Confront Death by Avoiding Fritos: The Gluten Lie, Fad Diets, & Foodie Faith

glutenlie

The numbers are hard to pin down, but roughly 1.1 million Americans keep kosher in their homes. Around 15 million are vegetarian. Meanwhile, according to a 2013 survey, more than 100 million Americans are trying to cut down on gluten, and (as of 2014) more than 10 million households are gluten-free. Simply put, gluten avoidance is the reigning dietary restriction of our time.

gluten

The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What You Eat
Alan Levinovitz
Regan Arts, 2015

It’s harder to pin down why gluten-free diets should have conquered the culture so quickly. Few people have the kinds of serious medical conditions, such as celiac disease, that necessitate the elimination of gluten from the diet. Billions of people thrive on gluten-rich foods, all around the world.

Yet somewhere in our collective search for health, security, and purity, gluten transformed into a mainstream taboo. Scientific-sounding language (and savvy marketers) have driven this transformation, though one suspects that mass gluten avoidance has more in common with religious food restrictions than it does with anything premised on actual medical data.

Fittingly, Alan Levinovitz is a religion professor at James Madison University and a chronicler of our peculiar dietary culture. In his new book, The Gluten Lie, Levinovitz digs into the fear and moralizing that surrounds dietary fads, including gluten avoidance and the MSG scare.

Reached by Skype, Levinovitz spoke with The Cubit about paleo dieters, grain-free monks, and why Fitbit represents a cultural descent into profound moral vacuity.

You’re a scholar of classical Chinese religions. How’d you end up writing about gluten?

Over two thousand years ago, there were these proto-Taoist monks in China who advocated strongly for a grain-free diet. [They claimed that] you could live forever. You could avoid disease. You could fly and teleport. Your skin would clear up.

I saw this countercultural rejection of grains, and then I saw almost the exact same thing, with the same kinds of hyperbolic claims, happening again with books like Grain Brain and Wheat Belly. And I thought to myself, you know, it’s funny, people are trying to debunk these fad diets with scientific evidence, but what they’re not realizing is that really these beliefs aren’t scientific at all. They’re wrapped in scientific rhetoric, but ultimately they’re quasi-religious beliefs that are based on superstition and myth.

Food rituals, food taboos, dietary demons, dietary myths, magic diets, guilt, sin: why do we apply so much religious language to food?

Virtually ever religious tradition has had food taboos and sacred diets. I think part of the reason is that food is something that we have direct control over. It crosses the boundary in a very personal way: we take something outside of our body and put it into our body. Eating is very personal, and it’s easy to invest those kinds of things with religious and ritual significance.

With diets today, there seems to be a lot of fear involved, too.

It’s terrifying to live in a place where the causes of diseases like Alzheimer’s, autism, or ADHD, or the causes of weight gain, are mysterious. So what we do is come up with certain causes for the things that we fear.

If we’re trying to avoid things that we fear, why would we invent a world full of toxins that don’t really exist? Again, it’s about control. After all, if there are things that we’re scared of, then at least we know what to avoid. If there is a sacred diet, and if there are foods that are really taboo, yeah, it’s scary, but it’s also empowering, because we can readily identify culinary good and evil, and then we have a path that we can follow that’s salvific.

I keep thinking of Mary Douglas’ classic Purity and Danger—this idea that cultures declare things unclean not because they’re actually dirty, but because people need to impose order on the world.

What Douglas would say, I think, when she looks at a lot of these diets, is that they’re really about being able to divide up the world into categories—which things are morally pure, and which things are morally impure. It’s so hard for us to understand how something that has an evil origin, such as factory-farmed meat, might not also actually be evil for us physically.

Douglas points out that it’s not all about science or health, but we like to think that it is. I think the same is absolutely true for fear of foods like sugar, for example, where what we might fear is the pleasure, but then we want to rationalize it by saying that what we really fear is its effect on our health.

Should we respect that fear, even if the evidence doesn’t always back it up? I feel like its acceptable right now to critique New Age eating habits, but I would never do the same about, say, kashrut or halal diets.

I have no problem with religious diets. What I have a problem with is religious diets masquerading as scientifically sound dietary advice. It’s one thing to say, “Hey, I just think it is immoral to genetically alter plants, and therefore I don’t eat them because they represent modern evil.” That’s fine, as long as you stop there.

But when you try to bring in scientific evidence to show that actually your dietary choices are better for your health, that’s where I think we get into a huge problem. It’s the conflation of ideological diets with diets that are supposed to help cure cancer, for example, that’s really dangerous.

As you point out, even the most mystical sounding diets or foods will often include a (pseudo)scientific justification. Why do consumers and marketers gravitate toward scientific language?

People want to make empirical claims about the effects of diet. I think that scientific rhetoric has a certain kind of plausibility and objectivity built into it that many people no longer associate with religion, and certainly no longer associate with religion in regards to nutrition.

Even if its scientific justifications are questionable, doesn’t something like the Paleo diet help people eat more healthily? I mean, raw vegetables are probably better for you than TV dinners.

Well, I want to be very careful, right. Raw vegetables are not better for you than TV dinners, without any further context. If one person only eats raw broccoli, while you eat a lot of Amy’s frozen enchiladas, you’re probably better off than the person who only eats raw broccoli. I understand that’s not what you’re saying, but there’s a lot of that oversimplification in diet rhetoric.

No, that’s a good point. I guess I’m saying that we just need to have stories, sometimes.

I can tell you a familiar story: long ago, humans lived in an organic, all-natural, divinely-designed garden, free from pesticides and GMOs and processed grains and sugar. Then one day an evil advertiser came along and hissed at them, “Eat this fruit.” And then, boom, we’re cursed with mortality, marital strife, pains giving birth, and we have to do agriculture.

For paleo, the stars are no longer Adam and Eve. It’s Paleolithic man. But Paleolithic dieting has a ring of scientific authenticity to it. They evoke evolution instead of God. It sounds very scientific, but just seeing the way in which it parallels this commonplace myth of paradise past should make us initially suspicious. When you start to look at the evidence for it, it falls apart. You realize there’s lots of cherry-picked data.

But it’s a lot harder to get a good story out of something like, “Eat a lot of different things in moderation,” even if that’s probably better advice.

Science is not great at constructing narratives. That’s its virtue and its downfall. Scientific inquiry has to divorce itself from what makes the best story, and science writers, myself included, are in the business of making science compelling by telling stories.

It’s true: we report scientific findings in a narrative form.

One important point: science is filled with conditionals and religious literature is not. Any religious literature, any revealed scripture, doesn’t have lots of mights and coulds and maybes and further revelations are needed. There’s nothing wrong with that kind of certainty in religious texts, though some people might argue that there is. But when you bring that kind of certainty to science, you end up lying about the certainty of the science, you end up exaggerating the scope of the claims. In science, exaggeration is just deception.

But exaggeration sells really well, doesn’t it? Gluten is great business.

Absolutely. And the thing that’s so troubling about gluten is that, like most things, it’s complicated. There are many people with celiac disease for whom gluten is extremely dangerous, and the scientific story on non-celiac gluten sensitivity is far from settled.

Yet people don’t want to admit that uncertainty. They either want to crucify gluten as the cause of all modern health scourges or they want to say, well, gluten-free dieting is complete B.S. The truth is somewhere in between those two poles.

When it comes to food rhetoric today, the industrial world is often held up as the source of evil. Are there other evils you see coming up in the rhetoric that surrounds these diets?

