The wheat trap

Common food allergies to wheat, corn and other grains (such as Coeliac disease or gluten intolerance) may be due to an excess in the modern diet. Mim’s article outlines our prehistoric digestive tract’s response, plus action you can take.

Our digestive tract has remained in much the same state for hundreds of thousands of years.

Although humans have the incredible ability to adapt intellectually, our biology binds us to the past. Physical adaptation is painstakingly slow.

A large proportion of the world’s diet today is made up of grains such as rice and wheat, yet grain has only been cultivated for the last twelve thousand years. Most nutritional authorities recommend more grain. Is this appropriate? It is a lot to ask a prehistorically designed digestive tract to be able to deal with the modern diet without a hiccup or at least a little gas. We may think of ourselves as civilised, but our tummies do not. Common food allergies to wheat, corn and other grains may be due, in part, to an excess in the diet. Wheat, especially in our society, is often overconsumed. Wander into any supermarket, café or restaurant with a ‘I’m Wheat-Free’ badge on your lapel, and I guarantee you will leave there depressed. Wheat is everywhere. Pasta, bread, biscuits, cakes, muffins, breakfast cereals and pizzas.

There is a condition called Coeliac disease (see-lee-ak) which affects about one in one hundred people. Coeliac disease is caused by an intolerance to certain grains. What these grains have in common is a type of protein called gluten. The symptoms of Coeliac disease are very serious, and unless gluten is avoided, can lead to malnutrition and even death. It is possible to have a milder version of Coeliac disease. While not as serious, symptoms can be darned irritating: bloating, flatulence, constipation, mucous on the stool, and slight discomfort in the abdomen.

IIf you think this could apply to you, try avoiding all grains containing gluten, that is wheat, rye, oats and barley, strictly for 10 days. If your symptoms are relieved, you know to reduce (not eliminate) gluten grains from your diet. Supermarkets and health food shops sell a range of unpalatable gluten-free breads, pastas etc. I suggest you buy the bread sliced, and freeze it for toast. Rice and corn are gluten free, so pull out those risotto and polenta recipes.

A gluten-free diet can be a healthy one, but you need to work on it. Your diet will consist of vegetables, fruit, beans (legumes), fish, eggs, meat, nuts and seeds. A gluten free diet closely resembles that of our ancestors, which should make our prehistoric tummies happy.