The first description of celiac disease, wheat hypersensitivity, was recorded in 100 AD by the Greek physician Aretaeus and many others from that time forward. That disease would have been due to spelt, emmer, or kamut. There is ample evidence that consumption of wheat had health effects on people such as the ice mummy, Ötzi. He died more than 5000 years ago. Many papers have been written regarding his ill health and his diet.
How many people are sick?
We know that approximately 1% of people have celiac disease (not all are diagnosed) and 5 to 6 % have overt wheat sensitivity. It is estimated that perhaps 50% of people have some level of sensitivity. The sensitivity crosses over to related grasses such as barley and rye. That does not consider the insulin stimulation, the effects of gliadin on opiate receptors, or the effects of wheat germ lectin on the intestines. We do know that as we step back in time to earlier versions of wheat, the health consequences fade. But what is better? Whole wheat, old wheat, or no wheat?
Photo by Dave (the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.)