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As your wellness team we made a decision to make the entire menu gluten-free.  Personally, one member of our team has an extreme sensitivity to gluten.  Her physical symptoms were painful enough that she was tested for celiac or a gluten intolerance but her results were negative.  She was told by conventional medicine doctors that gluten was not an issue.  But it was.  She ran her own test by cutting out gluten and found that her symptoms disappeared.  When she ate gluten the symptoms returned.  People are experiencing all kinds of physical and mental issues that change when they cut out gluten products however, if they were to be tested for an actual allergy it would most likely come back negative. People are often resistant to cutting out gluten because their doctor has told them they aren't allergic.  But when encouraged to try, most often much of what ails them disappears.

We admit, there has been a huge hype about "going gluten free", and this choice has yielded a following of people that are often looked upon by outsiders as jumping on a nonsensical bandwagon. After all, we have been eating gluten for centuries, right? This is certainly true, however…

The grain that gluten is found in, wheat, is not the wheat that our ancestors ate.  Our grain in the United States has been hybridized to be a shorter sturdier stalk so that crops aren't destroyed as readily in windstorms.  This dwarf wheat contains a much higher gluten ratio than does traditional wheat, and because the grain has been genetically modified, our bodies don't know how to process it.  We are seeing more and more incidents of celiac disease as well as people having sensitivities to gluten that are manifesting in physical and emotional issues.

Another aspect of gluten sensitivity stems not from gluten itself, but from how wheat is produced today. Several reports have come out in the past year stating that about a week prior to harvest, commercial wheat growers spray strong pesticides on their crops.  These pesticides apparently weaken the wheat stalk making harvesting easier on the machines.  This chemical then gets processed right into our grain supply.  The reports were asking whether people's increasing symptoms in this country were related to a wheat allergy/sensitivity or actually a response to eating poison. After wheat is heavily sprayed with toxins, it then goes through a series of steps before it becomes the bread, pasta, or crackers you are used to. These steps include 1) high temperature steaming, which prevents wheat from naturally fermenting, 2) bleaching and oxidizing, which enhance the appearance and texture of wheat, and 3) refining, which strips wheat of its most nutritious aspects, resulting in the need to add back in, or enrich, wheat at the end of this process.

Another consequence stemming from how wheat is produced today is the fact that modern wheat is no longer soaked, fermented, or sprouted. These traditional methods of food preparation have been all but lost to us today, resulting in grains that contain anti-nutrients, phytic acids, and proteins that are not only extremely difficult to digest, but cause inflammation and decreased nutrient absorption in our gut.

We have seen people who have noticed an improvement in their health from cutting back or eliminating gluten.  The symptoms have included irregular bowel movements, stomach pain, depression, foggy brain, achy joints/body, weight gain, and fatigue among others.  All of these people had some sort of sensitivity to gluten, nothing that would show up on a medical test but they saw immediate improvements when they cut out gluten from their diet.

Two striking stories that I've encountered around gluten include a dear friend who called to let us know that she was being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  Her legs would suddenly weaken and give out leaving her to crawl across the floor to call for help.  All her tests came back negative and finally the doctors informed her she had MS and began writing prescriptions for the pharmaceuticals she would need to begin taking.  Shortly after the diagnosis, she came home after a long day at work and popped a frozen pizza in the oven for dinner.  When it was ready, she took it out and began to eat.  As she took her first bite her legs gave out.  She suddenly made a connection that maybe her symptoms were coming from what she was eating!  She stopped all gluten and her symptoms went away.  She didn't have MS, she had a severe gluten sensitivity!  Imagine her story if she hadn't realized this and was now taking a cocktail of drugs for a disease she didn't have while continuing to consume gluten.

The second story is how one of our team member’s gluten sensitivity acts in her body.  As I mentioned above, for many people the symptoms occur in the gut.  However, when this person eats gluten she gets a deep aching pain in her low back and she can't raise her right arm. Her shoulder and the outside of her upper arm are incredibly painful.  From an acupuncture standpoint this is fascinating because the low back is where the points for the colon are found.  In addition the back of the shoulder and the outside of the upper arm house both colon and small intestine points.  Her digestive system manifests on the energy channels of the body instead of solely in the gut.

Because of all our information and personal experience around gluten we made our entire program gluten-free. This aspect of our program flows naturally from our food philosophy. We believe in eating whole foods, the vast majority of which are naturally gluten free. We advocate for being gluten free in a healthy way, free from processed and packaged items marketed as gluten-free. I promise you it will be tasty and exciting and I bet you won't even miss it!

- Melissa