Celiac disease, also more commonly referred to as wheat- or gluten intolerance, occurs when your body cannot digest gluten, a protein most commonly found in wheat, rye and barley. However, it’s very important to realize that these are not the only culprits that can cause severe problems. Other grains such as oats and spelt also contain gluten, and gluten can be found in countless processed foods without being labeled as such.
The rising prevalence of celiac disease is clear evidence that we’re simply not designed to consume such vast amounts of carbohydrates so many now indulge in. The vast majority of Americans consume far too much bread, cereal, pasta, corn (a grain, not a vegetable), rice, potatoes and junk food, with dire health consequences.
This even includes organic stone ground whole grains for those of you who eat only whole, natural foods. Obviously these are healthier for you, but ultimately they cause the same problems through two mechanisms: Reaction to the protein gliadin in the wheat, and an adverse increase in insulin secretion.
When you consume carbohydrates, even whole grain, the result is a sharp spike in insulin, which has a whole host of problems in and of itself. The undigested gluten then triggers your immune system to attack the lining of your small intestine, which can cause symptoms like diarrhea or constipation, nausea, and abdominal pain. In more recent years it’s been shown that the condition can also cause a much wider array of symptoms that are not gastrointestinal in nature, further complicating proper diagnosis.Over time, your small intestine becomes increasingly damaged and less able to absorb nutrients such as iron and calcium. This in turn can lead to anemia, osteoporosis and other health problems.
The rapid increase in celiac disease and milder forms of gluten intolerance is no surprise considering the modern Western diet, which consists in large part of grain carbohydrates. Additionally, modern wheat is very different from the wheat your ancestors ate. The proportion of gluten protein in wheat has increased enormously as a result of hybridization.
Until the 19th century, wheat was also usually mixed with other grains, beans and nuts; pure wheat flour has been milled into refined white flour only during the last 200 years. The resulting high-gluten, refined grain diet most of you have eaten since infancy was simply not part of the diet of previous generations.