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Horrible Slate Article
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70 posts in this topic

Hello Everyone,

There was a horrible article published by Slate, and we need to let them know:

http://www.slate.com/id/2223745/?from=rss

Title: Throwing Out the Wheat - Are we being too tolerant of gluten-intolerance?

Take care,

Scott

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It was a well written article which led to questioning celiac disease in myself and now probable pending diagnosis. Thumbs down to the Slate article.

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I'm going to duck down behind my couch and ask this question: Isn't there something of value in this article? Can we assume that EVERYONE on a gluten-free diet who isn't a celiac is doing it for the "right" reasons? Isn't there some worth in asking why gluten-free diets are on the rise, without jumping to the conclusion that it's just better for everyone to avoid gluten? I'm not saying no one who isn't a diagnosed celiac should keep on eating gluten. People can eat whatever they want, and more gluten-free food is better for those who want or need to eat it. I'm also not saying that only celiacs benefit from a gluten-free diet. I'm only saying that I like asking questions (which is why I'm in academics). I wouldn't shout down this writer. It's worth the conversation. E-mail him, sure, but I, personally, am not going to gather the torches and the pitchforks.

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Other than the title (is it really possible to be too tolerant of other people's decisions), I didn't have any problems with the article.

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Other than the title (is it really possible to be too tolerant of other people's decisions), I didn't have any problems with the article.

Yeah, I agree. And we can probably forgive him the title, because his editor might have chosen it, and it's kind of a catchy title, nice symmetry. Sentiment's no good, but I don't think the article made that argument.

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I think the problem is that the article was to underestimate the condition of the Celiac to adopt a gluten-free diet and compare it with a mode of feeding ... Those who are not celiacs are indeed free to consume the type of food they like, but we can not assume that the gluten-free diet for those suffering celiac disease is caused by social conditions for pleasure is a need to stay alive.

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[quote name='Celiacos de M

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Oh, that is ... not good.

Let me study it a bit and formulate a response.

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The words do not undermine the severity of Celiac Disease but in context i think it would do just that. someone just reading that not knowing much about it would probably think that it means that Cliac Disease is just a big scare for people who just want something to blame their stomachache on. Also i do not think they know enough about gluten intolerance or sensitivity. If you begin a diet and it works then why question that?

if a person started the diet and felt better for a short amount of time but then began feeling the same way then i would consider the "placebo effect". there is a lot to be condsidered here and i think the article took the issues much too lightly. I didnt care for it. i read that line about:

"The human gut can't fully process gluten. At best, it's converted into a set of indigestible protein fragments that pass uneventfully through the gastrointestinal tract" and thought 'huh. it doesnt feel so uneventful when it happens to me'. then the article continues and mentions diarhhea etc. thats just one example but it most definitely could have been better written

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I actually don't think it said that at all. It noted that those with celiac disease have severe problems with gluten, and then went on to talk about people who are not diagnosed and adopt the gluten-free diet.

It gave false stats, more than .75 percent are affected, that is more likely the amount that have been diagnosed. The comments to the article just show what this type of article can do to the gluten-free community.

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It gave false stats, more than .75 percent are affected, that is more likely the amount that have been diagnosed. The comments to the article just show what this type of article can do to the gluten-free community.

The most commonly cited statistic on this board is 1 in 133 which is 0.75%. The "false stats" are no more false than the stats cited on this board almost daily.

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Most of the latest estimates I have read have increased the number to 1 in 100. I don't have citations for this statement.

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I have some real issues with this article, it was obviously written by someone who doesn't have gluten intolerance or celiac and has never done any real research. Just a couple issues I have are the these-

" Now imagine that you've cut out gluten from your diet completely

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The gluten free diet is not a low carb diet. In fact many of the gluten free items are actually higher in carbs than ones from gluten.

I had a problem with that part of the article, too. I am in no way eating fewer carbs. As a vegetarian, a lot of my protein sources were MADE of wheat gluten, so now I'm eating way MORE carbs.

"The mere fact that someone who cuts out gluten feels better doesn't mean that he has an autoimmune disease or a wheat allergy or some other medical condition. Any kind of restrictive diet can help alleviate gastrointestinal distress. If you're paying more attention to what you eat, there's a good chance your symptoms will lessen. That's not because gluten or red meat or another food is damaging your small intestine; it's because eating less makes it easier for your gut to recover. Then there's the placebo effect of starting any treatment, which might well address some of the more abstract symptoms of gluten intolerance, like fatigue, mood swings, and depression."

Then why do I feel fine after eating gluten-free cake? That's far from healthy. Also, I have gorged myself with gluten-free food -- it's a totally different feeling from the gut-ache that comes from gluten-y foods.

I also took issue with the argument about how a vegetarian would get sick if he/she ate meat. After 14 years of vegetarianism and some frustration with gluten-free food, I tried a few bites of meat. It was fairly repulsive and I won't be trying it again anytime soon, but I didn't get physically sick in the least.

