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What if it’s not about gluten? Gut Instincts: The Fact and Fiction Behind the Gluten-Free Movement

wheat grain stalkHere are some interesting thoughts from GFF Magazine about resistance to eat wheat and the underlying science. While prevalence of celiac disease appears to be doubling every 20 years, it wasn’t even listed as a common ailment 20 years ago in gastrointestinal journals.

Alessio Fasano, M.D., Director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in Boston, has been known for his input on gluten critique in the diet. However, his stance does not share the “wheat belly” and “grain brain” exhortation for a gluten-free world. “These books say that because nobody can digest this stuff, everybody needs to go gluten-free. That’s a stretch of imagination. Since we didn’t evolve to deal with this molecule, the immune system deploys the same kind of weaponry as when we’re under attack from bacteria. We engage in war with many bacteria every day, but we rarely lose this battle and develop infection. Same with gluten—we all engage in this fight, but very rarely do we lose the battle.”

Some people believe it’s the genetic modification of wheat that is causing the increase in illness associated with gluten-consumption, however, according to Jayson Lusk, PhD.: “There is no genetically modified wheat commercially produced in the U.S., regardless of whether it is fed to humans, cows, or pets,” says Lusk, a food and agriculture economist at Oklahoma State University. “The only genetically modified wheat in the U.S. is the tiny amount grown for research purposes, typically indoors in greenhouses; it is highly regulated and is not released in the food supply, human or otherwise.”

The majority of people following a gluten-free diet at this point are not doing so for a medically diagnosed condition – that is by their primary care physician or gastroenterologist. But many people appear to feel better and more healthful without wheat in their diets. Could this be a FODMAP thing? FODMAPs (Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyols: starches/sugars in foods) can cause many of the symptoms associated with “gluten-intolerance” such as bloating, gas, fatigue, and diarrhea. If FODMAPs are to blame, this discovery would not be unlike the initial surge in so-called gluten-intolerance that started when people cut the carbohydrates of wheat and other grains during the popularity of the Atkins Diet.

The FODMAP explanation makes a certain amount of sense, but since “fructans,” which are the starch in wheat responsible for the reactions of intolerance are in other foods as well, is this really only anecdotal math going on? The most common sources for fructans besides wheat include: agave, artichokes, asparagus, leeks, garlic, onions (including spring onions), yacón, and jícama. Yet, do those of you who find yourself sensitive to gluten also seem to react to these foods?

This isn’t yet explained, especially when you consider some of these, such as garlic and onions contain more fructans through composition than wheat. Shouldn’t they cause the same level of reaction?

Or maybe it has to do with a specific allergic reaction, such as Eosinophilic Esophagitis? (EoE)

Read for yourself: Gut Instincts: The Fact and Fiction Behind the Gluten-Free Movement | GFF Magazine.

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