Wheat and Gluten: Rise of Ceoliac disease

It seems that Coeliacs disease is on the rise, both here in the UK and in the US.  I see that many say that it hasn’t got anything to do with ‘breeding wheat’, but could be that we eat more wheat based products:  bread etc.

Building a better wheat crop.



Today the BBC News says;

The number of people diagnosed in the UK with coeliac disease has increased fourfold between 1990 and 2011, a study suggests.

The autoimmune disease, triggered by a reaction to gluten – found in wheat, barley and rye – can cause severe symptoms.

It is treated by following a lifelong gluten-free diet.

Experts say they believe the increase is due to better diagnosis, rather than more people developing the condition.

Left untreated, coeliac disease can lead to infertility, osteoporosis and bowel cancer.

I am not a Coeliac, but I do have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and a fierce intolerance to gluten, and I wonder if intolerances have increased worldwide also?  

Did I start to increase my consumption of bread or cake?  No, I don’t think so I have never been a ‘heavy’ eater, and much prefer savoury to sweet things.  Give me a tasty vegetable snack any day over sugary cake.  

Is it because we have better diagnosis now?

The University of Nottingham research, published in the American Journal of Gastroenterology and funded by the patient groups Coeliac UK and CORE, looked at the GP data from 1990 to 2011 to see how many cases had been diagnosed.

It found the rate increased from 5.2 per 100,000 in 1990 to 19.1 per 100,000 in 2011.


This is a diagnostic phenomenon, not an incidence phenomenon”

Dr Anthon EmmanuelConsultant gastroenterologist

Previous studies have suggested around 1% of the population would test positive for the condition – but the data from this study suggests only 0.25% are diagnosed.

Coeliac UK say this means many are unaware they have the condition.

So if the rise is due to better diagnosis, what is the reason for the intolerance/allergy in the first place?  If we agree that we have too much wheat in our diets, not only would we need to cut out bread, pastry and cake products, we would need to look at all the ingredients used in food manufacture because it is used as a thickener and a filler in a lot of ready made foods and condiments.

How wheat has changed over hundreds of years is phenomenal in our desire to have disease free, weather tolerant, high yielding plants and bears no resemblance to the original.  Does this manufactured wheat have a play in our gastrointestinal problems today?

I have no idea, I am not a scientist or a doctor, but I can read and form an opinion based on my own severe IBS problems.  I am also aware of how many products include this ‘bred wheat’ in its ingredients.   




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