What Came First, Gluten Allergies or GMO’s?
I don’t know the answer to this, but I do know that gluten intolerance has gone up in the last twenty years, in conjunction with GMO crops. A lot of people complain of abdominal discomfort, bloating, constipation or diarrhea after eating gluten…and that number seems to be on the rise. Interestingly, the number of gluten intolerant people corresponds directly with the introduction of GMO’s into our food supply in the mid-90’s.
There are currently 9 crops that can be labeled GMO: soy, corn, cotton (oil), canola (oil), sugar from sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, Hawaiian papaya and alfalfa sprouts. As you notice, wheat is not on the list. Although it has been hybridized with breeding techniques over the years it is not, actually, a GMO.
Despite this, it is interesting to note that GMO crops have an increased amount of glyphosate and Bt-toxin, in addition to other compounds not present in naturally grown foods. These compounds are found to have a pretty disturbing effect on our systems; specifically: intestinal permeability, imbalanced gut bacteria, immune activation and allergies, impaired digestion and damage to the intestinal wall. Interestingly these symptoms sound very similar to signs of gluten intolerance. Though these side effects to our modern food supply are shocking, they really shouldn’t be. Bt-toxin, found in all GMO foods, is designed to puncture holes in the cells of insects to keep them off the plants; it’s not impossible to reason that this is what it’s doing to our GI tract as well.
It is also interesting to note that GMO food is banned in Europe and the incidence of gluten intolerance is dramatically lower there. Additionally, many gluten intolerant Americans traveling to Europe have noticed that they don’t have difficulty or discomfort digesting gluten there. This begs the question, is it the food that’s the problem, or the quality of the food we are now eating?
The unfortunate reality is both answers are equally scary.