I notice when I eat bread I start to hiccup. So strange, but it’s been going on for years. I figured out the role of insulin resistance over twenty years ago and I eat mostly low glycemic starches. I grew up on pasta and bread, and learned in my 30’s that a high carbohydrate diet was packing on the pounds. I eat even less bread and fewer grains today, but I wonder if I can’t even handle that.
Monday I was feeling hungrier than usual, and knew I needed a bit more carbohydrate to be satisfied. I grabbed a few pretzels after a delicious Greek salad and headed out the door. I immediately started to hiccup. Ok, this is familiar. Then I started to burp and my belly felt tight and hard, like it was bloated. Yes, that happens sometimes, too. Minutes later my gut started churning. Soon I was hunched over in the car with a gripping kind of cramp. Nothing more, but I endured the distress for over an hour. What is happening?
There is evidence that since 1980 food sensitivities and food allergies are increasing. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) website 20% of all Americans today suffer from allergies and asthma:
- Approximately 6% of allergy sufferers have food/drug allergies as their primary allergy.
- Food allergy is more common among children than adults.
- 90% of all food allergy reactions are cause by 8 foods: milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish.
WHAT IS CAUSING MORE FOOD ALLERGIES?
The AAFA website doesn’t address what may be causing the increasing incidence of food allergies. The Allergy Kids Foundation suggest environmental chemical contaminants could be to blame. This hypothesis is increasingly provocative when you realize that industry spews tens of thousands of chemicals into our environment. The compounds infiltrate the air, soil and water and eventually end up in the food supply. These compounds also bio-accumulate throughout the food chain. Those of us at the top bio-accumulate the most. We track only about 200 of these agents, and study even fewer. Who knows the role they play?
There is also much speculation regarding the role of genetically modified and engineered foods. There is no genetically modified wheat used commercially in the US, so I can rule that out in my case. Still, the jury is out on the role of genetically modified foods in the role of food allergies. In a 2007 review, the author concludes the paper by asking, “Where is the scientific evidence showing that GM plants/food are toxicologically safe, as assumed by the biotechnology companies involved in commercial GM foods?”
WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO WHEAT
Most of my symptoms surface when I eat wheat. The wheat we eat today is very different than the wheat families consumed decades ago. Today wheat doesn’t grow as tall and can easily be harvested with mechanical equipment. A recent USDA publication asserts that changes in wheat protein concentration are not significant, not likely the cause of increasing incidence of celiac disease, and suggests maybe it’s the imported wheat gluten. I’m not convinced.
In the NY Times best seller, Wheat Belly, Dr William Davis states two different protein fractions are probably causing harm, both gluten and gliadin. Both quantity of wheat and wheat protein content increased during the 21st century. The protein content of wheat allows bread to rise–a desirable quality. It is not much of a stretch to think farmers figured this out. In addition, the use of artificial fertilizers (which has been the norm especially since the 1950’s) is known to increase the protein content of wheat. What is behind the drive for greater protein content in wheat? In a word, profits.
A 2012 study of active duty US military showed a 400% increase in celiac disease ( a severe form of gluten intolerance) between 1999 and 2008. No one really knows what causes celiac disease, but it indicates that your gut experiences a dramatic inflammatory response to gluten that results in a damaged GI tract. The solution is to eliminate food sources of gluten. Of note, the greatest increases were seen in people in their 40’s and 50’s. Could this be happening to me?
Yesterday I purchased a bag of gluten free pretzels and a few other items. After a few handfuls, no hiccups, no burping, and no bloating or cramps. This should be interesting.