I think there’s a worship of nature, which ties to modern industrialism, but is slightly different. People have created a dichotomy between natural and artificial. In a time of hipsterism and crises of authenticity, no one wants to be artificial. There’s a way in which I think an emphasis on natural foods grows out of an anxiety about disappearing standards of authenticity in modern culture.

That blend of nostalgia and anxiety reminds me of the main character in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris who romanticizes 1920s Paris, until he actually travels there and discovers that Parisians of the ‘20s are fantasizing about the 1890s …and so on. We look to other times and other cultures for supposedly healthier, more authentic ways of eating.

There’s this idea, and it makes a lot of intuitive sense, that if we’re suffering, and we don’t have solutions to our own problems, we must look outside of our culture for those answers. If we’re powerless to solve them, maybe other cultures have the solution. So we look to Tibetans for bulletproof coffee, for example, or we look to the past where things are distant enough where we are able to romanticize them.

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there’s a huge push within China to reject Traditional Chinese Medicine. This romanticization of what is outside of one’s culture, especially in order to deal with health problems, is something that is really common, and something we ought to avoid.

At the same time, our culture’s eating habits seem to hurt people. Is looking outside of our own culture sometimes a good thing?

Sure. But I think it’s dangerous to say “our culture’s eating habits.” Our culture’s eating habits are extraordinarily varied. Yeah, it’s great to look at another culture, break it down in all of its complexity, and see if there any specific things that these people do that can be of benefit not just to them, but to us.

What works for another culture might not work for our own culture. People ask me, what’s the harm? Why not just go gluten free? And the answer is that going gluten free has all sorts of effects. It affects your relationship with your friends and family. It affects your relationship with your own past and foods that you love. While there might be some culture in which celebratory foods don’t typically contain gluten, that’s not our culture.

Do you think there’s an incentive to setting yourself apart from the culture at-large? Uniqueness can carry its own social value.

I think a lot of people are distinguishing themselves by adopting ascetic diets. Religious people have done this since time immemorial. To show that they have some kind of strength to distance themselves from the material world, they adopt ascetic diets.

But then to assert that your ascetic diet in turn makes you physically superior to others, in addition to being morally superior, is a step that I wouldn’t want to take. Especially nowadays, people don’t want to assert moral superiority over other people, so instead they assert physical superiority. But I think also that’s a proxy for asserting their moral superiority. Saying that I’m living a healthier life is the only courteous way left of saying I’m living a better life.

We’re so afraid, and rightfully so, of judging ourselves better than other people, that now we have proxy words like “healthier” or “longer-lived” to stand in for the desirable moral judgment that we are superior to others.

How much do you think fad dieting is a response to the massive expansion of food choices available to us? It can be a confusing world to navigate—so many options, so many ethically-fraught factors.

I think [fad dieting] is a reaction to the proliferation of science. The voices of science used to be largely monolithic. You couldn’t go online and get 16 different authoritative declarations about what your diet can be. And now you have that.

People are picking and choosing from all of these dietary authorities to put together their own dietary faith. They don’t necessarily think it’s right for other people, but they also don’t want other people to challenge them, either. And then, there’s the fact that because of this proliferation of diet authorities, people want to seek refuge from that chaos in a single authority.

It also legitimizes fringe authorities, because they can use that diversity of scientific findings to make themselves seem no less authoritative than anybody else. 

A deluge of information can actually complicate things, can’t it? Will health-tracking apps like Fitbit make us even nuttier?

What we’re doing with these trackers and these obsessive diets is giving ourselves an increasingly quantifiable way of saying that we are better than the other people. These things don’t work. They’re a marketing gimmick. They aren’t going to help you lose weight. It’s another ritual—a modern technological ritual that people are adopting in order to feel as though they’re living better.

This takes us back to religion. There are a great many things about religion that are extraordinary. It helps us ask and answer questions about mortality, about beauty, about goodness, about truth, that really can’t be addressed by scientific studies. I think that it is a pity when people start trying to answer those questions with the kinds of foods that they eat. It’s kind of sad, right, that now the way we confront death is by avoiding Fritos. What a pathetic ritual, right? Strap on your Fitbit and shop at Whole Foods instead of, you know, sitting down and thinking about Job.

And the sad thing is, it’s really easy to judge people on the basis of what they look like. We have this problem with race. In the same way, it’s really easy to look at someone who’s obese and say, “Oh look at that person, they’re not living as good a life as I am. They’re not as good on the inside because I can tell their outside isn’t good either.” Honestly, it’s disgusting to me that we’ve taken the great rituals of religious traditions and swapped them out for Fitbits and weird prohibition diets, and we think that that’s the best way to figure out how to be good and how to get back to a time when humans were better.

It’s funny, in my notes on your book, I have written next to the section on Fitbits, “perverted form of mindfulness?”

It’s interesting you bring that up. Some of the academic work I’m interested in right now is on mindfulness, and the way in which mindfulness traditions themselves get perverted when we turn them into ways to lower our blood pressure or reverse aging or burn fat. [For a contrasting view, see this recent RD piece].

What’s yoga good for? What’s mindfulness good for? Well, it’s good for—and then substitute whatever health condition you want to deal with. I just think it’s kind of sad that that’s where we would invest so much of our ethical energy. It’s an incredible amount of time and effort. And for what? And for nothing. To look better.

  • ladida

    I agree with much of this, but I do want to say that I eat gluten almost free because my world-famous neurologist suggested it as a last resort possibility to help reduce my seizures. And it worked. Not eating gluten has decreased my seizure activity dramatically, when nothing else, no medicines, have done so. But if I could eat gluten and get away with it, I would do so in a heart beat!

  • Chris

    Is it possible that some food that also has gluten in it was causing your seizures? See, that’s the thing. It’s a lot harder to isolate the reason for something than you are realizing. The old “correlation is not causation” phrase. For example, the “food babe” routinely criticizes microwaves and points out, somewhat correctly, that when she cut out using a microwave, it improved her health. Okay. Well, many people who have microwaves use them to just make processed, microwave meals. It isn’t actually the microwave itself that is unhealthy, but the convenience factor and what people do with that. We (myself and my wife) make the majority of our own food from scratch, and use a microwave to reheat leftovers. Not just at home, but at work. If I DIDN’T have access to microwaves in those situations, I would have to eat out more. As is, I can bring healthy leftovers and heat them up if need be.

  • Guest

    I am not sure which of these diets i am following, the Wheat Belly, Paleo, The Meddeteranian

  • UpperTen

    I am not sure which of these diets i am on, the Wheat Belly, Paleo, Atkins or The Mediterranean, but i know this, i avoid to great extent the refined food that’s out there, and stick to what is mostly refereed to as single source food, like vegetables, fruits, legumes, seafood, eggs and various meats, and oh yeah the elimination of all grains in my diet. To each its own.

  • Scupperer

    As an evangelic gluten-free acolyte, I actually enjoyed this article quite a bit, because it describes very clearly some of the unsettling human behavior associated with life choices and beliefs based in ignorance and the confounding of hype with results, and results with morality, and how people choose to behave.

    That said, I’m also a strong advocate of the chaos of science, and thankfully some of that science is beginning to look very closely into the effects of gliadin, and it does extend quite a bit further than celiacs (primarily IgA response) and wheat allergies (IgE response). I’d post some links, but most of this research was available prior to the publication of this book, so instead I’ll just proclaim that the book is making claims based on ignorance and is just a sampling of the behavior it decries. Irony.

