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May 13, 2014 03:51 PM

Wheat industry is behind effort to label gluten intolerance a fad

"The Wheat Council hosted a presentation about how gluten intolerance was just a fad, not a real medical problem."

This may explain some of the random hate for anyone trying to restrict gluten from their diet that has been going around as of late.

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      1. re: jpc8015

        and for every 100,000 hipsters, there are 1,000,000 underinformed internet snarksters

        1. re: cringle22

          I am completely unaffected by your comment.

            1. There are people with actual allergies to wheat gluten, that is different than celiac. Yes there are lots of people experimenting with removing gluten from their diet for various reasons. Many claim they feel better. There is also some evidence for certain auto-immune disorders that not eating wheat will help those conditions. I find it ironic how many people seeing that industry is out to sway public opinion didn't even seem to blink at repeating that exact same thing.



              This and not eating wheat is something many cultures had done for quite a long time until it was introduced there by trade. There isn't any unique benefit to eating wheat vs. other grains etc. But I am sure that won't stop all those amateur internet doctors trying to insist that anyone turning down wheat is a whiney hipster looking for attention. :-)

              31 Replies
              1. re: blackpointyboots

                If gluten-intolerance were most common among peoples who traditionally did not eat wheat or barley - Native Americans, Southeast Asians perhaps - I'd buy a genetic component. But a lot of the people who claim to be gluten intolerant have ancestors that have used wheat and barley for millennia, namely Europe and the Middle East. I suspect it's a small percentage actual intolerance and a larger one jumping on the bandwagon.

                We could, I suppose, get large representative samples of people from specific genetic backgrounds and experiment on them, but that's frowned upon.

                1. re: tardigrade

                  I said nothing about a genetic component in a population that didn't traditionally eat wheat. There are plenty of cultures where wheat was not typically consumed or native and people were not suffering from the lack of it.

                  There seems to be some weird notion with some people that not eating wheat is somehow an abomination or something? It certainly isn't required for a healthy diet and there are other options if you are trying to add some sort of grains into your diet.

                  1. re: blackpointyboots

                    The problem with gluten free isn't that people are should not be free to choose what they eat its the unscientific justification for it and that they make so much fuss.

                    Many of those "allergic" to gluten simply get gas, so on that basis 100% of men are allergic to beer. The fact is its not a allergy at all, it doesn't harm them, its simply a diet preference. Allergic responses are pretty specific and a bit of bloating isn't part of it.

                    What people choose to eat is their business, but when "gluten intolerance" develops into an evangelical crusade based on pretty sketchy evidence is what irritates people, especially when the downside of eating gluten isn't that serious and most of the extreme stores are anecdotal and not backed by serious research.

                    And that's the problem, the backlash from irritated people can make it harder for the people with genuine issues like those suffering from Coeliac disease.

                    1. re: PhilD

                      So exactly how do you tell who is making it up and being insufferable about it vs. someone with an actual medical condition? Do you quiz people in the supermarket line because you see a box of gluten free something in their cart? Do you ask for people's medical history at restaurants as they order?

                      I have lots of people ask me about eating gluten free because they are curious and because it has hit the health guru circles. I usually tell them to try eating a low carb diet first for a while and see if they feel better unless they have a doctor telling them to do it. Some people simply feel better by cleaning up their eating habits a bit.

                      Celiac isn't the only disorder with a documented tie to gluten. Hashimoto's can have a gluten component as does Duhring's disease but there is some relation to Celiac with these two.

                      1. re: blackpointyboots

                        Usually the ones being insufferable about it are in their late twenties or early thirties; the height of their coolness. They can be found wearing skinny jeans, flannel shirts, and thick rimmed glasses. The males will go to great pains to ensure that facial hair looks unkempt.


                        1. re: jpc8015

                          Your posts pretty much make this thread worth reading.

                          1. re: EatFoodGetMoney

                            I see you have done a fair amount of posting in the PacNW boards. You must be familiar with the species Hipsterius Portlandia.

                              1. re: jpc8015

                                Some old Oregonians like myself consider that an invasive species.

                            1. re: jpc8015

                              They do kipping pull ups instead of real ones.

                            2. re: blackpointyboots

                              Semi serious answer - I would think there is a correlation with how vocal they are about it.

                              But a serious point, I am not certain people are making it up consciously. They will believe they have the symptoms, the problem is isolating the NOCEBO effect that seems to be evident. Similar to the MSG effects that are proven time and time again to be in the mind. The body can exhibit real physical effects caused by by this. I would hazard a guess that as the trend fades so will those with real symptoms.

                        2. re: tardigrade

                          the wheat that was eaten by our european and middle eastern ancestors is not the same wheat as the wheat that is farmed today. actually, the wheat grown today isn't even the same as that grown 60 or so years ago. hence wheat allergies and other intestinal issues. thank you, monsanto.

                          1. re: Vidute

                            Celiac has been around much longer than Monsanto...
                            I believe the first Doctor who made the correlation of wheat proteins being a culprit was the Dutch pediatrician, Dr. Dickie. He noticed his Celiac patients improved during the wheat shortages during WW2 and their symptoms returned once wheat returned to their diet.

                            1. re: meatn3

                              true, celiac has been around longer than monsanto; however, there seems to be an explosion of allergies since gmos became the norm... peanuts, strawberries, dairy, etc. we not only eat the end food product, we, also, eat what our food consumes, gmo crops, antibiotics, i grew up in the seventies and peanut butter was always a staple for most of my friends in school. now, not only is peanut butter banned in many schools, but a ballpark is banning peanuts from its premises:


                              1. re: Vidute

                                However, if you really take the covers off peanut allergies you find the data really doesn't support the amount of press it gets. Certainly some people suffer (I do) but its a very hyped up issue with very little basis. This is a good example: the initial speculative stories are still on the web despite the new information.

