Gluten-Free can be Bad for 99% of Us.

Via on May 18, 2013

gluten free, elephant journal, cookie monster

“I’m a celiac, and while I enjoy the glut of new products that are gluten-free, I resent the dieters that don’t take advantage of their functioning GI track. EAT A DOUGHNUT. SOME OF US CAN’T…

Celiac here too, and 100% with you on that one. I understand that a lot of people feel better w/o gluten even if they don’t have CD (my husband, for instance), but damn, wish I could eat a sugar raised doughnut just one. more. time. But then it would be off to the ER for me, so, no.

Or a double decker from Taco Bell. Or even just cheez-its! Or soft french bread and brie…” [Reddit]

gluten

Many, many more perspectives here:

The Tastiest Gluten-Free Stuffed Artichokes You’ll Ever Eat. ~ Paige Vignola {Recipe}

Eat a Gluten-Free Diet for Type 2 Diabetes & Celiac Disease. ~ Sarka-Jonae Miller

A Gluten-Free Treat to Start the Day. ~ Terri Tremblett

Link: 1% of the population has a genuine need. For most of the rest of us, we’re just eating processed, pricey, nutrient-light “wellness” products.

Here’s 8 Gluten-free Things that are Actually Bad for Us.

Don’t get suckered by the Gluten-free gold rush. Just because it’s GF doesn’t mean it’s good for us. Stick with real food, that’s naturally gluten-free. Cook more, love more, slow down. Avoid heavily-processed hype:

New read: Food fadism: exposing the gluten myth (afr.com)

“If it’s packaged or processed — gluten or no gluten — it’s not as healthy as other whole foods you could be eating. The best gluten-free foods aren’t products at all; They’re fresh fruits and vegetables!”

When I was video host at Natural Products Expo West, recently, interviewing some of the newer GF companies, it felt like I was talking with a bunch of fad and money-focused business people—not foodies or wellness experts. I do like some GF companies that focus on health, not just GF. ~ ed.

Beware buzz-words. They mean something, but they don’t mean enough that we can turn off our critical intelligence.

Much of the general population’s newfound gluten-intolerance is, likely, psychosomatic—i.e., imagined. The point: eat healthfully, read labels, don’t follow fads or be a sucker for corporate hype claims.

It’s the same with organic. Folks think organic means healthy. It means something: but not necessarily good-for-you.

In a recent poll, 30 percent of adults said they wanted to “cut down or be free of gluten“…About 1 percent of the population has celiac disease…people who unnecessarily shun gluten may do so at the expense of their health, Tallmadge said…whole grains, which contain gluten, are a good source of fiber, vitamins and minerals, Tallmadge said. Gluten-free products are often made with refined grains, and are low in nutrients…[like] fiber, iron, folate, niacin, thiamine, calcium, vitamin B12, phosphorus and zinc. “There’s nothing magical about eliminating gluten that results in weight loss,” Mangieri said. Any of us that eliminates or removes cookies and candies from our diets, and replaces them with fruits and vegetables is going to feel better.”

Via @waylonlewis via @hukitchen on Instagram (follow’ em):

gluten-free health bad

1. Soda is Gluten-free. This is what one sip of soda does to your body.

2. Cocaine is Gluten-free. Bonus: on Fair-trade Cocaine.

3. Some gluten-free cookies: many are still bad for you. “just two of Glow’s cookies contain as much saturated fat as 10 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets and more calories than seven Nabisco Ginger Snaps!” Some are pretty healthy. Read the labels.

4. Some gluten-free granola: the store-bought stuff is generally full of sugar and canola oil. Yum! “With 20 grams each of both fat and sugar, Udi’s granola resembles a dessert…”

5. Some gluten-free bread is all canola oil and eggs: read, fat and calories. And weight-gain!

6. Gluten-free bagels: “The listed serving size may be half a bagel, but don’t be fooled—few people will stop at half. To add further insult, Glutino’s also manages to pack in more fat per bagel than three scoops of Breyer’s Original Strawberry ice cream.” Jaw, meet floor.Gluten Free Aisle

7. Gluten-free Cake? Bad for you: “Tia’s “Totally Healthy” cake contains as many calories as 8.5 Fudgesicles, as much fat as 3.5 McDonald’s Hamburgers, and more sugar than 10 feet of Fruit by the Foot candy.” How would you look with 15 extra pounds? Eat a couple of these a week and you’ll find out.

8. Gluten-free soups…are often all “flour, butter and milk or cream.”

“…Many of us paying a premium to avoid gluten are doing so without any legitimate medical reason.

First of all, why is gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye and barley — so bad? Well, for most of us, it isn’t.”

 

If you plan to go gluten free, select more fruits, vegetables, and lean meat, and more naturally gluten-free grains like brown rice, quinoa, and buckwheat, rather than just buying prepackaged products labeled “gluten free,” Sandquist says.

glutenfreecupcakes copy

Sources:

Men’s Health.

Scientific American.

Time.

CNN.

For another pov: Slate.

Common Sense (look it up, it’s in your own head)

 

About Waylon Lewis

Waylon Lewis, founder of elephant magazine, now elephantjournal.com & host of Walk the Talk Show with Waylon Lewis, is a 1st generation American Buddhist “Dharma Brat." Voted #1 in U.S. on twitter for #green two years running, Changemaker & Eco Ambassador by Treehugger, Green Hero by Discovery’s Planet Green, Best (!) Shameless Self-Promoter at Westword's Web Awards, Prominent Buddhist by Shambhala Sun, & 100 Most Influential People in Health & Fitness 2011 by "Greatist", Waylon is a mediocre climber, lazy yogi, 365-day bicycle commuter & best friend to Redford (his rescue hound). His aim: to bring the good news re: "the mindful life" beyond the choir & to all those who didn't know they gave a care. elephantjournal.com | facebook.com/elephantjournal | twitter.com/elephantjournal | facebook.com/waylonhlewis | twitter.com/waylonlewis | Google+ For more: publisherelephantjournalcom

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78 Responses to “Gluten-Free can be Bad for 99% of Us.”