  • Mr. X2

    Your writing is so harmful. The gliadin protein is solely what makes American’s STARVING 24/7 in 2015; Notice how we were never fat before 1970? That’s when the wheat changed. The wheat you eat today has NOTHING to do with the wheat you ate pre-1970. And the gluten is what makes you Fat. Wheat is literally the driver and CAUSE of 100% of Every autoimmune disease in America from Heart disease, to diabetes, to Alzheimers. If you want a Real US Cardiologist’s take on wheat, see http://twitter.com/williamdavisMD. And for a Real US Neurologist’s take on wheat see http://twitter.com/davidperlmutter. BOTH US Certified M.D.’s, unlike a million miles from you. Shame on you.

  • Mr. X2

    You need to see a Real US Cardiologist’s take on wheat, see http://twitter.com/williamdavisMD…. And for a Real US Neurologist’s take on wheat see http://twitter.com/davidperlmutter…. BOTH US Certified M.D.’s. Then see the same Neurologist’s youtube channel for Specific information about seizures: https://www.youtube.com/user/DavidPerlmutterMD/videos

  • Sofia Laham

    Sounds like you are doing primal.

  • Sofia Laham

    Gosh, I just love all your “scientific” research and medical degrees that qualified you to write such an article! As a nurse and nutritionist I am SUPER impressed, sir! And I’ve never seen improvements in any health markers or resolution of disease processes with grain – free diets! No, this article is GOSPEL. (What a putz)

  • Clay Farris Naff

    Kudos! Insightful comments throughout. Having stumbled onto food fads in a memoir of the Victorian era, I suspect they have been with us always, as religious taboos suggest. For most of humanity’s existence the concern would have been avoiding foods that would sicken or kill you right away. (Remember, germ theory only took hold around 1900, and refrigerators were not commonplace until well after that.) It’s only now that we have the luxury of worrying about being overweight and sclerotic.

  • Firebird7478

    It’s harder to pin down why people are vegetarian. I know one vegan who told me that incomplete proteins from plant based foods were better for you. There’s something about the word “incomplete” that sends up red flags.

  • Firebird7478

    This article should have come with a disclaimer: Warning! Article may cause face palming.

  • SWPA1111

    I really hope this interview over-simplifies the author’s intentions, because otherwise, this is potentially harmful information. My relationship with food is a spiritual one. These are gifts provided by God, and I bless them and thank the Creator before I consume them. But after 60 years of living, I’ve come to understand that there are foods that cause my body distress. I avoid shellfish partly because it’s not kosher, but mostly because eating it causes me to break out in hives. I tried the wheat belly diet and avoiding dairy products and noticed my belly bloat went away and my inflammation decreased. When I eat a mostly plant-based and fish diet, my sed rate is as close to normal as it ever gets. And when I added a fitness app to my iPhone, I realized I really don’t walk enough, and l am now encouraged to do so. My body is a temple and these tools have helped me take care of it. Like all tools, they can be used for good or evil, but in this article, it feels to me like the author is assuming we are all mindless idiots who are incapable of discerning for ourselves what works for us and what doesn’t.

  • What a dumb pseudo intelligent article. So you just eat whatever “feels good,” regardless of it’s healthy or not?

  • Jake
  • DKeane123

    “Notice how we were never fat before 1970?” Like Fats Domino?

    BTW – wheat has been modified by humans for thousands of years. So at almost any point in time the wheat you are eating is different than the historical varieties.

  • DKeane123

    Wow – I hadn’t realized that the anti-vaccination crowd had a mirror image set of anti-wheat types. I think I learned more from the comments than the actual article (and not in the way the commentators were hoping).

  • phatkhat

    Some of the responses – okay, MOST of them – support the author very nicely. People get very evangelical about their diets, and very defensive about them. I’ve said for a long time that Veganism is a religion, complete with the proselytizing and moralizing.

    And while I agree with Mr. X2 that wheat IN THE US today isn’t what it used to be, there were certainly obese people and Alzheimers before 1970. Alzheimers was simply referred to as “dementia”, but it was around. Perhaps there is more of it now simply because people live longer.

    I am losing weight on a low carb diet. It’s the only thing that works for me. Others lose on a low-fat diet. Each of us has to know what works for us. Low carb is, necessarily, lower in gluten, but I do eat low carb flat breads and tortillas. Other than weight-loss, I don’t feel any different with a much lower gluten intake.

    Take what you want. Eat what you feel good eating. But don’t proselytize. Please. It’s offensive when the religious fundies do it, and it’s offensive when foodies do it, too.

  • phatkhat

    They prove the author’s point that it is more religious than scientific. Especially since they trot out their authorities, but someone with a competing diet can also trot out theirs.

  • phatkhat

    Unless you have a serious food allergy, eating a variety of foods in moderation is good – including foods that make you feel good. I think common sense is a pretty good guide.

  • fiona64

    I have Hashimoto’s disease, which is an autoimmune disorder in which the body manufactures antibodies that attack the thyroid. Eating a gluten-*limited* diet in my case actually helps, because the disease sees gluten protein as thyroid hormone (to simplify the explanation) and makes more antibodies. I was gluten-free for three miserable months, and found that it was not sustainable for me. I am fortunate in that I don’t have celiac or an allergy that requires me to give it up entirely, but I do know that I feel better/my symptoms are reduced on a gluten-limited diet.

    One of the big problems I see is when people say they’re going gluten-free to lose weight, and that makes it look like something faddish … and that, in turn, makes people not understand that there are medical reasons to avoid gluten. I would never recommend it to anyone who did not need to do it, any more than I would recommend a religious/philosophical waiver for vaccines. That some people *must* avoid such things does not mean that everyone need do so.

  • Radical Agnostic

    I won’t insult you by calling you stupid and ignorant, as it does not good to tell stupid and ignorant people that they are in that category. Let’s examine one of your statements. “Notice how we were never fat before 1970?” Please add this statement to all junior high school history books. No fat people existed before 1970. After that statement, why should I or anyone else read what you have to say?

  • Radical Agnostic

    One.
    I respect your right to believe in the religion of your choice even
    though there is not the slightest bit of empirical evidence that the
    evil being known as god exists. We are accidents of a pointless,
    amoral, and purposeless universe. Second, we are animals who through
    some bizarre accident attained self consciousness and understanding
    of our own mortality, driving us as a species, crazy. (See excellent
    book, DENIAL.) Third, good nutrition in a general way contributes to
    longer life, along with exercise, stress control, and a sense of
    purpose, which is something each of us has to come up with, perhaps
    by inventing a god or developing a crackpot quackpot diet. Fourth,
    although there are generalizations that apply to humans in regard to
    what is a good diet for us (perhaps differing from a vulture’s ideal
    diet or a hippopotamus’s ideal diet,) but each of us are different. I
    thrive on gluten and rare meat (perhaps, or perhaps not, I am fairly
    healthy at the age of 71 when my father (a health food fanatic died
    at 43 of his second heart attack) but what seems to suit me, probably
    does not suit you. Finally, I am writer than you, so if you disagree
    with me, you are a stupid, ignorant person, unless you are righter
    than I am, in which case you can with justification describe me as a
    stupid ignorant person. I am about to go to the gym with an atheist A
    chain around my neck. I am going to eat some gluten for lunch. I am
    going to drop dead in 30 seconds. Start counting.

