For The Greater Goods (sm)

Gluten Intolerance and GMO’s – What’s the Connection?

Gluten intolerance is on the rise in America.  It seems like everywhere you turn there’s another article about gluten sensitivities.  Estimates have shown that 40 percent of the population in the U.S. now suffers from gluten intolerance.  Celiac disease affects 1 in every 133 Americans, but gluten intolerance that hasn’t been diagnosed as Celiac has risen dramatically over the last 20 years.

Gluten Intolerance and GMOs

gluten intoleranceIs it a coincidence that the increase began just when GMO’s came into the marketplace? In researching the correlation between the gluten intolerance and the rise of GMO’s I found quite a bit of evidence that pointed toward a connection.  Researchers and food safety advocates are starting to take a closer look at the role that GMO’s play in this dramatic increase.

When a person has gluten intolerance and ingests gluten, the body treats that gluten as an invader and attacks it.  During this process the microvilli in the small intestine are damaged leaky gut syndrome can develop.  The gut wall becomes permeable and microscopic particles of food ‘leak’ into the body.  Those particles end up in the bloodstream and the body responds to them with inflammation.  This process can set the stage for a whole host of diseases from autism to irritable bowel syndrome and even cancer.

Jeffrey Smith’s documentary Genetic Roulette: The Gamble of Our Lives shows clearly how genetically modified crops are damaging the digestive tracts of animals. Because the Bt toxin in genetically modified corn kills insects by exploding their stomachs, Smith believes when mammals ingest that food, it creates holes in the gut lining, leading to leaky gut syndrome. This is one explanation for gluten intolerance increasing so dramatically since GMOs were introduced into the marketplace.

Not Just Gluten Intolerance

It’s not just gluten intolerance that has been on the increase but a whole host of digestive disorders: irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, chronic constipation, gastrointestinal infections, Crohn’s disease, leaky gut syndrome and acid reflux have all increased in the last two decades since the introduction of GMO’s

An unfortunate aside to this is that most gluten free packaged products are made with genetically modified ingredients.  Unless you’re buying organic gluten free products, they will often contain corn, soy or canola that are genetically modified.

In the film, Smith speaks with health care practitioners who have had great success with their patients with gluten intolerance simply by removing GMO’s from their diets.  It can take a while for the gut to heal, depending on the individual, but by eliminating any genetically modified foods from the diet, symptoms will reverse themselves.

If you suffer from gluten intolerance, make sure you’re looking for organic gluten free products.  If a product doesn’t specify that it is organic and it contains corn, soy, or canola, chances are very high that there are GMO’s in the product.  Look for the USDA Organic logo and  read your labels carefully.


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I'm a firm believer that you are what you eat and I want to be fresh, local, organic and healthy! I've spent a lifetime experimenting with natural foods, different diets and ways of eating, and have settled on the food philosophy that Michael Pollan expresses so well: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I'm passionate about organic foods, natural living, cooking healthy meals, and improving my health on a daily basis.

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