Gluten-Free is NOT a Hoax

I just posted the comment below in response to a blog post called “The Gluten Hoax”. It made me sufficiently aggravated, that I wanted to share my thoughts here on my blog. I know this is just one dude saying silly things that are offensive to the many people who are suffering from the effects of gluten and he is vastly overshadowed by plenty of open-minded people who are supportive of those on gluten-free diets. (The image I’ve posted is of some of the MANY conditions known to be caused/contributed to by gluten). I don’t intend to spread vitriol or stir up anger/resentment, but do feel compelled to balance out his misinformation & disrespect.

The gist of the blog post in question is:

  • Society likes a scapegoat. So, instead of taking personal responsibility, some are blaming gluten on our health woes.
  • “Latest research shows between .5 and 1% of wheat eating populations suffer from gluten sensitivity”. And later he uses the same numbers to talk about prevalence of Celiac disease. But the two conditions are distinctly different.
  • Popularity of gluten-free products is driven by marketing and money.
  • The author’s “proof in the pudding” example is of a professional athlete whose performance did not improve on a gluten-free diet. “What is clear is that at the top end of human performance—the place we generally rate how food affects the body—eliminating gluten from one’s diet who is not gluten sensitive presents little, if any, benefit.”

My rebuttal of each point:

  • It’s human nature to look for a scapegoat, but that doesn’t mean we’re all doing that with gluten. We are not colluding as a society to blame gluten for the 200+ conditions that it is known to cause, whether from Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.
  • The statistics Steve shares do not include those for Celiac. Unfortunately there are different statistics depending on where you look and you can prove any point you’d like by naming any numbers you chose. I’m not going to name any numbers because that doesn’t even matter. The most important study is the one with a single subject: you.
  • Marketing and money are definitely behind gluten-free products because of capitalism. But demand comes from the people. I don’t necessarily advocate gluten-free products, though! They’re processed foods just like any other gluten-full processed foods. I advocate real, whole foods.
  • The point about the professional athlete’s performance being a litmus test for the truth of gluten being harmful is just silly. If that were true, all nutrition studies would use athletes as their subjects and results would be cut & dried… normal people have normal physiology that is affected by gluten.

Here’s the comment I put on his blog:

I suggest you educate yourself more officially on the history & nitty gritty science of gluten… pronto, before you insult more people, and potentially sway them against a dietary experiment that could very much improve their health. Gluten is a legit, outright poison for many people. Though it may not affect you at all (or seem to on the surface), it affects many more than the statistics suggest.

If you’d like to get educated, i invite you to enroll in my online classes on the subject, Get Out of the Gluten Glut

I’m a Registered Dietitian who works with many clients whose health conditions have vastly improved (or completely resolved) after going on a gluten-free (or big-time reduced) diet. They no longer suffer from heart burn, stubborn weight, joint pain, tooth pain, and more.

Wheat is a different food today than it was 50 years ago. It’s not the same as it was when we celebrated Amber Waves of Grain. Modern Wheat is now a short, stumpy plant that would not survive on its own in Nature. It would die without human interaction.

This is a big deal and you’re missing the boat on two things: 1) interesting background info on gluten that could make your cocktail party conversation sparkle!; and 2) an opportunity to spread helpful info with your popular blog versus unsupported viewpoints that anger/insult people and even put them at risk.

Anne Buzzelli MS RD

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