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Theory about rise in gluten sensitivity/celiac?

I went to a foodie type talk last night and the chef on the panel was talking a lot about grains, and passionately exploring getting back to real grains, like the corn the Indians grew (and sold to Italy, which is why their polenta is better than ours, because we don't have the same kind of corn anymore). During Q&A someone asked about whether or not he had a theory about the rise in gluten intolerance and Celiac and he theorized that it's because of the introduction of something called "dwarf wheat," which is a shorter and sturdier wheat that was developed by 1 guy and is now basically ALL the wheat in the country. It doesn't get too tall so it doesn't fall over and die and kill the wheat crops. But it also has like 20x the gluten than real wheat. He said that perhaps over a long, long period of time, our bodies could have adapted to this, but not in the 20 or 30 years since this has become the only type available, and that this is why so many people have a problem. Not science by any means, just his personal theory.

Do any of my fellow hounds have more information about this type of wheat or any theories as to whether or not this could indeed be a major contributing factor? Just curious what you all think. I found it intriguing, and no, I do not have a gluten problem. OTOH I don't eat a lot of bread, though i do eat pasta regularly.

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  1. Wheat and corn are two unrelated plants. Gluten sensitivity is only a wheat issue.

    The corn the Italians prefer is a flint corn, akin to that grown on the northern American coast. The American south has preferred dent corn. While they have different cooking qualities, I have not read of any significant nutritional differences. In fact, when poor Italians started to subsist on corn (polenta) they developed pellegra, due to a deficiency of niacin. American Indians did not have this problem with their corn based diet because they processed their corn with an alkali, which freed the niacin (e.g. Mexican corn tortillas). That process was also used in the American south to produce hominy.

    I doubt if there has been a significant change in the protein (gluten) content of wheat in recent decades. Bakers and pasta makers are keenly aware of the protein level of their flour. Italian durum wheat is particularly good for pasta because it is high in gluten, and has been for centuries. Moderately high protein flour is good for bread, but a lower protein flour is better for cakes, biscuits, and most pastries.

    Common wheat is higher in protein than most related grains, such as spelt, farro, rye, barley, etc. But that's been the case for centuries. That claim of a 20x increase in the last couple of decades is clearly suspect.

    9 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      I know wheat and corn are different :) He was drawing similar paralells to what has happened to our corn as to what has happened to our wheat. If you look up dwarf wheat, I think the theory has merit.

      1. re: rockandroller1

        I don't see the parallels. What do you have in mind when you say 'what has happened to our corn'?

        What am I supposed to learn about dwarf wheat? A change in stalk length does not necessarily mean a change in protein content of the grain.

        1. re: paulj

          It's not just a shorter growing wheat. It's a more intense product. Concentrated, if you will.

          Sorry I'm not being clear about the corn. Corn has nothing to do with this post except to say that the speaker in his talk said that we no longer grow the variety of corn that the indians did, called 8 row corn, which did not have the germ (and select nutrients) removed. he got ahold of some and grew it himself and ground it for polenta and it was like being transported to italy and unlike all the the other corn we have here, which is all the same and not 8-row. That 8 row is what they grow in italy and is why their polenta is so much better than ours.

          The parallel is that (he alleges) we have been bastardizing our grains for several decades now and are losing out for it - sometimes in taste and nutrition, but sometimes with a punishment like increased celiac. He also said the same thing has happened to rice.

          1. re: rockandroller1

            The presence, or not, of the germ has nothing to do with the variety of corn, but with the milling method. All corn has a germ.

            1. re: rockandroller1

              The focus of the drcranton article is the milling method, not the varieties of wheat, new or old.

        2. re: paulj

          Gluten sensitivity is to wheat, barley, rye and oats (unless the oats are certified gluten free). I have celiac disease and cannot have even a speck of one of these.

          1. re: paulj

            Does anybody know why it used to be called "celiac sprue"? That s what they called in the '70s, when some of the more avant-garde GI docs at work were investigating the phenomenon.

            1. re: EWSflash

              sprue is an old term for chronic nutrient malabsorption, and that's one of the major symptoms/effects of Celiac.

          2. Rodale Books has published a book by William Davis that does try to blame this dwarf wheat, but I can't find much of the subject beyond his blog and promo info. So far it looks like a one-man band.

            1 Reply
            1. re: paulj

              Interesting, I may look for that. It's apparently at least a 2 man band at this point, as the speaker last night was not Mr. Davis, and he was going to meet with a wheat breeder who also has the same belief and is now doing his own wheat that is the kind that predates dwarf wheat. Thanks for answering my post!

