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

10/6/2018 4:16:18 PM

I had the exact same experience. We were in Amsterdam and belgium. I was tempted by the bread and ate it expecting to feel sick. Instead I felt great and ended enjoying all sorts of bread and pastries. I thought maybe i outgrew my gluten issue. Back in the states i had just a little bit of bread and within a day was back to having bloating Inflamation overall not feeling good. It happens every time i eat gluten in the is. Even if i eat whole grains so i don’t think the bleach explains this. Are they using different seeds to grow the wheat. I think i once read it was ancient wheat and perhaps not as genetically modified? I’d love an answer. How can we reproduce the European bread here?

9/5/2018 9:25:21 PM

There is a very simply explanation and it comes down to Americans being superficial, as the flour bleaching agent used to whiten your floor also oxidises the surfaces of the flour and helps with developing of gluten. Hence gluten intolerance from the bleaching agent would answer the question of what has happened to your wheat supply. Sorry guys' but it is not the pesticides etc etc.

1/9/2018 8:21:17 AM

Could it be how the US treats the wheat before harvesting? Large agriculture douses wheat with pesticides to enhance priduction RIGHT BEFORE harvesting........ European farming practice is very different from ours.

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