health news
September 22, 2010 posted by

The Gluten Hoax

For some reason we love to find scapegoats for our problems. Instead of admitting that we need to re-focus on total image we prefer to allow obtuse minutia to sidetrack us. Perhaps it’s because we feel better if something we don’t understand is causing our health problems instead of the obvious, like we’re eating bad and not exercising. Whatever the reason, society is always on the lookout for the next thing to blame, bringing me to our latest victim: gluten.

Gluten is basically protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley. Two decades ago it was championed as a superfood and was the mainstay on the menus of most organic hippie restaurants. Now it’s a vilified to the point where consumers look for “no gluten” labels like they’re the key to eternal happiness. Given the latest research shows between .5 and 1% of wheat eating populations suffer from gluten sensitivity one wouldn’t think the market would be so invigorated. But it all comes down to one thing:


We (both marketers and consumers) are always looking for the latest buzz word to make/spend money on and gluten, and by extension all grains, is the latest craze. .5 to 1% just ain’t big enough to capture shareholder imaginations. In America, it’s go big or go home, and thus the spin games begin. This is nothing new. For those of your paying attention we’ve had the same love/hate relationships with many foods over the years. From macro nutrient groups like proteins, fats, and carbs, to more obscure items like coconut, margarine, grapefruit, Space Food sticks, and blue-green algae; we are schizophrenic consumers. Each has spent its time in the limelight as well as in super market purgatory. Study after study (not to mention the success of Beachbody) shows that living a natural balanced lifestyle, where you eat a lot of natural food and get some exercise every day, will keep the human body healthy and running smoothly. Yet we’re always on the lookout for that ever-elusive “a-ha” moment where all our ails are cured by changing one simple (“extremely simple” – marketing dept ED) thing in our behavior.

“You mean cortisol is not causing my belly fat!” exclaimed someone in one of my recent chats. “But I was told that by my doctor and have been spending $70 a month on supplements to fix it,” which of course are not working because you regulate cortisol by—there I go again—eating well and exercising. Money is going to continue to drive us to do silly things and, unless you’re part of the .5-1% who suffer from Celiac Disease, eliminating gluten from your diet is not going to help you unless your entire diet improves along with it.

My anecdotal case for the day revolves around professional cyclist Christian Vande Velde, who went gluten free. After finishing 4th in the Tour de France Vande Velde became his team’s leader for the next season. Now privy to more means, he hired a chef so he and some teammates could go gluten free. When asked if it was helping he stated “I think so. I feel like I’m breathing better.” Yet his stats never backed this up. He fell to 8th in the Tour and never produced the same numbers on the bike that he did while he was eating heaps of gluten (cyclists traditionally live on pasta). Of course there are other reasons that can explain his drop in performance but there is no evidence that gluten free helped him either. In fact, given the chef was his wife you might even chalk up his positive comment to family civility. 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. This means that 99+% of you can now relax and enjoy your pasta, bread, and/or beer and keep scanning Yahoo Health to see what you should cut out of your diet next.

pic: title could mean IS for dummies for some of us.


  • Hmmm… as some one who suffers from Celiac and CAN NOT have gluten. this article really irritates the crap out of me. I normally would have just let it pass, but not this time. Gluten intolerance is a real thing. You have to be tested for …it by a physician. Trust me I would love to go back to being able to eat regular toast, or the occasional chocolate chip cookie, but I can't. Any one who has seen me suffer after accidental ingesting gluten can tell you how bad it is…I always thought I had IBS…guess what…I don't! Instead of treating the symptoms of it, we found the cause….Even Shakeology states that it is gluten free….

  • You should be the most offended by the trend because you're being treated as a fad. Yeah, things may seem great for you now but what happens when you're not part of the latest craze? Now you're just part of the .5 and forgotten!There is nothing wrong with stating foods are gluten free. That is not my point at all. Food labels are good and should be better, clearer and more precise and not based on who has the nost powerful lobby. Personally, I'd rather know my food contains GMO but that's another issue altogether. I'm all for information, especially relevant info. What's ridiculous is marketing the marketing hype around it. And you should realize that as soon as this is no longer a hot topic you are going to have to hope your lobby is strong enough to get the info you need placed prominenty on the labels at all.

  • Thank you Steve, again for Speaking Truth. This is not insensitive, but very helpful

  • When I said prominenty I should have said on labels at all. The way things work if, say, the wheat lobby had their way Celiac probably would not exist to consumers in the same way tobacco was once "healthy". Go through history and see how warnings have come and gone. You can bet that as soon as a way is found for, say, peanut allergies to fall off the radar these will disappear. This is how Monsanto et al do business.

  • For that matter, Whole Wheat is a fad & a bigger one than gluten-free.And unfortunately many people are eating more whole wheat than they should because of it which surely isn't healthy either. Besides the whole gluten thing whole wheat still contains phytic acid, an anti-nutrient. Because of that I don't think whole wheat should make up the bulk of a diet. When I eat pasta, I eat refined white pasta just not a whole lot. Same with bread. Some nice refined crusty french bread from the bakery. Whole wheat is for the birds, if you ask me. I'd much rather get the bulk of my fiber/vitamins/minerals from fruits & veggies.–Chris

  • Great stuff, Steve. I was really intrigued when I heard that Garmin was going gluten free; while I think it's an awesome move for health + longevity, I'm not surprised it didn't impact performance—taken from a random Google hit on Team Garmin: "The team has found plenty of alternatives to wheat pasta for their carbo-loading, such as foods made with rice and oats."A Devil's Advocate point-of-view: Seeing as how they didn't actually exclude gluten-like peptides and anti-nutrients found in oats and rice, was their diet really exclusive? Hard to say.It would be even more interesting (if we could have) seen some data on GI health/systemtic inflammation and recovery parameters between stages.Endurance athletes are a unique breed needing crazy dense carb fueling DURING events; keyword is during. I've seen hardcore Paleo endurance athletes down cans of cola and pizza while racing, but eat super clean when not.In the end, it's individual efficacy and preference by trail-and-error.Keep up the great work on the posts!

