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Has genetic manipulation played a part in gluten intolerance?

You will have probably heard or noticed the level of gluten intolerance that is sweeping the Western world. Everywhere you see gluten free alternatives on supermarket shelves, cafe windows, bakeries and other outlets where grain-based products are sold. These products are becoming more widespread as producers look to curb this sensitivity to digestion of certain grains.

What isn’t in doubt is the spread of the problem, however have you considered the cause of this gluten intolerance? Is it a new problem or have we always had this scourge?

A school of thought has emerged in recent times that links our society’s present problems with gluten intolerance and its connected maladies to the genetic manipulation of wheat that has occurred in recent decades.

For the grain used today is vastly different from that used in ancient times. Wheat has been grown, harvested and eaten for many thousands of years by humans, however the grain consumed in the past, such as spelt, kamut, emmer and einkorn, differs markedly from the dwarf type of strain developed in recent years.

New forms of grain (including the dwarf strain) have been genetically modified to improve productivity. In this it has been very successful with genetically modified strains underpinning the Green Revolution and increased yield by grain farmers particularly in the developing world.

Dr Norman Borlaug, known as Father of the Green Revolution, deservedly received the Nobel Peace Prize, the World Food Prize and the Indian Padma Vibhushan award for his magnificent work in increasing food yields to better feed the world’s growing population. Dr Borlaug was instrumental in developing the dwarf strain of wheat, a high yield and disease resistant variety that has indeed helped to improve the world’s food security, particularly in countries where grain shortage is a major problem.

However has increased yield come at a big cost to our health?

Many researchers now theorise that the cause of the gluten intolerance lies in the peptide strand in the gluten molecule. This strand wasn’t present in more ancient strands of wheat and recent studies have concluded that it is possible that recent, highly-processed forms of bread made from modern strains of wheat have contributed to a number of modern day diseases diet-related diseases. These include gluten intolerance, coeliac disease, obesity and diabetes.

According to a number of studies, the type of bread we eat is linked to these epidemics. This appears by and a wider range of such as the Atkins, Dukan and South Beach diets now recommend restricting bread in favour of protein.

The argument is that modern strains of wheat, developed to enhance yield, has become destructive to many of our bodily functions. The damage caused to our health from the resulting spikes in blood sugar and other health problems and points to the problems that have been brought by genetically modified foods in general. (This is an issue we will go into in more detail in our next article.)

So have you had experience with gluten insensitivity or coeliac disease? Have you restricted your carbohydrate intake to help you lose weight or improve your health? Do you think modern wheat is more destructive than ancient strains? We’d like to hear your thoughts, please enter your comments below.

As always Syndian Natural Food Products provides a wide range of gluten free products for those looking to reduce — or avoid altogether — the consumption of gluten. Please contact us for any queries on any of our available products.


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