Say YES to Gluten!

Hello Friends and Fellow Bakers! I have been lucky enough to teach several bread classes this month, for both little kids and big kids alike. And one comment that a student said keeps playing over and over in my head. She is 14 years old, super bright, and very astute. She totally took me by surprise when she asked me: “Well, Mary, if there are all of these books out there that talk about why gluten is so terrible for us, and why we should avoid it, where is your book countering the argument?”

Huh? Sigh… Blurp…

girl-confused

She nailed it. For over a year now I have been talking and teaching and talking some more about why I think that fermented breads are actually healthy for you. Why after years of swearing I would never touch gluten again, I am praising it now, eating it everyday, and all the more healthy because of it. And let me just add: I am not eating commercial breads. I still get a belly ache when I do so. I am eating breads that have been fermented for nearly 24 hours, that are made with freshly milled, organic grain. So basically my 14 year old student brings up a good point. 

Why should one eat gluten or grains when it feels like every doctor, lawyer, neighbor, friend of a friend, mentor, and stranger says to avoid it? 

gluten-bread-caution

Well, huh. That is a very good question. I wanted to know the answer to this myself. So what did I do? Well, let’s just say I used myself as a guinea pig. I started mixing dough, taking little bites of bread, waited, scared for the stomach pain to start…but with my bread — it never did. I took one or two classes, stayed up all hours of the night watching “how-to” videos on youtube, and asked tons of questions. I also started writing this blog to help me uncover some answers. I have spent over 18 months getting to the bottom of the gluten conundrum. And the challenge keeps me on my toes, to say the least. 

There felt like so many sides to the story. The Paleo-folk steer clear of any and all grains; professors of mine in grad school claimed that eating bread (and grains) would amplify any inflammation in arthritic patients. Others claim that Alzheimer’s Disease can be link to overconsumption of wheat products.  And the list didn’t stop there. Millions of Americans were going “gluten-free,” because of “gluten-fear.”

I was curious about all the books swirling around on the subject. It seemed like every person I met or patient I saw in the clinic was reading them. Here’s a few quotes:

Dr. Mark Hyman, author of The Blood Sugar Solution: “This new modern wheat may look like wheat, but it is different in three important ways that all drive obesity, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, dementia and more. It contains a super starch, amylopectin A, that is super fattening, a form of super gluten that is super inflammatory, and [acts like] a super drug that is super addictive and makes you crave and eat more”.

Neurologist Dr. David Permutter, author of Grain Brain: “The problem with gluten is far more serious than anyone ever imagined. Modern…structurally modified, hybridized grains contain gluten that’s less tolerable than the gluten that was found in grains cultivated just a few decades ago”.

Dr. William Davis, author of Wheat Belly: “This thing being sold to us called wheat is this stocky little high-yield plant, a distant relative of the wheat our mothers used to bake muffins, biochemically light-years removed from the wheat of just 40 years ago.”

But what kept popping back up for me, and as you can obviously read, was the fact that none of these writers were saying that the wheat that was eaten thousands of years ago, nor even decades ago before the industrial revolution was actually bad for you. Quite the opposite. They all reiterated the notion that modern wheat was the culprit for so many disorders and disease.

Agriculture_(Plowing)

So many people took this information and just stopped eating wheat or gluten entirely. They turned a cheek towards any and all grains. But what about the good ones? I know I did the same as so many other folks did. I turned the other cheek from bread for years. I ate rice, because it was gluten free. I ate gluten free bread, because it meant I could still have “toast” in the morning. But the reality is that gluten free breads really have no nutritional content. Ziltch. They are made with rice meal, which is basically the scraps from the rice grain. And I wondered why I had no energy. Why my hair was falling out. Why all my clothes were falling off. 

Because the food I was eating was lacking the proper amount of vitamins, minerals, and carbohydrates that my body needed to be healthy.

Please don’t get me wrong. Some people prefer not to eat grains or wheat, and I respect that. Two percent of the American population has Celiac Disease, and as a physician, I realize the severity of the auto-immune disease. But if the general public is following a gluten-free diet for the sake of believing that grains on the whole are “bad for you,” well then I have news for you.

Cue Dancing Wheat Berry! This is soooo not true! And I know this because of how much better I feel after eating them this past year. How much stronger my digestion is. How much more energy I have, stamina, heck, even my memory is stronger. And many of my patients who swore off grains buy my bread every week, and have no problems digesting it. They do not get abdominal pain from it. Nor does their skin break out in a rash, or do they get a headache. Why several of my patients with hypothyroidism feel distinctively better when eating my bread each week. Many of them claim that they can actually see a difference in the way they feel if they skip a week off of my bread for one reason or another. 

