Why Is Gluten So Bad?

Gluten is the devil! It’s a vile insidious substance that should not exist in this world. I’m pretty sure it will be the cause of the impending zombie apocalypse. If you eat gluten you are worst than the worst harlot. Wait what is gluten and why is it so bad? I’ve been mostly Gluten free for years now. Partly by proxy of gluten being in wheat, wheat being full of carbs, and staying away from bread for that. When I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf he stressed the inherent insidiousness of gluten. I read a few things and decided that it was bad. I forgot most of what I read though and only ended up with the important part, Gluten bad smash gluten! I realized I was advocating to friends and family to avoid gluten and my reason was “It’s bad”…not exactly the most convincing not scientific reason. So today I’ll share with you, and myself in the process, Why is gluten so bad and why you should avoid it. Stick with me as we dive down the gluten filled donut hole of doom my friends.

First lets define what gluten is for those who don’t know what it is.




A substance present in cereal grains, esp. wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of dough.”

Celiac and Gluten Sensitivety

So why is a protein composite from certain cereal grains so evil? Many people now have heard of celiacs disease. Celiac is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine and is genetically inherited. The list of symptoms of celiacs disease is long and includes the following: Diarreah, Serial colds and ‘flu, infections, mouth ulcers, Arthritis, Skin rashes and many many more. It’s estimated that about 1 in 200 people world wide have full blown celiacs disease. While this number is not very high it is not the only gluten related illness. Gluten sensitivity or Gluten intolerance, symptoms of gluten sensitivity include bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, and diarrhea, and might present extraintestinal symptoms including muscular disturbances and bone or joint pain.[1][2]   

By symptoms alone it is almost impossible to distinguish the two, Celiacs and Gluten Sensitivity, from one another. The estimates for the number of people that suffer from gluten intolerance varies wildly. One Doctor, Dr. Fasano, states gluten sensitivity potentially affects far more people than celiac disease. He estimates about 6% to 7% of the U.S. population may be gluten-sensitive, meaning some 20 million people in the United States alone could have the condition. This may be on the low side however with another Doctor, Dr. Ford, a pediatrician in Christchurch, New Zealand and author of The Gluten Syndrome, says he believes the percentage of people who are gluten-sensitive actually could be much higher — potentially between 30% and 50%. That’s, potentially, a lot of people who suffer from gluten related illnesses.

But Why Does It Do all That?

I wanted to throw all kinds of science at you. I am not a scientist though and most of you aren’t either. From what I can understand though for many people breaking down the gluten protein into simpler amino acids is not possible.  While it’s in your stomach, not being broken down, it acts like sand paper on the stomach lining. While irritating the lining some gluten escapes into the blood causing an immune response to the foreign body. Eventually it wears the lining down so much that other foreign bodies can escape into the blood stream causing even more mayhem. This mayhem can lead to even more food allergy issues. It’s a cascade of bad caused by gluten.

So the next time someone ask you why Gluten is so bad you tell them. It destroys the stomach lining letting toxins into your blood stream causing immune responses leading to a host of ill effects.  Or just get a crazy look in your eye and scream about how it’s the DEVIL. Either way works for me. I think I’ve covered the most basic explanation, in layman’s terms, why gluten is bad, what it does and why to stay away from it. This subject is very big and if you want you can spend a long time learning about it.

Have you ever been asked why Gluten was bad and couldn’t think of a good explanation? Did you learn anything? If so let me know in the comments!


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Serial colds and ‘flu, infections, mouth ulcers



9 thoughts to “Why Is Gluten So Bad?”

  1. I know that I’ve suffered from chronic foot pain for decades. I would wake up in the morning and my feet would hurt. My first couple of steps every day were painful.

    But two weeks after I stopped eating gluten, I no longer had any foot pain, unless I stressed them from overuse or abuse, like standing on a concrete floor for 12 hours.

    The results of not eating gluten is why I no longer eat it. I simply feel better!


  2. I was just listening to a MD say when he had his thyroid patients remove gluten from their diets, their health greatly improved. This sounds a little WuWu, but you check your pinky and see if it is shorter that the crease in the finger next to it. If it is, their is a chance you might be gluten sensitive. This is called Braly’s Sign and supposedly a lot of people with gluten allergies have it. Below is an explanation about it.


    A great book to read on wheat and obesity is Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.

  3. RRRAGGH GLUTEN. I have to fight my girlfriend over this every day. She didn’t believe it had any effect until the holidays when I had a few bad meals and broke out on my face. Then noticed I was the only person not getting sick and my recurring sports injuries only happened after eating out at restaurants.

    PS if you’re interested in the sciency stuff – this paper is the grand daddy of gluten research: http://www.direct-ms.org/pdf/EvolutionPaleolithic/Cereal%20Sword.pdf

  4. I think that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are two aspects of the same condition. Our paleo ancestors ate a largely meat/fruit/vegetable diet and cereals were just an occasional filler. They were not adapted to process gluten. Overtime, social groups that ate more cereal gradually adapted to the comsumption of cereals and gluten. So if you have celiac disease or are gluten sensitive, you simply have a greater genetic heritage from the hunter/gatherer ancestors than the farmer ancestors.

    A lot of “genetic diseases” are adaptations or lack of adaptations to modern environmental conditions. Consider hemochromatosis, where the body hoards iron. Back in ancients times in those parts of the world where this genetic condition developed, diets were lacking in iron, and so people whose bodies hoarded iron were healthier than others. Now that diets high in iron are common, such people are sickly.

  5. My wife is fairly hardcore paleo. I’m 80% or so. If I’m offered a treat on a special occasion I may indulge. This change alone has resulted in me losing 10-15lbs. and better digestion.

    The only regular gluten I get is my home brewed beer. They have gluten free extract, but I hand grind malted barely and mash it like a 15th century Belgian monk.

    BTW: I have recently begun experimenting with medium term storage of beer ingredients as a prep.

  6. I used to have somewhat frequent acute pancreatitis attacks, not related to alcohol or any other problem, so docs didn’t know what to do for me. Fast forward about 15 years and it’s now well-known in the medical community that gluten is a big cause of pancreatitis. Since quitting gluten (The Paleo Solution was also the book that did it for me), I have no digestive issues (including no pancreatitis). It’s not necessary in our diets. Non-gluten foods (that is meats and fresh veggies and fruits) are so much tastier than cardboard-tasting breads and cereals.

  7. So would someone explain why wheat has become ‘poisonous’ to our systems? It has always been the staff of life and there didn’t seem to be so many problems. Mankind (in certain areas of the world) has existed on wheat for centuries. So what has caused our wheat to “turn on us?”

  8. From what I’ve read, wheat was never a great food for us. Most plants have a natural chemicals in them to keep animals and birds from eating them. Wheat contains something called phytic acid that seems to disagree with humans.

    When Anthropologists study the bones of cultures before and after agriculture was introduced, the people who ate grains were usually a foot shorter and they had dental and skeletal diseases that their hunter/gather ancestors never had.

    Some time in the last 50 years ago, the wheat we eat today was hybridized to have a higher gluten content, make it easier to harvest and more productive in the field. Some of the hybridization techniques were typical like a home gardner might do, but some were not. I think one of the biggest selling brands of wheat was modified by exposing it to a toxic chemical. So the wheat we eat today is not remotely the same genetically as the wheat eaten 100 years ago.

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