  • DKeane123

    There are some (Food Babe) that advocate lying to waiters and others about having a medical condition with respect to gluten (insert other “toxin” here). Of course the risk is that waiters/cooks will no longer believe these requests and when someone similar to yourself has a real issue, they are not taken seriously.

    Had to look up Hashimoto’s disease – learn something new everyday. Thanks for sharing.

  • blainegarrett

    Interesting article. Found a typo “Virtually ever religious tradition…” Should be “every”. Pay it forward.

  • Marcela

    You call my daughter being allergic to wheat a fad? How dare you. I don’t know about the rest but what I do know is that my youngest daughter is allergic to wheat. Sick for years until finally blood work was drawn and many testing was done. Came back she is VERY allergic to wheat. She is a brand new healthy young woman after eliminating wheat from her diet. If she accidentally eats wheat she is very sick for weeks. Depression, stomach ache, migraine and flu like symptoms.
    I hate that there are people out there that thumb their nose to any reason why some one does not consume gluten. Should only Celiacs get a free pass? Nonsense.

  • fiona64

    Those with real gluten issues have to be careful about cross-contamination in most commercial kitchens *anyway,* so being taken even less seriously is definitely problematic. :-/

  • Perhaps it’s just me but I stopped eating wheat and most grains two years ago. The results: weight dropped over 40 lbs, blood pressure went from 130/90 to 105/75, blood lipids are now outstanding, arthritis in my shoulders and hips seems to have disappeared along with for some strange reason my seasonal allergies. Eating healthy seems pretty easy really, I try to eat local and organic pastured meats, free range poultry and wild fish along with seasonal fruits, nuts and vegetables. When I have dairy it’s from local, hormone free cows and goats. My treats are red wine and some dark chocolate.

  • Celebrim

    The journalism copy at the head of the article is far less nuanced, more sensationalized, and more overtly a ‘narrative’ (ironicly so) than the statements of the person in the interview. His conclusion on Gluten was:

    “Absolutely. And the thing that’s so troubling about gluten is that, like most things, it’s complicated. There are many people with celiac disease for whom gluten is extremely dangerous, and the scientific story on non-celiac gluten sensitivity is far from settled.

    Yet people don’t want to admit that uncertainty. They either want to crucify gluten as the cause of all modern health scourges or they want to say, well, gluten-free dieting is complete B.S. The truth is somewhere in between those two poles.”

    So, I have non-celiac grain sensitivity. It’s almost certainly not the gluten in the grain causing it, but there is something. I suspect its not limited to wheat but involves most grains to some extent, but wheat is by far the most dramatic example. This isn’t merely a matter of feeling better or reduced pain or feelings of well being or anything else subjective, although I am no longer taking aspirin daily. I was experiencing such extreme psoriasis on my lower legs, that I had basically no skin on my calves. Everything under my tube socks was just a mass of bloody sores. Additionally, I had extreme and painful acidic diarrhea at all times, and experienced bouts of what can only be described as organ failure where my body just shut down. I’d gotten blood work for diabetes thinking I was suffering diabetic shock, but everything came back negative.

    My mother was hospitalized with organ failure and expected to die before coming off wheat. That’s how I figured out what was going on. Is gluten bad for most people? Probably not. Do most people who are cutting out gluten for health reasons have what I have? Probably not. In fact, I suspect most of them are just enjoying the benefits of cutting carbohydrates and hopefully calories out of their diet, or simply a sense of well being that comes from feeling like you are doing something healthy. But do I mind? Heck no. If GF wasn’t a fad right now, avoiding wheat would be far more difficult and far less pleasant than it already is.

    On the larger point regarding whether the socio-political structure of society is often scientific sounding quasi-religion, I can’t disagree. But I think it has far more destructive effects than fads like Atkins, or GF, or Paleo, or Mediterranean or what not. Heck, Veganism is worse for you than Atkins, but you don’t here that spoken out against.

  • catalinda8

    Do you mean it’s harder to pin down why people are vegan? I can only speak as a vegetarian (I don’t eat much dairy, but I do eat eggs, from our own flock of very spoiled pet chickens [no rooster]). I became vegetarian over 30 years ago because I love animals, and I don’t want to contribute to their suffering. I know I can’t completely take myself out of that cycle, but I do what I can by not eating meat or chicken or fish (never liked fish anyhow). Now that I’m getting a little older (early 50s), I appreciate my diet for the health benefits too. (The “incomplete protein” thing has been pretty thorough debunked, btw.) Does that help answer your question? Although I would assume there are as many reasons for being vegetarian as there are vegetarians!

  • Natalie

    I think what is being said here is any extreme is wrong. Yes, low carbs can help a person lose weight but that doesn’t make carbs “bad”. Biochemically we know that as a culture in the US we eat too many high carb foods which cause weight gain, high cholesterol, heart disease, etc. But that doesn’t mean carbs are “bad”. The issue is we want some simple solutions and there often aren’t any. It’s like we want that one food group to give up to make us better and it doesn’t work that way. Yes, a balanced diet is a great concept but what is balanced for me might not be a balanced diet for you. We still do not know what creates a person’s metabolism. Especially since we each have different metabolisms. Metabolism in the concept of diet is what a person burns when at rest. Some people can eat anything at all and stay slim with no major exercise, their labs are always good. Then there are people whose metabolisms are so high they can’t maintain a healthy weight, they will lose weight if they don’t eat constantly and have to eat insanely high carb, high calorie diets just to survive (I treat several of these and it is terrible for them). Then there are those on the other end who can eat a small amount of carbs and gain a lot of weight and feel terrible. Until we figure out these mechanisms we are still only guessing. I can go on and on about all the various differences but the bottom line is there is rarely a one size fits all which I think the article is trying to point out.

  • christythomas

    As a retired clergywoman and one whose health saw a major turnaround when I eliminated all grains from my diet except for small amounts of rice, I am fascinated by your interweaving of religious faith and the gluten-free movement. I, too, have seen people become evangelical by going gluten-free and have seen the parallels between that and religious conversion.

    In both cases, it is nearly impossible to prove any scientific basis for the greater sense of well-being, oneness with creation, and generally greater overall health. Yet . . . it happens.

    Are we just self-hypnotizing ourselves with the hidden placebo effect? It’s possible. Or, it’s possible that there are truths that are not easily provable by current scientific methods, but are nonetheless true. Even so, I’m fully aware when I accidentally without knowing ingest even small amounts of wheat, so there is more than just the placebo going on here. I’m also fully aware that when I compromise my soul by actions that are distinctively separate from my moral base, I suffer on many levels.

  • Angel Meegan

    lolzzz Fritos are gluten-free.

  • Owen

    He was saying that is silly for people who don’t have dietary issues to go on a gluten free diet in the search for better health. He never said that people with actual allergies or sensitivities shouldn’t avoid it.

    It would be silly for me to go gluten free (as I have no allergies or sensitivities to it) just as it would be silly for me (a non jew) to eat kosher.
    A celiac will benefit from a gluten free diet. So it makes sense to go gluten free if you’re a celiac. I would not benefit from a gluten free diet. So it makes no sense for me to go gluten free because it’s a fad.

    I.e. It doesn’t count as a fad diet if you’re a celiac.

  • Owen

    Sounds like you didn’t just cut out grains, but also eating more healthily in general. So you’re not really proving much.

  • Buffymom9

    Eat your grains and shut up!

