Help! I'm Allergic to Bread

| 5/11/2011 1:41:02 PM

Well – at least that’s how it seems. During the last year, I have developed gluten intolerance. No more chocolate chip cookies, or peanut butter toast or Saturday morning pancakes …

I’m discovering that I’m not alone in my misery, that there are thousands of people just like me for whom the consumption of wheat-based products is just not a good thing. So, I’ve been wondering what it is that is different about today’s wheat that is causing so many people’s digestive tract to react negatively? Could it be that the “modernizing” of the wheat, the breeding changes that have happened over the decades, has actually changed the chemistry of the gluten?

I recently read an article from The Wall Street Journal (March 15, 2011, Clues to Gluten Sensitivity, in which Joseph A. Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. says, “People aren’t born with this. Something triggers it and with this dramatic rise in all ages, it must be something pervasive in the environment.” One possible culprit: agricultural changes to wheat that have boosted its protein content.”

If “modernizing” the wheat is the problem, then perhaps finding a flour made from an heirloom wheat might be the solution. Enter Turkey hard red winter wheat. Here is a bit of history from the Heartland Mills website on this wheat that is currently being grown around Lawrence, Kan., which makes it a local food find for me!

“Turkey variety hard red winter wheat was introduced to Kansas in 1873, carried by Mennonite immigrants from Crimea in the Ukraine, fleeing Russian forced military service. The Mennonite history relates that this seed was carefully hand selected for the soundest kernels and packed in the luggage of the immigrants on their long journey to new farms in a new and distant land. These farm families gave us more than seed – they also carried with them the agricultural knowledge and skills necessary for this crop to be successful in Kansas – where the climate and soils were much like in their lands in the Ukraine.”

I acquired 10 pounds of the Turkey unbleached white flour from Heartland Mills, shared a bit with a friend who is similarly afflicted, and set out to make a lovely loaf of crusty artisan bread. I could hardly wait for the bread to cool enough to cut and slather with some lovely butter. Voila, a loaf later, my innards were still happy. And my suffering friend experienced the same result — nothing — which is, of course, what we were hoping for.

Abba Niv
8/24/2012 9:35:50 AM

The wheat you describe is probably a DURUM wheat which is part of the wheat grown in the middle east and it's wild ancestors were found in the Galilee about 100 years ago. Durum wheat is used for Pasta. See comment by Gary Eslin on Italy etc In all probability the cause is due to the variety of wheat much more than other reasons. Most of this is based on courses at the Univ of Minnesota agriculture campus in St Paul 70 years ago.

Karina Koenig-Johnson
8/17/2012 10:16:58 AM

There is clearly a difference between gluten/wheat sensitivity and Coeliac Disease. Coeliac Disease is inherited (but may skip a generation). Doctors use an endoscopy test (camera down the aesophagus) to take a biopsy of the intestines. When a person has Coeliac Disease the villi (like tiny hairs in the stomach) are all burned away by the gluten. If a Coeliac ingests gluten or wheat it will take up to three weeks for the villi to grow back, during which time they are not taking in any nutrution from their food. If you suffer from unexplained weight loss, constipation and/or diorhea, stomach cramps, feeling poorly and tired etc, you must visit your doctor and tell them everything (how long the symptoms, how tired you are etc). Coeliac Disease is not a fad, it is a serious medical condition which can have far-reaching effects.

8/17/2012 3:55:29 AM

I have just about given up on wheat due to stomach issues. I have tested negative for gluten problems but still can't eat wheat without issues. On a recent trip to Italy, I could not resist eating great Italian bread, pasta, and pizza. Guess what--no issues even though I ate a diet heavily made of wheat. I have noticed that most wheat products in the US are "fortified". I wonder if the additives are the problem for some of us. In any case, I am going to try to find wheat that is unadulerated to see if that will make a difference. This older form of wheat may just fit the bill. Thanks for the info.

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