Is Gluten-Free the Answer?

Reader Contribution by Sue Van Slooten
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Humans have been eating wheat and its variants (triticale, among others) for millions of years — at least 3.4 million, to be exact. But in the last 20 years or so, a sizable portion of North Americans say they can’t eat it. What happened?

As an anthropologist, this always puzzled me, as humans, or any animal or plant for that matter, does not naturally mutate that quickly. I concluded it had to be GMOs or antibiotics, but in the last few months, I even began to question those, not that they are good for us.

Impact of Processed Foods On Our Digestive Tracts

It’s like a puzzle, with half the pieces missing. Now, the key word here is naturally. What we’ve done to our digestive systems eating modern highly processed and commercially produced products may play a huge part. The path towards ever-more processed, chemically adulterated, highly unnatural “food” started shortly after World War II, and has continued to advance at an alarming rate.

This brings us to now, with evidence coming out recently questioning whether we really need to eat gluten free, unless of course, we have Celiac Disease. That is a very serious disease indeed for the folks who suffer from it, and wheat should be avoided at all cost. But what about the rest of us?  

It would appear, in a recent book named Eat Wheat by Dr. John Douillard, that digestive issues are indeed the problem, but it’s not the gluten causing it. In other words, the digestive issues folks are reporting are not caused by gluten, but a poor digestive system in the first place. So by eating gluten free, it would seem, we are treating the symptoms and not the underlying illness.

If you take up a gluten-free diet, yes, your symptoms will abate for a while. But the underlying poor digestive system is still there. This is a serious issue, as the harder to digest gluten and dairy molecules will leave your digestion quite unhappy. There are tests to determine if you should be on a gluten free diet — Dr. Douillard suggests you get them done by your physician to determine if it is the gluten, or yet another allergy or problem within your diet.

Processed Foods and Big Ag

Many who have read my blogs in the past know I am no friend to Big Ag, with the adulterated food they engineer and produce, even to the point of getting us addicted to their junk food and sugary products (it’s not just soda, but sugar is in everything. Take a look at ketchup, for example.) They aim to get us conditioned to not cook, not eat fresh foods, seek out convenience foods and junk. And, they have succeeded most profitably. They are laughing all the way to the bank!

Meanwhile, we’re getting sicker and sicker, more obese, more miserable, to the point where in trying to make ourselves feel better, we rule out entire food groups. Ancient man would be scratching his head at this point: What, not eat food? And what is profit?

To be honest, grains were what our ancestors turned to in order to fill their bellies when the hunt didn’t go so well. They ate seed heads, berries, tubers, grubs, insects (yes, grubs and insects are highly nutritious, I will leave those for others to try), fruits, fish, small animals, snails, roots and grasses, i.e., wheat. Hunting and gathering in other words, with the bulk of the diet coming from the gathering side of the equation.

The hunting aspect is another story, perhaps I’ll cover that one in another blog, but meat had its own problems, as early on, it was eaten raw. As you can see, diet is never a simple matter, but what we need to do in this modern, over-processed world of ours, is to take some time out to consider, do we really need to eat all that over-processed food at all?


Douillard, Dr. John. Eat Wheat: A Scientific and Clinically-Proven Approach to Safely Bringing Wheat and Dairy Back Into Your Diet.”New York, NY: Morgan James Publishing, 2017.

Schatzer, Mark. The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2015.  

Sue Van Slooten teaches cooking and baking classes at her home on beautiful Big Rideau Lake, Ontario, Canada. She specializes in small classes for maximum benefit. Follow her homesteading adventures and check out her class offerings at If you wish, you can email Sue at She would be thrilled to hear from you! Read all of Sue’s MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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