Tuesday, August 16, 2022

History of gluten

About 10,000 years ago in Asia, grains first began to be cultivated by humans. Hunting and gathering gave way to farming. Early forms of wheat are believed to have been cultivated at least as early as 9000 BC. Gluten appeared as a consequence of agricultural practices initiated 10000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent of southwest Asia.

Gluten is a protein naturally found in some grains. Gluten is a Latin word that means “glue,” due to its ability to hold grains like wheat, barley, and rye together.

After 8000 BC, the cultivation of wheat – particularly emmer wheat – began spreading to other parts of the world, hitting Greece, Cyprus, and India by 6500 BC; and Germany by 5000 BC. It wasn’t until the 19th century that wheat was milled in large quantities and gluten assumed a more prominent place in the diet.

The Greek physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia wrote the first account of the disease around the first century AD. He described patients whose food passed through them without being digested, calling the disease the coeliac diathesis, stemming from the Greek word ‘koalia’, meaning abdomen.

For centuries afterward, the diagnosis served as a death sentence, as no one knew the cause or any treatment. Gluten was discovered by Jacopo Bartolomeo Beccari, in Bologna (Italy) in 1728. However, the lixiviation process still used today to get gluten and the chemical characterization of this new material was performed by the physician Johannes Kesselmeyer in Strasbourg (France), in 1759.

It was only in the 20th century that celiac disease was truly discovered and named by the medical community.

Multiple diets were used to treat celiac disease until 1953, when Dicke, Weijers, and van de Kamer identified gluten as the cause of the symptoms. Coeliac disease was actually discovered all the way back in the 1940’s by physician Willem Dicke. Dicke was the medical director at a children’s hospital and became increasingly interested in coeliac disease after attending a presentation on it back in 1932
History of gluten

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