So — if there is all of these reputable writers and doctors claiming that gluten and wheat are problematic, why aren’t more people recognizing that it has to do more succinctly with the PROCESS by which the wheat is made into bread. And the TYPE of grain that is being used to make commercial breads. Why why why?!?

Many of you are probably wondering why my bread is so different? What makes my bread a supposed “healthy” and “healing” one, whilst other breads that claim to be whole grain do not have the same effect?

It’s all in the process. Real bread takes time. The breads we see on commercial shelves were made with modern wheat that is unrecognizable to our digestive tracts. So when we ingest this fake bread, our bodies do not recognize it, thus igniting an immune response. That is when many of us get sick or feel horrible because of it. Contrary to what most people think, modern wheat is not genetically modified (yet), but it is heavily sprayed with glyphosate (and other herbicides) as a drying agent, and the cows that graze on many of these farms are fed with genetically modified corn and soybeans; therefore we are ultimately ingesting a small portion of gmo’s when we eat this wheat as well. Herbicides also inhibit our endocrine systems, thus preventing normal hormone distribution in the body. By using organic grains, we can keep our bodies healthier. Fermented grains also have a lower glycemic index, reducing the normal blood sugar spikes that commercial breads deliver.

More and more research on all of this information is occurring today. I hope to stage some of my own research studies in the near future.

Peasants_breaking_bread

Bread is the staff of life. Is this really okay to be feeding our families, our children, that which we call “bread” in this country? No, it certainly is not. This is why I am on a mission. A bread mission. One that is filled with love and not animosity. One that is filled with vital information, but it is also filled with my own personal healing and triumph. Nothing makes me happier than to teach someone about the importance of breaking healthy bread with one another. People deserve to know where their food is coming from, and what methods it underwent to get to the table where it is being served.

Many people call gluten-free a fad diet. But I ask you to thoroughly evaluate the nutritional breakdown of that diet and see if you and your family may be missing any valuable nutrients. 1. Whole wheat, spelt, rye, teff, einkorn….All of these grains are incredibly nutrient dense, and offer many b vitamins, insoluble fiber, iron, and calcium. Each and every grain here, if left in its intact form has enough energy in it to feed all of us, if given the proper time it needs to be freshly mixed, fermented, and proved. The nutrition is inherent in the grains themselves; not because they have been fortified with synthetic vitamins. 2. It also needs to be made with wild yeast, not commercial yeast. The reason being that wild yeast in its natural form is full of lactobacillus, and many other pro-biotic bacteria. As human beings, we are made up of billions of bacteria, and we need to replenish our digestive tract every day with healthy bacteria. This is what makes a happy and healthy digestion! Trust me, I know this from experience. As a child, I took at least 15 antibiotics before the age of 16, and one of them being tetracycline for acne for one whole year. No wonder my intestinal tract was not thrilled years later. Antibiotics, although very helpful and necessary in many situations can do a number on your gut flora. 

whole-grains-explained1

wheat kernals

The bread I make and digest every week has healed me. No joke. I feel like I could put on a gown and preach it or go and sing it from the mountains! If I skip a week, I can feel it. I’m not saying that I’m 100% better. I still cannot and knowingly will not eat commercial breads. If I do, I don’t feel well. But I certainly do not have the bloating, pain, and diarrhea (sorry, TMI) that I used to. Thanks to the freshly milled, whole grain, organic, wild-yeasted bread that I make, I can enjoy life more fully than I used to.

Should not you and your family have the same chance at wellness?  Shouldn’t you be able to sit across the dining room table from one another, and break bread that is healing and sustaining, rich with nutrition?

  wheat stalks

Tackling the Bromine Conundrum

So what is this Bromine stuff anyway? Well, we can start off by looking at the Halide column of the periodic table of elements. Bromine, or Br, is found alongside Fluorine (Fl), Chlorine (Cl), Iodine (I), and Astatine (At).  It is part of group 17 in the table, and as you descend down the column, the elements become become less reactive.  So that makes Fluorine the most reactive and Astatine, the least.

Now, I am no chemist, but after going to France and eating my fill of pastries and breads, despite my supposed gluten allergy here in the states, and then reading a great article about a French baker who questioned the amount of Bromine or Potassium Bromide in American bread… Well, let’s just say it got me wondering.

And then I became more and curious as to why the United States has not banned the use of said Bromine in many commercial breads, pastas, and cereals?  So I started to do a bit of research and was astounded to find out that many countries around the world, including the majority of the EU has banned Bromine from its shelves for many years, no, decades, actually.  Research says that it is highly carcinogenic and that how it reacts in your body is pretty gnarly.  Ultimately, it grabs onto T3 and T4 receptors, where Iodine normally resides and leaches the iodine from the system.  Thus, leaving an individual with a deficiency of iodine (the healthy stuff), and an excess of bromine (the unhealthy stuff). And the symptoms of Bromine toxicity look much like that of gluten intolerance: brain fog, nausea, stomach pain, diarrhea, dizziness, hives, headaches, and the list goes on.

