Monday, June 27, 2011

Gluten then and now

Many people wonder why the prevalence of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity has increase by over 400 percent in the last 40 years. It is good to know the history of both dietary traditions of ancient peoples, and the modern stresses on those traditions.

Julie McGinnis, M.S., R.D., certified herbalist holds a Master's degree in nutrition from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut writes a summary of the history of grains and writes about some theories on the causes of the rise of the risk of developing celiac disease.
In my opinion, what is missing from her informative article is the significant risk of developing celiac disease ( and it's often fatal complications) from vitamin D deficiency. Since 1945, there has been a great reduction in the average persons blood level of vitamin D, so much so that some scientists think 90% of Canadians are deficient in the winter months.And vitamin D deficiency is a trigger for celiac disease. Vitamin D controls over 400 genes.

She writes:
Experts such as Dr. Alessio Fasano, medical director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, believe this recent increase in the amount of gluten in our diethas given rise to the number of people suffering from gluten intolerance and celiac disease.

According to Fasano, "The prevalence of celiac disease in this country is soaring partly because changes in agricultural practices have increased gluten levels in crops." He further states, "We are in the midst of an epidemic."

For example, the ancient wheat that Moses ate was probably very different from our wheat today. Moses lived about 3,500 years ago, when wheat, spelt, and barley were all popular grains. Modern wheat varieties, however, have been bred to grow faster, produce bigger yields, harvest more efficiently, and bake better bread. The downside to today's hybridized cereal grains is that they contain more gluten.

Celiac disease was once considered a rare malady and was estimated to have afflicted approximately 1 in 2,000 people in the United States. According to research done by the Mayo Clinic, CD is four times more common today that it was five decades ago. This increase is due to increased awareness and diagnostics, and the estimate today is that 1 out of every 133 people in the United States has celiac disease. To read more facts and figures please read The University of Chicago Celiac Disease center at

Here are estimates for other parts of the world:
· 3 in 100: United Kingdom
· 1 in 370: Italy
· 1 in 122: Northern Ireland
· 1 in 99: Finland
· 1 in 133: United States
· Once thought rare for African-, Hispanic- and Asian-Americans, current estimates in these populations: 1 in 236
· 1 in 30 are estimated to have gluten intolerance in the United States.

Learn more:

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