It’s yet another one of those days when I try not to scream when I look at the news. I was glad that the New York Times seemed to be interested in printing information on the gluten-free lifestyle until I read the articles. The first article this week, A Big Bet on Gluten-Free, was mildly interesting from a business perspective, but it remained insulting with quotes like the following:
• “Look, the thing here, in my opinion, is that there is a small number of people who have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant,” Mr. Hajarnavis said. “But there is a growing population of people who have somehow heard that gluten-free is healthier or think of it as fashionable, and when they remove gluten from their diet, they’re inadvertently taking out a lot of processed foods and are really feeling the benefits of eating healthier foods.”
It seems that people just can’t get it through their thick skulls that it may not be a good thing for humans to be ingesting gluten. It’s easier to say that going gluten-free must impact your diet in other ways (limiting processed food?) and, therefore, people feel healthier. No allowance here for the fact that we are evolutionarily not equipped to digest the stuff. In a recent interview , Alessio Fasano, the Medical Director for The University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, says:
• “No one can properly digest gluten. We do not have the enzymes to break it down. It all depends upon how well our intestinal walls close after we ingest it and how our immune system reacts to it.” His concern is that the gluten protein, which is abundant in the endosperm of barley, rye, and wheat kernels, is setting off an aberrant immune response.
Or listen to the father of paleo movement, Dr. Loren Cordain, on the subject :
• On another note, not only does wheat contain gliadin, which upregulates zonulin, which increases intestinal permeability, it also contains an obscure compound (thaumatin like proteins) which also increase intestinal permeability. Hence wheat represents a triple time bomb (gliadin, wheat germ agglutinin, and thaumatin like proteins) which maintain physical and physiological characteristics that almost certainly impair gut function, interact with our immune systems to produce low level inflammation, and impair vitamin D metabolism (not a vitamin at all, but a hormone having receptors in virtually every cell in the body).
Later in the week, the coup de grace, where they make it an opinion piece and have 6 different individuals answer the question, Is avoiding gluten a risky fad or a healthy diet? All I have to say is, educate yourself people. The information is out there. Honestly, reading some of these opinions, I was embarrassed for these people and their lack of knowledge on the subject. You wrote for the New York Times and didn’t research the subject before you wrote? Really?
Hint: read the following article by Robb Wolf, a biochemist and a student of Dr. Cordain’s. A most impressive article which covers the subject well.