  1. EmBot says:

    I think this is kind of the same thing as being vegan. Everything vegan is not healthy, vegan cupcakes, vegan hot wings etc. I eat gluten free due to the fact that I am sensitive to the gluten and it makes me a raging bipolar wreck. And yes, I realize that gluten free cake is not "healthy" but I also don't eat any kind of cake for the actual purpose of it being "healthy." Really, I eat it BECAUSE it is unhealthy, as a treat. Doesn't it come down to knowledge on ingredients and nutrition and not eating a certain way because it is trendy? But rather because it makes us feel better in our bodies?

    • elephantjournal says:

      Amen. Same with organic, or anything. The point is: retain critical intelligence. Eat whole foods. Eat healthfully, not according to fads or health claims.

    • Stevie says:

      I agree. The Vegan emphasis is a little out of control and the word is overused. I would rather see someone eat a whole plant based diet with small amounts of lean organic animal protein (not slaughterhouse) than chug their bodies full of vegan processed foods that are often laden with soy as a base (not that soy is entirely evil), fat and sugar.
      Whole foods people. Whole foods, whole thinking.

  2. Jen says:

    If people eat clean, healthy food and stay away from the processed gluten-free foods they will be ok. When I first went gluten-free due to health issues several years ago I began putting weight on bc I was buying all the “boxed” gluten free items such as pasta, cookies, crackers, cereals etc. What I found is that a lot of these items were also making me ill due to all the extra ingredients that were used as substitute for gluten. I went back to eaten organic fruits, veggies, a little grain like brown rice and millet plus ate grass fed meats on occasion. I lost the weight and began feeling better almost immediately. Just bc it reads gluten-free does not mean it is ok to over indulge. People did the same thing years ago when Nabisco came out with snackwells. They figured bc they were “low fat” they could eat the whole box. I have spent years studying nutrition and using food to help me heal. What I found… Go back to keeping it simple and delicious!!! Like the above stated Eat local, organic, grass fed etc as much as possible and on occasion indulge on a GF treat. Its ok to have a treat now and again. Food is to be enjoyed. Just be smart.

  3. Amanda says:

    I eat gluten free because wheat causes a terrible inflammatory reaction in my joints. I don't think it's quite right to assert that only people with Celiac's can benefit from going gluten free. That being said, I agree with the spirit of this piece, which is just that processed food isn't good for you.

    • Vivian says:

      Well said, Amanda! There's plenty of scientific evidence (though a lot more work to be done in the area) to assert that grains do not belong in the human diet (gluten free or not). If you're interested in learning more, you can read about it (all peer-reviewed references) here: http://theglife.org/go-green/greenliving/healthwe

    • Sara says:

      I agree with you there as i too have an allergy to wheat although i can eat gluten in other types of grains without any problems, at the end of the day anything processed is bad gluten free or otherwise

    • Leslie says:

      I agree with Amanda. I have Celiac’s and I am delighted to have more than 2 brands of sub-par bread to choose from. My daughter has Celiac’s and deals with Autism, she finds dual benefit it a gluten-free diet. My husband, who deals with arthritis, benefits from a gluten-free diet with reduced joint inflammation. My Mom has lupus, which has gone into full remission since she went gluten-free. In other words, more than 1% of the population benefits from a gluten-free diet.

      Wheat isn’t the same as it used to be. The amount of gluten in wheat had increased over the last century and I believe it causes more irritation and health issues as a result.

      With regards to comparing a gluten-free cake to a white flour cake, I’m saddened by your “low-fat” approach. To compare ground rice, tapioca, and sorghum, (all whole foods finely ground to create flour) to bleached and processed white flour is absurd. Also, I don’t see many, if any, specifically gluten-free baked goods made with hydrogenated oils and they typically exclude high-fructose corn syrup. I would venture to guess you’ve not done a lot of gluten-free baking and cooking. Creating a gluten-free baked good comparable to one containing gluten can at times be challenging and necessitate using more sugar, fat or starches.

      Regarding fat, out culture still lives by the myth and premise that fat is bad. Healthy fats and oils are essential to proper brain function, healthy skin and many other things in the body. I am not overweight, nor is anyone in my family and we do not shy away from including fat in our diet. I believe balance is key. I make a lot of my own foods and agree that cooking and baking at home eliminates a lot of the headaches of processed food. Still, it is nice to be able to go to the local natural food market and buy cookies or a cake on occasion and it’s really nice to not have to make my own bread. What’s more is now I have a selection.

    • lmno says:

      I think the point of the article is to read labels. Don't assume because something says "organic" or "gluten free" that it is healthy or good for you – which MANY people do. If eliminating gluten makes you feel better, awesome! But, is it because you are now eating a healthier, cleaner diet, or because you replaced processed gluten for processed gluten free?

    • Tara says:

      Good point Amanda. I also avoid all wheat/gluten products except for barley on the rare occassion. I've been told by one ND that I most likely had celiac, and I have terrible digestive issues so avoiding wheat/gluten is definitely worth the trouble to feel better. I have also looked into the idea that the actual *wheat* is the problem for most people, not necessarily the gluten in other foods. Wheat has been so adulterated from the way it was before the 1950s that there is little nutritional value in it, and it behaves differently in our bodies than it used to. It just seems like a not so good grain to be chosing for many people. I am happy for the gluten free movement because a) more food for me!, and b) it helps me avoid wheat as well as gluten.

  4. elephantjournal says:

    Waylon: Jack, most elephant readers aren't vegetarian. Lead isn't meat, either, so Paleo folks should drop it, too!

    Kimberly Lo Thanks you for this! I remember as a kid I went to school with a kid with celiac disease. Most people never heard of it and some doubted it was even real. It angers me to no end when some people who self-diagnose themselves as being intolerant act like it is the same thing. It is not.

    Jack Elder Lead is also vegetarian…better stop being vegetarian guys.

