After two family members were diagnosed with celiac disease last year, I took inventory of my own physical complaints. While mild and manageable, they matched up with symptoms typical of a gluten intolerance. I tested the diagnosis by giving up gluten, all the while anticipating I wouldn’t feel any different and would be able to go back to eating bread and pasta within a few weeks. I love bread and pasta! Just a couple weeks after giving up wheat, I felt better. No more abdominal pain and no bloating. I leave a dinner table feeling satisfied but not ill. Additionally, I have more energy and my mood is lighter.
For me, it is a lifestyle change, but for those diagnosed with celiac disease it is life altering. Even 1/8 teaspoon of wheat can cause serious damage to the small intestine of a celiac sufferer. While it is easier than ever before to maintain a gluten free diet — the supermarket shelves stocked with options — it is still trying for people who can eat no gluten at all. Parents of children with celiac especially, agonize over the possibility of cross contamination and potential harm to their kids. On top of this, these moms and dads look ahead to a long life in which their son or daughter will always have to manage their disease. The only treatment being complete avoidance of wheat, barley and rye, they picture their kids always challenged when eating out. They imagine college life without beer — something most of us can’t envision. And, they fear a life of deprivation for their kids, with long term consequences if they are not always vigilant.
Most people agree the genetic altering of wheat and the changes to the way it is grown are what is causing the increase in celiac and gluten intolerance. It has been my secret hope scientists will be able to undo whatever has been done to our wheat over the past few decades to make so many people intolerant of it. Maybe it can be fixed? I don’t want to give up good NYC pizza and Corona beer forever. More than that, I want all the parents of kids with celiac disease to have something to root for — a reason to be hopeful.
Now, looks like they might just have that reason.
Farmers in Kansas are investing in research to find a way to grow gluten-free wheat. The Kansas Wheat Commission put $200,000 toward two years of investigation into understanding which parts of the wheat are causing the sensitivities. We need t-shirts that read, “GO KANSAS!”
Perhaps other organizations will follow suit. Gluten Free wheat would be a huge money maker. As many of us know, the GF products on the market are expensive. We are often paying double for a product alternative, which is not nearly as good as the original. What I wouldn’t pay for a sandwich on real bread!
So, if not just for the benefit of those who suffer with wheat sensitivity, than for the potential for huge profit, I think more farmers and agricultural societies will jump on board. Gluten Free Wheat — now that sounds delicious! Maybe your kids will be able to go the kegger after all.