After learning this, I started wondering if Bromine toxicity may be prominent in the US, and why do we not ban it, like so many other countries before us?  If it is a known carcinogen, why are we allowing it to remain in our foods?  Sure it allows bread to have a longer shelf life, but ultimately, for thousands of years before us bread was made the morning it was consumed, and in really, 12 hours is the normal shelf life of bread.  It all started changing during WWII when food supplies were sparse and scientists were looking for a way to keep more people fed, for longer.

After some more research, I found out that Bromine (or potassium bromide, as it is also called) , is not only used as a preservative in the foods we consume on a daily basis.  It is also in our Gatorades, in our Sodas that we drink, used as a pesticide to preserve fruits and vegetables, in our car upholstery, in the mattresses we sleep on at night, in our TV screens to hold particular plastics together, in our public pools (alongside chlorine) and jacuzzi’s to help “clean” them.

I am filled to the brim with bromine! And not in a good way!

So if there is this much bromine in our environment, then it must be making some sort of impact, right?   After all, thyroid cancers, breast cancer, and prostate cancer make up the most amount of cancer in this country.  These cancers are all related to the endocrine system, which is related to the healthy levels of iodine in our system, which is related back to the thyroid.  If the thyroid is unable to excrete the proper hormones throughout the body, the system begins rebelling.  It is as simple as that. All relates back to Yin and Yang, as we refer to it in Chinese Medicine.  It is a balancing act. If one system becomes imbalanced over time, it cannot sustain itself, and thus begins shutting down.  Like begets like.  The bad guys start taking over.

As you can see, this all can get a bit overwhelming.  And I do not claim to know the in’s and out’s of it all.  I realize that.  But I also know that my instinct is telling me to get to the bottom of this Bromine Conundrum.  So that the 20 millions people in the US who claim to have a ‘gluten intolerance,’ or the third of the country who has decided to lessen or eliminate the gluten from their diets, can understand if it is really the gluten that is causing the allergy, or something else that can be replaced with something more natural.  And another intention of mine is also to inform the people who complain of symptoms similar to hypothyroidism, so that they too can get some answers.

But in lieu of complaining, I have begun to seek explanations.  I feel that if we fight strongly with negativity in our hearts, that change will not come. That instead, the cycle will continue.  But if we get to the bottom of it, empower the public, even if it is grassroots style, that our voices can be heard.  It starts right in our own home. Breads need to start being made just as they were in the past.  With four ingredients.  Flour, Yeast, Salt, and Water.  That’s all. It starts with educating ourselves.  Let’s get back to the basics.

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For your reading/viewing pleasure. The articles and videos I spoke of above:

Bromine in Commercial Breads: http://voices.yahoo.com/why-commercial-baked-goods-kill-you-3168947.html?cat=5

Andrew Whitley: “Why Bread Needs Time” video:  

Article on BVO: Brominated Vegetable Oil in Sodas: http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/ehs/news/2011/brominated-battle-in-sodas

American Nutrition Association: Dr. Brownstein video: 

Glory Glory Breadalleluia!

Never thought I would be into bread again.  Ever.  For three years I didn’t touch the stuff, swore off of it, anytime I ate it, I would get super sick and sad and pissed all at once.  

Until now.  After going to France for my honeymoon, I realized that eating bread doesn’t mean war.  I know, I know, it was risky what I did.  But I knew I didn’t have Celiac and the rumors I kept hearing about ‘flour being different over there,’ left me salivating over croissants, baguettes, and everything doughy.  So I took the plunge.

And boy, am I glad I did.  It has left me on a conquest for getting to the bottom of the bread dilemma.  But it has furthered my question asking too. Is it really the gluten? Or is it possibly the yeast? 20 million Americans report a gluten allergy/sensitivity or intolerance.  Commercial yeast does, afterall, triple the amount of gluten in the bread.  For awhile I thought maybe that was the answer.  So I started sprouting my own yeast. Afterall, using wild yeast amplifies the lacto-bacillis (the good bacteria for the gut) in the bread, so that must be it.  Nope, that was a part of the puzzle, but I am still not satisfied. Perhaps it is the potassium bromide that is added to many commercial breads in this country and has been outlawed in lost of the world because it is a known carcinogen and depletes iodine from the system.

Now, that had me wondering.  And it still does.  So that is where I will begin.  Tackling the bromine conundrum.