            2. My theory: in the past these people would have died earlier in life or have been treated as invalids.

              3 Replies
              1. re: FoodPopulist

                I think this theory has a lot of merit.

                There were many undiagnosed illnesses back in the day that seem to have similar symptoms to celiac. "Irritable bowel syndrome" for one.

                My wife is celiac but before she was diagnosed in 1993 she almost died of malnutrition because the villi in her stomach had flattened out and she wasn't absorbing any nutrients, even though eating 4,000 - 5,000 calories per day. She went through several doctors before a Mayo Clinic GI doc figured it out.

                Easy to see how someone with similar symptoms could have simply wasted away 30 years earlier when much less was known about the allergy.

                1. re: willyum

                  Old thread, I know, but I wonder if that general term regarding diarrhea was not just a severe form of some food intolerance that led to horrible bowel problems and ultimately wasting away. I wonder if it was just "misdiagnosed" and labeled something else that today we know as Celiac Disease.

                  1. re: gardencook

                    The Wiki article cites various old references that sound like Celiac. But the link to gluten was only made around WW2 by a Dutch physician who noticed a decrease in symptoms in some patients and attributed it to shortages of things like bread.

              2. The chef's pronouncement on wheat is pure hooey; American farmers have grown the same 3 types of wheat for generations.

                1. Junk theory. Component content profile per unit of volume has not changed that much. Not anything like that.

                  1. Rise in incidence of celiac disease - invention of a blood test leads to more testing leads to increased awareness in people and clinicians leads to more dx.

                    Rise in incidence of gluten sensitivity (different disease process) - more press about it makes people look at it in their own diet and decide how their bodies handle it. It is a dx of exclusion, not inclusion in the mainstream medical world, meaning after you exclude celiac or other causes of GI distress, etc. etc.

                    I have Celiac - had it for at least 15 years before being dxed. My docs had no idea how prevalent it was despite the fact I had down the list classic symptoms. Like many others I went to so many doctors who all had different theories, but nobody thought about the rare "Celiac disease" I was dxed after my son. At 2 years old, all I had to do was take him to a pediatrician, describe symptoms and the red flag went off for the (young) doc. Blood test, dx..done. (not everyone is so lucky).

                    Point being I am not sure we can really say there is an increase, may just be better diagnostics.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jsaimd

                      Exactly. I, too, have celiac disease and strongly believe that awareness is far greater than even a year ago. It is mandatory in Italy, for example, to be tested by the age of either 5 or 6 because it is extremely prevalent there.

                    2. Thanks all. I thought it was an interesting theory but like I said, it was just one guy's opinion and I was interested in what you all would say.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: rockandroller1

                        It never hurts to explore such topics! :-)

                        1. re: rockandroller1

                          I know this is an older thread, but I thank you anyway. I read an article about this as well, that in the '70s this dwarf strain was created (modified? whatever) and now its dominant. That it also has way more gluten and spikes blood sugar faster (which, seems odd, if it has more gluten would it have less sugar? anyway...) I find it interesting as well, but it is definitely hard to explore the topic without people who obviously have it ALL figured out dismissing it all as quackery. Something has caused the spike in allergies, obesity, etc. and I definitely believe genetic modification could be a cause. For my purposes, simply finding bread without "wheat gluten" as a separate added ingredient has been a challenge -- I have no issues with gluten, but when it is added separately, that means it was extracted with sulfites and I do have a huge problem with those. same thing with corn starch and other starches.

                          Keep asking good questions!

                          1. re: dairygodmother

                            "which, seems odd, if it has more gluten would it have less sugar? anyway..." - shouldn't that be a good enough reason to doubt that article?

                            I outlined a theory that the certain alergenic proteins in wheat may be more widespread, due to global nature of the modern wheat supply. Gluten isn't a uniform substance, but a mix of different proteins, a mix that can vary from strain to strain.

                            1. re: dairygodmother

                              Well, it is common (even for home bakers) for breads that are not made entirely with white flour - generally breads that include whole wheat flour or non-wheaten flours - to have wheat gluten added to compensate for the lower gluten level in the other flours: if the gluten were not added, the bread would not rise as well and would be denser. That's fine for classic German whole grain pumpernickel breads, but not for breads designed for sandwiches and what not....

                              The best bread to avoid added gluten would be things like classic baguettes, Vienna breads, etc: all white flour.

                          2. Maybe there's something to it. There was a study of frozen blood samples from men of a Minnesota town who enlisted in WW II that compared samples from men in that same town today, and the incidence of celiac was much higher in the recent sample. I've wondered if wheat grown today hasn't been bred to the point where it has too much of the gluten protein?