    Heather Minsky Nottingham Read the book Wheat Belly.

    Rafael A. Prieto Prieto Uranium is naturally ocurring.

    Frieda L. Ferrick I totally agree.

    Brooke Tatum Any kind of processed foods (esp flour) are not as good as fresh whole foods. GMO is the biggest concern and the reason wheat gluten is bugging people is because all our wheat now is Frankenwheat. Heirloom wheat is different for most people. All I know is that my health has improved tremendously since I stopped gluten and avoid GMOs like the plague. But GF bread causes the same gut problems that gluten did. Go figure.

    • John says:

      For me it's just plain carbs (at least for the last 2 yrs of my life) Gluten Carbs are the worst for me, but only behind raw veggies. The docors said I had to just live with it. Staying on a meatless diet with raw veggies and grain increased my inflammation and debilitating pain. So GF and raw don't work for me. Had a difficult time doing a SCD diet for ethical reasons and at the same time healing was quickened in a way no other diet addressed. Here's my point. Different eating habits heal different individuals. Stay open and don't judge what is a higher vibration – one day you too may be humbled. Not only does gluten send my system into overload – so does oat, rice, corn, potato etc., even if it is non-GMO and organic, Thank you Elephantjournal for your response and observing the whole picture in those responses.

  5. xplorexpress says:

    It is surely more healthy eating vegan than eating a macdo junk, for sure… as for the rest, it is a question of freedom and people should be able to choose what they want to eat without being cataloged or belittled. If somebody chooses or have to eat a certain way for his/her health, it is their choice.

    As for the example you give in this article, I find them a bit childish and belittling. Leave people alone and free of their choices. You have the right to eat your bread with gluten so let people eat their bread without gluten if they choose so…

  6. paul says:

    A helpful video, "Gluten and autoimmunity explained in 20 minutes" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvUgcLQOUSA

  7. You do not need to have celiac's to benefit from being gluten free. There is a huge gray area in between a full on allergic reaction and non-reaction. Most people are in the gray area where gluten does cause a reaction to a degree. This is called a food sensitivity. This sensitivity is a reaction of the immune system which results in inflammation. The inflammation is what damages the body. This is why eating gluten free can and does help people with a variety of non-celiac diseases (e.g. arthritis and thyroiditis). Avoiding gluten reduces inflammation.

    • Alex says:

      That is completely untrue. "Most" people are not in a grey area. Your body either attacks the gluten antigen or it does not. There isn't a grey area. Why are you singling out gluten as a source of inflammation? Plenty of proteins and other substances cause inflammation. Avoiding gluten, in those with ACTUAL intolerance (i.e. Celiac disease patients), not some BS psychosomatic self-diagnosed crap, will avoid inflammation in their digestive systems. Avoiding gluten does not help people with arthitis or thyroiditis and not Celiac disease. Quit spraying. You are not a doctor, but instead a moron.

      • Tom says:

        you're actually a moron Alex, tone it down you psycho. You sound like an idiot.

        • The real Alex says:

          "There is also striking new research showing that adverse immune reactions to gluten may result from problems in very different parts of the immune system than those implicated in celiac disease. Most doctors dismiss gluten sensitivity if you don't have a diagnosis of celiac disease, but this new research proves them wrong. Celiac disease results when the body creates antibodies against the wheat (adaptive immunity), but another kind of gluten sensitivity results from a generalized activated immune system (innate immunity). This means that people can be gluten-sensitive without having celiac disease or gluten antibodies and still have inflammation and many other symptoms." Mark Hyman MD

    • Karlbaba says:

      This is the point I wanted to make so thank you. Gluten is implicated in leaky gut syndrome which causes indigested proteins to enter the bloodstream, potentially stimulating an autoimmune reaction. You don't have to be Celiac to have leaky gut. One Academic study observed thyroiditis reversing from simply eliminating gluten. The author makes a good point that processed Gluten Free foods may not be the healthiest, whole foods are better, but it's dangerously untrue that only 1% of the population may have a real problem with Gluten.

    • Thomas says:

      I know this is an old post, but I want to respond. 'Gluten' is wheat barley and rye. So if you aren't allergic to these things I think most people are goign to be fine. Just keep your carb intake and try to over all eat low glycemic index foods. I think there is no real benefit to COMPLETELY avoiding wheat, barley and rye unless you have celiac disease or an allergy to those 3 things. The real problem is that the American diet puts wheat in the majority of foods that people in in large quantities regularly. I really don't agree that there is a large benefit for most people based on my research.

  8. Amy says:

    After 15+ years of feeling like crap, it was finally determined last year that gluten is the problem. My son also has problems with gluten. Neither one of us underwent the extensive testing required to determine if we are celiac at the advice of both my family doctor and our pediatrician. Both advised that if you feel better without it, don't eat it. Why should I subject a little boy to an endoscopy, blood tests and weeks of dietary restrictions and testing just to provide every one else with an "official" diagnosis? It's not "psychosomatic." I have all the markers and subsquent health issues associated with gluten intolerance and my son's health has improved tenfold. It can difficult telling people that we're gluten-free—they often act like we've jumped on the bandwagon. Frankly, being GF is a pain in the ass, particularly at kid's parties, so it's not something I do "just because" and opinions like this article only perpetuate the misinformation.

    • Amee says:

      Amen!!!

    • Tracy says:

      Totally agree….. I do not know if I have celiac disease or not – i do know that after recently doing a detox and reintroducing foods – I had a terrible reaction to wheat not just the gluten protein….. I do not need to lose weight at all. As with all diets – packaged is usually (not always) not a good choice. Having an intolerance to a food is just as bad for your health as an allergy.

    • Irene says:

      There are lots and lots of reasons to get tested for Celiac before starting a gluten-free diet. The most important reason is to actually know if you have Celiac disease which requires a much more careful approach to eating for the rest of your life than an intolerance to gluten.

      Just a quick google search gives you 6 reasons to get tested: http://theceliacmd.com/six-reasons-to-test-for-ce

      I'm sure I could find you more.