I don't think I totally hated the article -- I appreciate him making sure that it was clear that for Celiacs there is absolutely no tolerance for gluten -- but I don't like how it had an "if you aren't officially diagnosed, you have no business avoiding gluten" approach. Considering how long it has taken people to get diagnoses (my grandmother didn't get hers until she was in her 70s and the damage was irreversible), it just seems like a stupid stance to take.

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but I don't like how it had an "if you aren't officially diagnosed, you have no business avoiding gluten" approach.

That's the part I didn't like either, that that doctor's official stamp of approval (which half of us have spent a lifetime trying to wring out of our doctors--doctors who, incidentally, believe that celiac is an extremely "rare" disease and which was one of the reasons we didn't know about it either), can suddenly change the status of our gluten avoidance from fad to necessity. Walk a mile in our shoes....

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I just don't think the article was trying to say that people SHOULDN'T avoid gluten if they're not diagnosed celiacs. I think it's just bringing up questions about an interesting trend. I do think there are some very under-informed people out there who might associate it with a low-carb diet, and the author was discussing gluten-free diets in the context of other fads, like the Atkins diet. I don't think he was saying anyone who avoids gluten is doing something wrong, but it's worth examining a quickly-rising trend from multiple perspectives.

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The most commonly cited statistic on this board is 1 in 133 which is 0.75%. The "false stats" are no more false than the stats cited on this board almost daily.

I'm sorry I got my percentage rate confused, but it felt like he was diminishing the amount of people that are truly effected by gluten. I'm not gluten-free don't plan on becoming gluten-free. My husband is though and I've seen the suffering that he has gone through and the way people look at him funny when he explains it. Like he is talking in a foreign language. I for one could give a rat's butt why or how the shelves in regular grocery stores are getting stocked with gluten-free products, I'm just happy he has options readily available. I don't like it when someone acts like it's all in his head though and that he is again the only person in the world that has it.

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They referred to gluten as a "dietary bogeyman"! Can you say insulting? That, to me, says that they think we're all just afraid of some pretend monster... grrr. i bet they wouldnt dismiss it so easily if they have ever dealt with ANY allergy or intolerance

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I think I'm really missing something here. How is "bogeyman" insulting? It's saying it's something people are worried about. I don't think he's say AT ALL that some people are making things up and don't feel better when they're off gluten. I think he's saying we need to look more at why (is it because they're just paying more attention to what they eat in general?) and why people are doing it without medical indication - but not saying that doing it without medical indication is bad, or means it's all in your head, or anything. And he certainly isn't diminishing what happens to celiacs who eat gluten; it's just that the article isn't about that. Again, I guess it's my background, but I think these are questions we should be asking, and the more we look into things, in general, the better informed we all are. If people never ask why non-celiacs sometimes respond badly to gluten, we'll never find out, you know? And I don't think we can completely dismiss the idea that there may be a couple of people out there who are eating gluten-free who don't need to be because it isn't improving their health to do so. I know someone who decided to go gluten-free to see if it cleared her mind, but it didn't, and she quit before long.

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There were definitely some intentionally inflammatory or confrontational statements in this article, which, cumulatively take an adversarial tone towards those who go gluten free for reasons beyond an iron-clad celiac diagnosis. And I could have done without those diagrams since discussion of the Atkins diet does not have a causal effect on the coverage of gluten intolerance in the media, which is a completely different issue altogether. My main problem, though, is that this article gives greater reign to idiot brigade. Have you read some of the comments to the article, bashing everything from celiacs to those who modify their diet under any circumstance?

I posted the following in response to someone who insinuated that all of the detractors of the article were one person who signed on with several screen names, and this one person obviously lacks "fine reading comprehension":

"I actually have a Ph.D. in literature from a top university, so I'd bet that my reading skills are better than most. Though I wouldn't necessarily "rage" against this article, I do find it to be irresponsible. When people play fast-and-loose with the issue of gluten free food and access to gluten free products, it inhibits the rights and the perception of those who suffer from celiac disease. Period.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease five years ago after several medical struggles, and over that period I've been fortunate enough to benefit from several new products and places providing gluten free offerings. However, in recent months it seems that there has been an epidemic of uninformed celiac- and gluten-free bashers. Five years ago, when I'd tell someone I had celiac disease, the person would rarely know what I was talking about--he or she would look at me like I had 3 months to live and would not be able to accommodate my needs at a restaurant, for instance. More recently, when I tell someone I have celiac disease, I am increasingly greeted with tirades about "fad diets" and lectures about how many diseases X uneducated person believes are all in people's heads. Whether someone goes gluten free because of a concrete celiac diagnosis, a diagnosis of gluten intolerance (yes, that is a term accepted and described in medical research and literature), or because the person notices positive health benefits, it does not have an impact on the author of this article or on any of the people who have posted on this forum. The decision to go gluten free is generally one made between a patient and his or her doctor, and it's a choice that should not be criticized or discouraged by every uninformed person off the street. Does Daniel Engber have a medical degree I don't know about somewhere?

