Gluten-Free Wheat? Farmers are funding research to resolve our problem with gluten.
Gluten has a bad reputation and is blamed for many problems we have with our health and our weight. Celiac disease, which affects 7 percent of the population is an allergy to the food which we apparently may not digest very well.
This has created a big industry of gluten-free everything foods, which are often higher in calories than traditional foods that contain gluten. Consumer Reports did an article last month which attempted to separate myth from fact regarding foods that have gluten, which include some of our favorites such as pasta and bread. GMO varieties have taken over what we normally used to call wheat, and may be partially responsible for the problems many of us have with our digestive tracts due to gluten sensitivities and allergies.
Farmers have taken notice, since this hits them in their livelihood, and are looking to solve the problem themselves by developing a wheat product that does not have the sensitivities of gluten or perhaps, eliminates the gluten from the wheat.
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Farmer’s fund research to breed gluten-free wheat
WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Kansas farmers are paying for genetic research to figure out exactly why some people struggle to digest wheat.
The hard science is aimed at developing new varieties of wheat at a time when the gluten-free industry is worth nearly a billion dollars a year in the U.S. alone.
The Kansas Wheat Commission is spending $200,000 for the first two years of the project, which is meant to identify everything in wheat’s DNA sequences that can trigger a reaction in people suffering from celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which eating even tiny amounts of gluten — comprised of numerous, complex proteins that give the dough its elasticity and some flavor to baked goods — can damage the small intestine.
The only known treatment for celiac disease is a gluten-free diet free of any foods that contain wheat, rye, and barley.
“If you know you are producing a crop that is not tolerated well by people, then it’s the right thing to do,” said the project’s lead researcher, Chris Miller, senior director of research for Engrain, a Kansas company that makes products to enhance the nutrition and appearance of products made by the milling and cereal industry.
Though celiac disease is four to five times more common now than 50 years ago, only about 1 percent of the world’s population is believed to suffer from it, and just a fraction have been diagnosed. But the gluten-free food business has skyrocketed in the last five years, driven in part by non-celiac sufferers who believe they are intolerant to gluten and look for such products as a healthier alternative.