  9. Alex says:

    This article is pompous and rude. Instead of telling people like me to get off of the "fad" of being gluten free (which is not why I am gluten free at all, I find like many other people it helps prevent headaches, sinus problems, mouth sores etc etc and I prefer to live without those things thank you), why don't YOU (the author) get off the fad of belittling and even slightly poking fun at people who choose to be gluten free??I have noticed that people think it is now cool to mock people who choose this lifestyle and cram us all into one stereotyped category. Please, expand your consciousness a little bit. And I must say that as much as you think that NOT eating gluten is a fad, I think that you are the true one who has joined the fad that has been going on for much longer by indulging in the gluten world. I may actually be one step ahead of you by recognizing the "eat gluten" fad that began way before any of the gluten free so called "fad" you speak of came about. You my friend are the one who has been brainwashed by the USFDA, not I.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Wow, you've quickly gotten personal–I'm not sure where I did so, above, can you point out how I can improve?

      We're bringing some critical thinking to the fad. The actual problem or condition is real and it's great that folks are rapidly becoming more mindful about their diets.

      • Heather says:

        If your goal was "critical thinking" about gluten-free diets, you failed. The article was not so much about gluten as it was about junk food being bad for you. And to that, all readers of elephant journal say, "Duh!" (You of all people should know your audience!) For an article that contains critical thinking, you need to present both sides, avoid generalizations, and compare apples to apples (or grain to grain).

        "Much of the general population’s newfound gluten-intolerance is, likely, psychosomatic—i.e., imagined." This sentence is insulting to those of us in the general population (i.e. don't have celiac), who are intolerant. If you could be in my body when I ingest gluten, you would realize this.

        Also, you should remember that the medical community often dismisses what they don't understand as "psychosomatic." Just look at all the diseases of the brain as well as autoimmune disorders.

        8. Gluten-free soups…are often all “flour, butter and milk or cream.” If soups contain flour, they aren't gluten free!

  10. Chris says:

    There is a difference between celiac disease, non-celiac gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. Celiac is 1 out if 100, but that is not the end of the story.

    Many more people are NCGI or have GS.

    • elephantjournal says:

      Oh, agree, and I think that's made clear above. The problem is, and you can read in the above sources, there's extensive self-diagnosing going on, which is often great, right on, and sometimes naturally psychosomatic. In any case, the basic point:

      eat food
      mostly plants
      not too much (Pollan)

      remains.

  11. star says:

    Where is the journalistic integrity? That processed food, with or without gluten, is not good for you is not news.
    This article is tremendously misleading, beginning with the statement that only 1% of the population has a genuine need. Each of these distinct and different conditions; Celiac Disease, Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), Wheat Allergy, Dermatitis Herpetiformis and Gluten Ataxia, require a different means for diagnosis and with two of them, NCGS and gluten ataxia, doctors and researchers haven’t yet agreed upon a consistent and accurate way to perform diagnosis. So to apply numbers and to dismiss someone's pain as having no link to gluten – who are you to say?

    • elephantjournal says:

      Hmmm. I've linked to four sites, at least, that have "journalistic integrity," even if you don't believe I pesonally do. More importantly, if you have better facts and sources, feel free to write in. We're a blog, with journalistic aspirations, but we're far from NY Times or the Wash Post of the 70s—I agree!
      http://www.elephantjournal.com/submit if you'd like to contribute or rebut the above.

      • The real Alex says:

        Facts and sources are great but you really could have done without the condescending attitude, thats where you lost your "integrity".

      • bright says:

        You write: 1% of the population has a genuine need.

        I played to stereotype and expected given the site's content, expected this site would take care to report facts. This wasn't a commentary on you (who are you?) and pls take note that I read elephant nearly as daily as the Times. Like Alex, I appreciate facts, despite the complexity and life-world scope of human information / behaviour. Unlike him, I believe we can maintain a calm dialogue, especially when there are acute risks associated with not being diagnosed due to misinformation. In fact, celiac disease is perhaps the most common genetic disorder in the United States. The prevalence of celiac disease in the United States in average healthy people is 1 in 133, and that celiac disease is perhaps the most common genetic disorder in the United States, as well as one of the most poorly diagnosed diseases. Source: A multi-center study on the sero-prevalence of celiac disease in the United States among both at risk and not at risk groups. Fasano et. al., Archives of Internal Medicine. February 2003.
        Source: Characteristics of adult celiac disease in the USA: results of a national survey. Green, P.H. et.al. American Journal of Gastroenterology, 2001, 2006.
        I haven’t seen a number to suggest how many people have a gluten sensitivity but are not aware of it, since only 1 in 4,700 who suffer from celiac disease have actually been diagnosed, it stands to reason that number is higher if including undiagnosed cases of NCGS.
        Your sources don't even support what you're saying! You link to a CNN article that states: While celiac disease affects about 1 percent of the U.S. population, experts estimate that as many as 10 percent have a related and poorly understood condition known as non-celiac gluten intolerance (NCGI), or gluten sensitivity. Leffler estimates, for instance, that half of the approximately 60 million people in the U.S. who suffer from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are probably sensitive to gluten.
        Your Men's health article says nothing about the incidence of gluten-related diseases.
        Additionally the Slate article that you tacked on reads:
        Today, we know that 1 percent of the world’s population has celiac disease—meaning almost 3 million Americans, of whom only a small fraction have been properly diagnosed. Often sufferers go for 10 years before diagnosis, and many physicians are unfamiliar with the signs.
        Take a nap homeboy, clear your head, and come back at me.

