Thousands of people each year are ditching the G word—gluten. There have been countless books, news articles, events, and restaurants that have come out of this trend that only those living under a rock haven’t seen the label GF anywhere. With the flurry of people ditching bread, pasta, and crackers, the question we should all be asking ourselves is WHY?
People have been ditching the wheat because they claim that they see dramatic improvements in their health when they eliminate it from their diet: Brain fog lifting, skin clearing, digestion improving, weight disappearing, and so much more. These health improvements have led to the rise in a multibillion-dollar industry to create gluten-free foods.
Going GF has become the trendy thing to do, so that more and more people who aren’t even intolerant are hopping off the gluten wagon and holding onto their almond flour like a life raft. But is this mass exodus of gluten necessary?
For millennia, civilizations have survived on wheat as a staple in their diet. They seemed to have no problem digesting gluten. In fact, looking back into our recent history, we hardly saw any celiac disease just a couple of decades back. According to a study done by the Mayo Clinic, celiac disease is 4 times more common today than it was in the 1950s, and not just because doctors are more likely to test for it. (1)
Many people will claim that celiac disease and gluten intolerance are on the rise because wheat has been genetically modified, making gluten a stronger protein that the body has a hard time digesting. They may be shocked to find out that since 2017, it is illegal to commercially sell GM wheat anywhere in the world. In other words, that’s not the issue. They then claim that the high prevalence of gluten intolerance / celiac is due to hybridization. While our wheat is hybridized (which is different from genetically modified), it’s important to note that we have been eating hybridized wheat for thousands of years without any problems.
So what is the issue then? If gluten was falsely accused who’s the culprit?
GLYPHOSATE—the active ingredient found in Monsanto’s infamous herbicide called Round Up. Previously classified as an antibiotic, glyphosate disrupts the gut microbiome and creates gut permeability leading to inflammation in the body. In 2015, the World Health Organization stated that glyphosate was a probable carcinogen and the state of California has finally classified is as a carcinogen. Monsanto was recently ordered to pay $2.8 billion to a groundskeeper, who developed Hodgkin’s lymphoma because of glyphosate. Monsanto is now being sued by thousands of others for not being warned of the negative effects of this chemical.
MIT researcher Stephanie Sennef has correlated the rise in autism, celiac disease, thyroid cancer, and many autoimmune conditions with the usage of glyphosate. The timeline matches up as well. As the use of glyphosate began, we start seeing a rise in celiac diagnosis. Over the years we see a proportional correlation between celiac disease/ wheat sensitive with the increased use of glyphosate. (2)
For the past couple of decades, it’s been customary in the United States to drench the wheat fields with Round Up several days before the harvesters go out, as the practice allows for an earlier, easier and bigger harvest. So even though wheat is not genetically modified, the abundant use of pesticides make it anything but organic. This toxin then leaches into the wheat kernels, with which we then create our crackers, pasta, bread, and pastries. 300 million tons of Round Up each year is sprayed on our food in America. Other common crops sprayed with glyphosate are corn and soy: two foods that are most known to cause gut disturbances.
So Should You Start Eating Wheat Again?
First off, if your gut has been damaged by glyphosate to the point where you already have celiac disease or a huge intolerance to it, then stay away from wheat and work on healing your gut lining. If you do not have severe reactions to wheat and want to participate in eating this ancestral food, then make sure that you are purchasing organic products that are free from glyphosate. Also look for ancient grains like einkorn or sourdough varieties, as those are easier for the body to digest.
Moral of the Story.
Our body knows how to digest food. It doesn’t, however, know how to digest chemicals. Going organic and reducing your exposure to pesticides is one of the best things that you can do for your health and for the health of our planet as well.
Also by Chloe: These 2 Non-Food Things Optimize Your Gut
1.Increased Prevalence and Mortality in Undiagnosed Celiac DiseaseRubio–Tapia, Alberto et al.Gastroenterology, Volume 137, Issue 1, 88 – 93
2.Samsel A, Seneff S. Glyphosate, pathways to modern diseases II: Celiac sprue and gluten intolerance. Interdiscip Toxicol. 2013;6(4):159–184. doi:10.2478/intox-2013-0026
Photo: Chloe Murdoch; Lauren Sacerdote