I laughed yesterday when I saw the promo for the Dr. Oz show. The good doctor was enlightening his viewers how to “safely add gluten back into their diets.”
First, understand that about 7% of the population is better off without gluten. Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten that damages the small intestine. Celiac disease is real and it affects roughly two to three million Americans.
Then there is an even scarier condition called gluten ataxia. Gluten attacks the brain, leading to problems in gait and muscular control. Gluten ataxia is new and not all physician’s agree it’s real. There is no way to test for a diagnosis.
Then there are about 18 million Americans who may have some lesser forms of gluten sensitivity that cause intestinal discomfort but no damage.
The gluten-free food fad, however, grew far beyond 7% of the American population with allergies or sensitivities thanks to TV docs, Internet articles, and good old word-of-mouth endorsements. Food manufacturers saw it as a easy money-maker and they jumped on the band wagon to get their gluten-free labels on the shelves. The best one I saw was free samples of “gluten-free water” at Sam’s Club!
Dr. Hyman posted a particularly frightening article, “what you don’t know about gluten might kill you.” His article is complete with a list of sources at the end. I find it very interesting that he writes “gluten might kill you” but he doesn’t, not anywhere in the article, recommend readers see a specialist or even a doctor if they suspect they have a gluten sensitivity. He does, however, offer a means by which readers can self-diagnose their gluten-caused ills and aches.
The gluten-free claims included predictably:
- weight loss
- get a “super lean” body
- cure endometriosis
- reduce inflammation associated with rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia
- cure autism
- reduces stomach upset, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, gas, bloating and constipation as well as curing irritable bowel syndrome
- improved mood, better focus and clearer thinking
- reduce inflammation (chronic inflammation can cause pain, disease and even cancer)
- enhance energy levels
Pretty amazing that getting rid of gluten can do all of these things, and guess what? People have found out that going gluten-free didn’t change a thing!
Gluten-free diets as a way to lose weight have failed miserably for many.
Americans are always looking for instant gratification, searching for the magic foods to embrace, and the bad foods to reject. The tide is turning against gluten-free. I think the next food substance that everybody will reject in search of getting the benefits they hoped to get from gluten-free eating, will be sugar* in all its various forms.
Health and healthy weight is not, and probably will never be, as simple as “never eat this,” whether it’s gluten, or sugar, or saturated fat, or whatever.
* Too much sugar isn’t good, but a little sugar makes like sweeter!