The differences between American & European wheat/gluten.

The differences between American & European wheat/gluten.

Le baguette, le croissant, éclair…some of the words that come to mind when I think France. I eat a gluten-free diet at home due to gastrointestinal sensitivities associated with wheat, yet every time I come to Europe, I find myself wondering why baked goods and pasta don’t make me sick the same way they do in the US…

 

I want to start off by stating that I’m not celiac.  Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. Over time, it causes inflammation that damages the small intestine’s lining, leading to some serious health complications. If you have celiac disease you must avoid gluten at all costs and seek medical help. 

 

This conversation is not for celiacs. We’re talking to those of us who get inflamed, bloated, puffy, constipated, gas, nausea etc after eating gluten—commonly described as a gluten sensitivity. Although fully anecdotal, I find myself happily indulging in European bread and pasta with no problems at all, so naturally I had to dig deeper to find an explanation. 

 

Fact: American wheat is higher in gluten. 

The majority of wheat grown in the U.S. (about 60%) tends to be hard red wheat which is high in protein content (mostly in the form of gluten). In Europe, the majority of wheat grown is soft wheat, lower in proteins and thus lower in gluten content. 

 

Fact: American wheat is covered in glyphosate.

Glyphosate is a herbicide (main ingredient in Roundup) used on American wheat to kill bacteria, dry out and prepare the wheat crop for harvest. Making the wheat growth process more effective and more profitable. In Europe, this practice isn’t as prominent, and it’s even banned or heavily restricted in some countries.

Unfortunately glyphosate can disrupt or kill the bacteria in our guts disrupting our immune system and microbiome. 

 

Fact: Soil type and growing methods.

American wheat is grown in sulfur-deficient soils—Kansas, Washington, and North Dakota. The concentration of sulfur in the soil regulates the amount of gliadin proteins (the gluten subtraction responsible from the allergenic response). Less sulfur in the soil, more gliadin in the gluten. More sulfur in the soil, less gliadin in the gluten. Which means that American gluten is likely to be higher in gliadin than normal therefore more reactive.

 

Other contributing factors to improved digestion while on vacation are your activity and stress levels. In any given European vacation you are always walking. These beautiful cities are build for pedestrians—we walked 45k steps in 4 days without even thinking about it! Also traveling, is normally a time to decompress, get inspired, have fun, and be stress-free (even if it’s for a few days). Stress, specially chronic stress, is one of the most underrated health disruptors in the game. 

 

So there you have it. Some factual information, some fully anecdotal, but a few of the reasons why some of us can enjoy a croissant in Europe, reaction free. 
Au Revoir, 
Gigi 

 

 

 

***While these statements are supported by my research and personal experiences, they have not been verified by the FDA or a medical professional. These statements are not intended to cure or treat any ailments or diseases. Please consult a qualified healthcare professional before starting any at-home regimen to ensure these techniques are right for you.

 

Sources:
https://recipes.howstuffworks.com/is-american-wheat-different-than-european-wheat.htm

https://www.theurbanmonk.com/european-wheat-vs-american-wheat-whats-the-guts-reading/

https://lifespa.com/health-topics/digestion/can-digest-european-bread-american-vs-european-wheat/

 

 

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