Why is the Real Coconut Kitchen gluten free?
Gluten, a curse to some and a real pleasure to others, or a bit of both to many. We purposefully have chosen not to have any products containing gluten on our menu, or in our products, as one of our main objectives is to promote and support good gut health for all. We passionately believe that good gut health is the basis of all well being and that is why we curated a menu designed to support and nourish the digestive tract as much as possible.
Gluten is notoriously problematic for the digestive system, anecdotally and scientifically. The amount of times people have told me that they are fine with gluten, yet when questioned a little bit further, we uncover all sorts of gut related issues which, even they admit, are relieved when removing glutinous products from their diet. I am a qualified practitioner in the GAPS protocol (Gut & Psychology Syndrome) which focuses on healing the gut in order to put a number of health conditions into remission or even reverse them completely. The main point being that bad gut health can create havoc with many other mental and physical systems e.g. autism, depression, schizophrenia, autoimmune conditions, skin conditions and many others. If you have any kind of chronic condition then I would passionately recommend looking at improving your gut health as a foundation for healing.
Let’s get back to gluten - haven’t humans always eaten bread?
Well, gluten content in many products has actually risen over the years. Wheat for example has been hybridised to increase its yield so that production is higher. This has subsequently lead to an increase in gluten content. People historically also ate ancient wheat grains like spelt and einkorn which are very different to modern wheat strains. Bread traditionally was fermented before baking using a sourdough culture to make it more digestible, but this practice is now normally only reserved for special artisan breads. The average loaf on the market now is highly refined, low in nutrients and hard to digest. A 'bread-like' product you could say.
Ok, but….specifically, what is bad about gluten?
Right, so I think it’s really important to get to grips with some of the science to really understand what the big deal is here. Me simply telling you ‘gluten is bad, okay’ just won’t convey it. So, here goes:
Basically, gluten is a protein, high in another class of proteins called gliadins which comes under the umbrella term of a prolamin. This may sound a bit long-winded but it’s good to break it down! A prolamin is simply a storage protein found in the seeds of cereal grains, and which is high in the amino acid proline.
So to summarise all the above, gluten is a seed storage protein. Sounds quite cosy!
However, gliadin (a protein that is contained within the gluten molecule), when ingested, has been shown to stimulate, within the GI tract, the release of another protein called zonulin ,from the cells lining the intestines. Lots of protein action going on here!
Zonulin triggers the opening and closing of the very tight junctions that are found in between all the cells lining the gut wall. These junctions are meant to be able to open and close in order to let specific molecules pass through the gut wall, into the bloodstream, however this is meant to be a controlled process designed to let in only specific nutrients and molecules. Gliadin has been shown to inappropriately stimulate the release of zonulin, which if secreted in high doses, can cause the tight junctions to open when they are not meant to and for longer periods of time than is normally intended.
Now here is the important part...
When the tight junctions are open, this allows for uninvited particles to pass through....these ‘wanderers’ then come into contact with the gut-associated lymphoid tissue (the GI tract's own immune system) which causes the immune system to jump into action as it perceives these particles as invaders. In essence they are triggering an immune response which leads to inflammation. Inflammation is actually great in some cases as it is an important part of the immune response, but it becomes problematic when it becomes chronic, as the body is not meant to be in a state of chronic inflammation.
Prolamins, which are found in wheat, also contribute to an imbalance in gut flora as that they are so difficult for our body to digest. This is because gliadin stops certain digestive enzymes from working which are needed to break down the sugars and proteins in the wheat, as the wheat is suppressing the enzyme activity needed to do this. If your gut cells are also already damaged then that is also going to reduce their ability to produce digestive enzymes even more. So these undigested molecules continue to pass through the intestines providing food for certain strains of gut bacteria, the result being that only these strains of bacteria grow excessively in numbers. This leads to an imbalance in gut flora which is called gut dysbiosis….which basically means that there is a microbial imbalance.
Gut dysbiosis...sounds strange...
Gut bacteria perform so many different functions which are essential for good gut health and proper absorption of nutrients. Gut dysbiosis is normally present in people with any kind of gut problem, autoimmune diseases and especially in GAPS patients. Gut dysbiosis can contribute to leaky gut as the gut lining is left vulnerable, undernourished and weak. Why? Because our gut flora protect and feed the intestinal cells. Anything that can deplete your gut bacteria needs to be avoided if you want to have a healthy digestive system. Nourish your cells and feed your bacteria!
Wow, that’s a lot of info!
I could go on but it just gets a bit too much and we are all operating on information overload these days.
The important thing to know is that we have become a society consuming gluten containing products, way too often, and way too much, and those that we do, are often hybridized. This means that our gut lining never gets a break from this ongoing 'attack' and can end up manifesting as anything from mild to serious symptoms, as our bodies try to manage the influx.
Anyway, there are a few nice tit bits here for you to chew on, which I hope will give you a clear explanation as to why we have chosen not to include gluten containing foods in the menu. We want everyone to leave the restaurant feeling good, nourished and satiated so some things just need to be left of the menu.