It is now believed that 1 out of every 100 people suffers from celiac disease, and only a very small percentage of these sufferers has been diagnosed. I say keep the gluten free foods, products, and awareness coming because they are life-changing and life-saving to so many of us. For the gluten free bashers, hopefully it doesn't turn out that you are one of us."

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I think the problem is that the article was to underestimate the condition of the Celiac to adopt a gluten-free diet and compare it with a mode of feeding ...

I feel it even more so underestimates the gluten intolerant person. He made it sound like a gluten intolerance is just a little inconvenience for those who are not celiac. Like ravenwoodglass said:

Placebo effect!!!!!!! Yea right Not all restrictive diets help alleviate symptoms that we suffer from gluten or any other food that we are intolerant to. Many of us go through hell eliminating food after food and not having any resolution until the true culprit is found, whether it be gluten, soy, eggs, potatoes, dairy etc. If the placebo effect was going on then eliminating any food would help but it doesn't until we finally find the one that is really causing the issue.

The problem is, when an article like this is written, without real facts, it tends to make others think we are even crazier than they thought before.

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There were definitely some intentionally inflammatory or confrontational statements in this article, which, cumulatively take an adversarial tone towards those who go gluten free for reasons beyond an iron-clad celiac diagnosis. And I could have done without those diagrams since discussion of the Atkins diet does not have a causal effect on the coverage of gluten intolerance in the media, which is a completely different issue altogether. My main problem, though, is that this article gives greater reign to idiot brigade. Have you read some of the comments to the article, bashing everything from celiacs to those who modify their diet under any circumstance?

I posted the following in response to someone who insinuated that all of the detractors of the article were one person who signed on with several screen names, and this one person obviously lacks "fine reading comprehension":

"I actually have a Ph.D. in literature from a top university, so I'd bet that my reading skills are better than most. Though I wouldn't necessarily "rage" against this article, I do find it to be irresponsible. When people play fast-and-loose with the issue of gluten free food and access to gluten free products, it inhibits the rights and the perception of those who suffer from celiac disease. Period.

I was diagnosed with celiac disease five years ago after several medical struggles, and over that period I've been fortunate enough to benefit from several new products and places providing gluten free offerings. However, in recent months it seems that there has been an epidemic of uninformed celiac- and gluten-free bashers. Five years ago, when I'd tell someone I had celiac disease, the person would rarely know what I was talking about--he or she would look at me like I had 3 months to live and would not be able to accommodate my needs at a restaurant, for instance. More recently, when I tell someone I have celiac disease, I am increasingly greeted with tirades about "fad diets" and lectures about how many diseases X uneducated person believes are all in people's heads. Whether someone goes gluten free because of a concrete celiac diagnosis, a diagnosis of gluten intolerance (yes, that is a term accepted and described in medical research and literature), or because the person notices positive health benefits, it does not have an impact on the author of this article or on any of the people who have posted on this forum. The decision to go gluten free is generally one made between a patient and his or her doctor, and it's a choice that should not be criticized or discouraged by every uninformed person off the street. Does Daniel Engber have a medical degree I don't know about somewhere?

It is now believed that 1 out of every 100 people suffers from celiac disease, and only a very small percentage of these sufferers has been diagnosed. I say keep the gluten free foods, products, and awareness coming because they are life-changing and life-saving to so many of us. For the gluten free bashers, hopefully it doesn't turn out that you are one of us."

Bravo to you Nicole! Well done!

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Hmm, I didn't read anything too dismissive to people with celiac. He stated at the end of the article that there are probably lots of undiagnosed people and that many are being diagnosed because of all of the attention lately.

Two things I agree with are that eating foods you usually avoid give you an upset stomach that is NOT necessarily a sign of intolerance/disease and that packaged gluten-free foods are nutritionally lacking for the most part.

Not the worst article I've read and not nearly as bad a someone saying, "I don't eat gluten but I JUST HAD TO HAVE A BITE!" :rolleyes:

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I actually think this is one good bit of advice...

"The mere fact that someone who cuts out gluten feels better doesn't mean that he has an autoimmune disease or a wheat allergy or some other medical condition."

As long as you keep in mind that you COULD have an autoimmune disorder (or some other medical condition). Making unfounded assumptions can be very bad for your health <_<

The charts were kind of interesting. I tried the Atkins diet back in 2004 and lost 20 pounds. I wish I had realized THEN that I had a problem with gluten! Maybe I wouldn't have so many other medical problems. The gluten-free diet is certainly not a "fad" for me...

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Just a newbie here, but IMO when I started reading the article I thought a farmer was writing it.. The author sounded like he wants to put the brakes on gluten-free diets to protect grain sales.. To me the article had more positives then negatives. One doesn't need any negatives at this stage of the fight for celiac disease awareness. With that in mind, I rate the article as 2 thumbs down!...

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