  • Good stuff. Yeah, the point here isn't that eating no gluten is wrong but that it's being overblown for greater market share. Such was the same thing with Atkins in it's day (and countless other examples: Pritikin, Zone…). The Atkins diet served (and can still serve) a fine purpose for the demographic that benefitted from it. But business needs to expand so they blew it into the right diet for the Whole Enchilada of society, which of course backfired in the end. The spin machine must perpetuate.Like you said, eat for what you do and experiment with what works best for you as an individual.

  • Anonymous – That's a really naive view of phytic acid. First off, there's not much if it in wheat as compared to most nuts and legumes, including soy, so if you want to wipe it out, you'd have to ditch those too – and if you honestly don't believe in the massive nutritional value of legumes and raw nuts, well…Furthermore, phytic acid may be an antinutrient in that it binds to some minerals and prevents absorption, but you have to have an incredibly nutrient-poor diet for that to be an issue – like third-world poor.Also, there are a host of positive things about phytic acid you seem to have missed. It's been shown to ward off osteoporosis. It's an antioxidant that has prevented cancer in animal tests. It's been shown to lower glucose response in diabetes patients – something you might very well become if you keep eating refined pasta.There are other benefits, but I think that's good for now.

  • Steve, I not only learned from you but others that commented on this BRILLIANT SUBJECT. Agree the media, $$$ and more $$$ is what gets changes sadly if it is NOT going to fill someones pocket from the public nothing gets done. Also hot right now HFCS & HO, already banned in other countries.

  • And I forgot to mention, sprouting and soaking grains neutralizes phytates.

  • Excellent post! The gluten-free craze has bugged me for quite a while now simply because everyone is saying, "Oh, maybe I'm allergic to gluten. Maybe that's why I have so many digestive issues." Yeah, I agree, the gluten in your pizza is probably causing your stomach to create an uproar. A friend that I just started coaching saw some gluten-free products in the store and asked me if they were healthy. I told him not to waste his money. He responded, "Whew! That food looked freaky!"By the way, love the comments on this post, too. Very interesting and informative. 🙂

  • Wait, stop the press! You mean the food industry capitalizes on fear to sell? Celiacs disease is just one form of gluten intolerance. I discovered mine by the tried and true technique of eliminating possible trouble foods from my diet one by one. I have no problem with dairy, no problem with soy, but feed me a couple slices of wheat crust pizza and I'll be itchy and rashy for about 48 hours. I'm really happy I figured that out after years of being prescribed lotions and cremes that did nothing. And, honestly, it's really easy to eliminate something from your diet when you know it's bad for you.

  • I think things must be much different in your area. Im in San Francisco and suffer from CD. While there are plenty of options for gluten free eating in our area, there is certainly not an uproar of advertising and promoting. From what I have seen, it is not all that common in this area for people to go GF just for the hell of it. I was also a little bit bugged by the tone of the blog post, but I guess if you are reacting to the people in your general range of sight, then it is probably spot on….As far as a national critique though, I think it fails.

  • Considering I eat more gluten than any other human in U.S I agree. I do have a question for you, somewhat off this topic, is an adult's multivitamin like Opti Men bad to take at my age (the package says ask Doc before giving it to under 18 and since you have experienced this kind of stuff before)? I'm taking 2/3 of the dosage recommended for adults and just started today. Thanks.P.S- Only reason I ask this is I have to wait till Nov to attend your chat.

  • To paraphase Larry Levi on popularity, "I dunno. Article in pretty much every issue of health magazines, handful of books on the best seller list, cookbooks galore. I'd call that a sucess."Insane, as much as you exercise I'd say no problem. At your age I was following Jack LaLanne's advice and taking all the supplements that I could afford. Didn't seem to do me any harm. In fact, I was a sickly kid (asthma and a bunch of other lung issues). When I started playing sports seriously in jr. high I was tired of being sick and began taking supplements and experimenting with nutrition (so much that my mom got her masters in nutrition to try and keep up with what I was doing). I completely stopped being sick. I doubt it was a coincidence.

  • And I, too, at times consume a ton of gluten, especially when I'm training hard for endurance sports. Currently, because I'm training power, I'm eating no gluten at all–my diet is pretty much veggies, fruits, quinoa (a veggie that masquerades as a grain), chia, nuts, eggs, and SHakeology. I feel good right now but lack a bit of energy. Psyched for gluten season because I generally feel great and super energized. Again, I have nothing against going non-gluten for people who are not gluten sensitive. You can perform perfectly well this way (my diet is more than just non-gluten). It's just that I see no evidence that non-gluten is better for people who aren't sensitive to it. Teaching people to eat healthy is hard enough; I don't want a fad to make it harder. And thus today's rant.

  • Hi,Just on the sidenote about Cortisol, some people do have a issue with this due to low hormone levels and stress where they are forced to have supplements as training and stress can/will cause a catch 22 situation from which they will not be able to come out of by just eating right and training. Mind you, now we are talking about being in a medical situation.. but still worth noting I think./Mat

  • Mat, Absolutely there are medical situations (for almost everything) that require special attention. In fact, this is generally where fads get started; they piggyback an actual condition and try and find a way to profit from it on a grand scale. Not always a bad thing. Gluten free eating, in general, is healthy. Atkins could be healthy if done right. Cortislim et al are not bad for you, per se, they simply don't do what they advertise, at all.

