Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gluten: Friend or foe?

Gluten: Friend or Foe?

I get asked this question a lot; “Are we more intolerant to gluten now or have diseases like celiac’s and gluten sensitivity finally just made it mainstream and so we are more aware of gluten?”
I think the answer is twofold, but a lot of the intolerances to gluten have been fairly recent due to the way grains like wheat are grown and farmed now. 

Dr. Monroe says, “The wheat we have now is different than what it used to be.  It’s a hybridized version. Wheat was about 4.5 feet tall and would fall down in bad weather so a lot of the crops were wasted.  In the hybridization process, they now have dwarfed wheat that is much higher in gluten and they have found a bunch of new proteins that weren’t in the original wheat.  The human body is having trouble dealing with those new proteins and higher gluten content.  I truly believe that’s what happening now.  The autism rate is skyrocketing as well (from this and immunizations).”

In addition, it’s almost impossible to avoid.  I’ve just discovered I’m gluten intolerant (non-celiac) and was already sensitive to wheat and corn.  It isn’t a huge adjustment because of that, but I have to be more careful now when eating out, buying packaged foods, or at social gatherings.  It really limits what you can consume…not to mention beer!

My general rule: stick with food you cooked yourself, healthy staples like vegetables, meats, fruit, and food in its original form. If you need a bakery fix: Rice flour works amazingly as a flour substitute.  When I bake, people can’t tell the difference.  Unfortunately for me, gluten-free baked goods sold in stores still contain ingredients that bother my stomach- tapioca starch, corn, maltodextrin, xanthan gum, and corn starch are all commonly used, so watch out if you think this may be a problem for you.  If it's not, there are several stores and bakeries in the area offering options for you.

Dr. Monroe offers allergy testing in her office- no needles, pricks, or blood tests involved.  Contact her if you think you might be suffering from a gluten sensitivity, IBS, celiac disease, or just have questions. 916-448-9927 or  She is located in Sacramento, CA.

·    Contact us if you have any questions!! We're no strangers to gluten sensitivity and would be happy to help.

 -                  -Briana & Dr. Mom 

Some history about the changes in wheat:
In 1943, the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (IMWIC) began to help Mexico achieve agricultural self-sufficiency.  This grew into a worldwide effort to increase the yield of corn, soy, and wheat.  Hybridization took over soon, and many different strains of wheat were being planted and harvested. 
By 1980, thousands of new strains of wheat had been produced.  These new varieties were geared towards making the plant resistant to environmental conditions, developing a greater resistance to pathogens (such as fungus), and an increased yield per acre (tenfold greater than farms of a century ago).
The increased yield meant top heavy plants.  Grain losses occurred as plants could not withstand the weight.  Due to this, manipulation occurred to produce a smaller “dwarf” variety of wheat.
There are numerous farms which grow and harvest wheat, however these are not available on the commercial market. 
Despite these increases in crop yield, no animal or human safety testing had been conducted on these new strains of wheat.  Geneticists were confident that hybridization yielded safe products for human consumption.  Products were released into the market, unquestioned.  The assumption was that altered protein structures, enzyme qualities, and gluten content would have no human consequence. 
It was later discovered that wheat gluten had the most significant changes with hybridization. 
Upon comparison of two parent strains of wheat, 95% of the proteins expressed in the offspring are same, 5% are unique, found in neither parent.  When compared to century-old strains of wheat, gluten proteins associated with celiac disease were found in higher quantities.   

New, never-before-seen gluten proteins are now being discovered which are foreign to the body.  Some estimates suggest that the hybridization and genetic engineering of wheat has resulted in an up to 500 fold increase in wheat gluten produced today.  This may be one of the primary reasons behind the massive rise in incidence of wheat gluten intolerance and celiac disease in recent decades.       

  •         More than 99% of wheat crops are now “dwarfed,” growing to only 18” tall.
Non-hybridized wheat grows naturally to 4.5 feet tall.
  •        New proteins are forming which the body is unfamiliar with.

(*Information courtesy of DiagnosTechs Gastrointestinal Health Panel, 2012)

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