Why is gluten bad? Less than one percent of the world’s population suffers from celiac disease, which is a life-threatening allergy to gluten. However, most people only think of the dangers of gluten or wheat in relation to gut health issues and other common symptoms associated with “gluten intolerance.”
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So, Why Is Gluten Bad for You?
It has not been confirmed, but healthcare leaders estimate anywhere between 5 and 35 percent of Americans are gluten intolerant and more than 80 percent of people have non-celiac gluten sensitivities (NCGS). (1, 2, 3) The journal Nutrients states that “NCGS frequency is still unclear.” (4)
Substances other than gluten may be causing irritable bowel syndrome and other gastrointestinal issues. Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccarides and PolySfermentable, are poorly absorbed short chain carbohydrates for FODMAPS. The Monash University in Australia has created a low-FODMAP diet to treat patients with irritable bowel syndrome and other GI complaints. (5)
This important because:
- There are a large number of scientists who actually deny that gluten sensitivity even exists.
- It explains why people still have gut health issues after going gluten-free.
- It goes against the information we have received over the past 30 years about wheat gluten-containing grains.
It is highly unlikely that a patient will be diagnosed with gluten intolerance after eating a multi-ingredient meal without clear biomarkers proving NCGS.
If we assume that the FODMAP philosophy is trustworthy, is it ok to eat gluten? No!
Even if you are not “gluten sensitive,” is it still beneficial to cut out gluten? Yes, absolutely, 100 percent!
Why? Why is gluten bad?
Because of a farming technique called crop desiccation and a provocative chemical named glyphosate.
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A Gluten Paradox in Italy
When you think of “Italian cuisine,” more likely than not you instantly think of pizza, pasta, and bread. However, you don’t hear about NCGS all over Italy.
Research shows that less than 1 percent of the Italian population suffers from the dangers of gluten related disorders. (6) When 5 to 35 percent of Americans suffer from NCGS, you know that something must be terribly, terribly wrong.
One example is the story of an American Celiac patient who suffered from gluten intolerance but had no side effects from eating while in Italy. Taken from celiac.com Forum, How Come Gluten Didn’t Bother Me In Italy?: (7)
I recently traveled to Italy, and although I’ve read they have many gluten-free options, I decided that I was going to eat whatever I wanted, even if it had gluten. When I mentioned this to my doctor, he said it actually may not bother me since the wheat outside of the US is typically less genetically modified and more “natural.” So after 2 weeks in Italy eating pasta daily, pizza, and all kinds of baked goods, I felt great. No headaches, upset stomach or any symptoms of gluten digestion. Has anyone else had a similar experience outside of the US? If that’s the case, could I buy imported flours and pasta made in Italy that aren’t “gluten-free” and be okay eating them at home?
Is it possible that American wheat is different than Italian wheat? Not necessarily. GMO wheat is not grown anywhere in the world. (8) However, wheat harvesting practices are very different in the United States than they are in Italy, which is why people regularly suffer when they eat wheat in the U.S.
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Is Desiccation Roundup to Blame?
Non-organic wheat fields are soaked in Monsanto’s signature Roundup before harvest. This method is referred to as “desiccation.” This accomplishes the following:
- It makes wheat die early and go “to seed,” which increases production.
- It kills competing rye grass and other weeds, which makes it easier to harvest.
Keith Lewis is a wheat farmer who explains pre-harvest desiccation: (9)
I have been a wheat farmer for 50 years and one wheat production practice that is very common is applying the herbicide Roundup (glyphosate) just prior to harvest. Roundup is licensed for pre-harvest weed control. Monsanto, the manufacturer of Roundup claims that application to plants at over 30% kernel moisture result in roundup uptake by the plant into the kernels. Farmers like this practice because Roundup kills the wheat plant allowing an earlier harvest.
A wheat field often ripens unevenly, thus applying Roundup pre-harvest evens up the greener parts of the field with the more mature. The result is on the less mature areas Roundup is trans located into the kernels and eventually harvested as such.
This practice is not licensed. Farmers mistakenly call it “desiccation.” Consumers eating products made from wheat flour are undoubtedly consuming minute amounts of Roundup. An interesting aside, malt barley, which is made into beer, is not acceptable in the marketplace if it has been sprayed with pre-harvest Roundup. Lentils and peas are not accepted in the market place if they are sprayed with pre-harvest roundup … but wheat is ok. This farming practice greatly concerns me and it should further concern consumers of wheat products.
Concerns About Glyphosate Health
Farmer Keith is worried about glyphosate. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
(Glyphosate) is a non-selective herbicide registered for use on many food and non-food crops as well as non-crop areas where total vegetation control is desired. When applied at lower rates, it serves as a plant growth regulator. The most common uses include control of broadleaf weeds and grasses in: hay/pasture, soybeans, field corn; ornamentals, lawns, turf, forest plantings, greenhouses, rights-of-way. (10)
Ultimately, glyphosate is a very dangerous chemical that is everywhere and is unavoidable if you live in America.
Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s signature Roundup, and is the most common pesticide in the world. About 6.3 million pounds of glyphosate were used in the U.S. in 1986, which grew to 11.6 million in 1990. Now, almost 20 million pounds of glyphosate are used every year. (10)
Sadly, the use of glyphosate has made hundreds of millions of people susceptible to developing new illnesses. Dr. Stephanie Seneff is a senior research scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). She says that the use of glyphosates to desiccate wheat fields is most likely the reason people are gluten intolerant or developing celiac disease. Inflammation is the number one cause of disease today, and it can be connected to glyphosates
[G]ut dysbiosis, brought on by exposure to glyphosate, plays a crucial role in the development of celiac disease. Many CYP enzymes are impaired in association with celiac disease, and we show that glyphosate’s known suppression of CYP enzyme activity in plants and animals plausibly explains this effect in humans. (11)
There is nothing good about eating wheat and gluten-containing foods because of how they are farmed. Reuters says that “The EPA is conducting a standard registration review of glyphosate.” In the meantime, refrain from eating non-organic grains unless you grow them yourself. I recommend cutting them out of your diet completely.
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