  • Yes indeed, the gluten-free debate is raging hot. There are “believers”, and there are “non-believers”, and then fortunately there are the facts so we can be scientific about the problem. Whether gluten sensitivity exists or not is a matter of data, not belief.Of course, with any food related diet, there will be a fringe /fad elements. This does not matter. This does not influence the facts. Our world is not simply black and white: there are many grey areas in our experience that require reasoned thought.When it comes to gluten, undisputedly it does harm some people – however, the unanswered question is how big the problem might be. A survey this year shows that up to 25% of the USA population is either going gluten-free or substantially reducing their gluten intake. Interesting, and some of this food-behaviour will have a fad element. But, many of these people will genuinely have gluten-sensitivity.Gluten sensitivity is only now being systematically investigated by the medical science community. The celiac-disease-doctors have now recognised that gluten does in fact severely affect many non-celiac sufferers. Most doctors dealing with gluten sensitivity estimate the problem to affect at least 10% of the population. Dr. Alessio Fasano, director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, figures that up to 7 or 8% of the U.S. population have some kind of sensitivity to gluten. Eventually, the proportion of gluten-affected people is likely to be much higher. Currently, gluten-sensitivity can be tested for by AGA (Anti-Gliadin-Antibody) tests (also known as the IgG-gliadin test). However, this test is not widely available. More accurate and more sensitive tests for gluten sensitivity are currently being developed. When these are in use, the picture will become clearer.Research evidence shows that gluten has a hand in triggering mental illness, autoimmune disease, skin problems and gut disease. As yet, the burden of gluten on the population has not been properly quantified.Therefore, to launch a tirade about gluten-free being a fad and to ridicule people adopting a gluten-free life-style is, to my thinking, an uniformed approach. When you have had a chance to look at the data (for instance the work by Hadjivassiliou M , “Gluten sensitivity: from gut to brain”, Lancet Neurol. 2010 Mar;9(3):318-30 perhaps you will be in a position to write another more thoughtful piece.Thank you for raising this controversyCheers, Dr Rodney Ford.

  • Your post hits me right in the middle in that it seems to trivialize those of us who have been tested and do have a scientific proven, as well as "I feel sick when I eat gluten" response to gluten. On the other hand, I can see what you are saying about the food industry using the newer information about gluten as a cash cow and creating gluten free foods that people mistakenly think is healthy. It's no different than foods that say "natural" on the front and you find a ton of "natural sugar" in the product. Because of my digestive issues I read ingredients and have found that there is a ton of misleading "front of packing labeling" going on. Which I guess leads to your point that people are gullible to the food industries tactics.I for one am glad that the gluten free options are fastly growing as I felt like I had a death sentence last year when I was diagnosed. On the other hand, I don't eat most of the processed gluten free food just as I didn't eat many of the processed gluten filled foods. I have learned a new way to live and cook, eat out, and, unfortunately, it's not a fad for me… it's a way of life that I have been forced into. But if this "fad" as you call it, hadn't taken off, I wouldn't be able to buy the ingredients I use to cook as easily or as inexpensively (not that it's cheap, but it could be worse)… so I, for one, and thankful for this "gluten free fad" of yours. You may end up surprised in a few years to find that your numbers are way off, the numbers of people who are being scientifically diagnosed are daily are HUGE. My form of intolerance is genetic, which means my family members, etc. who have not yet been tested may one day join the ranks of diagnosed gluten intolerance. It may just be a bigger problem in our society than you are currently realizing.As for the person tying in the rice and oats gluten to the gluten in wheat, rye, barley, etc. He is right, there is gluten in them, and at this point they have not been scientifically proven to cause people problems as their properties are different. Maybe they will eventually learn differently, but I certainly hope not, rice has become a staple in my diet, and thankfully I don't seem to react to it.

  • Rodney,That would up in my spam folder for some reason but, even if you're advertising something, it's a good post. I'm not ridiculing anyone, just saying that the fad is a bit over the top and the stats you've cited confirm this. 25% of the population reducing gluten for something where proven research claims less than a percent and esstimated to be as high as 7-8% still has a lot more people wasting their time than actually addressing something relevant, which defines a fad. I can't even estimate how many athletes I've run across recently who've tried to eat this way–generally on advise of a nutritionist–only to see their performance plummet. I used CVDV as an example because he's famous. Personally, I see a lot of people make this change, champion it for a while until their data confirms their performance is declining, then they give it up. Anyway, as a diet for life I have no issue with eating gluten free at all. Unlike, say Atkins, it's pretty darn healthy. But for those looking to maximize their body's athletic potential it's definitely holding you back in many cases.

  • D Faye -That's a very naive view of diabetes & pasta you have there otherwise the entire country of Italy would be diabetic as they most certainly do not eat whole wheat pasta.One can just as easily develop metabolic syndrome & type II diabetes through the over-consumption of whole wheat pasta as through the over-consumption of regular pasta.The common thread: over-consumption.In the meantime, I point you to this wonderful level-headed blog post on Summer Tomato entitled, "Should I buy whole grain pasta?":

  • Another quick point. The article wasn't in depth but citing books on the subject is generally another case for fad. Every fad diet comes out with a slew of supporting evidence, many in book form, where the authors expand on the science the same way marketers do. We can see this pretty much across the board as a reaction to fad diets. If I'm someone who's done some research on the subject why shouldn't I, too, get in on the take? I'd be willing to parley pretty much everything I own into a bet that this mental illness connection is not going to come down to gluten but to abusing it as an entire component of one's diet. My meaning is that if those people ate the exact same way, minus the gluten, nothing with change. This is the same kind of game with play with every new culprit.It all reminds me of the coconut study where they took some islanders who were a healthy population when livng an agrarian island lifestyle but became less so when they were moved into an inner city, where they lived in poverty, smoked, drank, ate badly and worked in basicaly indentured servitude but somehow the authors chalked up their poor health to lack of eating as much coconut as they did in the natural habitat. You can see these trends at the Natural Product Expos. One example, low carb went from one booth to 75% of the show floor and back to a booth in less than a decade. Gluten is still on the upswing. In a decade my take is that it'll be no more than small print on the back of some packaging.