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Suzlynnj

                              How do you define 'too much'? As I noted in my first post, gluten protein affects the quality for pasta and baked goods made from the wheat. If there was a change in the flour protein, wouldn't we see that in recipes?

                              But if a change in protein, say from 10 to 12% is critical, may be we should blame it on the increased availability of good quality Italian pasta. That's where the highest protein flour gets used. In Italy, is there are higher incidence of celiac in the south where durum wheat originated, than in the north? How about the difference in gluten content between southern AP flour (e.g. White Lily) and 'northern' (general mills or esp King Arthur)? Is that seen in regional differences in gluten sensitivity?

                              1. re: Suzlynnj

                                I read the same article recently (and tried to find it again without success). My question about the increase in cases is since this is a genetic disease, how could it suddenly become more widespread? Genetic diseases generally don't work that way without some trigger, I don't believe.

                                It makes me wonder if the modern-day processing of wheat products, like Chorleywood bread in the UK, has anything to do with it. The timing is about right.


                                1. re: RelishPDX

                                  Notice the repeated reference to ' low protein British wheat'. Just the opposite to what is being proposed in this thread.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Sure, but it doesn't take away from the basic facts that processing has changed dramatically over the past century. I wonder how old the dough is and how it's been handled at the bread factory for my Safeway, before its final proofing and baking in store, as an example.

                              2. I'm not sure if there is a real rise in gluten intolerance/celiac disease or if there is a rise in diagnosis of gluten intolerance/celiac disease. A case of diagnosis/categorization vs a rise in the actual disease can skew the numbers, per se.
                                I think another issue is that I would be interested in the number of "true" celiacs vs the number of self diagnosed people who believe that they are gluten intolerant. I'm not in any way minimizing the issue of celiac disease/gluten intolerance. I'm just speaking from my personal experience with a number of people who self-identify as gluten/wheat intolerant without having had any of the serious symptoms around it (I see them at the yoga studio all the time, and they tend to follow the dietary zeitgeist of the moment, and have in past years varied from various diet schemes to follow a gluten free/wheat free diet at the moment).
                                Interesting to think about....

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: freia

                                  Here is the study I was refering to: http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2009-rs...

                                  I run into the self-diagnosed people all the time. I have mixed feelings about them, now I have more gluten-free food available to me, but I worry that people will think my diagnosed celiac diet is just a fad and it won't be taken seriously. But maybe they do really feel better without eating gluten. That's not for me to say. I just wish they'd find a cure so I could eat all those wonderful foods again!

                                  1. re: Suzlynnj

                                    Yes, I totally agree. It is a difficult situation all the way around, and it's difficult when the diagnosed cases merge with the self diagnosed/trendy cases (my yoga studio owner is one), because the whole kit and caboodle gets all mixed up in one trendy mess and kind of devalues your experience. xoxoxox

                                    1. re: Suzlynnj

                                      Same here. In certain situations I find myself explaining my celiac diagnosis to others as it seems more credible somehow, almost having to defend it. Believe me - I definitely did not choose celiac as food is one of my obsessions. If I could I would go back to eating gluten in a second. Having said that, it has become far easier to manage since my diagnosis a year ago. :-) I am aware of several self-diagnosed people who have grown so frustrated with their doctors' inability to diagnose properly (i.e. bloodwork and biopsies have a high false negative rate) that they decide to do it on their own. I cannot question the fact that it helps them feel much better; for example, they are able to absorb nutrients again. They no longer have severe debilitating diarrhea and their other auto-immune disease symptoms are reduced. My problem is with those who eat gluten "lite" - one day they are gluten free but the next they cannot be bothered and give in to their pizza craving. Some eliminate gluten to lose weight. Dumb idea. They unfortunately give those who legitimately have celiac disease a bad name at times.

                                      1. re: Suzlynnj

                                        Do they actually say they have celiac? Or just, "I eat gluten-free" or something like that...
                                        Given how serious celiac can be, I'd be pretty offended if people were self-diagnosing it, as opposed to just secretly rolling my eyes at trend-based gluten-free eating. But I'm not even sure most of the self-diagnosed gluten-avoiders know what celiac is or its seriousness.

