Chris Y Perez

Why are we seeing more gluten sensitivities?

Gluten has been in our food for centuries but why has there been a rise in gluten sensitivities and associated ailments?  See “Is Gluten Triggering Your Symptoms?

Studies have established the link between gluten in the diet of patients with Celiac Disease (CD) and irritable bowel disease (IBD). However, patients without CD have also been observed to have gluten sensitivity. More studies are beginning to understand non-Celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

Gluten is a group of proteins found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. It means “glue” and is responsible for bread and pasta’s sticky and chewy properties. 

The problem is that gluten is a difficult protein to digest. It can trigger “leaky” for people with weak digestive systems, especially when eaten frequently.

When the gut is permeable, toxins from the digestive system enter the body, and nutrients are not taken up efficiently. When gluten enters the body it drives inflammation. The inflammation that causes a “leaky gut” can also trigger a “leaky brain” (Obrenovich, 2018).

When gluten enters the brain, it acts like a drug and has a dope-like effect causing a foggy brain (Obrenovich, 2018). This is commonly observed in children/adults in the autism spectrum. See “Gluten and Autism“.

Why are we seeing more gluten sensitivity today? That is a very complex question and there are several reasons. However, from the agriculture and food industry perspective, gluten is sought after because it improves the texture of breads, pasta, and pastries. Agricultural practices have increased gluten in wheat via breeding varieties with higher gluten content. Furthermore, nitrogen fertilizers increase the gluten content of wheat. 

Mandai and Verma (2021) identify the increase in gluten via wheat breading and nitrogen fertilizers in modern agricultural practices. Pesticides further aggravate Celiac disease.

 

References:

1. Obrenovich M. E. M. (2018). Leaky Gut, Leaky Brain?. Microorganisms6(4), 107. https://doi.org/10.3390/microorganisms6040107

2. Mandal, S., & Verma, A. K. (2021). Wheat Breeding, Fertilizers, and Pesticides: Do They Contribute to the Increasing Immunogenic Properties of Modern Wheat? Gastrointestinal Disorders, 3(4), 247-264. https://doi.org/10.3390/gidisord3040023