Home Baked Bread and Memories

Bread baking and cooking and eating many gluten foods are deeply steeped in cultures and rituals of family, food, memories, and love. I grew up waking up to the smell of freshly baked bread every Sunday morning when I stayed over at my Grandmother Bentley's house.  On Saturday night after she got out of work from the night shift at the convalescent home she worked at, she would start the bread dough.  By early morning after it had risen all night long there would be bowls of yeasty smelling bread dough ready to knead by hand and put into the bread loaf pans.  The smell wafting out of the oven of those freshly baked loaves of bread and the ensuing taste of warm buttered bread slices is one of my favorite foodie memories.  Alas, my Grandmother's bread may have been the devil at the root of her diseases. Both of my Grandmother's hands and fingers were horribly disfigured from arthritis. Sheand other family members led me to believe it was caused from years of knitting (and probably kneading the dough too..).  Grandma Bentley also had diabetes that eventually caused her feet to lose circulation of blood and so afflicted that she could no longer walk.  And worse, she ended up dying from stomach cancer.  Hmmmm.  It couldn't have been caused by the gluten from the amount of breads and pastries that my grandmother baked and consumed could it? 

It seems many people do not want to consider the growing evidence that gluten is the root of many autoimmune and other diseases.  What I hear from most folks when I mention the "grain connection" and a Paleo diet is how grains are healthy and good for them.  Unfortunately for my Grandmother, the evidence about gluten intolerance was not there. Although she, like many others, most likely did not know about gluten intolerance back then. My fond memories of growing up with the smell and taste of the best bread I have ever had in my life to this day is also why part of going Paleo is so hard. 

My favorite part of the meal at a restaurant is and has always been the bread served at the beginning of it. So I get why so many people are resistant to the idea of living gluten free. With the research being done now and when so many autoimmune diseases can be linked to gluten I had to see the writing on the wall and cut out the bread and other gluten  foods. I want to be healthy into my old age and not follow into my Grandmother's footsteps ending up with diabetes, arthritis and any other autoimmune disease, both of which may be put in check from giving up the grain. Edit: As of this edit (11/12/23)there are so many gluten free options available that lots of breads can be made to taste pretty good. Not like the old days but there are many that are pretty decent tasting. 

If you are unsure what an autoimmune disease is here's a list of some of them: myasthenia gravis, Addison's,  Lupus, polymyalgia rheumatica, scleroderma, vitiligo, ulcerative colitis, and Graves. Other diseases and symptoms: alopecia, autoimmune thyroiditis, schizophrenia, depression, rheumatioid arthritis, fibromyagia, and something many would probably not even associate with anything other than what it is, recurrent urinary tract infection! 

So do your research, read about gluten and disease and make your decision.   I have my loving memories of my Grandmother and time spent with her baking bread and pies.  That's the good part. Then I think about how she died and how it could have been different, how her end of life years could have been pleasant instead of riddled with pain.