Why, in the last few years, has the number of people with gluten allergies skyrocketed?
There is no doubt that the number of people who are now clearly and significantly sensitive to gluten has increased dramatically in recent years. And there are several reasons why this is happening. First, the ability of the immune system to recognize friend or foe as far as proteins are concerned is fundamentally regulated by the balance of bacteria that reside within our intestines, our microbiome. With the overuse of antibiotics and other challenges including other medications like anti-inflammatories, and even chlorinated water, the regulation of our gut related immune system can be compromised, and this leads to inappropriate and excessive reactions to what might otherwise have represented a nonthreatening protein like gluten. So disturb the balance of bacteria in the gut, and next thing you know, you are at risk for gluten sensitivity. In addition, the hybridization of wheat has favored both genetic changes in the composition of gluten as well as greatly increasing the amount of gluten found in wheat-derived products (as well as barley and rye). These changes further overwhelm the immune system’s ability to respond in a normal fashion when exposed to these products.