  12. Jennifer says:

    I liked this article because it is another reminder to question everything, including fads in the health food world. My diet has been evolving since I became a vegetarian in the 7th grade. I have been vegan, plant based, gluten free, soy free, localvore, seasonal eater, macrobiotic, organic and pescetarian (never paleo though). I have drank kombucha, sprinkled nutritional yeast and seaweed on everything, used braggs and then quit using braggs. Put simply I now eat intuitively and what feels right for my body and the planet. With all the information out there I can find compelling research to eat everything and nothing. I saw we all put down the books, articles and blog posts and use our intuition and common sense about what is good for your own body :)

  13. Alyssa says:

    At the core, you're correct, but what you are saying has nothing to do with being gluten-free, it has everything to do with both thinking, and avoiding processed food. As a gym owner and fitness trainer who has steered hundreds of people away from processed food – which in turn steers them away from sugar, chemicals and often gluten – that is the key. And you are just wrong about the impact of gluten on most people. For the vast majority of people it causes both systemic swelling and an insulin reaction (insulin being your body's way of not just lowering blood sugar, but storing energy, which manifests as excess body fat.) This kind of condescending tone does nothing to inspire better health or encourage proactive lifestyle changes. It's also just plain wrong on many accounts. Except the snide parts, those are accurate.

    • Alex says:

      What is with people who aren't medical professionals spraying their pseudoscience about gluten? Gluten absolutely DOES NOT caused "systemic swelling and an insulin reaction" in "most people". You'd have to be a complete f^cking retard to believe that bullsh%t. Please provide your scholarly, peer-reviewed large scale study (or even a chemical pathway causing either of these things) showing that these are, in fact, real, and maybe then I'll retract my statements of you being a complete and utter imbecile. Until then, STOP SPRAYING ABOUT THINGS YOU KNOW NEXT TO NOTHING ABOUT.

      • The real Alex says:

        "we eat dwarf wheat, the product of genetic manipulation and hybridization that created short, stubby, hardy, high-yielding wheat plants with much higher amounts of starch and gluten and many more chromosomes coding for all sorts of new odd proteins. The man who engineered this modern wheat won the Nobel Prize — it promised to feed millions of starving around the world. Well, it has, and it has made them fat and sick.

        The first major difference of this dwarf wheat is that it contains very high levels of a super starch called amylopectin A. This is how we get big fluffy Wonder Bread and Cinnabons.

        Here's the downside. Two slices of whole wheat bread now raise your blood sugar more than two tablespoons of table sugar.

        There is no difference between whole wheat and white flour here. The biggest scam perpetrated on the unsuspecting public is the inclusion of "whole grains" in many processed foods full of sugar and wheat, giving the food a virtuous glow.

        In people with diabetes, both white and whole grain bread raises blood sugar levels 70 to 120 mg/dl over starting levels. We know that foods with a high glycemic index make people store belly fat, trigger hidden fires of inflammation in the body and give you a fatty liver, leading the whole cascade of obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes.

        Gluten is that sticky protein in wheat that holds bread together and makes it rise. The old fourteen-chromosome-containing Einkorn wheat codes for the small number of gluten proteins, and those that it does produce are the least likely to trigger celiac disease and inflammation. The new dwarf wheat contains twenty-eight or twice as many chromosomes and produces a large variety of gluten proteins, including the ones most likely to cause celiac disease.

        Most of the increased risk occurs when gluten triggers inflammation that spreads like a fire throughout your whole body. It damages the gut lining. Then all the bugs and partially-digested food particles inside your intestine get across the gut barrier and are exposed your immune system, 60 percent of which lies right under the surface of the one cell thick layer of cells lining your gut or small intestine. If you spread out the lining of your gut, it would equal the surface area of a tennis court. Your immune system starts attacking these foreign proteins, leading to systemic inflammation that then causes heart disease, dementia, cancer, diabetes and more.

        Dr. Alessio Fasano, a celiac expert from the University of Maryland School of Medicine, discovered a protein made in the intestine called "zonulin" that is increased by exposure to gluten.[5] Zonulin breaks up the tight junctions or cement between the intestinal cells that normally protect your immune system from bugs and foreign proteins in food leaking across the intestinal barrier. If you have a "leaky gut," you will get inflammation throughout your whole body and a whole list of symptoms and diseases." Mark Hyman, MD

  14. elephantjournal says:

    Amy L: Not to mention that almost all gluten free products on the market are not-organic, which means you are getting a healthy dose of GMO's like canola oil, soy flours, lecithin, etc… which some could argue that is how we got into this whole mess of "Gluten intolerance" in the first place. Modern grains have been so genetically messed with our bodies can't even process them anymore. Try a diet of organic fruits, veggies, grains & legumes and see if your symptoms (of any kind) improve.

  15. Padma Kadag says:

    Not Guten free…but a powerhouse of energy…Tsampa… organic hull-less (not pearled) roasted barley flour. Purple Moumtain Tsampa…

  16. Robyn says:

    My name is Robyn, and I'm a bread addict. I like my wheat, and i like it gluten-y. I am currently reading "Wheat Belly," and though it's an inconvenient truth (if it is indeed a truth), I am finding out a lot of interesting facts about the problems with modern-day wheat and the wide-ranging health problems it can cause. So as so many of these fine people have mentioned, potential problems with it really do extend beyond full-fledged celiac disease.
    I do agree with the basic point of this article, though — avoid processed foods; many gluten-free products are full of other crap that makes you fat, among other things.

  17. Gigi says:

    Get your facts straight on saturated fat, please. Eggs and butter are healthy.

  18. Valeria says:

    what these gluten free products are replacing is also processed nutrient light products. I agree that the best replacement for absolutely everyone is fruit and veggies. But you cant say that gluten intolerance is psychosomatic! a bit more medical research my friend…Ask the people that were diagnosed how it changed their lives…

  19. Dr Paul says:

    The most recent research puts the incidence of coeliac disease at 1:60 women and 1:80 men, but that doesn't include non coeliac gluten sensitivity disorders which are probably just as prevalent. Perhaps if you had read more science and less rubbish you would appreciate the severity and co morbidity that gluten associated disease is implicated in, including triggering other autoimmune conditions and osteoporosis for example.

