Why are more and more people intolerant to gluten?
Regularly consuming ultra-processed foods is one of the leading causes of the rising incidence of coeliac disease.
Whole grains are a staple in any healthy, balanced diet. They are high in fibre, B vitamins, minerals such as magnesium, iron, and potassium, and complex carbohydrates such as starch, making them a great source of energy. The problem is that some, such as wheat, barley, rye, and some varieties of oats, triticale, and spelt, contain gluten.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the digestive system and is characterised by chronic inflammation of the small intestine. It presents a wide range of symptoms, such as abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhoea, and eczema, and can even affect nutrients being properly absorbed, causing anaemia. As Marina Domene, nutritionist at SHA Wellness Clinic, states, ‘the high incidence of gluten intolerance that we are currently seeing may be due to digestive dysfunction, such as bacterial overgrowth or an imbalance in some intestinal bacteria. But the main cause stems from ultra-processed food that, unfortunately, is becoming the staple diet of more and more people. These foods are made with refined cereals, flours, and carbohydrates; hydrogenated fats; and excess sugar; the combination of these may be behind the increase in gluten intolerance’.
If you have coeliac disease or gluten intolerance, Marina recommends eating ‘fresh, natural foods such as vegetables, pulses, fish, and, of course, gluten-free cereals, such as quinoa, buckwheat (which is not really wheat), amaranth, millet, and rice. In addition, you should avoid not only gluten-containing foods but also any processed ones. For example, gluten-free biscuits do not contain gluten but do contain refined flours, sugars, and fats that are not beneficial to our health. It is very telling that in our grandparents’ generation, which mainly ate fresh food, there were practically no cases of gluten intolerance even though they consumed a lot of bread. Because even if it was white bread made from wheat flour and not wholemeal, it was a food that was not processed; it came from sourdough fermentation. Today, however, store-bought breads, such as sliced bread, contain chemical yeasts and flours that are more refined and are made from wheat that has been modified to grow faster and be more resistant to pests and insecticides. And, in the end, all this ends up affecting our bodies, which are not prepared to assimilate these modified nutrients’.
At SHA, we know that the rise in cases of gluten intolerance is not a passing fad; it is a reality. This is why we have eliminated gluten from our Kushi diet since last season. But before making any dietary changes and cutting out certain cereals, the first thing you must do is get a diagnosis confirming coeliac disease. Marina explains the three basic tests: ‘a blood test, where we study certain antibodies and immunoglobulins, such as type A or G; a genetic study because gluten intolerance is a disease with a genetic pattern; and an intestinal biopsy, to find out the degree of atrophy of the intestinal villi’.
Finally, we invite you to make and enjoy this healthy, nutritious, balanced, and, of course, gluten-free recipe at home: millet cake with pumpkin, dried apricots, and orange flavouring.
You can find it here.