Humans have been eating gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains, for 10,000 years in agrarian societies and even longer in hunter-gatherer tribes that wild-harvested their grains.
About 50 years ago gluten was identified as the culprit in Celiac disease, a disease associated with severe intestinal disturbances.
It may sound like along time, but 10,000 years of eating wheat is a drop in the bucket when compared to how long human DNA has been on this planet. Processed wheat and grains tend to cause a lot of health problems due to their over-representation in the American menu. The high-octane fuel that our body needs rarely comes from grains but rather from food in its natural form that comes from the earth. Those foods are: vegetables, fruits, legumes, meats, nuts and seeds.
When a person with this condition consumes gluten, the body’s immune system creates specific antibodies that ultimately destroy the finger-like villi in the small intestines. These villi are used to absorb nutrients but are flattened in Celiac patients.
The result is a lack of absorption of nutrients and intestinal discomfort. Cramping, bloating and diarrhea are common due to unabsorbed food putrefying in the small intestines. Children with this condition often suffer from failure-to-thrive. Celiac disease is a serious condition but one that is well-controlled through diet.
Gluten sensitivity though, according to a study in the BMC Medicine Journal, appears to be more of a general inflammatory reaction. Celiac again, was specific antibodies against gluten. People with gluten sensitivities may experience a more general immune reaction like itching, hives, and swelling in the acute phase and indigestion, bloating and brain fog as more of a chronic and delayed reaction.
This is good news for people suffering from any condition that is based in inflammation like arthritis, heart disease, and inflammatory bowel disease. If these patients do have a gluten sensitivity, their condition may well be improved from the elimination of gluten in the diet. Also, people with fatigue and brain fog could potentially see improvement after eliminating wheat from their nutritional program.
(This column is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.)