In recent years, a heightened awareness of gluten intolerance has made it much easier for us to find food free of the protein in supermarkets and at restaurants. We’re assured that we won’t miss much if we forgo wheat. The New York Times, for instance, just covered a successful dinner party in which everything was gluten-free.

But even as gluten-free food has become less difficult to attain (much less entertain with), the perception remains that it is a specialized diet. However, io9 contributor George Dvorsky encourages you to drop your wheat habit even if you don’t have celiac disease or an allergy.

According to Dvorsky, there is a slate of recent studies that show the link between wheat and a number of health issues. The science boils down to various ways in which “wheat raises blood sugar levels, causes immunoreactive problems, inhibits the absorption of important minerals, and aggravates our intestines.” These problems arise from a hybridized version of wheat that we’ve been growing and eating for seventy-plus years.

Aside from containing a toxin called sodium azide and undergoing a gamma irradiation process, “Today’s hybridized wheat contains novel proteins that aren’t typically found in either the parent or the plant—some of which are difficult for us to properly digest.” This has led experts to theorize that “the gluten and other compounds found in today’s modern wheat is what’s responsible for the rising prevalence of celiac disease, ‘gluten sensitivity,’ and other problems.”

Meanwhile, other elements like lectins, phytic acid, and a raised glycemic index makes wheat that much more difficult to process in our bodies, leading to problems such as insulin resistance, anemia, and osteoporosis. What’s also sobering is that 1.4 million Americans are undiagnosed for celiac disease.

[via Discovery News]