I just finished reading a book called "Wheat Belly" by William Davis, M.D. While I do not agree with everything Davis writes, I find the premise of his book interesting. He argues that the current strains of wheat produced are the cause behind so many modern-day afflictions, not just celiac disease. Specifically, he believes wheat causes obesity (thus the title "Wheat Belly"), diabetes, heart disease, skin disorders, promotes aging and affects the brain.
Davis believes that this is due to the fact that wheat has undergone so much rapid change over the past 50 years in order to increase yields. As he notes, "Triticum wheat of today is the product of breeding to generate greater yield and characteristics such as disease, drought, and heat resistance. In fact, wheat has been modified by humans to such a degree that modern strains are unable to survive in the wild without human support such as nitrate fertilization and pest control."(p.22) As a result of hybridization and genetic modification, wheat today has fourteen new gluten proteins, and has more of the gluten proteins associated with celiac. Thus the rise in celiac and food sensitivities related to the consumption of wheat.
Genetic modification is a process whereby the genes of one species of plant or animal are inserted into the genes of another in order to give that plant or animal certain positive traits. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) can be created with genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or humans.
The problem with genetic modification is that it cuts across species lines and, therefore, can have many unintended consequences on organisms. This is because no one knows what reaction the insertion of a foreign gene into an organism will cause.
Davis notes that, "With wheat, it was likewise assumed that variations in gluten content and structure, modifications of other enzymes and proteins, qualities that conger susceptibility or resistance to various plant diseases, would all make their way to humans without consequence." (p.25) As a matter of fact, there is evidence that genetically modified foods can cause severe illnesses, allergies, asthma, and cancer.
As I mentioned before, I am finding that it is best to consume wheat and other gluten-containing products in moderation, if at all. As far as other genetically modified foods go, I prefer to avoid those completely, because no one knows the effects these will have on the body.
Rachel Khanna is a Certified Health Counselor. She resides with her husband and four daughters in Greenwich. Visit her website at: http://www.healthytiffin.net