                                        1. re: julesrules

                                          I know this was for Suzly, but just to say from my POV, it definitely is "I have gluten intolerance" not "I eat gluten free". To me, the former kind of suggests a medical incompatibility with gluten, and the latter is a dietary preference. I have no issue with the latter, but it does kind of bug me when, like chefathome says, I have dinner with one of the self identifiers who will say..."ok, just one slice of chocolate cake, I can't resist" and eats it happily without consequence before we go to a doubleheader movie.
                                          I will happily host and bake and cook gluten-free, be it choice or medical necessity, but it creates alot of anxiety in me to do so (just as those with nut allergies do). If it is a preference, I am much more relaxed because I know that if I goof up unintentionally, I won't be causing anyone physical harm. Now, I do my best not to goof up, but still...

                                          1. re: julesrules

                                            Those who are serious about it and get dreadfully sick say they are gluten intolerant. If they were to ingest a crumb, as would you or I, they would get sick for several days. Those who are gluten-lite say they are intolerant. Yet there are those who have been diagnosed who still do not adhere - there seem to be many categories and issues.

                                          2. re: Suzlynnj

                                            I just re-read what I posted above, and I need to clarify what I meant, "self-diagnosed" was the wrong choice of words. I realize that I was very lucky to get a diagnosis, that I just happened to be referred to a specialist who was knowledgeable about celiac. That doesn't happen with most people, celiac is under-diagnosed, and once someone goes gluten free and finds that they feel much better not eating gluten, they need to undergo a "gluten challenge" and let themselves get sick again in order to obtain a medical diagnosis. My apologies to those who had to figure out on their own what was making them so sick!

                                        2. The "rise," as others have pointed out, is from the Internet-self-diagnosed, people who already have food issues and are looking for a medical reason to eat a low-carbohydrate diet -- whether they realize that's what they're doing or not. And there are lots of snake-oil salesmen enabling them with gluten-free versions of the "poisonous" foods they then start to obsess over.

                                          This does a huge disservice to the actual sufferers of this real disease, who get lumped in with the nutjobs.

                                          On the upside, the actual sufferers have a lot more gluten-free products on the market right now. Unfortunately, many of those things will have disappeared five years from now when the Internet has moved past gluten-free/paleo and is on to the next imaginary "perfect" diet:


                                          I really feel for those who end up projecting this junk onto their kids -- much like my militant vegan friends with their own made-up "rules" and magical beliefs. I was vegetarian for a really long time, and I noticed too many of my fellow-travelers had an unhealthy fixation on food, which often consumed their lives.

                                          1. A note on self-diagnosis of gluten intolerance...

                                            I am one of the people who has been diagnosed by exclusion by a gastroenterologist. Years of unexplained digestive and other health issues went away on the GF diet after extensive testing and medication failure. And as much as it pains me to follow this diet (I was a fabulous baker and lover of breads; my social dining has been seriously impaired) I can't argue with what it has done for me.

                                            I have never followed a 'diet' of any kind in my life, and I am far from trendy. I see the point of celiacs who don't want to have the seriousness of their disease minimized, but I think people like me who are also made ill by gluten deserve the same respect. I would hope that people with CD would be the first to empathize.

                                            There is an emerging body of scientific evidence on non-celiac gluten intolerance-- we don't yet know what causes this, but the GF diet is being shown to work for a variety of gastro problems, including IBS.

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: piselli

                                              I'm gluten sensitive and self-diagnosed. I saw multiple GI docs and none could figure out why I had debilitating heartburn. Through trial and error, I figured out it was gluten.

                                              I've sought verification through medical testing but for that to work I need to start eating gluten again because the antibodies for which they test are present only when your body reacts to gluten. So, in order for the medical community to definitively know what I already know for myself, I need to intentionally make myself sick.

                                              No thanks.

                                              As for the rise in prevalance of this disease/allergy, I can't help but wonder if it has to do with genetically modified crops. I suppose one could argue that this theory could be ruled out by eating organic wheat and seeing if the known reaction occurs, but for that to work you need to be 100% sure the crops haven't been contaminated with GMO wheat. I'm not sure that's possible.

                                              Better diagnostics might be part of it, but it's not all of it. I ate gluten with no problem whatsoever for the first 30 years of my life. Then, one day, for no apparent reason, I became highly sensitive to it. I wasn't born with this allergy; it spontaneously developed. I would love to know why.

                                              1. re: NotJuliaChild

                                                Hi NJC-- i hear you on the problem of the gluten challenge and understand why you would not want to go there. To clarify your comments, the tests will only confirm celiac disease or wheat allergy; there is no test for gluten sensitivity/intolerance. So even if you went through the pain of going back on gluten you might not get a definitive diagnosis.

