Gluten Allergy: Latest Self-Diagnosed/Misdiagnosed Trend or…?

Growing up, I never heard of anyone being allergic to bread or peanut butter.  Never.  Then again, you didn’t hear about people being diagnosed with cancer as much back then, and many point to the advances in screening procedures as the reason for the increases in cancer.  And while this possibly explains the increase in diagnosed cases of cancer, some research points to other possibilities for coeliac disease.  Coeliac disease occurs in people whose bodies cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat that gives bread its elasticity and “chewiness.”  This protein remains undigested in some people, and triggers the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine, causing diarrhea, nausea and abdominal pain.

Researchers at the Mayo clinic in the USA recently analyzed blood samples from Air Force recruits that had been stored since the early 1950s for gluten antibodies. Barring any external influences, the rate of instances testing positive should be consistent with our current rate of 1%. However, they found that the number of positive results were less than a quarter of the 1% that we find occurring today. This indicates that coeliac disease was rare 60 years ago. Based on these results, a Mayo clinic spokesperson attributed the increase in coeliac disease to something happening in a pervasive manner to our environment. So, the question is: What has happened to wheat?

There are those who point to our diet for the rise in coeliac disease and milder forms of gluten intolerance. They point out that the modern western diet is higher in grain carbohydrates than in past generations; and, that modern wheat is very different from the wheat of our ancestors due to hybridization that has changed the proportion of gluten to increase the amount of protein. They go on further to point out that until the 19th century, wheat was also usually mixed with other grains, beans and nuts; pure wheat flour has been milled into refined white flour only during the last 200 years.

However, although we’ve been using refined white flour for the last 200 years, this does not explain completely the rapid increase in coeliac disease from the 1950’s to 2010’s. Since the 1970’s, we’ve seen the western diet swing back to a more natural, organic, whole grain diet away from refined white flour. So what has changed in recent years that may be contributing to the rise in food allergy?

Gene-modified (GM) ingredients suddenly appeared in  2/3rds of all US processed foods between 1997 and 1999. This was due to a  Supreme Court ruling allowing for the first time, the patenting of life  forms for commercialization. I often wonder if increased food allergy is, in fact, an allergy to genetically modified crops like wheat and peanuts. There have been instances where Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) have been proven to be harmful, and there are stories and links that you can read to decide for yourself. Europe and India have banned imports of American and Canadian products using GMO ingredients.

Do I trust GMO crops? No, I have a “wait and see” attitude about accepting them. And until they have proven safe after decades of use, I’ll still consider them as foods to be avoided. The human body is a complex organism with a delicate balance of chemicals, as we learned with Thalidomide. Genetic modification changes how the human body chemically interacts in the digestion with a different foreign body. Whether you believe GMOs are harmful or not, one thing remains certain: GMOs are inadvertently cross-polinating with the crops of those who choose NOT to grow GMOs. And unfortunately, this makes their crops into hybrids that cannot be undone, or produce seeds that can be replanted for future crops. It’s bad enough that hybrids keep us dependent on commercial seed producers for our crop seeds. I say we keep GMos from contaminating our heirloom crops and livestock, so we can preserve some of our older strains of diversity. The links below are of others who do not trust in the safe use of GMOs, and provided for you to decide if their concerns have merit.

In 1989, when dozens of Americans died and several thousands were afflicted and impaired by a genetically altered version of the food supplement – L-tryptophan. A settlement of $2 billion dollars was paid by Showa Denko, Japan’s third largest chemical company. (Mayeno and Gleich, 1994).

In a study by the International Journal of Biological Sciences found that Monsanto genetically modified maize had effects on kidney and liver function, the two major organs responsible for filtering toxic substances in our body from digestion. Also frequently found were effects on heart, adrenal, spleen and blood cells.

Citation: Disabled World News (2010-01-30) – Data strongly suggests GM maize varieties induce a state of hepatorenal toxicity:

In 2005, a decade-long Australian project to develop genetically modified peas with built-in pest-resistance from genetic splicing had been abandoned after tests showed they caused allergic lung damage in mice.

Disabled World News (2009-09-22) – Genetically modified foods information including list of GM foods with dna changes and pros and cons of GM food:

One Response

  1. […] more information on GMOs, see my post on Sept. 5, 2012 Share this:PinterestRedditStumbleUponEmailFlattrFacebookTwitterLinkedInPrintDiggTumblrLike […]

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