  • Buffymom9

    Something very positive is starting to happen to me in less than one year of being wheat free. My receding gums are regenerating. This is the most powerful visible healing I have experienced beyond the disappearance of chronic joint pain.

  • Buffymom9

    Fat people did not fill the room in 1970!

  • Buffymom9

    Removing wheat from my family’s diet has resulted in everyone trimming up to their ideal weight meaning all 11 members are now in the normal BMI. However, the real benefits have been in health. One person has suffered severe eczema for a decade: gone. Another suffered an unexplained chronic cough for a year leading up to the wheat free lifestyle: gone. My joint pains I had for many years: gone. Another family member suffered through stomach pains when eating pizza, pasta, etc. no longer has stomach issues. Several family members had puffy faces and now have none of that inflammation.

    When our family was inadvertently reintroduced to wheat after several months in the form of oyster sauce we had a week of illness. Everything came flooding back and worse than ever…eczema, coughing, belly aches, joint pains.

    We would be lunatic morons to eat wheat again.

  • DKeane123

    I’m assuming that you are trying to insinuate that there is some kind of organized effort to suppress the anti-wheat movement. I think a more appropriate phrasing would be: “Please produce some peer reviewed evidence for your anti-wheat claims outside of anecdotes and crackpot doctors. Only until then should your claims have any credibility.” – or something like that.

  • Buffymom9

    You see this the wrong way. You get an expert on religion debunking the science by claiming people are being superstitious. How about we get an article that shows the science that is being claimed by Wheat Belly and Grain Brain? Then we could at least stay on topic.

  • DKeane123

    Anecdotes are not evidence.

  • Buffymom9

    My experience is valuable. Take it or leave it. And while you do so ask yourself if you are physically fit enough to ignore the advice of others.

  • Buffymom9

    I ate a very healthy diet the 20 years leading up to my grain free lifestyle. It was not until I ditched wheat that I lost the last 20 pounds but more significantly my swelling and joint pains became non-existent.

  • Buffymom9

    Are you at your ideal weight Owen?

  • Buffymom9

    Unless you give up wheat for a month you may not realize what foods are good for you. Everything in moderation is just not true.

  • Buffymom9

    They are also grains. GMO grains more than likely.

  • Buffymom9

    Vegetable carbs are good. Wheat carbs are not. This much is supported in scientific research.

  • Buffymom9

    Low fat diets are being shown to not work. I have lived long enough to see our food pyramid jump from 3 suggested servings of grains to 11 and the recommendation to lower fat. The result was a country ridden with obesity.

  • DKeane123

    I’m sure your experience is valuable to you – just doubt it scales up to a significant portion of the human race.

    I am physically fit because I listen to only the most reliable sources when it comes to my health.

  • Buffymom9

    The human race has barely begun eating grains! It is a novel, highly processed food that is inedible as a whole food. It is so inferior it more often than not must be enriched with artificial vitamins. Your reliable source on grains is who? Our FDA? Ask yourself why we do not graze grass fields.

  • phatkhat

    We’re all very happy for you that your health improved. Whatever works. But you have to understand that just because it works for YOU, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone. Perhaps you actually have a wheat allergy. Not everyone does. There is NO one magic bullet that works for everyone. We all have our own metabolisms, our own quirks.

    Low carbs works for me. I’ve lost 17 lbs in 3 months. But it isn’t for everyone. And I am NOT gluten free, though my gluten intake has, of necessity, been reduced. Yeah, I feel better. Probably because I’m eating a LOT more veggies, LOL.

  • phatkhat

    I’m learning to like pork rinds, LOL.

  • Buffymom9

    And for the sake of argument describe physically fit. Do you have any excess fat? Is your blood pressure normal? Do you have inflammation? Any joint pains, skin rashes, asthma? Do you become depressed if you remove wheat from your plate for a week?

  • Buffymom9

    A natural high fat, nutritious snack. Bravo!

  • phatkhat

    There is other research that contradicts you. You are proselytizing, which is the whole point of the article. You have chosen your holy books, and everyone else’s holy books are wrong, while yours are right.

  • Buffymom9

    Phatkhat, you seem reasonable and open minded enough to go for a wheat free challenge. You may never know what benefits you will find until you try it. Whether we are sensitive to wheat or highly allergic would be dependent on the person. My eldest son is most obviously allergic but I would not have said that when he was young. It started with asthma and by his teen years rashes began to break out. By the time he was in college the eczema was unreasonable and affecting his daily life. For me it was less obvious. I never thought the joint pains were a result of wheat exposure.
    We are all different but the same. We did not evolve eating grass seed but learned to process it.
    Do you find it interesting that wheat and grains get their own place on the FDA food pyramid? Yet, in its processed form.

  • Buffymom9

    Nonsense. The article deliberately disparages Wheat Belly and Grain Brain which if you will bother to read, provide the science behind grain and wheat damage, this article is proselytizing literally by alluding to religious mythology rather than challenge the science.

  • phatkhat

    Veganism really IS a religion. And some of us do argue against it. ;o)

  • DKeane123

    None of those things – doing really well.

  • phatkhat

    Correlation =/= causation. The amount of hormones in our food has also jumped, and the amount of pesticides. We are not as active, for the most part. I don’t think it is fat vs. carbs. And some people do very, very well on low fat diets (like Bill Clinton). I’m not one of them, LOL. Sadly, just about every “diet” entree in the freezer case has more than my whole day’s carb allowance and no fat. :op (Yeah, processed food is bad, but I hate to cook. So I buy the healthiest entrees I can find, and a LOT of salad. With tons of EVOO and avocadoes.)

    I think we eat too much, period. But we are all different, and we have to find what works for us, personally.

  • DKeane123

    We went from hunter gatherers to farmers specifically to start raising grains for beer and bread thousands and thousands of years ago.

  • Buffymom9

    There are plenty of scientific studies that show the destructiveness of various wheat proteins, gluten being just one of them. What exactly are you questioning because you seem to be conveniently ignoring the science?

  • phatkhat

    Grains are only processed for convenience. Cooked, whole wheat berries (prepared like brown rice) are delicious and full of vitamins. They add vitamins to wheat flour because all the good stuff is removed to make it white. And there are far more grains than wheat. Corn, rice, wild rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, etc.

    Our ancestors learned to harvest and eat grains a long, long time ago, though in the grand scheme of time it may not be so long.

  • phatkhat

    Long live beer and bread!

  • phatkhat

    I could tell you to take your own advice to DKeane…

  • phatkhat

    There is science on the other side, too. All you can do is what works for YOU. You can’t predict – or dictate – what works for someone else. When you try to do so, you come off like a proselytizing fundy. Which is the point of the article/book.

  • phatkhat

    I think it is you that is missing the point of the article. There is considerable scientific debate about nutrition, and those who choose a side and defend it with passion, anecdotal evidence, and a disregard of any other viewpoint ARE being more religious than anything else. Your holy books are not the only ones on the shelves.