  • Is this the same Steve Edwards that was applauding the attempted ban of sodium from restaurants just a few blogs back? Why yes it is: find your logic inconsistent regarding the latest fads. You were all aboard the sodium banning fad bandwagon.

  • For a the person with celiac diease, I think it's great that I can go to the store now and not worry about maybe getting gluten in my food. Its a nice change to be able to eat out like a normal person. And to say that it will be done in the next couple of years I have a hard time believing that since it is the fastest growing diease in the United States and Europe has been marking things for years as gluten free. And its sad that so many people think that its a fad diet.

  • Steve:I'm curious what makes you think that gluten containing carbs are a better energy source than non-gluten containing carbs, ie. yams, potatoes, corn, etc.Is that just an n=1 observation? or backed by studies?thanks,Chris

  • Ban sodium?! Um, I think you have oversimplified/misunderstood my position as sodium is vital for life to exist.I'm pro information, anti-hyperbole. It's a pretty simple stance, actually. The problem is that it doesn't play favorites and business is about getting personal interests favored. That is the issue here.

  • i guess lactose intolerance is crap too then? i guess we should just yank all that off the market too.i agree the media and celebrities have jumped on the bandwagon and a gf free diet is not low fat!to be honest if we go back to the way food was meant to be eaten raw fruits veggies,non fried fish chicken and red meat things would be much better for child has celiac disease and we went thru a year of trying to figure out her tummy trouble by taking things from her diet till she was finally on a brat diet(bananas rice applesauce toast). i decided one week to take away the toast, and all of a sudden she felt better. gave it back to her and she started throwing up. so gluten all hype? i think not.

  • Gluten sensitivity is one of the most misdiagnosed conditions. The symptoms can be very closely related to IBS even though gluten is the main culprit. It took me many years before my condition was diagnosed as gluten sensitivity. Even though I exercised regularly and kept my weight in check there was no relief. It wasn’t until I was told to try a gluten free diet that I experienced true relief from symptoms. Even though well intentioned, your article makes the assumption that gluten free is a fad. The reality is that we are a gluten/carb heavy society. By presenting gluten free as a fad you could be preventing folks out there from continuing to explore the different dietary options for relief of their symptoms. You would be surprised by the many misdiagnoses and incorrect treatment options suggested my doctors when all along it was just sensitivity to gluten. Please consider posting a follow-up to stress the importance of correctly diagnosing gluten intolerance so proper treatment options can be utilized.

  • Did no one read the article or the comments and replies?Gluten issues are not FAKE, not CRAP, or anything else that people exaggerated and stated.The point of this article is that we've seen this before, and it's wrong:Not every kid that's bad in school has ADHD.Not every child that has developmental issues, or waits to talk until they're 3 is autistic.Not every person that isn't smiling 24/7 has depression.Not every guy that beats his wife was also abused as a kidAnd likewise, not everyone that is bloated or having trouble losing weight has an issue with gluten.It's common for both the media and the medical community to first misdiagnose symptoms and put those that really ARE affected through a bunch of trials, then to over-diagnose and prescribe quick fixes to anyone that meets even the slightest criteria. Re-read the article and re-read the first comments and responses, and you'll see that no one is saying YOU have a fake disease – they're saying that a lot of people like to use REAL diseases to justify why they aren't the people they want to be.

  • You should really educate yourself about Celiac Disease before calling the gluten free diet "a hoax". Celiac Disease is one of the most misdiagnosed conditions in this country because doctors for many years believed it to be a rare condition and because the symptoms can be so varied. I was actually misdiagnosed with and medicated for Crohn's Disease for 14 years before a different doctor put the pieces together and tested me for Celiac Disease. The fact of the matter is that more and more people are finding relief for unexplained gastro symptoms and just general malaise by removing gluten from their diet. I haven't found too many people who would jump on a bandwagon and stay gluten free for very long. For those of us who REQUIRE these products – the more attention & funding these products get, the easier our lives get. So please find another "hoax" to uncover, because you didn't find one here.

  • Thank you Dr Rodney Ford !

  • PEOPLE – re-read the article and re-read Steve's replies to people's comments.Gluten sensitivity is a hot topic now, and it's overused as a diagnosis now. That was the point. What really SUCKS about this is that the people who really did and DO have an issue had to go through months/years of misdiagnosis and 'trials' of treatments for symptoms…it's obvious in the reaction that was given by these people. But here's the thing – just like:not every kid that's bad in school has ADHD….some are just bad kidsnot every guy who hits his wife also was abused as a kid – some people are just jerks.not every person who isn't smiling and happy 24/7/365 has depression – it's called life.The point of the article was that it was first underdiagnosed, and then when the media and the pharma/medical community got wind that it could be a 'catch-all' to a lot of the symptoms that they misdiagnosed in the past, or had to WORK at dianosing, they have used it as a 'root cause' with reckless abandon.Media and medical want wide-reaching answers because it makes for a good sound bite and an easy clinic visit….and much like it was mentioned, people blamed any carbohydrates for their weight a few years back, but then ridiculed a low-carb/low-GI diet after they found they had high cholesterol on their bacon and McDonald's patties without a bun diets. So, I would say, go back and re-read this and try not to take your personal case as your vantage point but rather think about some overweight, beer drinking, finish-a-whole pizza on their own guy in his 40s who has high blood pressure and works a desk job, who will go and visit his doctor and say "Hey, I saw this article on that said the reason I'm overweight and pre-diabetic is 'cuz of a gluten sensitivity? What can I get for that?".That should bother you more than this article.