                                                My exclusion diagnosis is confirmed every time I am inadvertently exposed to gluten and get sick. I imagine it is the same for you. It would be great to know why this happens, and why it can come on suddenly in a person who has not had gluten problems in the past. My gastroenterologist speculates (although I have not seen any science on this) that heavy antibiotic or NSAID use might bring on the condition.

                                                1. re: piselli

                                                  All doctors are guessing. There is no known medical reason for what causes Celiac or gluten sensitivity They know only that it is more prevalent in certain segments of the population.

                                                  Eventually, enough people will be diagnosed with this condition that we will reach the tipping point at which point it makes financial sense for pharmaceutical companies to research and develop a drug that solves the underlying cause.

                                                  I hope we're not far off from that point.

                                                  1. re: piselli

                                                    "...there is no test for gluten sensitivity/intolerance"

                                                    According to "The Gluten Connection" book THERE ARE TESTS--stool and salivary.

                                                    "...79 percent of family members of patients with CD have a positive stool test, 77 percent of patients with any type of autimmune disease test positive, and 57 percent of people with IBS and similar symptoms test positive." p.99

                                                    "... a gluten-free diet was therapeutic for a host of illnesses and that an individual could respond to a gluten-free diet for an illness when there were no intestinal symptoms." p.100

                                                2. re: piselli

                                                  I agree with you completely. There are many who are legitimately gluten intolerant who must adhere to the gluten-free diet although they have not been diagnosed, such as yourself. There are so many stories of people struggling with illnesses for years and years to finally get relief from the diet so it is only wise to adhere to it. The only reason I was diagnosed is my doctor pushed it - I did NOT want to have celiac because I felt at the time I would have to give up so much. Serious denial. But it could have saved my life.

                                                3. I'm not coeliac (the test result tells me so), my liver is OK (amazing, but hurrah!) as are my kidneys, blood count, bacterial whatever etc etc... next week I get told if I have cancer following a few biopsies.
                                                  The answer being 'no' (which I rashly assume will happen) will tell me that I am sensitive to something or other. So I will go on a self-medicated exclusion diet to see what ails me.
                                                  Let's just hope it isn't coffee or alcohol, or there will be hell to pay (I will be the one paying).
                                                  But we do have to face (as a species) that we ingest much that we have, as yet, not evolved to ingest.
                                                  Such is 21st century human life.

                                                  4 Replies
                                                  1. re: Peg

                                                    There is such a high incidence of false negatives, even on biopsies. Did you know that only about 40% of biopsies done in the US and Canada (unsure of the UK where it seems as though you are from) are done correctly? So many doctors only take 2-3 biopsies and miss it so often. I know a GI doctor who has seen this so often that she exclusively is a celiac doctor now and does further biopsies on those who supposedly did not have celiac and has found they do! So very sad. There is a lady in our local celiac group who was diagnosed with celiac 7 years ago but was not told until this year. It was somehow missed and now this poor woman has refractory celiac which has led to celiac-related cancer. It most likely would have been prevented if this error were not made. (But that, of course, is a different topic. Poor woman.)

                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                      Refractory Celiac? That is VERY scarey. Our daughter has had stomach problems for a VERY long time. Longer than 7 years. She has seen regular doctors, a Homeopathic, and a Naturopathic MD. She didn't have a high temp. and wasn't throwing up and doesn't have stool problems therefore her diagnosis was Malaise. Lots of blood tests which showed nothing.

                                                      She has had stomach problems, but then she got really bad and didn't want to eat at all. She is in early 20s. The NMD we began going to gave her some drops so she would want to eat something. Our daughter wished she could eat intravenously. She was doing ok until a year later. She is worse.

                                                      We kept looking on the internet to match symptoms until finally a couple of weeks ago I searched google about the bumps on her fingers. BINGO! Then she looked at the symptoms and agreed all matched. YES! Thank God for the internet!

                                                      But now I'm concerned. We dumped all gluten products and she is sticking to her diet but it doesn't seem to be helping. It's only been a couple of weeks but her problem may have gone too far. She won't go to a doctor. She doesn't trust them.

                                                      1. re: gfnewbie

                                                        Bumps on fingers and mouth sores are common symptoms of MANY autoimmune diseases. Anyone with those symptoms need to see a rheumatologist. Diet may not help and I speak as one from a family with a history of autoimmune problems.

                                                        1. re: mojoeater

                                                          That wasn't the only symptom. But googling that symptom is what finally sent us to CD and then matching up all the other symptoms.

                                                          I have googled the bumps before but must not have put in the correct wording. We have looked at many lists of symptoms.

