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It is currently estimated one third of Americans are jumping on the Gluten Free wagon, there are a multitude of reasons for this, improved health, and increased awareness wheat is a common GMO food. Some believe their health challenges are the result of increased inflammation caused by one of the proteins commonly found in wheat; gluten.
But what if for those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), it isn’t the gluten that drives up the inflammation markers but something else? For diehard believers that gluten is the cause of all ills, this information will be viewed with derision. For years natural health providers have asserted the nightshade family increases inflammation, others espouse sugar is the culprit. In this case, what if everyone is right and wrong?
As nutrition research unravels more of the complexity of foods, we also begin to see patterns and similarity’s. The question of why some respond favorably to gluten free programs while others do not gains better understanding.
Fructans may be part of the answer. This group of potential culprits belongs to a diverse family of carbohydrates that are notorious for being difficult to digest. A failure to absorb these compounds into the blood may draw excess water into the digestive tract and agitate its resident bacteria. Wheat proteins known as amylase-trypsin inhibitors stimulated immune cells to release inflammatory cytokines that overexcite the immune system. Yes wheat is one of the foods high in fructans….
Because these resilient carbohydrates occur in all kinds of food—not just grains—a gluten-free or wheat-free diet will not necessarily solve the inflammatory puzzle for some if these carbohydrates truly are to blame. One of the dietary classes of fiber high in fructans is inulins. Today inulin is used in a wide range of food products in it’s refined form….this may be the rub, when I review information on the foods most prone to driving chronic health challenges, the highest number are refined foods or ingredients. Refined wheat flour, sugar, and oils top the list of common offenders.
Inulin is a starchy substance found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including: wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut and brown rice, onions, bananas, leeks, artichokes, and asparagus.
The inulin that is used for medicine is most commonly obtained by soaking chicory roots in hot water. Inulin is used for high blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides. It is also used for weight loss, constipation, and as a food additive to improve taste and in gluten free foods to improve texture.
Could this be why some individuals on a gluten free diet experience no improvement in symptoms? Researchers today are finding a greater number of individuals exhibiting carbohydrate digestion failure; up to 40 percent of people with Crohn’s do not absorb carbohydrates properly as one example.
In natural sources the side effects of fructans, may be negated by other ingredients, the whole is healthier than the part theory…. Any time we separate out what we believe to be “active” ingredients we leave behind valuable co-factors that are key to the benefits gained. It is the old adage of throwing the baby out with the bath water…. What you lose may be more valuable than what is gained.
A source of fructans in nutritional products, believed to be highly beneficial to the gut, may be a a hidden source of inflammation; Fructooligosaccharides (FOS), are a form of fructans, used as an alternative sweetener. They are commonly added to digestive aids called “probiotics”, the FOS is referred to as a “prebiotic” because it acts as food for the probiotics increasing their activity in the large intestine. Before you get confused – yes for those who can digest carbohydrates properly FOS is a good thing.
Probiotics, “wee beasties” are commonly called good gut bacteria, they are instrumental in digesting carbohydrates and B vitamin syntheses in your gut. FOS is between 30 and 50 percent times sweeter than sugar in commercially prepared syrups. It has been referred to as an essential sugar. When used in commercial foods the amount consumed over the course of a day or week, while safe for those who can digest carbohydrates, may be pouring gas on the inflammation fire for others. Here again “more is not always better”.
Now hasn’t all this cleared the muddy waters over gluten for you! Hahahaah
Final thoughts: Inflammation is without a doubt, in my mind, at the heart of chronic illnesses, and the more processed refined foods you and future generations consume, the greater the decline in health. Every answer will be based on each individual and their unique DNA, and wheat contains fructans and if you do not digest carbohydrates well, you still have to go wheat free, along with eliminating other high fructan foods, increase digestive enzymes to digest carbohydrates causing inflammation, and eat real foods, as chemical free as possible. Gluten may not be your enemy, but wheat hasn’t been cleared yet.
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