The Case Against Gluten-Free Continues

The Whole World Is Going Gluten Free

Gluten free eating is the diet meme of choice right now, but the tone around gluten is becoming sensationalistic.

About 1% of the population has Coeliac’s disease, an autoimmune disorder that’s triggered by gluten, and those people definitely ought to avoid it.

However, for the rest of the population that’s using gluten-free as a guide to making health decisions, there are much better proxies for food quality.

More and more people are being diagnosed with non-Coeliac gluten insensitivity

An article in Time has a good synopsis of the problems with diagnosing gluten intolerance:

But the authors of the commentary, celiac researchers Dr. Antonio Di Sabatino and Dr. Gino Roberto Corazza of Italy’s University of Pavia, question that figure, noting that there’s no official data on the prevalence of nonceliac gluten sensitivity, nor is there any consensus among doctors about how to diagnose it.

Why Is Gluten Intolerance Rising?

It’s true that the prevalence of gluten intolerance is going up, but there are important caveats to this statistic:

1). Part of the increase is because more people are looking for it.

2). There’s a strong placebo affect in patients who identify themselves as potential allergen victims.

3). Allergic reactions are going up for all allergens, not just gluten. This has been a steady trend since the 1960’s, ever since we started handing out questionnaires asking about this sort of thing.

With regards to point 3, it’s hard to tell how much of the observed effect is psychological, and how much is due to pollutants/toxins in the environment and food supply. It’s probably a bit of both, which become self-reinforcing.

Diets with extreme amounts of nutritional deficiences make small variations in ingredient allergens more noticeable.

However, if that’s the case, the best way to get around that dilemma is to fix your diet, which goes beyond eliminating a single ingredient.

4 thoughts on “The Case Against Gluten-Free Continues”

  1. I know, so many people are obsessed with removing gluten from their diets but it’s hardly the greatest dietary evil. People will do better if they remove sugar, salt and other additives that do more harm than gluten.


    1. Tara, I think you’re right. It’s true wheat allergies are a reality for many people, but for those people that don’t have a gluten intolerance it’s best to focus on other factors: amount of sugar, white carbs, saturated fats, processed foods, etc. Those are all better indicators of food quality than the presence or absence of gluten.


  2. Although this paper was written a long time ago, I figured I’d put some legitimacy to the topic. Many people think that because they own a body they know everything about it. I know mainstream thinking about decreasing sugar intake (which I agree) would be a great tool in bettering your health, but gluten is a pro-inflammatory mediator to more than just the Celiac population. Little information was known about the immune system and how it leads to many of the chronic health problems that we are experiencing in modern day. The toxicity of our body (e.g. leaky gut) from many different ingredients can be used to explain sickness’s that people are experiencing; however, removal of gluten is ranging from a better quality of life to full healing of a person’s body. BTW, Sat fats have been given a bad rap, but really we haven’t been told the whole story, but that will be a story for another year.

    A wheat allergy, sensitivity, intolerance, and celiac disease are all different diseases and will lead to different responses from the body. Although, Gluten may not affect everyone it does affect many. We have been grown up to believe that headaches, malaise, etc… they are all normal because of our busy life. We do have busy lives, but poisoning our body does not allow us to be as resilient as we should be able too deal with it. Our body is a puzzle connected machine made of different organs which can produce chemicals that promote communication. If anything interferes with our ability to nourish and synthesize these important components, our health suffers due to lack of communication (just like in a relationship with a person in your life). Removing gluten can negate the effects and also allow the body to heal itself. Whether is being hormonal imbalances, neural imbalances, vitamin/mineral deficiencies due to poor absorption because of intestinal damage, or any other affected organ, Most importantly, being able to subdue the immune response and allowing each cell to get the proper nutrients that it needs will lead to your body to be able to perform at its best, like the gut keeping non-self things out, is the first step to maintaining the health that you want. Testing and/ or Removal of gluten (linked to over 200 diseases) is essential to try if you experience health issues where a doctors response is “I don’t know what do from here.”

    I’m an Ex Sci major with a minor in physiology. Whether my credentials make my information valid, my past health does. I grew up with many different problems, health wise. Removal of gluten pointed my life back to complete healingl. I’ll support the diet and anyone who wants to try to improve their health. (This doesn’t mean that all gluten-free food is healthy). I’d recommend reading the book “Wheat Belly”. The ignorance of many about how food reacts in people is not their fault, but I assure you it is a very real problem. It is one that could help get us one step closer to helping people who suffer from long chronic inflammatory diseases which are debilitating to many Americans. In my humble opinion, the final understanding of how essential gluten-free (even non-celiac) for some people to consume to maintain there best health, will be worth every “fad-diet” comment that any “ignorant-person” can comment.


    1. Jordan,

      This is a good comment….especially on something I’ve written about so long ago!

      You might know more about gluten intolerance than I do, especially since you’ve had more personal experience than I have. I tend to think gluten insensitivity is a downstream effect of other health problems and is probably not the central diet variable that some make it out to be.

      Of course intolerance to gluten varies, so this won’t be absolutely true for everybody.

      Thanks for this insightful comment and don’t be a stranger!


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