                                                          She didn't always have bumps, but she always had stomach problems.

                                                          She did show the bumps to doctors. They weren't impressed.

                                                  2. "Our modern strains of wheat have more proteins that cause celiac-associated problems for people, even for those who do not have celiac disease. Up to 40 percent of the population has genes that pre-dispose them to gluten sensitivity. These people are not celiac, but can still improve their health (and lose weight) by avoiding wheat. (This means that 40% of the population is better off being gluten free)."

                                                    http://tinyurl.com/7qt2a53 Why Gluten (Wheat) May be Bad for You, KU Medical Bulletin
                                                    I cannot find a more authoritative confirmation of the increased gluten content in modern or dwarf wheat. However there are numerous references to it in health food and sites dealing with celiac disease.

                                                    In an article about Norman Borlaug in Wikipedia, the dwarf wheat is mentioned as being grown in Mexico and other countries, but not the U.S.

                                                    16 Replies
                                                    1. re: sueatmo

                                                      And that reference is merely an assertion (actually, a string of assertions), in an unsigned essay on the website of an alternative medicine group at the university medical center. Caveat lector.

                                                      1. re: Karl S

                                                        One of the assertions in the essay I can vouch for. Wheat (or gluten) does break down and work on the brain like opiates. On medical advice, I've gone gluten-free three times in the past decade or so, and just had to break the news to another GI doctor that he could write AMA all over my chart if he wished, I wasn't going to take up the GF diet on his recommendation. After six weeks I become suicidal and have to stop the diet (and I'm not prone to suicidal thoughts normally). I'd rather stop my narcotic back pain meds cold turkey than eliminate gluten.

                                                        I kid you not, for me to go gluten-free, I'd have to be put in a rehab center for a couple of months. I don't receive one iota of positive change while on the GF diet, and this is with gluten antibodies registering in the low 200 range.

                                                        It's funny in a way, all that money that my parents apparently tossed down the drain buying expensive "wholesome food" at health food stores while I was growing up was actually doing more harm than good. I even have to stand at arm's length with tofu, can't eat it except in very limited amounts, otherwise it'll wreck havoc with my thyroid meds.

                                                        1. re: RelishPDX

                                                          yet another testament to just how tricky and individualized these things can be. like you, soy really screws with my thyroid meds so i avoid it at all costs...but after i got my Celiac diagnosis and went gluten-free, my mental and emotional status *improved* - brain fog & depression lifted.

                                                        2. re: Karl S

                                                          It is under the aegis of University of Kansas Medical School. I agree it is unsigned, but that is typical of these sorts of articles. Not sure why you would automatically dismiss it.

                                                          More concerning is the lack of other authoritative documentation, at least to me.

                                                          1. re: sueatmo

                                                            Unsigned just adds to the problem: it's not very different a group of kids who file a report cobbled together indifferently from facts, assumptions and beliefs. It's worth zip on its face in this form. Mind you, I am quite open to paths other than modern Western allopathic medicine, but a great deal of alternative medical writing available on the Web is nothing more than tidied up Luddite quackery (in the sense that it's not subject to testing and falsifiability, et cet.).

                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                              Have you read the actual article in question?

                                                        3. re: sueatmo

                                                          Even though that is a university source, I find its reliability suspect, at least on the matter in question - why. It's an 'integrative medicine' group, "Nourishing the whole person -- body, mind and spirit".. And the references don't help much. Two are about the low-gluten beer study. The third is 'Wheat belly', which I referenced in the first reply.

                                                          1. re: paulj

                                                            As I posted earlier, it is concerning that I couldn't find any other authoritative sources. Of course I didn't dig around too much. But if there is something out there, it should have come up under one of the several searches I did.

                                                            I'm not sure that dwarf wheat is grown in the U.S. Does anyone have knowledge of this?

                                                            1. re: sueatmo

                                                              But even if dwarf wheat is grown in the USA, does it matter?

                                                              USDA wheat background info (list of varieties grown in USA


                                                              interesting reading on the consumption of wheat in the USA over time. Note that current per capita consumption, while above a low in 1970, is still well below a high in the late 19th c.

                                                              1. re: paulj

                                                                I thought the dwarf wheat is supposed to be the cause of the intolerance. Too much gluten. That's why I went looking for information on dwarf wheat, which is something I never heard about before.

                                                          2. re: sueatmo

                                                            here you go:

                                                            it's not a matter of *total* gluten content, the issue is increased genetic diversity in wheat crops thanks to modern breeding techniques. different strains of wheat have different amino acid sequences (and different ratios of them) within the gluten strands, and some are more toxic to Celiac and gluten-sensitive people.