  • Buffymom9

    Most Americans eat mostly wheat in the forms of bread and pasta. Although grains share many destructive proteins, modern wheat is not even the wheat of the bible era. By the way, the modern wheat is considerably higher in gluten than it was even as recently as the 1940’s. There are proteins in wheat that are anti-nutrients by their evolutionary design, meaning every time you eat your spaghetti, your precious tomato vitamins actually attach themselves to the endosperm of the wheat. Doh! Another protein crosses the blood-brain barrier and attaches itself to your opiate receptors. No wonder people love their bread and pasta. Yet another protein irritates the intestinal lining and damages it over time. Because we did not evolve to digest this protein because as I said we do not graze grass fields! If you think we process an entire field of grass seed because it is convenient you are flagrantly denying the fact that people cannot choke down a piece of grass. It’s rudiment food.
    Some of our ancestors, mainly our bread basket ancestors learned how to process down large amounts of grass seed to make it palatable and therefore edible. But that was not a long, long time ago. In terms of our evolutionary development it was too recently for us to evolve the physical traits rudiments have in digesting grass seed.

  • Buffymom9

    No, clearly I did not miss the point of the article. The interviewed source went out of his way to make the issue of gluten a myth. My “holy book” is anything but that. If you are referring to the book Wheat Belly you will see that the author, cardiologist Dr. Davis has adequately provided numerous scientific sources dating back decades to the present that support every claim! To say that his book with references is comparable to the mythology of this article is ludicrous. There was neither science in this article nor attempts to dissect the science behind the gluten and wheat arguments. Interesting that this article referenced Wheat Belly and Grain Brain while being silent about the scientific research supporting their claims.

  • Buffymom9

    There exists no science that supports the following proteins to be healthy: gliadin and amylopectin A, just to name 2.

  • phatkhat

    Like all fundies, you are too invested in your cause to even entertain the idea that there may be conflicting evidence. Whatever. I don’t care what you eat. I don’t care whom (if any) you worship. That’s your business. But ramming your “religion” down other people’s throats, no matter how well-intentioned, usually has the opposite effect. Just sayin’.

  • Buffymom9

    Please note that Bill Clinton advocates the “Paleo” diet, which is not low fat. There are plenty of good sources that are pointing out sugar intake affecting insulin receptors which contribute to diabetes…which we happen to have an “epidemic” with. Yet, our FDA cannot support this at this time.
    For several decades we have been told to cut out the fat and specifically increase our grain carbs. Remember that overnight the recommendations jumped from 3 to 11.
    Frozen entrees are a losing health investment just as reducing fat. As human beings we need good fat and until very recently never relied on grains for sustenance. Now they make up the base of our diet.
    That is one correlation worth thinking about.
    Please learn to enjoy cooking for yourself. You deserve it.

  • Buffymom9

    Curious how old you are?

  • Buffymom9

    How long were we hunter gatherers versus how long have we processed grains? Are you aware that modern wheat is very different than wheat was a few decades ago?
    When did we decide that grains needed to make up the majority of our diet?
    Why are 2/3 of Americans diabetic or pre-diabetic? Why are nearly 2 in 3 people overweight or obese?
    The answer is not television. It’s our food. The most dramatic change to our dietary history has been the very recent addition of grains and specifically the recommendation to consume quadruple the amount that we did in as early as 1975.

  • Buffymom9

    Try an IPA made of barley and hops. You still get the grains scraping your intestines but at least you remove the modern wheat from your body and save yourself some destruction.

  • phatkhat

    Meh. Food science is ever-changing. I’m not convinced, but I’m tired of hearing about it, LOL.

  • Buffymom9

    Ignore the science and call it a religion. My experience is shared by many. Given that you wish not to challenge the science but call me a proselytizer instead I can see that sharing valuable personal experience is useless with you. You can lead a person to information (gliadin, amylopectin A) but not make them think. I am not trying to start a church, just passing on health information that has transformed not only my family but many, many families.
    By all means, eat your bread and pasta. Cheers and good luck with that!

  • Buffymom9

    To the contrary. I have heard the same tired news from our FDA for 30 years!

  • Buffymom9

    By the way. These proteins have been studied and reviewed for decades. Why are you afraid to follow the research? I challenged you with just 2 proteins to investigate and you throw your hands in the air. Nothing about these 2 proteins has changed. The only thing that has changed is the massive food industry and the job the paid lobby accomplishes. Proteins have been proteins for an evolutionarily long period of time. Rudiment food is for rudiments. Added sugar is for hummingbirds.

  • phatkhat

    Bill Clinton recovered his health and lost weight with Dr. Dean Ornish. That was almost NO fat, and, I think, vegan or vegetarian. What he is doing now, I don’t keep up with.

    And there IS way too much sugar, much of it hidden, in our food. HFCS is one of the worst culprits. I’m a great label reader, and it’s amazing what it is found in. As a pre-diabetic (both sides of the family had it), I am on a modified Atkins diet. I’m not religious about it, in other words, but very carefully watch carbs. I do eat unapproved fruit, though. :o)

    I eat some tortillas and flatbread. I’d give anything for a croissant. Maybe I’ll have one. :o) But I’m not overdoing it. It’s the carbs, not the grain I’m watching.

    As to cooking, bleah. It’s why I eat so much salad. And I really don’t need a mommy to tell me what to do in my dotage. ;o)

  • phatkhat

    Zero carbs. Yup. I’m a potato chip junkie, especially the small batch brands. That was a bit hard to let go of when I went on Atkins.

  • phatkhat

    I eat very little bread, and less pasta. But I am not doing it because I think wheat is bad. I’m doing it because I think carbs are bad – at least for me. However, I don’t advocate Atkins for anyone that doesn’t feel it is right for them. Some people do well on low fat. Very individual matter is food.

  • phatkhat

    I don’t pay much attention to them, either. All about $$$. BTW, Pearlmutter has some $$$ conflicts of interest, too. ;o)

  • Buffymom9

    It is an important point that Bill Clinton is settling with a high fat, no grain diet though.
    That aside consider that a piece of flatbread will raise your blood sugar higher than table sugar! It takes a measly 5 grams of sugar at any given time to spike blood sugar and insulin. The lowest current recommendation we have comes from the CDC which suggests about 25 grams of added sugar per day. Given that it takes 5 grams for the destruction to commence (rising insulin is protecting thyself) then it would be prudent to spread that sugar out throughout the day, not exceeding about 1 tsp. at a time to allow insulin levels to regulate.
    Ultimately and literally we are what we eat, cell by cell. Understanding this I choose to cook. I don’t like it either and there is extreme pressure cooking for a dozen people daily. My mother certainly couldn’t have given me the advice I needed but I learned there are people out there who’s experiences were valuable. For me, going wheat free has been a game changer.
    We do at least share the ingredient label reading propensity. I have added wheat to the list to be avoided.

  • Buffymom9

    The potatoes are addictive and insulin raising. Even the small batch chips have bad oils.
    If you liked cooking you would be capable of eating the healthiest potatoe chip possible. And here is where I would say moderation is applicable, given that our bodies respond to the sugar in the potato.

  • Buffymom9

    That is when you ask, which came first…the chicken or the egg…the cart before the bull.
    The FDA is confused.

  • Buffymom9

    Fair enough but I cannot believe anybody can be healthy living a low fat diet.

  • phatkhat

    I’m. Just. Not. Interested. Like I’m not interested in gods. None of it has much relevance to me on a daily basis. It’s ALL hype. This year it’s GF. Next year it will be something else. Meh. I do what makes ME feel better, foodwise.

  • phatkhat

    Too much fat is bad, too. Or the wrong kinds. I like bacon, but I don’t eat it every day. Avocados, otoh…

  • phatkhat

    IPA? We only drink St. Pauli Girl, which is still brewed by the Reinheitsgebot – barley, hops and water. Not as good as some of the German Pils, but we can’t get it here.

