According to an expert in digestive disorders, the current rise in dietary problems related to gluten could be due to over reliance on wheat-based products.

Professor David Sanders, Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and University of Sheffield, said:

“Only for the past ten thousand years have we have wheat-based foods in our diets, which in evolutionary terms makes wheat almost a novel food. If you put that in context to the 2.5 millions years that mankind has been on earth, it makes sense that our bodies are still adapting to this food, and more specifically, the gluten that it contains.”

Sanders explains that up to 6% of the world’s population could be sensitive to gluten, making it the second leading gluten-related disorder after celiac disease.

At present, approximately 1% of the population suffer from celiac disease. Currently 1 in 100 people are susceptible to the disease, this figure is 80 times higher than in the 1950s when only 1 in 8,000 were susceptible.

A recent survey commissioned by the Dr Schär Institute, found that although gluten sensitivity is often observed by GPs and dietitians, they are uncertain how to manage the disease. Diagnostic difficulties are also an issue, with gastrointestinal symptoms that include: abdominal pain & bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and generic malaise, including: headache, fatigue and also limb numbness and anaemia. Furthermore, the survey found 86% of GPs and 90% of dietitians have limited or average understanding of gluten sensitivity.

Speaking on behalf of the Dr Schär Institute, dietitian Melissa Wilson, explained:

“The comments from Professor Sanders and the survey results demonstrate that serious confusion exists when experts try to diagnose or manage gluten sensitivity. GPs and dietitians are telling us that they do not feel there is enough information available, despite reporting a large number of patients displaying symptoms associated with the condition.”

Written by Grace Rattue