  • I guess some people (like you Steve) view this diet as a fad. To others of us it is a lifestyle. I understand what you are saying about far more people are trying "gluten free diets" than truly need them. I know of people who do not have celiac(and thereby do not NEED a gluten free diet), but truly feel better when they remove gluten from their diet. How do they know this? But "trying" the gluten free diet. Yes I agree it is not for everyone, but if the "fad" helps some people to feel better, then I don't see the harm? There are some people who do well on low sugar diets, glycemic index diets, etc. etc. Do we look down upon the people who "try" those out fad diets too? Sure, anything can be a fad, but if it leads you to a more healthful lifstyle for YOU, what's the harm??? I am personally appreciative for the increase in products and restaurant awareness.

  • "Like you said, eat for what you do and experiment with what works best for you as an individual."I liked that in your comments! Also the fact that whether it's this particular nutritional nugget or any other…people by nature seem to want to find a reason, other than exercise and eating right, to explain their body's performance or lack thereof. And now..time to put the cornish hens in the dutch oven with some baked potatoes over the fire…go for a hike and return to a perfectly cooked camping meal! ;)By the way, Steve..Thanks for all you've done behind the scenes. I wouldn't be fit now and enjoying the ability to outlast my kiddos on the trails. I wouldn't even be out here camping! lol Thanks for not only promoting..but living..a healthy lifestyle. I appreciate it more than you know!Anne

  • Thanks, Anne,I've been around this game a loooong time and gluten is the new low carb, omega 3, coral calcium, high fat, no fat, high carb, vitamin C, dessicated liver, predigested protein, on and on and on list of the latest thing that was the be-all-end-all of what's wrong with the way we eat. Trust me, those of who actually should not eat gluten are the ones who should be worried because your time in the limelight, like all the rest, will fade because this vitriolic approach is the exact rage that was associated with every fad I listed and a lot lot more. Does this mean each fad had no merit? Of course not. If fact, all have some–if not a lot–of merit. But when last I checked (yesterday) the 75% of Americans were projected to be obese by 2025 so none of them worked as advertised either, so we systematically move on to the next thing. I have worked with thousands–technically millions–of people who have gone from overweight to thin. I've seen people, in 6 weeks, go off medication their doctor said they'd be on for the rest of their lives. And nobody–not one–did it by taking a pill, supplement, or adding/subtracting one thing from their lifestyle. They did it be living as humans weren't meant to; moving a lot and eating primarily natural foods. It's not very sexy ad copy but that is what works. Changing your lifestyle is the only get out of jail free card that works for everyone.

  • Well those of us who are GF for medical reasons are so grateful that more and more GF products and books are now available. When I was first diagnosed with Celiac Disease 9 1/2 years ago, there were very few commercial options for me to buy. Now, I have to hit several stores to buy all the GF different brands, but much better than making due with bread that tasted like cardboard.I do agree that some have taken on GF lifestyle with out the medical need for either gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy or Celiac Disease. I do think that they are the minority of those who are buying GF products. After the fad fades, those of us with Celiac Disease are a loud enough crowd to keep the products coming. Most GF companies are started by someone who has CD or gluten intolerance, or someone who has a close family member who needs GF products.Thanks to Dr Rodney Ford for providing some insight into the larger portion of the population that has gluten intolerance. Another number to look at is the percentage of the population that has an actual allergy to wheat. GF products are a bonus for those individuals as well.thanks for the informative discussion!

  • Great debate on the Gluten sensitivity issue, kudos to all who have posted their views. I for one, am glad to have stumbled accross the Great Gluten Hoax. If not for media hype, food producers making money off specialty foods & fitness/health blogs & articles… where would the general public be exposed to these issues? I say don't shoot the messenger. The fat guy on his couch, eating pizza til' he pukes is going to keep doing that Gluten Hoax or no Gluten Hoax, until He decides to Change. As the mother of 2, count em' TWO, type 1 diabetic kids…I have become incredibly interested in all things auto immune related. I have learned through my own research that Celiac Disease is very common in Type 1 Diabetics (no thanks to our endocrinologist, by the way)I had both of my kids & myself tested, for Celiac's and the genetic marker testing for sensitivity. Fortunately non of us have Celiac, but 2 of us have sensitivities. My youngest son (dx'd at age 2 w/type 1) has had learning disabilities since his dx. When I discovered, through the Great Gluten Hoax, that gluten sensitivities are closely linked to type 1 diabetes (both dealing w/auto immune functions)- we did an elimination diet. Removing gluten from my son's diet was like lifting a cloud from his head. His thinking is clearer, his memory is better, his mood is more stable & his digestion is better. Not to mention his blood sugar levels…much more stable sans gluten.My point is that without the media & food producers bringing things to the forefront, I would never have thought to check it out. I am glad that The Gluten Hoax is out there, at least now average everyday people that aren't orthorexic foodies like myself, have heard of this affliction. It's annoying enough to have to explain to people the difference between type 1 & type 2 diabetes… when's the Great Diabetes Hoax going to happen!?! All that being said, of course, a healthy balanced diet is best for most people. For our family, eating foods closest to their natural state (unprocessed) and choosing brown rice, quinoa, corn, beans, legumes, fruits & veggies for carb sources seems to work for us. As far as the "franken foods" with GF labels, we try to stay clear. However, I am glad there are those options…it makes it easier to fit this kind of a diet into the regular life of a child if needed.

