Ask Rocco 01/12/16


Is gluten really the enemy?

Normally I don’t jump on a bandwagon when science and emotion buck heads, but this whole gluten-free thing is out of control. The reality is that it doesn’t have anything to do with gluten and has everything to do with the rest of your diet.

I want to start off by telling you gluten is a protein that hasn’t changed its genetics in at least 50 years, or whenever scientists started studying it. Some activists believe the GMO wheat has something to do with how gluten is processed in the body, and that may be true—but there has been no science to back that up just yet. Based on much of the research I have done, gluten problems are pure bullshit. It has nothing to do with gluten and everything to do with the health of your gastro-intestinal tract. Some scientists say it is genetic within some human beings, but I will contend your gut needs to get healthy.

The average person cripples their gastro-intestinal tract by eating shitty foods day in and day out. We eat way too much bread, cereal and grains, which causes irritation in your intestines. The irritation—not gluten—is what most likely is causing your bowels distress. Think of it this way … or actually, do this little experiment. Take a nylon brush (scrub brush, hair brush, just don’t use a paint brush) and rub it across your forearm. Do you notice the irritation? Redness and pain is instantaneous. Most breads, cereals and grain-based products have a brushing style that pushes the food waste through your GI tract. Now, in small amounts this brushing effect doesn’t cause any damage but when we consume an overabundance of breads, cereals and grains as is recommended in the USDA’s food pyramid, your intestines take a literal beating every day.

Look at the absurdity in the photo, which suggests 6-11 servings of grains a day. If you ask me, this is the dumbest thing I have ever seen. The USDA is telling us that it’s a good idea to eat twice as many grain-based products than fruits or vegetables and almost as much meat. This goes against everything our body actually needs. We need twice as many fruits and vegetables with a reduced amount of muscle meat (chicken, beef, turkey and pork) as well as a reduction in grain-based products. If we reduced our muscle meat intake to 10 percent of our protein intake and doubled our fruits and vegetables and then cut our grain intake by half, you would see a dramatic reduction in fat or obese people and diseases related to those conditions.

For years, we were told that whole grains were something of a health food. I just think that the food industry wants to make us sick because nothing could be further from the truth.

Remember that brushing illustration I gave you earlier? The more whole grains that are in your product such as bread, the more irritants will be present and create inflammation, irritation and lesions on your small intestine. To understand this concept, I have to back up a bit. For years I was told that “fiber” was a good thing, that it helped “clean up” the intestinal tract … well, that is half true. Whole grains are what many called fiber and many thought that fiber and its broom-like sweeping could be a good thing pushing all the waste through your digestive system. So in the name of health, everyone consumed many more whole grains than we should have while causing intestinal distress. Here’s why: your intentional tract has indented folds, with little finger-like protrusions called villi and microvilli that increase the surface of your intestine to help in the absorption of nutrients, much of which are amino acids, fatty acids and sugars (saccharides). The main problem with grain-based products is they will brush on these villi and microvilli and create inflammation, which blocks off the nutrient pathways and doesn’t allow nutrients to get through. If sugars or fats can’t be absorbed and processed through the liver and stay in the intestines, many ugly things usually happen. This is why gluten is the usual suspect. When gluten isn’t able to be absorbed, bacteria grab a hold of it and begin a fermenting process, which can cause gas, bloating and diarrhea. The same thing happens if you consume too much grain-based products. The irritants in the grain-based products rub the little villi raw, causing inflammation—inflammation stops nutrient absorption through the small intestine. Without absorption (you guessed it), nutrients like protein, sugar and fats get taken hostage by the bacteria in your small intestine and the fermenting process begins. And with that, intestinal distress.

Obviously you can see that in general I’m not a big fan of breads, cereals and grain-based products because of the damage they can do to your digestive system. Some safe guards I would adopt if I were you is to reduce your bread, muffin, bagel, cake and anything that has milled flour in it and eat more fruits and vegetables instead. If you need to eat bread try sourdough, but also in moderation. I will be doing a future column on why sourdough bread is better bread.

The views and opinions expressed in Ask Rocco are the views and/or opinions of the author and do not reflect the views and/or opinions of the Dayton City Paper or Dayton City Media and are published strictly for entertainment purposes.

Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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Rocco Castellano is the author of “askROCCO Uncensored v1,” a speaker and a controversial fitness personality who has won an Emmy for his fitness training role in MTV’s Made. For more information, please visit

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