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

5/29/2021 11:03:52 PM

I live in australia and we have the same phenomena as USA. We have high numbers of gluten intolerance. I was told by someone in agriculture that there is info on the grapevine that the problem is our wheat in Australia and USA use the same pesticide... Ratsack or similar, and actually our guts are reacting to the pesticide, rather than the wheat. So I buy non Australian. And non Amercian wheat products where possible

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.

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.



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