  20. Andrea says:

    Psychosomatic does not mean imagined. It means that the physical symptoms stem from mental distress. If you were beaten as a child, and you came to hold your shoulders high and have chronic pain as a result, that would be a psychosomatic symptom. Almost nobody has the kind of psychosomatization that you’re talking about.

  21. Victoria D says:

    HOW ABOUT THIS…
    If you don't feel good when you eat gluten then don't eat it! If you love it then eat it!
    I don't know if I am celiac , but I do know that every-time I eat gluten I feel like crap! therefore, I don't eat it!

  22. Jay says:

    It's goddamn articles like this one that make it so hard for my wife and I to go out to dinner. She isn't celiac, but she has a severe gluten intolerance, and when we ask about gluten we are often shunned as if we said "organic" or "vegan." Most waiters and waitresses don't often know what's in their restaurant's food, and the chefs are too pompous about their dishes to divulge that they might thicken a sauce with flower, or don't even know their tater tots were floured to keep them from sticking together. Or they put the fries in the same wheaty oil that they fried battered fish in. All it takes is a bit of wheat and she's sick for three days. And people aren't so stupid to think just because something is GF doesn't mean it's low in sugar and fat. We make most of our food at home from scratch, but do enjoy the occasional box of gluten free brownies. If you feel the need to preach, tell people to avoid too much processed foods in general. Don't make light of something that is making a lot of Americans sick by calling it a fad. If you really want to lead a "mindful" life, you might start out by being a bit more mindful and less snarky. Not very Buddhist.

  23. Kevin says:

    The gluten protein may in fact be intolerable for an additional 10% of the population and it's not 1% but 1.7% who are celiac which means gluten is literally killing them. Most of us who get sick from gluten just want gluten to be labeled properly and not added to food because it's a cheap filler. For the record I also don't drink soda, take cocaine or eat most processed foods.

  24. Sheldon says:

    100% of people react to gluten. Recent research shows that in the presence of gluten in the intestine, the body reacts by producing zonulin (look it up), which in turn leads to permeability of the gut. What this means is that proteins that would otherwise be further digested or broken down in the gut are allowed to permeate or slip through into the bloodstream, leading to a sensitized immune system (as it reacts to these "foreign" substances), inflammation, etc. Dr. David Perlmutter wrote an interesting book called "Grain Brain" in which many of today's most devastating neurological disorders can be linked to gluten sensitivity. Of course everyone likes a "cure-all" in their diets, and in the light of new discoveries about the food we eat, each one is heralded as the new "cure" for x-y-and-z. But do more research, and you will see that our health ailments are caused by an amalgam of poor life-style choices. You can't simply eat perfectly and not get physical exercise and vice versa. All that being said, yes, it is inconvenient to have to navigate the problems associated with cutting down on the amount of gluten in a diet. However, that inconvenience shouldn't lead to a marginalization of its effects on the overall health of our society.

    • Tracy M. says:

      There are also many articles/books, etc. about the good in wheat and gluten products in their natural forms… there are many scientific theories but not all are absolute… the problem we face is eating too much overly-processed foods… Really… it's OK to be OK with some healthy grains here and there… as long as it's not anywhere near the majority of your diet… in fact, it's OK to allow people to do with their bodies, minds and spirits whatever they feel good about… this has become some kind of weird, who-is-the-healthiest war that is so unnecessary and, quite frankly, mean in spirit… there are many "facts" out there that only show the extremes or don't show the entire picture… everything in moderation, everything as unprocessed as possible and you win… No Judgement. No Absolutes.

  25. brick_layer says:

    It's amazing how much the food industry and the USDA have shaped (read: warped and twisted) Americans' sense of what is good for you, and what is not. They are just a couple of scam artists, and all they care about is money. Not to mention their ongoing love affair with the Pharmaceutical industry. We are doomed.

  26. Tim Daniel says:

    The overall message of this article is laudable. However, as a critical thinker, it really, really irritates me that the author put soda and cocaine on the list. Who, pray tell, is using either of these for their health? No one, right? Why does it make sense, critically to mention them? It doesn't, right? For me, fuzzy logic like this undermines an article asking us to use our brains and make better judgements.

  27. Nicole says:

    Waylon!…come on!

    If we're eating gluten-free, aren't we already reading labels and discerning the negative vs positive effects of different types of fats and sugars?………really? Because there IS a difference and this article decides to ignore that while being all curt. obnoxious. and harmful to the gen pub.

    Read Wheat Belly or any other QUALIFIED sources out there on gluten, how its been altered, and its effects on ALL of us…..not just those that are diagnosed with full-on Celiac disease. Going gluten-free can help MOST of us. Again, this is just harmful to those who don't know better

  28. Celiac Mom says:

    Wheat now is not the same as it was 60 years ago. Sorry to burst your bubble but most Americans cannot process wheat. It has created intolerances as well as allergies. I'm intolerant, my son has Celiac. My oldest boy has ADHD and Aspergers…it's been shown that wheat and milk are two of the greatest culprits. You do not know what you are doing when you discredit so many professionals and individuals who have symptoms of a gluten intolerance and more. Please don't use mainstream media to support your position. That's already proven to be unreliable. Since when aren't they bought and paid for by big business…and I'll be damned if the food and drug industries aren't big business. One is in bed with the other. Sad affairs in this country.

  29. Teresa says:

    Amen, I wholeheartedly appreciate the call to skepticism toward corporate health fads. It’s so disheartening to see companies vie to exploit their customers’ interest in health and well-being. Eating real, sustainably and ethically produced food can be an act of political conscience!

  30. Marlene Martin says:

    8 years ago, I suffered from a very bad bout of candidiasis. I went on an an elimination diet for 6 months and my candidiasis decreased until I had no symptoms. When reintroducing wheat back into my diet, I suffered stomach pains, swelling, and sinus issues. I went to the doctor and was given a blood test that determined I did not have celiac’s disease. I consulted with my doctor regarding my symptoms, and- simply put she said, “Those are allergic reactions. Don’t eat wheat.” Several times since, I have attempted to reintroduce wheat into my diet. Unfortunately, every time, I have experienced the aforementioned symptoms. I don’t like gluten free bread substitutes. I enjoy whole grain breads. But I can’t have them. Because it hurts and makes it difficult to work and live.

