Thursday, July 7, 2016

Is gluten killing you?

50 years ago, you never heard about anyone having a problem with gluten. Now it seems like everybody does. What’s going on? Should you care? Does it affect you?
What’s gluten? It is a protein in wheat, barley, and some other grains. When your baker mixes yeast into dough, gluten is the elastic stuff that allows the dough to form bubbles and rise so the bread isn’t hard as a rock.
However, medically:
“When patients with celiac sprue ingest gluten an…inflammatory response occurs that damages the mucosa of their intestines, resulting in maldigestion and malabsorption of food nutrients.”

It takes a biopsy of the gut to diagnose Celiac Disease positively but even without it, lots of people have noticed discomfort or problems after eating gluten, and have made themselves better by cutting gluten out of their diet.

This isn’t a fad. It isn’t ‘all in their head.’ It is estimated that 6% of Americans have full blown Celiac Disease. But an even greater number have some level of sensitivity to gluten.
A study of 354 patients with biopsy-confirmed Celiac Disease showed that all but 5 of them had a specific gene that is not present in people with no gluten problems.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t prove anything… 35% of the population has that gene!

Are we supposed to believe that, all of a sudden, over the last 50 years, one out of three people “evolved” a gene that makes them intolerant of gluten? Isn’t it more likely that scientists, in cross-breeding and hybridizing wheat over the past half century have created a food crop that grows great but is bad for you?

Consider some of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity:
  • Gastrointestinal issues, obviously. 
  • Joint and/or tissue aches and pain, which may or may not have been diagnosed as fibromyalgia. 
  • Chronic irritability, brain fog, depression or other emotional issues. Turns out the biotics living in your gut play a huge role in your mental health. (If you don’t trust links, just Google “GAPS fermented vegetables.”) 
  • Headaches and migraines. 
  • Neurological issues including dizziness, vertigo, and neuropathy. 
  • Fatigue, particularly right after eating gluten, which may or may not have been diagnosed as “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.” 
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion during or after eating gluten, which may or may not have been vaguely diagnosed or self-diagnosed as “allergies" or "food allergies.” 
  • Inflammation – commonly seen in such diseases as asthma, hay fever, arthritis, diabetes, periodontitis, coronary disease and ulcers. 
  • Acid reflux – there’s a reason why they’re pushing that ‘little purple pill.’ 
  • Chronic eczema, acne, or unexplained rashes.
Your great-grandparents typically didn't have most of these complaints.

Wheat was one of man’s earliest staples. In Genesis 3:19, right after Adam messed up, God told him: “By the sweat of your face will you eat bread..." indicating that Adam and Eve were familiar with fire and baking, (sorry, raw-foodies), as well as planting and harvesting (sorry evolutionists, they were not ‘hunter-gatherers’).
That “bread” could have been cooked from wheat, barley, or some other grain. A couple millennia later, Genesis 30:14 uses the specific word “wheat:”
“In the days of the wheat harvest Reuben went and found mandrakes in the field..."
The Hebrew word translated “wheat,” chitah, is the same word still used in Hebrew today for wheat.

The word may not have changed, but the plant has. In the twentieth century, with a finite amount of land but a rising demand for food, farmers began experimenting with artificial fertilizers. These made the wheat stalks grow taller; but a strong wind could blow the plants down before harvest.

At the end of World War II, a wheat expert named Cecil Salmon collected a variety of wheat in Japan that matured at only 2 feet tall, and he sent it back home to be cross-bred into the U.S. wheat crop. In 1952 Norman Borlaug, working in Mexico, developed a more fungus-resistant wheat, and that was bred in. Within a couple years he had increased the crop yield by a factor of three.

In 1956 – when everyone was watching radiation-mutant movies like “Godzilla,” “Rodan,” and “It came from Beneath the Sea,” a barley variety called Maythorpe was bombarded with radiation in a British experiment. One mutant strain that survived grew barley plants that were shorter and stiffer. The new strain was crossed with another that was more salt tolerant, and the new strain was dubbed ‘Golden Promise’ barley.

Since then, science has bombarded plants with neutrons, x-rays, and harsh, carcinogenic chemicals to mess with their DNA. If a plant survived and produced seeds, any usable features were cross-bred into the food supply.

In 1983 gene splicing began. Scientists no longer have to bother randomly damaging the DNA and waiting to see what mutants grow. Their justification for Genetically Modified Organisms is higher yield, lower pesticide use and, they claim, lower cost food.

But one has to wonder: Did the scientists ever ask themselves what all their improvements were doing to the most important part of the plant, the only important part, really… the part that goes in your mouth? Or was the criterion simply, ‘Well, it looks like wheat, and it tastes sorta like wheat…’

In the words of a character in the movie Jurassic Park, “Scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn't stop to think if they should.”

What can you do? Is gluten really bad for you? If so, how can you avoid it? That sounds exactly like a setup for my next column.

Bill K. Underwood is a columnist and author of several books. You can help support this site by following this link to

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