  • DKeane123

    I’m a homebrewer – so that means a lot to me!

  • DKeane123

    43

  • DKeane123

    Are you aware that we have been modifying wheat since we started farming it? At no time in history has the wheat we have eaten been the same as the previous generations.

    People consume more calories than they burn on a daily basis and highly refined grains a quick burning – which is a fast boost of calories that leave you hungry sooner rather than later. Whole grains as a part of a balanced diet is the way to go. There is nothing inherently bad about wheat itself relative to other foods.

  • phatkhat

    FlatOut Multi-Grain w/Flax: 1 bread = 17 g carb – 8 g fiber = 9 g net carb and 1 g sugar. 9 g protein. I only eat half of a bread at a sitting,and rarely more than once a day.

  • phatkhat

    Eh, I have made chips by slicing taters thin, brushing them with olive oil, and nuking them till they’re crisp. But it’s a lot of trouble, and I don’t need the carbs.

  • phatkhat

    Is it hard to do? I’d love to learn to brew. (Now that it’s legal. Arkansas has funny laws.) Meanwhile, we just buy German bier. After living over there 15 years, I can’t drink the pisswater that passes for beer here.

  • Buffymom9

    Thy never want to heat up olive oil to high heat. 🙁

  • Buffymom9

    You are disciplining your bread intake but are you testing your insulin levels?

  • phatkhat

    As in frying, no. But I don’t think the chips cook so much as dehydrate. In any case, I use OO in the nuker all the time. Not sure what constitutes “high heat”.

  • phatkhat

    Nope. I tend to avoid doctors.

  • DKeane123

    Not really difficult – it just takes a bit to get the finished product. You can buy a starter kit online for $75 – $100 and a 3 gallon pot or so. Takes about a couple of hours to do the boil (most of the time you can be doing something else). After that it takes about 2-3 weeks to ferment (for a 5% beer) and then you can bottle (or keg). Usually you do 5 gallon batches (you only boil about 2 gallons and then add water to bring it up to volume) – which is a little more than 2 cases. As with anything, you can get crazy complicated. But beginners generally start out using malt extract, which is easy, but makes great beer. Let me know if you want more info and we can chat elsewhere.

    Homebrew starter kits and recipes:
    http://www.morebeer.com/category/home-brewing-starter-kits.html

    A good starter recipe book:
    http://www.amazon.com/Beer-Captured-Tess-Szamatulski/dp/0970344252

  • Buffymom9

    We have been consuming grains for only the past 10,000 years approximately. So that is just a fraction of time for us as human beings. And the change in wheat was only a few decades ago. This genetic change unleashed gluten levels on a whole new level.
    Since then the changes to our wheat are exasperating the damage…glysophates.

  • Buffymom9

    We are nearly the same age. My joint pains started a couple of years after I turned 40. Now I am 47 and relieved of them. If you ever go there, please think of wheat.

  • I would agree Owen except when I have experimented by adding whole grains back into my diet my arthritis returned within a couple of days.

  • Buffymom9

    I do too! You will never know how bread affects your insulin level unless you test yourself after eating it. You can do this on your own. Just sayin’. Your health is growing on me. 🙂

  • Buffymom9

    I read frying olive oil changes it structurally so that it might release free radicals if cooked too hot though I think this needs more discussion because it is currently a mixed consensus. Have you tried coconut oil? It’s delicious and great with high heat. Very stable.

  • Buffymom9

    My understanding is bacon fat (un cured) and avocado fat are among the healthiest. I do believe we can eat as much as we like and it is healthy. Understandably our FDA has the opposite advice but it was not until I turned away from the food pyramid guidelines and ate high amounts of these fats that my BP regulated, my cholesterol levels normalized and my body fat reduced to normal. It was the low fat, high bread carb of 6-11 servings that got me well on my way to 200 lbs on my short 5’2″ frame.

  • Buffymom9

    As far as gods go you would be singing to the choir here. I am your friendly neighborhood atheist. I would argue that nutritional understanding should be based upon science and there is supportive scientific research on various wheat and grain proteins that show them to be deleterious to good health. Having removed all wheat and nearly all grains has been a life changer for me and several family members (all have reduced their weight to normal). I think this is significant. If you feel great I can understand your reluctance to take in what I am saying but I believe I recall you said at some point you were pre-diabetic. Although wheat removal healed my joint inflammation I am not diabetic but I mention it because I am aware of many people reversing their full on diabetes by removing two things: grains and sugar.

  • phatkhat

    I think we may be more alike than different. My 200 + lbs on 5’7″ was not quite so bad, maybe, but I’m an apple, so… My goal weight is around 140 or so. I’m down to 187, and can get back in size 18, yay!

    I’ve done serious weight loss twice before, and both times, it was on low carb, high protein/fat. That’s how it stayed off, too. This time, it crept up over many years, but one day, getting short of breath on a short walk, I realized I needed to do a turn around. I got this way on the low fat/high carb path, just like you.

    What people don’t realize when they run Atkins down is that it is no longer a high meat regimen. There is a vegetarian option, even. And the emphasis is on healthy low carb veggies, fish, eggs, etc.There is a similar Diabetic Mediterranean Diet out there, too.

    I like not having to count calories, too. Just watch the carbs and the weight starts to go. And, yeah, I feel better. :o) But, to each their own. I think low fat/low calorie will get the weight off for some people. I’m not one of them, but people on Ornish DO lose it. Eh, I’m not that masochistic, though.

  • phatkhat

    Yes, I use coconut oil, too. But I don’t fry much. I make stir fry in the micro, but it’s more like stir steam, LOL. I use a food thermometer, and only cook to the recommended internal temp – for most foods 165 F. So it doesn’t get overheated.

  • phatkhat

    Well, you can get into the Glycemic Index, too, though a lot of the GI diets also stress low fat/low calorie eating. I’m not enough of a masochist to give up fats AND carbs.

    People also reverse diabetes on Atkins, but, then, Atkins pretty much forbids sugar outside of fruits. And low carb kind of rules out eating a lot of grains, anyhow.

    I just read an article on another site about McD’s shutting down 900 restaurants because of low profits. They are losing market share among millennials to Chipotle’s and such. Then the comments started in on how Chipotle’s had too much fat, and how eating fat will kill you. It’s deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. 50 grams of carbs is okay, but god forbid there’s 2 grams of [gasp!] fat.

    There’s a book out by a woman who was a restaurant reviewer about the merits of full fat foods, backed up with science, but I can’t find it again. If you happen to know the title, post it! I want to read the whole book.

  • Murmur1

    I think a lot of commenters have over-reacted to this article. It’s not “debunking” either religion or science. It is pointing out that people do a lot of things, including eating or not eating, for different reasons, and encouraging people to sort out their reasoning. The author’s not objecting to people eating gluten-free if it helps their health. He’s saying if you are passionate and preachy about it to the point of making it a “moral” issue, you’ve moved into the realm of religion. I’ve discovered that I am, unfortunately, allergic to tomatoes. That doesn’t mean tomatoes are toxic. My own opinion is that religious dietary restrictions are for the purpose of separating the religion’s adherents from the rest of the world. Dietary restrictions for health purposes based on scientific reasoning should not do that.

  • Rhonwyyn

    What does weight have to do with anything? It’s not a proxy for health, and as this article so well puts it, judging someone on their “health” level is ridiculous.

    Are you feeling morally superior today?

