MethodThis study used a grounded method of research, which allowed for the construction of theories for pre-existing phenomena using the cross-comparison of qualitative data. In order to construct the theory that the United States government’s increased support for the mass consumption of hybridized wheat in the 1950’s, has contributed to persistant chronic disease among the American population, it was necessary to consider several key trends.The first aspect of this research was analyzing changing dietary guidelines and advice from the United States government–primarily the USDA–from the 1940’s to present day. Dietary guidelines were jointly developed by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture with the purpose of providing information on how proper dietary intake can reduce the risk of chronic illness. Food, or dietary choices, were recognized as epigenetic factors that could influence the expression of a gene.Epigenetic factors are primary in determining how DNA will be expressed, translated, and how the cell will respond. DNA itself possesses the same 3 billion base pairs in every cell in the human body. Epigenetic factors, or regulatory proteins, determine which genes are transcribed into mRNA (turned on) and which to silence. This allows for a unique change in phenotype without altering the genotype (genetic makeup) of an organism (Freed, 1999).Nutrients and bioactive food molecules are environmental factors that can impact phenotype by either directly inhibiting enzymes that catalyze DNA methylation or histone modifications, or by altering the availability of substrates necessary for the enzymatic reactions to take place. A histone modification is a covalent post-translational modification (PTM) to a histone protein—phosphorylation, acetylation, and methylation—which can impact gene expression. In order to condense DNA in the nucleus of a eukaryotic cell, DNA wraps around histone protein octamers to form a structure called a nucleosome. Clusters of nucleosomes–DNA-histone complexes– are referred to as chromatin: the structure that forms a chromosome. Epigenetic changes refer to factors that can trigger histone modifications and alter chromosome structure. DNA methylation alters chromatin structure at a CpG (cytosine-guanine) dinucleotide site on the DNA with the addition of a methyl groups, tightly condensing the chromatin–inhibiting access to those genes–, and thus inactivating the transcription of mRNA. Acylation refers to the addition of an acetyl groups to histone proteins, resulting in the loosening of chromatin–allowing access to those genes–and enabling the transcription of mRNA (Choi, Friso, 2010).Furthermore, it was important to analyze how the genetic alteration of einkorn into modern wheat has impacted its epigenetic effect on human physiology, in order to understand how the United States dietary reliance on hybridized wheat is perpetuating chronic disease. Triticum aestivum (common bread wheat) is a hexaploid species with triplicated homologous genes—A, B, and D ancestral genomes—that were inherited through hybridization, whereas einkorn possesses only the original A genome (Farris, 2014; Davis, 2015). Differences in genetic make up of the wheat species were used to explain why recommendations for the consumption of wheat could correspond to trends in heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity, and celiac disease growth since before the Green Revolution until the present day.  The study then inquired about how the modern wheat affects the human body. Specifically, the study determined the mechanisms that lead to the manifestation of the chronic illnesses: heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, obesity, and celiac disease. The precise, physiologically destructive metabolic pathways that arise from hybridized wheat’s inflammatory nature and ability trigger a PTM to histone proteins were explained in detail. The objective of this portion was to explain how modern wheat could contribute to a rise of chronic disease, despite popular belief that wheat is an essential part of the daily diet.Wheat’s biomechanics–along with trends outlining the sudden prevalence of celiac disease in the United States after the global release of genetically altered, hybridized wheat during the Green Revolution–set the bases for the theory that celiac disease is a healthy response to a destructive dietary substance, not an unhealthy response to a beneficial food.


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