                                                            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                              That first one is interesting reading.

                                                              A minor point, the rise in consumption that they mention in the intro is, in the big picture, a blip, not a long term trend.

                                                              If the disease is linked to specific proteins that occur unevenly in various wheat varieties, then it is possible that in the past, the distribution of the disease was uneven due to the localize pattern of growing and consuming wheat, and not linked to wheat. According to the Wiki article, the link to gluten wasn't suggested until a Dutch doctor noted a reduced mortality during WW2 shortages. A reduction in diversity of wheat strains might be a factor in more people being exposed to the problem proteins, but so might the wider distribution of flour and wheat products. For example I have French roles and Indian Naan in my freezer, and crackers and cookies from all parts of the world. Same for pastas and noodles.

                                                              This thesis seems to have more promise than that proposed in the OP, though it still needs more research. And their idea of developing wheat strains that can be tolerated is likely to come to fruition before anyone pins down the triggers.

                                                              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                                                I've got to come back and read this. Thanks for digging this up. By the way, does anyone ever eat einkorn or emmer wheat? Are these strains forever lost to us, or has some intrepid foodie found them and marketed them? I'd love to know.

                                                                1. re: sueatmo

                                                                  You might find them labeled as 'farro', the Italian name. However, there are some naming variations, as shown in this Wiki article
                                                                  Another variable is whether the grain is polished (pearled or peeled). As with rice and barley, pearling removes some or all of the bran, making it easier to cook.

                                                                  In the USA grains like this are mainly grown by small organic farms like

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    Thanks for this link. I didn't know that farro was emmer. Have you by chance eaten emmer in any form? It might be nice as a sub for whole wheat flour, I am thinking.

                                                                    I notice that they describe their emmer wheat products as being low in gluten. But they don't give carb counts or other nutrition info.

                                                            2. I am one of those "self diagnosed" gluten sensitive people.

                                                              I started noticing quite a bit of gastrointestinal discomfort after eating wheat heavy meals like pizza or pasta, which was a new development for me. I cut it out, I feel fine. I re-introduce it, I get sick, and started noticing a rash on my inner forarms about 12 hours after eating it. I also just feel generally crappy if I eat it. I've been playing with this for about 3 years. I go gluten free and feel great, then I get a craving for something like chocolate cake and in a moment of weakness I eat it. Then I'm not too bad, so I'll try something else with a little gluten the next day and before you know it, I'm feeling like crap.

                                                              I don't want to bother with going to get tested because it seems fairly obvious. If I eat it, I feel sick. Avoid gluten, I feel fine. I am a big fan of listening to my body. I am really careful though to never say I am celiac... All I say is I try to avoid gluten cause I've noticed it doesn't agree with me.

                                                              I suspect genetic modification of wheat to be a large part of the increasing sensitivities to wheat. Some of the genetic markers they splice into their wheat have no business there at all, it's no wonder more people are reacting to it.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: upsidedownorchid

                                                                Don't know where you're getting your info, but there is no GMO wheat being grown in the U.S.

                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                  not completely true and if you trust monsanto, you have bigger problems...


                                                                  so while i agree that technically there is no gmo wheat being grown in the us:

                                                                  “Genetic modification,” in the slippery terminology of genetics, means that a gene or partial gene sequence was inserted or deleted using gene-splicing technology. While current research efforts continue to work on genetically-modified wheat, e.g., herbicide-resistance and reduction of celiac disease-provoking sequences, such GM-wheat is not currently on the market, consider this:

                                                                  Modern wheat has been hybridized (crossing different strains to generate new characteristics; 5% of proteins generated in the offspring, for instance, are not present in either parent), backcrossed (repeated crossing to winnow out a specific trait, e.g., short stature), and hybridized with non-wheat plants (to introduce entirely unique genes). There are also chemical-, gamma-, and x-ray mutagenesis, i.e., the use of obnoxious stimuli to induce mutations that can then be propagated in offpspring. This is how BASF’s Clearfield wheat was created, for example, by exposing the seeds and embryos to the industrial chemical, sodium azide, that is highly toxic to humans.


