So today, I’m going to give you a brief history of gluten and then explain how it is affecting our health. Wheat, and other similar grains have been considered by many to be godsends. Ever since we became self-sufficient, and discovered farming and agriculture, we have utilized wheat and grains in a wide variety of different ways.
From bread and pasta, to beer and wine, wheat is seemingly the gift that keeps on giving. There is however, a downside to being self-sufficient. It turns out, that many people must follow a gluten-free diet or they will die. Me included!
When I was diagnosed 33 years ago with celiac disease, no one had really heard of it and initially, people thought it was just a fad, or a trend.
But why are more and more people adopting a gluten-free diet and lifestyle in the first place? Well, in order to obtain an answer to that, we need to go back in time more than a million years.
The Caveman Diet
Back in the Paleolithic era, when our caveman ancestors roamed the earth, we had no farms, no convenience stores, and no pizza delivery services. In fact, the food we used to eat back then had to be found, foraged, or killed.
Cavemen would hunt and kill wild animals, they’d snag fish if they could, they’d eat nuts, seeds, berries, and anything else deemed edible that grew in the wild. Nowadays, paleo diets are hugely popular.
The common misconception about these diets is that they are for weight loss. They aren’t. They’re primarily to help people avoid common food allergies and intolerances, and the nasty side effects that go with them.
Back then, cavemen were not obese, they didn’t suffer from food allergies, and they didn’t need to use prescription medications to control and regulate a wide range of different health issues based primarily on the SAD (Standard American Diet) diet.
Granted, life expectancies were very low, but causes of death were deemed to primarily be natural causes. Though wheat and similar grains did grow in the wild, they had no idea that they were edible, so they stayed clear of them.
Farming, Agriculture, and Gluten
Around 10,000 years ago, give or take a few decades, something changed. We went from hunting and foraging our food to being self-sustainable.
Yes, we discovered farming and agriculture, and we discovered that grains could be grown in the ground, harvested, and processed to make edible items like primitive types of bread.
That means that, evolutionarily speaking, we have only been eating gluten for around 10,000 years. That seems like a long time, but considering the other foods like those followed on paleo-based diets, have been consumed for more than ten times that amount of time, you can see that our digestive systems may not have actually had time to catch up.
It’s believed that we first began harvesting wheat around 8800 BC. Primarily it was harvested in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Assyria. Around 5000 BC however, many other parts of the world were also harvesting wheat. During the Bronze Age, spelt became a staple ingredient in diets all over the globe.
By the 15th Century, the New World was regularly harvesting and processing wheat and similar grains to make all kinds of delicious creations.
By the 19th century, brewing and bread-making techniques really improved, and things continued to grow and expand from there.
How is Gluten Affecting Our Health
Gluten comes from the Latin word for glue. That’s because it’s able to hold grains such as wheat together and bind them. This protein is responsible for giving grain-based products such as bread and pasta, their soft and chewy texture.
Now, a lot of people can quite happily eat gluten to their heart’s content, so surely, it’s harmless enough, right?
Well, not exactly. 1 in 133 US citizens suffer from celiac disease or some form of gluten intolerance.
Experts believe that, if we were to go back to how we initially farmed and processed grains, we’d be much healthier than we are now. They believe that most grains consumed today have been so heavily processed, altered, and modified, that they are very different to the ones we ate thousands of years ago.
Join me over in my private Facebook Group, Easy Gluten-Free Community.