    I eat organic produce and avoid processed foods (they make me feel yucky too) but I miss bread, and good pizza, and some of my childhood favorite foods that were always made from scratch by my grandmother, from the whole foods my grandfather grew in our big backyard- no- wheat wasn’t one of them. It does touch a chord in me when I read this article… Because if I could, I would not be gluten-free. I do eat quinoa and brown rice and buckwheat and millet, but I miss crusty bread and even- dare I say- croissants. So, please be more careful when speaking about a condition most of us have no control over. The truth is- it kind of sucks… Even when you eat well.

    Thank You.

  31. Miranda says:

    It is a disservice to share an “opinion” piece on a medical allergy. This article is narrow minded, insulting, and simply incorrect. Two years ago, I found out that Gluten was the cause of my debilitating migraines. I cut it from my diet and have been headache free since. I feel really judged when someone thinks I am Gluten Free to lose weight or be part of a “fad.” This article could have been more accurate, health conscious, and enlightening.

  32. Okay so as a holistic Nutritionist I just wanted to make a comment/suggestion here. Gluten is not good for any of us because of the way Gluten is now. Some of us show a strong reaction to it and some show no visible or apparent reaction but our body is definitely not liking it. Does that mean I do not eat the occasional slice of pizza or grass fed burger? No, it does not. But do I buy the hybridized processed bread products, no, I do not. And I actually feel like if you are not Celiac or have a major problem/reaction and you jump on the fad wagon and completely are strict about it, you can actually cause yourself to have a severe reaction in the future where you cannot have even the occasional slice. If you are a health conscious foodie such as myself the thought of giving up bread is scary……but there are amazing bread companies out there now that are making their bread in the traditional way which is using a sourdough starter/fermentation process and allowing the bread to rise on its own. My girlfriend who has severe reactions can tolerate this bread;) You can find a recipe for this Traditional way of making Bread in Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Or you can go to your local farmers markets that is where you will usually find these amazing bread companies and ask how they make their bread? Love your publication by the way!!! Thanks for keeping it going;)

  33. Keri says:

    I get what your saying about health bandwagons. Whole foods absolutely should be the focus. I’ve been GF for seven years and haven’t had so much as a cold or flu in that time after a lifetime of ill health. I’m not a celiac but eliminating wheat from my diet was nothing short of miraculous. I’m worried that had I read this seven and a half years ago, I might have disregarded something that could have been life changing for me. I get your point but you overreached.

  34. msannomalley says:

    What bothers me about the "fad" is that those who legitimately need to eat this way feel stigmatized. I fear it's only going to get worse when the "fad" is over and the food industry jumps onto the next big bandwagon. I have friends who have Celiac's and they have no choice but to eat this way. I don't want to see them lumped into the same group as those who jump on whatever bandwagon without doing their homework first, because that's not fair.

    But I think we can all agree that there is a segment of our population that wants the "easy" fix and will follow whatever is being marketed to them without actually doing things like reading labels or doing their homework on gluten-free foods.

    I'm not a doctor nor am I a scientist, but IMHO the rise of gluten-intolerance is a mix of more awareness about it and eating foods made from GMO wheat. Instead of buying into what food companies sell, I wish people would also work harder to demand GMO labeling in the US and access to more non-GMO foods.

    I think the point that was being made here was to do your homework. Read labels, do your homework, and don't buy into the marketing.

  35. Kalina says:

    Clearly research for this article wasn’t fully done because almost all sodas are not gluten-free.

  36. ella says:

    As a celiac, dairy intolerant, sugar free IBS sufferer with major digestive malfunction… Why would you want to do this to yourself? To be thin? (Yes yes… This is actually why mist people do it…) Well it works but not in the way you’d hope. Boobs tend to be one of the first things to shrink, just so you know. If its weight loss only cut down on sugar and processes foods and exercise. Don’t emulate sick people. Being sick is no fun. Life is depressing when you can’t eat….

  37. Heather says:

    Gluten free is not a fad. It's science that has only recently become well known.

    Before the "fad," people simply suffered their entire lives with ailments like IBS, arthritis, and depression (and take prescription medication to manage the symptoms).

    To the author: You should try a gluten-free diet for six months then write about your experience. You'll most likely be surprised by how much better you feel. I'm sure most readers would welcome such a follow up.

    You should also realize that someone with gluten intolerance may have worse symptoms than one with celiac disease. After ingesting gluten, I am immediately doubled over in pain and stuck in bed for days, yet I don't have the gene that also destroys my small intestine (thank heavens). Someone I know with Celiac gets a little diarrhea, but the gluten is wreaking her intestines. Celiacs most definitely are not the only ones gluten affects.

  38. Ciara says:

    Great article, in essence. Yes, all those replacements for foodstuffs that contain gluten are just a big list of lab ingredients, and not at all something we should be eating. I always thought it seemed bizarre to give up something for health reasons and then go and start eating things you never would otherwise. However, while there is always the people who get sucked into a fad, I do believe this epidemic of gluten intolerance is real, simply because we have stopped eating a seasonal diet where our bodies have a rest from certain foods at different times of the year, and now eat wheat based products for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as snacks in between. Personally, I think the idea of our bodies reaching a saturation point after a lifetime growing up eating like this makes a lot of sense of what is happening.

  39. Nutrition is actually really easy to understand. This article contains some good points, yet I disagree with the notion that only 1% of society needs to avoid gluten. As an inflammatory mediator, the many types of wheat products seem to cause the worst reactions due to their genetic modification of the original seeds, and the farming methods and depleted soils. That said, for most people oatmeal is just fine – although it contains gluten. Processed "crap" is not good for you whatever label you put on it. I suggest readers begin by reading labels and educating themselves on what each ingredient is.

