Gluten sensitivities, including celiac disease, are on the rise in the United States and around the world. And experts say genetics alone can’t explain the jump in people with this problem, so an environmental trigger must exist. Could genetically modified foods be to blame?


One recent report by the Institute for Responsible Technology suggests a connection between genetically modified (GM) foods and gluten disorders. This idea isn’t new, but little research exists to confirm or deny it. One earlier research review also implicates gluten in causing a leaky gut, or problems with gluten.

Many doctors prescribe non-GMO diets for gluten-sensitive patients, and patients have reported improvement in their symptoms after eliminating genetically modified foods from their diets.

Emily Linder MD, said, “Based on my clinical experience, when I remove genetically modified foods as part of the treatment for gluten sensitivity, recovery is faster and more complete. I believe that GMOs in our diet contribute to the rise in gluten sensitivity in the U.S. population.”

Other possible environmental causes of gluten sensitivity

One trigger alone doesn’t cause problems with gluten. Some other suggested reasons gluten disorders are booming:


  • Our bodies don’t know how to respond to increasing amounts of gluten in modern wheat crops, which contain up to four times more gluten. However, a 2013 review of data commissioned by the USDA found no evidence to support this.
  • We’re eating too much wheat overall.
  • Cesarean births may be to blame.
  • Not breastfeeding long enough.
  • Alterations in our intestinal bacteria.

At least one doctor, John Hoeber, MS, RD, believes the rise in gluten sensitivities is due to “improved diagnosis and wider acceptance of the problem.”

What does this mean for you?

More research needs to be done in this area, but the best thing to do for your health is to stay away from genetically modified foods. Choose organic options and ones that are “Non-GMO Project Verified.” You can also avoid ingredients derived from foods most likely to be genetically modified:

  • Soy
  • Corn
  • Cottonseed
  • Canola
  • Sugar
  • Papaya from Hawaii or China
  • Zucchini and yellow squash

And if you think you might have celiac disease, don’t stop eating gluten. Instead, go see your doctor for an evaluation first.

For more information, watch the video below with Jeffrey Smith, internationally recognized expert on GMOs, and Tom Malterre, expert in clinical nutrition and a gluten-free lifestyle, discussing the potential connection between GMOs and gluten sensitivity.


Image Source: WayTru/Flickr