  • I believe in this debate I've heard the Old Spice guy being mentioned as someone who's gone gluten-free but what wasn't mentioned is he went gluten-free on the advice of his trainer: Tony Horton.

  • The last post is a perfect example of fad. Tony's been gluten free for approximately 3 months, on the advice of his nutritionist/chef. Gluten wasn't exactly wreaking havoc with his lifestyle when he shot 90x 8 years ago.

  • You must be writing this just to get some attention. Gluter intolernce IS a serious issue. Maybe you should look into the real money. Drug companies pushing the newest. latest money making drug on the unsuspecting public

  • Steve, you stated: "In fact, I was a sickly kid (asthma and a bunch of other lung issues). When I started playing sports seriously in jr. high I was tired of being sick and began taking supplements and experimenting with nutrition (so much that my mom got her masters in nutrition to try and keep up with what I was doing). I completely stopped being sick. I doubt it was a coincidence."Lung capacities increase as you get older and frequently, asthma symptoms diminish and often times, medication is no longer needed. Usually around high school, sometimes later. Additionally, exercise can DRASTICALLY improve lung capacities so that an asthmatic has "normal" lung function. But have you had a PFT recently? Or ever? Asthma NEVER goes away completely. Asthma is a disease with no cure. You may find improvement in your lung function with modern treatment, despite the fact that you THINK you lung function is normal now. My guess is that someone like you should have a FEV1 well over 100%.As for gluten, I for one am ECSTATIC that gluten is garnering more attention and that companies are marketing it more aggressively. I also think it's smart.I'm ecstatic because my fiancee was tested and diagnosed with a gluten and dairy allergy (among others) and it has made an EXTREMELY trying time in our lives a little easier.I think it's smart because the .5-1% of the population you quoted may be the numbers you found for Celiac's disease, but as others have pointed out, those numbers are possibly underestimated. They also don't factor in those with a wheat/gluten allergy. My fiancee falls into that category. I'm not going to quote numbers because I don't know them. But from a company growth perspective, it's VERY smart to advertise your product as gluten free, if it is. Why? Because you'll not only attract the 1% (your numbers) of customers who might like to try your product who otherwise wouldn't, you'll likely get their spouse and possibly their immediate family (parents and/or kids they live with). That could add up to some low-single-digit growth in a down economy. Not many companies are growing by that much, most are shrinking. Then, you add in those with an allergy (assuredly a larger percentage of the population than those with Celiac's) and your numbers could climb even higher. And if folks who simply want to experiment with their diet (which you're clearly a fan of as you do it yourself) by eliminating gluten want to give it a shot, there's more growth. And all you had to do was educate the customer about what your product did NOT contain.Anyone seen the devil in this scenario? I can't find him.A final point, we were NOT meant to eat wheat or really, other grains either. If we were, eating it in its raw form would be possible/enjoyable. It's not.

  • What bothers me is the assumption that people are too stupid to realize that gluten-free cookies and cakes are still junk food. My kids have celiac disease (confirmed with both blood tests and biopsies), so my household is gluten-free. That doesn't mean my shelves are filled with every GF item that hits the stores. Instead, we follow a Clean Eating diet of fruits, vegetables, lean meats & fish, nuts, brown rice, quinoa). Sounds a lot like what anyone should be eating to maintain a healthy, active lifestyle, no?Instead of being upset with those who "usurp" my children's diet for whatever supposedly self-serving, hoax-y purpose, I'm grateful. If a bigger market share means I can find brown rice pasta in my local supermarket instead of having to drive two hours to the nearest Whole Foods, yay for me. If a bigger audience means more companies are disclosing gluten on their labels, there's a smaller chance of my kids getting sick, especially when they're visiting friends or at school where I'm not around to tell them what's safe.I agree that some of the cookies, cakes, and other goodies may disappear if and when a lot of people give up on the gluten-free diet and move on to the next big thing. But again, we don't eat that stuff. We'll still be left with better labels and more awareness, and I'm good with that.

  • While I'm not a fan of wheat, I hate idiotic comments saying we were not meant to eat otherwise we'd be able to eat it in it's raw unprocessed state.Well, we were not meant to eat it raw. We were however meant to eat it when properly processed. End of story.We weren't meant to fly or else we'd have wings right?We weren't meant to drive cars or else we'd have tires and not feet, right?We weren't meant to sail on the ocean or else we'd have fins, no?Life happens, people make advances.

  • Steve,I have big respect for you but it is disheartening to see someone of your cadre write such a naive post. I agree…- Gluten free doesnt mean sugar filled.I disagree…- If you're not allergic you're fine with gluten.Problem is… almost everyone is allergic to gluten at some level and most people (like myself) don't know about it for a long long time. I was an asthma patient for 18 years… even when I did p90x, p90x+ and crossfit I had to use my inhaler before every single workout. I dropped grains for 3 months… boom! My asthma disappeared… my HDL sky rocketed… my performance improved.Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson and Richard Nikoley are big players in the field and I suggest you look into their websites/blogs. They've helped thousands of people live a much better life. Also, here is one article that should be compelling enough at least for you to do some more research on the topic.

