What is Gluten and is it bad for you?

What is  gluten and is it really bad for you?

You will find the answers in this great interview with Angela Hermes.  Angela is a registered dietitian from Portland Oregon.  She specializes in chronic illnesses and vegetarian and vegan diets.   Her website is www.NourishingTransitions.com 

Stan: Hi, I am Stan Starsky from the healthy snacks cookbook Peace Love and Snacks and I am with Angela Hermes. She is a Registered Dietitian in Portland, Oregon, specializing in chronic illness and vegetarian and vegan diets. You can check out her website at nourishingtransitions.com. Welcome Angela, how are you?

Angela: I’m fine. Thanks for having me Stan.

Stan: Great, great. No, thank you. And we had talked about some of the questions that I have heard out there. And the first one that I want to start out with is what is gluten? Is it bad for you? I heard so much about gluten now.

Angela: Yeah, that’s a really big buzz word these days.

Gluten is a protein that’s found in a lot of common grains. It’s found in wheat, spelt, barley, rye and kamut. It’s a protein that actually helps breads, cookies and cakes to rise. As far as we know, it’s only bad for you if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. I always tell people that there’s no point in just cutting gluten out of your diet unless you have a food sensitivity test to determine whether you’re actually sensitive to gluten. Because if you cut it out of your diet, you may actually not be sensitive to it and then you would just end up wasting a lot of time and money and frustration (I’m sorry about the connection there).

For no reason whatsoever the food sensitivity test that I really like is called the Mediator Release Test. It’s a blood test that actually tests for sensitivity to all of the gluten containing grains, plus about 145 other foods. I think it’s a useful test because not only does it test for sensitivity to gluten containing grains, but as I said, it does test for sensitivity to a lot of other foods. This is significant because a lot of the times, people are sensitive to more than one food. So, if you cut out gluten from your diet and say you’re also sensitive to blueberries and rice, you may not actually feel better because you’re still having reactions to these other foods.

For example, I had a client recently who we thought was gluten sensitive and so we did the food sensitivity test for her and it turned out that she was right. She was gluten sensitive but she was also sensitive to 15 other foods including things like zucchini, broccoli and apples. And who would think to eliminate those foods from their diet? We think of those as being very healthy foods. So I think before cutting foods out of your diet, it’s always a good idea to have a test done before hand.

Stan: Excellent, excellent. Okay good. I didn’t realize that gluten was a protein. I had no idea actually.

Angela: Yeah it is.

Stan: Interesting. And what was the name of that test too? I know you said it but can you say that again?

Angela: It’s called the Mediator Release Test.

Stan: And if you take that test then you can find out whether you have a gluten … if you’re allergic to gluten then.

Angela: Yeah, it’s a test for sensitivity to the gluten containing grains.

Stan: Interesting.

Angela: So the five different gluten containing grains. Yeah.

Stan: Okay, very good. Very good. Excellent. Well, Angela I really appreciate that. This is a one out of a four part series and we’re going to talk again soon.

But once again I’m Stan Starsky with peaceloveandsnacks.com and you can check out my healthy cookbook there. As mentioned I’m with Angela Hermes. She is a Registered Dietitian in Portland, Oregon specializing in chronic illness and vegetarian and vegan diets. You should check out her website at  www.NourishingTransitions.com .


  1. Steve says:

    Very interesting…I also did not realize that gluten is a protien.

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