Is Being Gluten-Intolerant an American Problem?

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

| August/September 2013

  • 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

3/4/2019 7:01:32 PM

I too am gluten intolerant. I have been to Europe many times over the past few years and am able to eat everything without a problem. Back home in the U.S.A, I buy imported pasta and, if any of you have a Trader Joe's near you, they sell brioche bread imported from France - it makes the best French Toast!! I travelling to Israel next week and am wonder if anyone has had luck eating regular food while there.

3/4/2019 8:37:23 AM

I would suggest this. Is it gluten intolerance, or are we adding an ingredient in the United States that is causing our digestive issues? My problem started 1 year ago. I feel very fortunate to have found that it isn't actually the gluten. It is the carcinogen "bromate". When I eat any wheat product that does not have bromate in it, I have no reaction. This carcinogen is not allowed in many countries including China???? The problem is that it is not required as a listed ingredient. Some of the places that I have found that do not use flour with bromate are Great Harvest Bread, and Panera Bread. I would suggest trying this. Then research, research, research. I buy pasta made in Italy, and make my own bakery items as much as possible. King Arthur flour is one of the brands that is not processed with Bromate. This epidemic is actually a poisoning. Is there any way to stop this???

3/1/2019 6:29:21 PM

I found out I was gluten sensitive about 12 years ago. I used to have such bad inflammation from my lower back that I would dis-align my spine. I would constantly go to my chiropractor and have him align me and would be in extreme pain. My family doctor sent me for testing, including x-rays, but they couldn't find out anything. My chiropractor suggested I see an acupuncturist in his office. The acupuncturist suggested that I eliminate certain foods and get a food sensitivity test done by a naturopath. Once I did those, I was able to find out that it was wheat causing my inflammation. I did a lot of research online and found one about Roundup (pesticide) being used in North American wheat and how people with unbalanced gut flora are having sensitivity to wheat. I used to be able to nibble a bite here and there of gluten, but I have now been so sensitive that I don't. However, during my travels, I would try breads and pastries here and there. I have traveled to Mexico, Dominican Republic, Czech Republic, Philippines and Korea and have had no issues. My 4 year old son gets eczema eating North American wheat. He too have been to those countries and have had no issues. I used to have 2 coworkers with gluten sensitivity and I mentioned eating gluten in the Philippines and Czech Republic where they were traveling and when they came back, they mentioned that they too were able to eat wheat with no issues. So there clearly is something in North American wheat. Whether it's GMO or has pesticides, there clearly is something different.


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