  • Truly amazed at how people really are not reading what Steve is saying. I don't feel he's saying a GF liefstyle is bad or that people with CD (or allergies) are full of crap. I beleive he said it's a good option for those with CD and gluten/wheat allergies. He's saying that there are too many people out there who are switching to a GF diet who don't have CD or allergies because they feel it's the next Adkins fad … it will cure them of their weight problems and any health issue they may have. There are people switching to GF diets (who don't have issues with gluten) for the wrong reasons… because a celebrity is doing it or the media is saying it is the "cure-all" … that is what a "fad" is. So what he is saying is that in 2-3 years when all these people without CD or gluten allergies realize they're no different than before (because they have no problem with gluten), or they were just as good when eating a well-balanced healthy diet, and they revert back to their old ways, the gluten "fad" will fade. There will always be Gluten options (just like there are still Adkin's & South Beach options) at the supermarket, but the section is going be small and next to the Adkins section! Hence… a fad! In fact, I'm done writing so I can go come up with the next fad so I can cash in on all you suckers out there!!!Rich

  • I'm on biologics. in between actually… for an autoimmune problem, Psoriatic Arthritis. The whole diet thing of what to include and what to exclude confuses me. So I've made the decision to get my GP to refer me to a dietician so we can do an elimination diet. I know that a gluten free vegan diet is recommended for this problem.The pranayama yoga guy, and others, like this totally bs website that advocated skipping breakfast, say to eliminate nightshades and proteins too?!?!?And I know a few things effect me from experience. Soy protein doesn't suit me. Did I mention I'm a vegetarian? Doesn't leave me much options does it? But to be sure, as its your health, get a professional to advise you before you give up a balanced diet. Don't listen to fads. This is the general theme of the article. C Sroye xo

  • That book is written for people who have celiac disease and eat gluten free out of medical necessity. Celiac is a serious disease that can be life threatening when undiagnosed for 40 years like it was for me. I lost YEARS of my life due to celiac disease and the last 2 years I was often bedridden and had trouble functioning. Being gluten free literally saved my life and now if I get even a few crumbs of gluten I can be sick for an entire week. At least read the book if you're going to comment on it and put it up as the picture for your article. The estimates are not half to 1% of the population has celiac disease. It's 10 to 30% so MANY more people will be diagnosed soon and they will stop suffering from IBS, Crohn's, allergies, asthma, colitis, and all the other things they were misdiagnosed with over the years. I do agree that going gluten free if you don't have celiac isn't really going to be beneficial most likely unless you eat a clean healthy diet. Gluten free substitute foods are high in fat and calories and low in fiber, but that book is not for fad dieters. Most people eating gluten free are not doing it as a fad. It's such a pain in the ass and so limiting nobody will last on it long. I got glutened 3 times this past week eating out so my list of safe restaurants is getting very small. It's socially isolating and humiliating when I can't eat out with friends because I don't know what will happen if they screw up my order. It is patently wrong and I'll go so far as to say immoral to accuse people of jumping onto a fad bandwagon when for the majority of us eating gluten free our very lives depend on it.

  • Gluten intolerance is a serious issue for, as the article states, almost 1 in every 100 people who eat wheat. That's not an insignificant number, especially considering the potentially harsh consequences to a person's well-being. Personally, I'm thankful to the food industry for their sensitivity. It's not a hoax, so much as it is misunderstood in popular nutrition information and fad dieting, and unfortunate that pop culture has aims, not to serve consumers affordably and with care, but to aim high, and kill kill kill to get a billion dollars, so friggin' bad.I hope to kill the mood, and not the dude.

  • For those of us with Celiacs disease being gluten free is certainly not a fad diet, or even a choice, but an absolutely necessary way of life. While Celiacs disease may be fairly rare, gluten intolerance and sensitivities are quite common and often go undiagnosed since symptoms can vary widely. That being said, if you do not have a problem digesting gluten, just eating the gluten-free version of a food will not automatically be a healthier choice. A cookie is still a cookie (although as a Celiac, I for one am glad they made gluten-free goodies since sometimes you really just need a cookie) If you think you might be sensitive to gluten, the healthiest way to eat gluten-free is to eat a balanced diet of natural, unprocessed foods that you prepare for yourself (and thus know what all the ingredients are). Almost all processed foods contain gluten (for example, "natural flavorings" usually contain gluten since it is often used as a binding agent). In my opinion, this is a much healthier way to eat, whether your diet includes gluten or not.

  • I was intrigued to see this blog post come through on my FB, but I'm a bit bummed by the lack of science. I don't think that a cyclist's failure to go from 4th up vs. 4th down is dispositive of anything. You acknowledge there may be a causation issue, but it's still a bit slack to sling commentary like this about a metabolic process. I eat all sorts of gluten, and am astonished by this media change…but not sure this article added much to the discourse.

  • After an exhaustive reading of objections and applaud I did not find one reference to candidiasis.I remember having to borrow instrumentation from another research group that was doing research on candidiasis and there were discussions about different triggers that change the form of Candida from a bud form to an aggressive intestine puncturing roots."Candida change form, creating rhizoids, root like structures that break the intestinal walls. A healthy intestinal wall will allow only nutrients to enter bloodstream, but when it is damaged, larger molecules such as incompletely digested fats, proteins, and toxins may also slip through. The body recognizes these substances as foreign and forms antibodies to them, causing the patient to suddenly become allergic to foods they would previously been able to eat without a problem."So all this confirmation by testing brings up the question are we seeing cause and effect symptoms from something else?This change can be triggered by antibiotics, cortisone, …So is this another dart that misses the bullseye? It is hard to believe that man has been in this state from the beginning. Also man can survive on just about anything IN small enough quantities not like the modern American diet.

  • I cannot TELL you how happy this post has made me. I recently moved from Alabama to Seattle and have been BOMBARDED by the gluten-free and vegan crazes. I feel like I can't have anybody over to my home for dinner because there's nothing I cook that they're allowed to eat. It's maddening. I had two couples over for dinner and had three different chicken marinades for each person's specific needs. They go on an on about how much more energy they have since eliminating gluten, but every time I'm around them, they're talking about how worn thin they are…. Leaves me wondering what they must have been like before 🙂 Nobody exercises, of course. They try to stay healthy by eating whacky diets instead. I have, thankfully, not fallen prey to any of the eating fads. My Dad told me long ago to exercise and eat whatever I wanted–as long as it was in moderation. You would be happy to know I have completed P90X and run a marathon in the last year :). Thanks for this. I really needed to know that somebody else thought this crap was crazy too. They all want to attribute my lack of understanding their diets to Southern ignorance.