                                1. re: Vidute

                                  But people are not usually allergic to the main GMO crops, things like corn, soy and canola. In the USA the most common allergies are to things like seafood, peanuts, and dairy. And wheat isn't a GMO crop.


                                  And for some reason celery is a major allergen in Europe

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    monsanto grew test fields of gmo corn in the use for several years. last may, eight years after monsanto shut down the test fields, gmo corn was found growing in a farmer's field. also, monsanto is looking to bring gmo wheat to market within the next ten years.


                                    a harvard study, published may 9, 2014, attributes bee colony collapse disorder to neonicotinoids — insecticides that also act as nerve poisons and mimic the effects of nicotine. Scientists specifically looked at how low doses of two neonicotinoids — imidacloprid and clothianidin which are used on gmo corn. an italian study conducted a couple of years ago, reached the same conclusion and these poisons were banned. since the ban, the bee colonies have recovered.



                                    weeds are becoming resistant to roundup, and the crop of gm corn is decreasing so newer, more toxic pesticides, herbicides and fungicides will be needed along with new gmo crops resistant to the new pesticides, herbicides and fungicides. and so on...

                                    it's funny... we're told to thoroughly wash our produce to remove these toxins, but, how can we remove them if they're inside?

                                    1. re: Vidute

                                      i had meant to say test fields of wheat. late night after a long day.

                                  2. re: Vidute

                                    GMOs do not cause allergies, and there is not general agreement that there is an epidemic increase in peanut allergy:


                                2. re: Vidute

                                  Evil corporations making food available to all...we'll get you.

                                  1. re: jpc8015

                                    i know that you're being facetious with your reply, jpc, but you have no idea how correct your remark is. animals forcefed antibiotics to promote fast growth have led to antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains in humans, considered a crisis by the centers for disease control and the world health organization. the correlation between antibiotic use in animal feed and the effect is has on human antibiotic resistance has finally been acknowledged by the fda,


                                    1. re: Vidute

                                      Does Michael Pollan know about this? Someone should tell him.

                                      1. re: Vidute

                                        There are enough problems with factory farms that making associations like GMOs and allergies that are unfounded take away from the truths.

                                  2. re: tardigrade

                                    Regarding celiac disease specifically - one study that was done comparing two villages on the Russia/Finland border that used to basically be one village, shows that the increase of celiac disease has to do with increased income/quality of life. This study doesn't draw any major conclusions, but does show two previously similar populations that now differ based on income level show different levels of celiac.

                                    Beyond that - if someone chooses to avoid gluten because it helps in their general digestion (as PhilD mentions, relieving gas and other digestion discomforts) - I hardly see why to write folks off in a pejorative way. Fair enough, if people are crusading about the evils or virtues of any kind of diet - that will always be irritating. But if people feel better when they cut out gluten...?

                                    I'm an American and lived in Jerusalem for 5 years and "ate everything". My digestion had never been 100% awesome, but nothing life disrupting. Upon returning to the US for about two months my digestion woes got increasingly worse. While trying to figure out what was going on/what was wrong I was put on a gluten free, dairy free diet. I know I'm not allergic to either substance, but my lived reality is that I feel much better on this diet.

                                    Trendy, bandwagon, or whatever - I feel a lot better.

                                    1. re: cresyd

                                      "Beyond that - if someone chooses to avoid gluten because it helps in their general digestion (as PhilD mentions, relieving gas and other digestion discomforts) - I hardly see why to write folks off in a pejorative way."

                                      When people relate their personal experiences on an elimination diet as you do above, anecdotally and without making any illogical conclusion, that's one thing.

                                      The paranoid evangelists, however, who are fomenting an anti-gluten moral panic based on shreds of evidence backed up by conspiracy theory are about as noxious as Jenny McCarthy on vaccination or the "toothers" who are waging war on fluoridated water.

                                      1. re: JungMann

                                        Jenny McCarthy is an idiot...but painfully attractive.

                                          1. re: JungMann

                                            Noxious or "obnoxious"?

                                            I know that gluten-free foods are more common now, but do you really think it's somehow making gluten-full foods hard to find?

                                            Not eating gluten because some random person tells you not to is as asinine as not vaccinating your kid because Jenny McCarthy said not to.

                                            1. re: LeoLioness

                                              I wouldn't say foods containing gluten are hard to find, but I was irked to see that Chex cereals, with the obvious exception of Wheat Chex, went gluten-free some time ago. Not alongside the original formula, but replacing it entirely.

                                              So, I tried the GF Rice Chex and found it basically unpalatable, never buying it again.

                                              1. re: LeoLioness

                                                Noxious because they contribute to an epidemic of scientific ignorance. Noxious because their expectation to be pre-screened for dislikes, sensitivities and other preexisting conditions places more burdens on a dinner party host than on an insurance company. Noxious because I'm tried of being preached to about gluten more often than I've heard from Jehovah's Witnesses. At least they knock on your door and ask before they launch into their sermons.

                                                I am sympathetic to those who have real sensitivities and allergies and I know the very real problems faced by those with celiac, Crohn's and digestive disorders. I have some myself. But actual sufferers get a bad rap because of people who just enjoy a feeling of control: over themselves or others.

                                              2. re: JungMann

                                                Who are these crazy evangelists? They must run in different circles than I do :-)