Did Wheat Hybridization Give Rise To Celiac Disease?
Starting in the 1960’s, and increasingly in the 1990’s, plant breeders undertook efforts to produce hybrid wheat varieties with the goals of improving yield and disease resistance. Both worthwhile goals but it’s possible that wheat hybridization may have led to the rapidly growing prevalence of celiac disease today.
We learn that not all gluten is created equally. A study identifies that, “Gluten proteins from wheat can induce celiac disease (CD) in genetically susceptible individuals. Specific gluten peptides can be presented by antigen presenting cells to gluten-sensitive T-cell lymphocytes leading to CD.”1
The same abstract explains that a study of over 80 varieties of wheat shows a higher concentration of two CD epitopes (Glia-α9 and Glia-α20) in the more modern varieties of wheat.
This study suggests the possibility that hybridization of wheat may be an underlying cause for the recent rise in CD but does that mean that einkorn is the answer? Not necessarily. Einkorn is an ancient, diploid variety of wheat – the most primitive species of wheat available today. Many people worldwide are working to restore it to our modern diets because of its dietary benefits.
So far, the studies on einkorn’s toxicity have been mixed, although it is considered less toxic than modern wheat. For that reason – though they express an interest in doing so – we always recommend that celiac patients should not consume einkorn. After consulting with their doctor, gluten sensitive people, on the other hand, have reported that they consume eikorn with diminished or no reaction. In addition, naturally leavening bread also seems to help with digestibility, and we’ll share more on this in the coming months.
Do you have a study to share on this topic? Please share a link or reference in the comments along with your summary of the study so we can all participate in the discussion together.
In the mean time, we are fortunate to enjoy einkorn farro today for its superior health benefits.