Dr. Ron Hoggan Responds to The Atlantic's Article: A Gluten-Free Diet Reality Check
As co-author of a new book titled “Cereal Killers” slated for release in the fall of 2009, the study of the impact of gluten continues to be a driving passion in my life.
I am fascinated by the way that gluten induces illness and impedes learning while it alters mood, behavior, and a host of other facets of human existence. Sure, gluten’s impact on health is an important issue, but that is only the most obvious area of impact. Mood disturbances, learning disabilities, and the loss of quality of life due to psychiatric and neurological illness are even more tragic than the plethora of physical ailments that are caused or worsened by gluten. The further I go down this rabbit hole, the more I realize that grains are a good food for ruminants - not people. I teach at the Royal Roads University, Continuing Studies.
My Web page is:
There isn’t much ambiguity in any of these three studies conducted by three separate groups of reputable medical scientists and published in the peer reviewed medical and scientific literature. Clearly, the gluten free diet is an effective weight loss tool for some of the individuals investigated. Yet Fontenot asserts that “there is no evidence that gluten-free foods promote weight loss….” (1). Exactly what evidence does she want?
She goes on to say that “The only condition that necessitates a gluten free diet is celiac disease” (1). Yet she previously states, when discussing several other conditions that have been connected with gluten that “the research shows mixed results” (1). Surely the “mixed results” suggests that there is evidence that at least some cases benefit from a gluten free diet.
Neither does the notion of ‘necessity’ apply to celiac disease. A person with celiac disase can consume gluten. They may place their health at risk by so doing, but that applies equally to those individuals with other conditions that have been shown to benefit from a gluten free diet. So the distinction she makes is, at best, one of degree.
For decades many highly regarded investigators have published test results clearly showing that a gluten free diet is beneficial in the conditions listed by Ms. Fontenot, as well as many other ailments. These range from Autism (5,6,7) to schizophrenia (8,9,10,11) to a variety of neurological (12,13,14) conditions to Attention Deficit Disorder (15,16), to many other forms of autoimmunity (17,18,19), learning disabilities (20) and even to AIDS patients (21).
Ms. Fontenot even asserts that “A person with celiac disease has increased levels of certain autoantibodies circulating in their blood due to their intake of gluten”(1). Again, she overlooks seronegative celiac disease which is frequently seen in the context of IgA deficiency (22, 23, 24) and may be present in many other contexts.
Opinion pieces are probably easier to write when ignoring relevant facts. In this case, the overwhelming body of personal bias that drives Ms. Fontenot’s article is offered in the absence of a single supporting research finding and only one other professional opinion which is offered by one of Ms. Fontenot’s colleagues. She certainly hasn’t let the facts get in the way of her story, but it is deeply disturbing to discover that The Atlantic has chosen to republish this unsupported rant.
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- Cheng J, Brar PS, Lee AR, Green PH. Body mass index in celiac disease: beneficial effect of a gluten-free diet. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2010 Apr;44(4):267-71.
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- Cascella NG, Kryszak D, Bhatti B, Gregory P, Kelly DL, Mc Evoy JP, Fasano A, Eaton WW. Prevalence of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity in the United States clinical antipsychotic trials of intervention effectiveness study population. Schizophr Bull. 2011 Jan;37(1):94-100.
- De Santis A, Addolorato G, Romito A, Caputo S, Giordano A, Gambassi G, Taranto C, Manna R, Gasbarrini G. Schizophrenic symptoms and SPECT abnormalities in a coeliac patient: regression after a gluten-free diet. J Intern Med. 1997 Nov;242(5):421-3.
- Dohan FC, Grasberger JC, Lowell FM, Johnston HT Jr, Arbegast AW. Relapsed schizophrenics: more rapid improvement on a milk- and cereal-free diet. Br J Psychiatry. 1969 May;115(522):595-6..
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- Hadjivassiliou M, Kandler RH, Chattopadhyay AK, Davies-Jones AG, Jarratt JA, Sanders DS, Sharrack B, Grünewald RA. Dietary treatment of gluten neuropathy. Muscle Nerve. 2006 Dec;34(6):762-6.
- Hadjivassiliou M, Rao DG, Wharton SB, Sanders DS, Grünewald RA, Davies-Jones AG.Sensory ganglionopathy due to gluten sensitivity. neurology. 2010 Sep 14;75(11):1003-8.
- Turner MR, Chohan G, Quaghebeur G, Greenhall RC, Hadjivassiliou M, Talbot K. A case of celiac disease mimicking amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Nat Clin Pract Neurol. 2007 Oct;3(10):581-4.
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- Iuorio R, Mercuri V, Barbarulo F, D'Amico T, Mecca N, Bassotti G, Pietrobono D, Gargiulo P, Picarelli A. Prevalence of celiac disease in patients with autoimmune Thyroiditis. Minerva Endocrinol. 2007 Dec;32(4):239-43.
- Quiñones-Galvan A, Lifshitz-Guinzberg A, Ruíz-Arguelles GJ. Gluten-free diet for AIDS-associated enteropathy. Ann Intern Med. 1990 Nov 15;113(10):806-7
- Evans KE, Leeds JS, Sanders DS. Be vigilant for patients with coeliac disease. Practitioner. 2009 Oct;253(1722):19-22, 2.
- Mozo L, Gómez J, Escanlar E, Bousoño C, Gutiérrez C. Diagnostic Value of Anti-Deamidated gliadin peptide Igg antibodies for Celiac Disease in Children and Iga Deficient Patients. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2011 Dec 23.
- Wang N, Shen N, Vyse TJ, Anand V, Gunnarson I, Sturfelt G, Rantapää-Dahlqvist S, Elvin K, Truedsson L, Andersson BA, Dahle C, Ortqvist E, Gregersen PK, Behrens TW, Hammarström L. Selective IgA deficiency in autoimmune diseases. Mol Med. 2011 Aug 4.
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