A different take on gluten containing foods and health – Why we need Gluten!
Beyond the effects of gluten on personal health, there is more to consider. We live in a world, which is already overpopulated and by the year 2050 the world faces two billion more humans to feed. Agriculture was the cause of the population boom and a revolution, one of the most pivotal points in the history of humanity. Agriculture allowed societies to grow and science and economies to flourish. However, the arrival of agriculture come at a cost to human health, humans decreased in height and faced new diseases from communal living and zoonotic infections from livestock, but that was the price to pay, and the trade was to our advantage.
“The Man Who Saved a Billion Lives”
Norman Ernest Borlaug saved a billion lives in the 20th century by engineering dwarf wheat through simple genetic manipulation and selective breeding. Wheat was modified to have short stems, so the top heavy wheat did not topple over the whole plant, this dramatically increased crop yields by six times more than early wheat varieties. Gluten and wheat do cause health problems, but it is a good trade if you face starving to death in developing countries. At some point, humanity must accept another deal if the population is going to continue to grow at an alarming pace or even continue to sustain it and that trade-off may come at another cost to human health.
The scaremongering amongst the strict no gluten advocates never considers the wider implications of that scaremongering, and the free for eating gluten camp seldom view what patients are reporting when they feel they are reacting to gluten containing foods. Practitioners should take reports from patients who remove gluten and see vast improvements in symptoms seriously. And, take into consideration all the various reactions that can occur. People that have removed gluten-containing foods and have a significant improvement in symptoms should continue to eliminate these foods, but ensure they are taking in all the essential nutrients. What needs to be realised is that not all people react to gluten and wheat does feed many many people who would face famine without wheat and barley. If you eat wheat and other gluten containing foods and suffer no symptoms that it can be enjoyed as part of a healthy diet. Borlaug saved a huge amount of people using genetic modification techniques, and if them modifications in other foods bring higher yields and more resistant crops without causing harm and preventing famine them techniques should be encouraged.
Science does not deal in absolutes, and any person saying non-celiac gluten sensitivity absolutely does not exist has not read all the relevant research, has no understanding of the scientific method and probably cannot pronounce fermentable oligo-di-monosaccharides and polyol’s. The figure below is a proposed process of ruling out the different reactions one can have to gluten containing foods credited to Sapone et al., (2012).
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