History of Gluten & How It’s Affecting Our Health
In the past few years, many people have been focused on gluten and what it brings to a diet.
The word gluten brings to mind bread, but it is a little deeper than just bread. Read on to find out a brief history of gluten and how it may affect your health.
Wheat, and other similar grains are considered by many to be blessings. Since humans became self-sufficient, and discovered farming and agriculture, we have utilized wheat and various grains in different ways.
Wheat and grains have been found in many items in our food. From bread and pasta, to beer and wine, wheat is seemingly the gift that keeps on giving.
There is a downside to being self-sufficient.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last decade or so, you’ll have noticed how more and more people seem to be adopting a gluten-free diet.
At first it was thought to me a fad, or a trend a few looking to standout and rebel against society, but as tt turns out, gluten-free diets were not just fads at all. In fact, they are able to provide a wide range of health and wellness benefits to those that follow them.
Even in the discovery that gluten-free diets are beneficial to many, a question still remains, “Why do people feel the need to adopt a gluten-free diet and lifestyle in the first place?”
In order to obtain an answer to that, we need to go back in time a few years.
The Caveman Diet
Back in the Paleolithic era, back when our caveman ancestors roamed the earth, we had no farms, no convenience stores, and no pizza delivery services.
The food we used to eat back then had to be found, foraged, or killed.
Cavemen would hunt and kill wild animals, even catch fish. If available, they would eat nuts, seeds, berries, and anything else deemed edible that grew in the wild.
Today, Paleo diets are hugely popular.
The common misconception about these diets is that they are for weight loss. In actuality, they are not. Many use them to avoid common food allergies and intolerances, and the nasty side effects that go with them.
From what we are able to garner from history, cavemen were probably not obese nor did they suffer from food allergies. Because of those two factors they didn’t need to use prescription medications to control and regulate health issues based primarily on the modern Westernized diet.
While life expectancies are considered to be low for that period of history, the causes of death were deemed natural. Even though wheat and similar grains did grow in the wild, back then they had no idea they were edible, so they stayed well clear.
Farming, Agriculture, and Gluten
A few thousand years ago, give or take a few decades, something changed. Humans went from hunting and foraging our food to being self-sustainable.
Yes, we discovered farming and agriculture. During this time people discovered that grains could be grown, harvested, and processed. This would make edible items like primitive types of bread.
What this mean is, we have only been eating gluten for a few thousand years.
While a thousand years seems like a long time, it is really closer than what you and I may think.
Consider the other foods, like those followed on Paleo-based diets, have been consumed previous to the agriculture diet. When you consider the changes in the food we eat, you can see that our digestive systems may not have actually had time to catch up.
It is believed that we first began harvesting wheat in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Assyria. A little while later many other parts of the world were also harvesting wheat. During the Bronze Age, spelt became a staple ingredient in diets all over the globe.
Into the 15th Century, the New World was regularly harvesting and processing wheat and similar grains to make all kinds of delicious creations.
By the 19th century, brewing and bread-making techniques really improved, and things continued to grow and expand from there.
How Is Gluten Affecting Our Health?
Here is where you will begin to see the difference in the word gluten and how foods are processed today.
Gluten comes from the Latin word for glue. This is because it holds grains such as wheat together and bind them. This protein is responsible for giving grain-based products such as bread and pasta, their soft and chewy texture.
Many people can quite happily eat gluten to their heart’s content, so surely, it’s harmless enough?
Well, not exactly.
About 1 in 133 US citizens suffers from some form of gluten intolerance.
With more and more research being conducted on gluten and the potential health risks it presents, scientists are finding more and more evidence to suggest that to some individuals, gluten does appear to be more harmful than others.
Experts believe that, if we were to go back to how we initially farmed and processed grains, we woud be much healthier than we are now.
Experts believe that most grains consumed today have been so heavily processed, altered, and modified, that they are very different to the ones we ate thousands of years ago.
As you can see, a brief history helps to understand how food was eaten before current times and how we may see more processed food than previous generations.
Stick with us in our series and see how you can begin, or continue, to live a healthier life.