  • Spike your insulin with grains, do your cronic cardio. But what ever you do.. don't do your research for yourselves.

  • Wow – it appears to me that people with a sensitivity to gluten are also very sensitive to discussion about gluten. Maybe they are just oversensitive to everything.The fact of the matter is that whole 'gluten is bad for you' craze is just that. People all over the world have been eating gluten containing foods for hundreds (thousands?) or years. Despite this, our life span keeps increasing. Yes, SOME people have serious issues when they consume gluten. That hardly means that gluten is bad for the rest of us.

  • Fabulous article Steve, paralleling my post recently about how the wheat lobbyists duking it out with the dairy lobbyists and losing soundly.When the gluten-free fad passes, i hope we can get to more of the real truth: a casein-free diet will actually make a real difference. The only true valuable way of eating is vegan. Man is a herbivore, which can be proven very easily. The meat-eating and dairy sucking habits are media driven. And they are cruel. Eliminate dairy and watch the allergies disappear! And oh, heart disease, diabetes and the other diseases of affluence.. all gone. But ain't it remarkable how often veganism is never discussed as an option, only vaguely insulted by those entrenched in the status quo and who would not know what casein even was.The answers are right there to be found: eat vegan, exercise regularly, don't smoke and you will live a healthier life.

  • Winterdawn……how many OTHER allergies that were popular did you belong to?? Huh? Don't answer, cause your gonna lie anyways. Thats what you sicko's who always pretend you are allergic to this or to that just so y ou can get attention when you go out to eat…..You don't have it. Bet a million bucks on it. Cause if you did you won't be getting pizzed at an article that states .5 or 1 percent of the pop does have it. So, go out to eat, annoy the person you are eating with, the server and the cook…….Do you KNOW how many times you've gotten something with gluten either by mistake or ON PURPOSE only to be told it was gluten free just to shut you up???? Believe me it happens ALL the time. Can't wait for your NEXT allergy…keep in touch, K?? B Bye.

  • Something to be VERY concerned about are those people who go on GF diets after "self diagnosing" based on their little check of list of symptoms. Many of the celiac symptoms could be serious forms of cancer that get over looked during critical weeks and months when treatments could be more effective.I sometimes wonder what kind of a happy dance the American Meat Industry is doing over this GF fad!

  • Nice article Steve… it inspired one of our own: We've already had tons of angry letters, and a single compliment: from a celiac, who echoes your point about not being taken seriously. She thanked us for helping to clear the air.

  • Gluten is just another in a long line of a panoply of demon molecules which make a lot of $$$$ for patented drugs and patented genes for bio tech companies and Agra companies like Monsanto.We must look at the class interest operating behind the marketed "science." People don't think twice about drinking flouridated and chlorinated tap water and Pepsi and all the toxins they ingest but God forbid they eat GLUTEN. It's just a new way of expanding surplus value. I am sure the corn, rice and soy industry have funded much of the "research" and even some of the authors who write books about it.

  • anonymou said: "Many of the celiac symptoms could be serious forms of cancer that get over looked during critical weeks and months when treatments could be more effective" "I sometimes wonder what kind of a happy dance the American Meat Industry is doing over this GF fad!"Or perhaps it could be nothing. You should work for the cancer industry, they are not different from the gluten industry. I am sure pharmaceuticals are working on anti gluten meds just as hard as they on cancer with a cure "just around the corner."The meat industry doing a happy dance? How about the corn and soy industries, Monsanto and their forthcoming genetically engineered gluten free seed patent and monopolies that need new forms and shapes of crackers and nuggets to keep the market from being satiated. Let's not forget Pharmaceutical giants and their patents.

  • Good article. Not sure why the cyliac inflicted was so offended. You attempted to separate hype from truth. In fact, the cyliac commenter should've thanked you because as it right now, eventually like pet rocks, the gluten scare will be gone, and people who really suffer from cyliac my find themselves marginalized. What amazes me are how some of the many commenters have become expert nutritionist knowing what is and isn't good for the body. Like gluten alarmist, they probably read something and adhered to it without due diligence. Since our foraging days, man has been living quite well on gluten laden diets. The current quackery, is more symptomatic of people trying to feel a sense of control in an out of control world, a belief in a more increasingly atheistic society, and rationalizing from background of increasing decline in scientific education and self medication in the shadow of skyrocketing healthcare. One only has to look at the unquestioning belief in the efficacy of multi-vitamins in America if you don't believe me.

  • way down here at #63 is maybe the best answer on the entire thread.

  • Read the article. It clearly says IF YOU DO NOT HAVE CELIAC = 99.5% of the population

  • I hope someday your body changes and you have problems processing specific ingredients that you once use to eat daily and enjoy.This disease is real…hard to understand though if you don't have it.People once thought that putting metal in your body was witchcraft. Of course, tell that to a modern day pacemaker patient……things change because science finds new results as studies unfold over years and time. EVOLVE.

  • study in 2009 said it’s estimated that about one in 100 people have celiac disease.that was 4 years your numbers match that controlled study or are you just on a rant making stuff up?

  • google…


  • Sooo… .5 – 1% population in the U.S. is 1.5 – 3 million people. That’s a lot of people.

    • Um, I guess. But since 0.5% means 1.5 million Americans have Celiacs, that means 298.5 million don’t. Now that’s a lot of people.

  • Paradise existed on earth before the advent of agriculture. Wheat. The forbidden fruit. Did you really believe that it was an apple?

  • […] 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 […]

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