Why is Everyone Reacting to Gluten?
My local supermarket recently ran a newspaper ad stating that their bakery uses only non-GMO flour in their breads and pastries. I found their statement to be confusing, since all flour sold in the U.S. is non-GMO.
That said, there is a huge difference between the wheat that most Americans eat now compared to the wheat we consumed 50 years ago. The amount of confusion surrounding this issue has led me to write this detailed explanation of this important issue.
Around 1970, a new type of wheat was quietly put upon public supermarket shelves. It was the first crop to be genetically engineered. From that time forward, food in America would be forever changed. The general public was never told of this change; in fact, a great deal of time and money has gone into keeping these changes secret.
So, what is the difference between a food that has been genetically engineered (GM) and a food that is a genetically modified organism (GMO)? GMO’s are the result of a process of gene-splicing from virus’ and bacteria to create new seeds. There has been a slow, methodical creep of this kind of technology into American food over the past 5 decades.
You are no longer eating your grandfather’s wheat, corn or soy.
When I was a child, most people had never heard of of gluten intolerance. That is because largely, it did not exist. Today, gluten-free products are readily available and many people complain about negative reactions to wheat.
Why has the wheat changed and how have those changes effected the digestive health of America?
As with most of the newly created problems with our food and environment, the answer is “follow the money.” Wheat was altered with the goal of increasing the yield per acre. The plant was genetically engineered to grow shorter with a bigger diameter around the base so it would not blow over in the wind. During harvesting, more upright plants meant a larger yield. Therefore, it provided more money to the commercial farmer. That in itself does not sound bad, but there were other consequences.
Changing the plant also changed the gluten. Although it was probably an unintended consequence, the fact remained that a new grain was created. It contained much more gliadin, a type of gluten that causes inflammation in the intestines. A secondary problem with gliadin is that it binds to opiate receptors in the body and creates cravings for people to eat even more. This combination of factors has contributed to a snowballing-effect of digestive issues over the past 4 decades.
Unfortunately, it does not end there. We now have an additional problem with commercial wheat: Roundup. They recently added a new step to the harvest of the wheat: it is sprayed with Roundup/Glyphosate just before the harvest. This is done to kill the crop so that it can be plowed-under earlier before the onset of winter. An additional advantage to the commercial farmer is that it dries out the grain. Good for the farmers, but again, bad for the consumer. Non GMO-wheat is still genetically engineered and unless it is organic, it is still laden with herbicides that are toxic to the human body. The Roundup/Glyphosate increase has been scientifically correlated by researchers at MIT to the increase in many diseases, including Autism and Celiac.
The good news is that organic heritage wheat is still available to the consumer. You can purchase this from your local farmer’s market or health food store. If supermarket chain bakeries are interested in attracting an informed health-conscience consumer, it would be more helpful to ensure that organic heritage wheat flour is used in their breads and pastries.