General Question

skadu's avatar

Why do more and more people seem to be allergic to wheat/gluten nowadays?

Asked by skadu (199points) November 2nd, 2009

It’s seems like the % of people who are allergic to wheat gluten is constantly increasing.

Is there some way to explain this? Is it diet related or is it something to do with the GMO wheat that we eat these days?

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19 Answers

Haleth's avatar

The percent of actual cases probably isn’t going up, just the rate of diagnosis.

lostinyoureyes's avatar

I read somewhere that stress causes a certain good bacteria in our digestive tract to go wonky and makes us sensitive to wheat, gluten and the such… I know you can’t get a worst explanation than that, sorry… but it’s all I remember from the article. So maybe people are getting more stressed?

skadu's avatar

Good point! I’ve been studying the ancient grains of the sumarian and egyptian people. The wheat they ate was called Einkorn and it had a 14 chromosome gluten structure. The wheat we eat today is genetically modified and has a 42 chromosome gluten structure.

I’m wondering if the GMO wheat we eat today may actually be the cause of the increase in gluten intolerance cases we hear about?

gemiwing's avatar

I asked Hubbs this just the other week while shopping. I agree that GMO probably has something to do with it. Looks like it’s time for some research (man I love research). I’m sure there’s a bit of Fad Food Science as well. (anyone remember carob?)

eponymoushipster's avatar

i think some of it has to do with the genetic modifications they’re making to wheat now. it can’t be good for us.

MissAnthrope's avatar

@gemiwing – Unfortunately, I do. I had a health nut mother that tried to pass off carob candy in my easter basket as chocolate. Yeah, it’s about as disappointing as getting coal in your stocking.. And what the hell, I say, like a kid won’t know the difference??? Thankfully, I had a cool aunt who supplied me with the real stuff on the sly.

gemiwing's avatar

@MissAnthrope Oh yeah, it was like charcoal-flavored tree bark. Yum!

oratio's avatar

@eponymoushipster Yes, I feel concerned about GMO’s as well.

gemiwing's avatar

I do want to make the point that Celiac disease is a serious condition- and I am in no way saying that it isn’t. Just that I’m more curious about why more people seem to be allergic/sensitive these days as well.

I don’t want to appear unfeeling towards those who truly suffer- I would cry for weeks if I couldn’t eat bread anymore and had to worry about being made ill by simply eating out.

fundevogel's avatar

@lostinyoureyes Unless you know the rate of gluten allergies in ancient Egypt (or any other historical time or place) we can’t assume it’s the type of wheat causing the problem. We can’t even assume that the allergy is on the rise. While it’s documented that gout, rickets, smallpox and polio (and all kinds of other things miserable enough to document) existed in ancient Egypt I don’t think gluten allergies were discovered, let alone diagnosed, until very recently. Unless you could forensically diagnose the allergy there is no way to tell what the rate of the allergy was historically.

I don’t think anyone’s been aware of it long enough to know what the percentage of it should be.

avvooooooo's avatar

Its much better diagnosed these days. Many of the things that are “on the rise” are just better/more diagnosed than they ever have been in the past. Autism is another example.

fundevogel's avatar

I think in the past people didn’t bother going to the doctor unless they had more obvious afflictions. Everyone was too busy with gangrene and the galloping consumption to discover non-life threatening conditions.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Actually, I think GMO is just one reason for the increase in cases, as are better diagnostics.

My main concern lies in the fact that gluten is in so many products now as a thickener & stabilizer.

skadu's avatar

This study outlines the findings from research which shows a lack of toxicity of T. monococcum (a.k.a. Einkorn) gliadin in an in vitro organ culture system, suggesting new dietary opportunities for celiac patients.

I’m sure more people are being diagnosed than before but I also think there is something up with the varieties of wheat available to us today.

ccrow's avatar

@SpatzieLover I think as the awareness grows (& as manufacturers realize there is money to be made) we will see more & more gluten-free products becoming available. I have noticed this trend already in only a few years.

SpatzieLover's avatar

@ccrow So have I. My husband & I are shocked by the products that now include gluten that didn’t used to. It’s in salad dressings and sauces and hidden in thickening ingredients. We try to buy gluten-free, corn syrup free, organic products whenever possible.

ccrow's avatar

@SpatzieLover I guess they’re probably using it, at least in part, for texture issues after they remove fat etc?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@ccrow Yes, I think it has a lot to do w/the “Fat-Free” craze…notice how much the gluten allergies have gone up since the 80’s and it links together well

skadu's avatar

Looks like einkorn wheat is a new site dedicated to researching the grain called einkorn. It even addresses the questions about whether people with gluten intolerance can eat it.

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