  • Buffymom9

    Body fat is a measure of health and why jump into a discussion making assumptions? It is a discussion and like a kitchen if you cannot handle the heat, stay out.

  • Buffymom9

    Awesome. It has turned out the more good fat I ate the skinnier I got. Of course I ditched processed food, sugar and bread carbs but the addition of lots of fat has been a very crucial part of recovering my health.

  • Buffymom9

    If it is 10,000 from 200,000 that is a very short time. There are in fact several proteins in wheat that are not good for us. And as far as providing fast burning energy what wheat actually does is raise your blood sugar level so high that insulin is forced to store the excess as fat. Since blood sugar spikes that IS excess.

  • Kae

    Wild animals get sick and die all the time, and animal lifespans are greatly increased when in captivity.

  • Justin

    You don’t see sick wild animals because as soon as they get sick, they slow down and something eats them.

  • Justin

    And there’s another example of virulent disagreement: microwaves. You don’t seem to find any problem with cooking healthy food in one, while there are lots of people who think that microwaves are the devil and are killing us just as much as you think carbs are.

  • alytron

    No, it isn’t

  • phatkhat

    I don’t regard carbs as the devil. We need them. But I am considerably overweight, and a low carb diet is the only thing that works for me to get the weight off. Most of my carbs are from veggies. If you are thin and active, or do well on low fat, go for it. I’m not knocking carbs per se – only carbs for myself.

  • …Veganism is not worse for you than Atkins. Like every single legitimate health professional including those working for the UN admit that veganism is a healthy way of living.

  • JasonTorpy

    “chronologically following my gluten reduction, I also experienced a reduction in seizures.” That’s very different than ‘not eating gluten has decreased my seizures’.
    How many repetitions of this have you tried – eating gluten, then not, then eating, then not, in different intervals, while recording seizure activity and gluten intake?

  • JasonTorpy

    Why are fritos the bad guy? They don’t have any gluten… They’re even vegan. About the most unhealthy thing one can eat, but vegan and gluten free. If anything ‘gluten lie’ would be to be healthy by eating fritos.

  • Celebrim

    I’m not going to argue this at great length given you are probably a religious believer, but humans are obligate carnivores. They must eat at least some animal protein. While they can sustain themselves mostly on vegetable matter, evolution has deprived them of the ability to manufacture certain essential nutrients. While most of these nutrients can with difficulty be obtained from vegetables, the range of vegetables necessary to ensure health would never occur in the wild and is only available if you basically a ‘global supermarket’ and can get foods from all over. At least one of these major nutrients B12 however is not found in any plant food, and there are four or five trace nutrients believed to promote help that are not found in plants. No historical culture anywhere in the world is Vegan, because without at least some animal protein you ultimately starve to death no matter how full your belly. Modern vegans survive through vitamin supplements in edition to a broad non-local range of vegetables – or else they slowly starve. But these vitamin supplements themselves are not Vegan, as key ingredients must ultimately be derived from some sort of animal matter.

    Now, I should note that there is a big difference between ‘vegetarianism’ and ‘vegan’. It’s quite possible to have a very healthy diet that is mostly fruit and vegetables, supplemented by small amounts of dairy, eggs, fish, or insects. Most modern diets tend to have far too much animal fat given the sedentary lifestyle most of us now engage in. Vegatarianism, if done well, is a very healthy adult lifestyle.

    Most the Vegan insanity wouldn’t matter at all, except that some Vegans come to believe in vegetables as magic, and meat as some evil plot perpetrated against humanity by sinister forces. As such, they foist their Vegan lifestyle on children and even infants. This is child abuse. Particularly with infants, you will kill them with Veganism. Humans are mammals and all mammals are adapted as infants to primarily live on animal protein – namely, their mother’s milk. Deprived of animal protein, an infant will fail to thrive and die. Vegan infant formula is murder. Even soy based formulas should only be last resort, and they – like the vitamin supplements Vegans depends on to survive – are fortified with ingredients derived from animal matter.

  • Buffymom9

    Tell that to your liver and fat heart.

  • Radical Agnostic

    Although I did not know or King Henry VIII of England (who was a bit on the stout side even when he was divorcing by execution), who I was 26 in 1970. I knew some fat people. I am wasting my time trying to communicate with you. I am senile. What is your excuse for being so stupid and ignorant?

  • Owen

    not sure what that really has to do with anything. My ability to eat well and exercise regularly has very little bearing on my ability to judge the validity or scientific weight that an article demands.

    And yes, actually i am. i’m just under 6 feet tall, and roughly 75 kilograms. but then weight doesn’t really tell you much, 75kg could be considered pretty heavy for someone with little to no muscle mass, considering muscle is denser than fat. And even then, muscle mass can be very different depending on whether you try for size, strength or power (or gym junkie verses bodyweight training and sport)
    I generally sit anywhere between 10&15% body fat depending on how much i eat/exercise. I can manage a dozen chin ups, 80 pushups (real wrist to armpit pushups btw, not shitty wide arm ones. although i can do them too), well over 100 long lunges, and last time i tried to check how many sit ups i could do (arms crossed across chest, straight back, small of back remaining off the ground at all times) i gave up at 300 ’cause i got bored.

    But hey, what works for me won’t necessarily work for you. If your eldest son has obvious issues with gluten, then it’s not such a stretch to think that you might have not so obvious issues yourself. and if cutting them out of your diet helped than that’s great. But whilst it may help, it’s not healthy to tell everyone to cut gluten out of their diets because SCIENCE.

  • Rich S.

    Yep, the comments are better than the article.
    I have a daughter with Hashimoto’s and a close friend with celiac disease.
    Gluten gone, health improved.
    So I tried it, which was difficult since I live in rural Mexico and it’s hard to get a wide variety of nut flours, veggies, etc.
    I do drink milk direct from the cow, free range eggs and hens and as much truly organic locally raised beef, fruits and veggies.

    Overall better health, but probably because my overall diet improved.
    I did notice a vast improvement in my blood glucose levels when I reduced my wheat intake and my arthritis improved markedly and those I attribute to the lack of wheat proteins.

    Lot’s of people in the village close to me are over 90 and some over 100 and the main difference between them and the younger crowd (40’s-70’s) is a traditional diet (beans, often with fat, stone ground tortillas, nopals, veggies, greens, whole fruits with little sugar along with daily walks and some light work.

    Personally I’d rather enjoy what I eat and die in my 60’s since evolution doesn’t seem to have caught up in the changes in foods over the last 2000 years and I’m addicted to all those foods bad for me.

    Being an atheist computer engineer you’d think pesticides, GMO, etc would be OK with me, but it seems that many times when man interferes with mother nature the result is not what they planned.

    The human body is very complex and Western science is just learning that concentrating on one thing instead of the many which interact in varied ways doesn’t lead to valid conclusions.

    Everyone is different and reacts differently.
    Be that as it may the evidence against MODERN wheat is too great to ignore.

  • Owen

    sure, being fat is usually unhealthy, but just because you’re skinny doesn’t mean you’re healthy.
    someone who exercises regularly and eats healthily but hes a few extra pounds can easily be more healthy than someone who lives a sedentary lifestyle and eats nothing but precooked meals, yet eats little enough that they never actually get fat.

  • Owen

    olive oil can be bad if you burn it, but it’s pretty hard to burn olive oil unless you’re burning the whole meal, especially in a microwave. (if you’re concerned, just heat for longer at a lower setting)