People often say: “but humans have been eating wheat for thousands of years, how come all of a sudden people are becoming sensitive to gluten”?!
Well, there is a simple answer to that.
#1: The wheat plant we eat today looks nothing like the wheat plant humans have consumed for thousands of years.
One of the biggest challenges for human agriculture was to produce wheat in enough quantities and make it economically viable.
So over the past few decades (since the 1950s mostly), wheat farmers cross-bred different types of wheat to achieve 3 objectives:
i. Create a wheat plant that is strong enough to withstand periods of drought (lack of water) and tough weather.
ii. Increase the gluten content in the wheat, so you need less wheat to make bread, pasta, etc (more $$$ profits).
iii. Increase the starch content of the wheat plant to make it more economically viable (by increasing the concentration of something called Amylopectin A). See below why this is terrible for your health.
In addition, wheat farmers started using massive amounts of herbicides and pesticides.
So 4 things happened that affected humans:
i. We are being exposed to much more gluten in modern wheat compared to 100 years ago.
ii. Modern wheat is MUCH harder to digest vs. 100 years ago, so puts a lot of stress on the digestive system.
iii. The chemicals sprayed on the wheat are destroying the microbiome (good bacteria) in our digestive system, which are responsible for breaking down the wheat.
iv. The higher starch / Amylopectin content of modern wheat is a primary cause of insulin resistance (weight gain, diabetes, metabolic disease). Amylopectin is so easily digested by the human digestive system that it causes a blood sugar and insulin spike higher than sugar!
#2: The other major reason people have a problem today with wheat and gluten is the massive volume of gluten consumed compared to 100 years ago.
You see gluten is a protein that cannot be digested by humans, we simply don’t have the enzymes to break it down completely.
Previous generations ate bread 1 or 2 times per day, and that bread was made from better quality wheat. In addition, the bread was made using the “Sourdough” method, which relies on a fermentation process that breaks down the gluten before you eat it.
Today however, there is wheat in virtually everything we eat: almost all processed foods contain wheat (if you read “starch” on the label, it means wheat).
We eat bread and pasta several times a day, and that bread is not real fermented sourdough, and of course it’s always made with high gluten processed flour which is probably also rich in chemicals (unless it’s organic).
So the bottom line is this:
Previous generations ate wheat which was lower in gluten, not exposed to chemicals, easier to digest, and prepared in a way (sourdough fermentation) which broke down the difficult to digest proteins such as gluten.
And of course, they ate a LOT less of it compared to today.
THIS is why so many people today are having trouble with wheat and gluten.
Wondering how to get enough fibre in your diet if avoiding gluten? Read this.