an inflammatory response.
Gluten causes intestinal permeability, better known as ‘leaky gut syndrome’. In addition to being a known gut irritant, gluten triggers the production of zonulin, another protein which promotes the loosening of the ‘tight junctions’ in our guts, allowing allergens, bacteria, and all manner of nasties to leak into our bloodstream, triggering widespread systemic inflammation.
The phenomenon of NCGS (non-coeliac gluten sensitivity) is very real, and functional medicine practitioners who test with reliable means like the Cyrex Array deduce that a conservatively estimated 1 in 10 people suffer this debilitating condition, which has symptoms as varied and diverse as anxiety/depression, Gastro-esophageal reflux disease (GERD) and fibromyalgia (muscle and joint pain/fatigue/foggy thinking).
Detractors of the gluten-free diet claim that it’s unhealthy to eliminate whole food groups, but we firmly disagree that gluten even comprises an entire food group; there are countless alternative non-gluten grains, from amaranth to buckwheat to rice, and plenty of whole, wholesome carbohydrates to choose from instead, from potatoes to root vegetables.
If you suffer from any of the health issues described, or if you experience ‘bloat’, especially after a grain-heavy meal like pizza or pasta, are often tired and irritable, and struggle to lose weight whist eating gluten-heavy carbs, then gluten and wheat may be problematic for you too. Try eliminating gluten from your diet for 30 days to see if this makes a difference to your lifestyle – you may find that you’re pleasantly surprised!
We firmly advise all of our gluten-free customers to give the ‘free-from’ aisles in the Supermarkets a swerve, as processed free-from foods often replace gluten with refined sugars, which are themselves an even bigger contributor to the Western world’s obesity and ill-health epidemic.
Stella Blackledge, Dip BNC RegNutr