  40. Laura says:

    Waylon, I think that while your overall message (just because a processed food is labeled “GF” does not mean it is healthy) was spot on, what seems to have rubbed some people the wrong way was your generalization and assumption that the majority of people going GF these days are uninformed, bandwagoning hypochondriacs who don’t deserve to call themselves gluten sensitives because they are not among the percentage of people who have been formally diagnosed with celiac disease. As you can probably tell from the comments above, that isn’t the case. Many research-backed articles about Frankenwheat and leaky gut leading to gluten sensitivity are available on the interwebs and people are smart enough to gauge what is going on in their own bodies. Not to mention not everyone has had health insurance for the last decade or so, so going for rounds of expensive tests to get a doctor to tell you what you already know is out of the question, especially when the medical community is just now realizing what is going on anyway. However I do believe there is more to this story than just gluten sensitivities and I believe that missing link is yeast overgrowth. Yeast (candidiasis) can cause problems similar to gluten and can be exacerbated by sugar, alcohol, caffeine, grains, citrus, and more yeast. Many people (as with gluten) don’t realize they have a yeast problem until it is out of control. We have all been given an over abundance of antibiotics whether we have actually taken them or not- they are in our food supply, same as there are traces of Prozac and birth control pills in the groundwater. These all lead to problems with a decrease in healthy intestinal flora and leaky gut, which cause very real symptoms that cause us to look for solutions, and changing our diets is the best place to start. Yeast and gluten sensitivities often go hand in hand and once that balance is tipped in the direction of having a digestive sensitivity then it is difficult and painful to correct it. The bottom line is, as you said, all of our bodies are being bombarded with environmental pollutants, and all benefit from a clean, non-processed, plant- and clean meat-based (if you eat meat) diet. The problem isn’t the sheep, it’s the shit diet the farmer keeps trying to feed the sheep to make more money.

  41. Jessica says:

    Read the book wheat belly…Enoughg said

  42. Jed says:

    Gluten causes inflammation of the brain for more than 90% of us, aggravating all sorts of problems, according to recently released Grain Brain. Up to half of us are also intolerant, while 1 to 3 percent have Celiac and must avoid Gluten at all costs. Wheat Belly is also a must read book. Read both, then write this article again…

  43. Andrea says:

    Totally agree! I have Celiacs and eat mostly fruits, veggies and chicken/fish. The gF products are overpriced, overloaded with calories and sugar and too fattening. Most of them still have gluten in them, even below 1% is harmful to me. It is a capitalists dream, selling bread at 3 times the price because they can.

  44. frances says:

    I love bread. Gluten makes it tasty! Many of my friends have become gluten-free (for now…we'll see how long it lasts) and they don't have celiacs. For those 1%, it is necessary to shun "the gluten." Moderation, people. moderation.

  45. Meg says:

    I appreciate the sentiment of the article, but I think it has been misinterpreted by many – I think the author is trying to point out that going GF isn't a fad, and that it doesn't mean you are eating "healthy" just because you're eating GF. I have Celiac's Disease, diagnosed three years ago. My father (who is a doctor, I might add, and stubborn as hell) was finally diagnosed almost two years ago. The first sign in our family, though? My older sister who does NOT have Celiac's Disease, but is highly gluten sensitive. She cut gluten out of her diet and her entire world changed. Her skin, her weight, and other things that do not need to be mentioned changed drastically.

    All in all, the gluten we cut out was the obvious- no breads (besides the odd GF English muffin) and cutting out gluten otherwise. It's really not that hard to eat healthy, gluten free or not – fruits and veg, minimal or no GF snacks once in a blue moon (cookies, crackers, etc)… I really don't understand how people have such a problem with this!!!

  46. Tracy M says:

    Ummm… she says in the beginning: "Celiac here too, and 100% with you on that one. I understand that a lot of people feel better w/o gluten even if they don’t have CD (my husband, for instance), but damn, wish I could eat a sugar raised doughnut just one. more. time. But then it would be off to the ER for me, so, no."
    I think people are so hyper-sensitive and defensive about this topic… yes, many people are not just celiac, they are allergic or intolerant… she seems to acknowledge this… she's saying, for the rest of us, "enjoy" yourself! Eat one for her! Don't be a lemming! Eat what you can and don't eat what you can't! PEOPLE! You really need to get a SENSE OF HUMOR! It's a HUGE fad right now and there are some really beneficial nutrients in gluten products! I am now hypothyroid because I was vegan for years and years and I ate/drank too much soy… good LORD, what a bunch of uptight individuals! Spread some JOY tomorrow to atone for your stick-up-your bum today!

  47. natasharenee07 says:

    I agree with the main point here: gluten-free junk food is still junk. But in the foods that you list, the unhealthy culprits are sugar, grains, and additives, not the saturated fat content, or eggs, or a high calorie count. We know now that the saturated-fat scare was completely unfounded, and that animal fats from well-raised animals are really good for you. Maybe we can't all tolerate butter and cream, but there's no reason for everyone to be so scared of it. I'd much rather eat a high-fat food that's high in calories and actually going to keep me full than the gluten-free fluff that manufacturers are targeting toward me.

    Also, just because someone doesn't have to go to the emergency room because of eating gluten (or even with a milder reaction like I do) doesn't mean that they should eat gluten for the sake of those who can't. I get that it's a joke, but come on – we know wheat isn't a health food, whole or otherwise. There certainly aren't any essential nutrients in it that we can't get elsewhere, like a source from which we might actually be able to absorb them.

  48. The real Alex says:

    ummm I am the "Alex" who wrote the first comment, I did not write the rude swearing response above i do not know who did that. Pertaining to my argument, your article was VERY condescending, and you go as far as to say that for most people their gluten intolerance is just in their imagination. Quite a put down to degrade someones personal and subjective health experiences and choices to "just in their head". Seems like you tend to react to health concerns such as these just like most main stream doctors. But really though, I love it when people tell me I'm crazy and my pain is all fake and in my head :) It feels great. *sarcasm* Do you see where you went wrong here?

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