                                                              2. My take on this is that we are GLUTEN GLUTTONS--we eat WAY TOO MANY gluten products.

                                                                HOT out of the oven, French or Italian Bread BREAD--available EVERY DAY
                                                                HALF-priced baked goods rack with lots of PIES and SCONES, etc.
                                                                Quick MUFFIN mixes and CAKE mixes and quick TOLL HOUSE COOKIES
                                                                Frozen PIZZA and WAFFLES
                                                                Coffee shops will all kinds of GLUTEN goodies
                                                                DONUT shops and BAGEL restaurants
                                                                BREAD CRUMBS
                                                                Sandwich--BREAD or TORTILLA or PITA
                                                                Hamburger and Hot Dog BUN

                                                                When our daughter was getting sick from Gluten, and no DOC would utter the G word, she was eating more and more gluten foods, thinking that the other food (without gluten) was making her sick.

                                                                Think about all the stuff you eat made with flour. ARE YOU A GLUTEN GLUTTON?

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: gfnewbie

                                                                  Think of all the gluten products our ancestors used to eat, especially before Europeans adopted the potato and corn. Wheat and related grains were the staff of life. It was either bread, ale (from fermented grains), meat, or over cooked pot herbs.

                                                                  1. re: paulj

                                                                    The earliest known record of this disease was when the Greek physician, Aretaeus of Cappadocia, wrote about 'the coeliac affection' in the second century A.D. He described the condition as, "If the stomach be irretentive of the food and if it pass through undigested and crude, and nothing ascends into the body, we call such persons coeliacs".


                                                                    You can also find info about gluten sensitivity in "The Gluten Connection" by Lieberman.

                                                                    1. re: gfnewbie

                                                                      But apparently no one made the connection to gluten until WW2, when wheat shortages in Holland produced noticeable improvements in some sufferers.

                                                                2. Gluten Sensitivity/celiac has been around since the beginning of wheat.
                                                                  But how many doctors knew what to do about it.

                                                                  Doctors in Europe seem to care more about your diet than US doctors.
                                                                  US doctors rely on MEDS, or if the part doth offend thee, cut it off.

                                                                  Here is a disease where many people who have this disease are gluten sensitive. Look at the treatment options.


                                                                  1. I understood that people with celiac cannot have ANY gluten--which those who have it know can make cooking and eating outside the some very, very difficult. For those who have chosen to eliminate gluten from their diet because they feel much better, will you also become horribly ill if you have even a crumb? If not, then at least you have the option of eating in places where celiacs could not.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: escondido123

                                                                      It's true - we celiacs can have ZERO gluten. The equivalent of 1/70th of one peanut is enough to cause our body to attack itself which can lead to triggers to other things such as diabetes and so on. And yes, it is impossible to eat in others' homes unless you take the food yourself. I cannot eat any food others have prepared in their homes unless they have celiac because cross contamination is rife (i.e. it lingers on can openers, in colanders, lids of pots...).

                                                                    2. I think to try to blame just one thing is silly since I doubt the type of wheat is the direct cause.I'm in agreement that the number of celiac diagnoses is on the rise because of it being better known. As for the cause, I can't say we can blame it all on wheat, and an increase in gluten in products. After all gluten has been around for centuries. What hasn't been around for centuries are a lot of the chemicals and chemical additives we eat and use in our daily lives. Perhaps some of the increase is a reaction our bodies are having with not only gluton but other additives in our diets. After all our bodies are sustained through chemical reactions, this reacts with this which causes this. Perhaps people have been more sensitive to gluton because of another pesticide or additive or pollution in general. But I don't think the type of wheat grown is the whole cause.

                                                                      1. The OP wrote - <Do any of my fellow hounds have more information about this type of wheat or any theories as to whether or not this could indeed be a major contributing factor?>

                                                                        Theories about whether dwarf wheat increases gluten sensitivity has been well-debated on this thread, by folks with a lot more knowledge than me, but to answer the first part of your question -

                                                                        Dwarf wheat was developed by Norman Borlaug, an agronomist, in response to world-wide wheat shortages and famine. He won the Nobel Prize for his work and it's been estimated upwards of a billion people were saved by the introduction of dwarf wheat.

                                                                        If dwarf wheat is responsible for my gluten intolerance, it's a price I'm happy to pay. A billion people? That's not nothing!

                                                                        1. Honestly, I'd guess more awareness, and more tolerance of people who are sickly is what has led to the rise of more celiac and gluten-intolerance. I have celiac and gluten-intolerance on both sides of the family. The generations just before were physics teachers, actuaries, doctors, and teachers. They're not people who could really do manual labor, but their smarts meant that they had lots of celiac and gluten-intolerant kids, who are now web designers, lawyers, science writers, physician's assistants, nurses, code monkeys and book designers. Hundreds of years ago, we wouldn't be here, because starvation would have killed us off.

                                                                          1. Improved testing accounts for a lot of it.