Is Being Gluten-Intolerant an American Problem?

One reader asks why gluten-intolerance is so prevalent in America, but not in Europe.


  • Why would European breads sit well in a gluten-intolerant American stomach? Is the problem gluten, or the wheat itself?
    Photo By Fotolia/Contrastwerkstatt

I recently had a puzzling experience and wonder whether you might be able to shed some light on it. Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly unable to eat wheat without experiencing significant gastrointestinal distress, and I’ve been eating a gluten-free diet for about two years as a result.

A couple of weeks ago, I traveled to Hungary and succumbed to the temptation of eating some irresistibly fabulous, crusty European bread. I figured I’d pay the price but that it would be worth it. However, nothing happened. By the end of the trip I was feasting on croissants, thin-crust pizza, layer cake and giant pretzels, and though my clothes are tighter, my digestive system was completely unaffected. In fact, it felt better than it had in a long time.

A quick Google search turned up many similar stories of those in the United States who believed they were gluten-intolerant but had no trouble eating wheat in Europe.

Why are so many Americans gluten-intolerant now? Is something going on with our wheat supply? Is the problem even gluten, or is it the wheat itself? Could it be the varieties grown here, or the way it’s processed? Surely it’s not normal for so many people to develop this problem over such a short period of time.



Any chance you could look into this? I and many others would be most grateful.

Carolyn Welch
Lawrence, Kansas

Amy Reynolds
3/31/2021 2:24:26 PM

I ate gluten free oat matza imported from the UK for years with no ill effect. The only ingredients are oat flour and water. This year for the first time there was also a US made version & I bought it without hesitation. After trying the new matza only once, I broke out in skin lesions and threw up. That has only ever happened to me with wheat. After recovering I tentatively tried the old UK version again and had no reaction. Guess I have to keep getting imported grains.


C.Alvarez
11/13/2020 9:49:04 AM

I developed severe gluten intolerance back when I was still single and living in Colorado. I could not even eat a piece of toast. And we are talking about natural-ingredient bread here, made with just whole-wheat flour, not a bunch of other fake ingredients. Well, I got married to a Colombian man and moved with him to Colombia for six years. I was shocked to discover that my gluten intolerance was gone. The whole time I was there with my husband, I ate all kinds of breads, pastas, home-made goods, and desserts. I never had any issues. Upon returning to the States after six years, I kid you not, within one week, my gluten intolerance returned exactly as it had been before. Someone really needs to look into this, someone who has the authority to share that kind of knowledge, and who can figure it out for the rest of us.


arghe
11/9/2020 11:01:15 AM

I am from Venezuela and never had issues with gluten before. Been living in the US for the past 7 years due to all the craziness going on there with the dictatorship. Here I developed skin and thyroid issues, and my doctor and a dietitian linked them to some sort of gluten-sensitivity. I refused to believe such a thing since wheat bread back home never caused me an issue. Finally decided to listen to the doctor and stopped gluten for a certain amount of time, and my skin issue improved a great deal. The thyroid issue was so advance (Hashimoto) that they had to remove the thyroid :( but there is certainly something going on with wheat here.




Subscribe Today - Pay Now & Save 64% Off the Cover Price

50 Years of Money-Saving Tips!

Mother Earth NewsAt MOTHER EARTH NEWS for 50 years and counting, we are dedicated to conserving our planet's natural resources while helping you conserve your financial resources. You'll find tips for slashing heating bills, growing fresh, natural produce at home, and more. That's why we want you to save money and trees by subscribing through our earth-friendly automatic renewal savings plan. By paying with a credit card, you save an additional $5 and get 6 issues of MOTHER EARTH NEWS for only $12.95 (USA only).

You may also use the Bill Me option and pay $17.95 for 6 issues.

Canadian Subscribers - Click Here
International Subscribers - Click Here
Canadian subscriptions: 1 year (includes postage & GST).


Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube Twitter flipboard

Free Product Information Classifieds Newsletters