He did, as many in medical research still do, question the idea of gluten intolerance. He questioned the appropriateness of the celebrity advice book that touts the weight loss benefits of a gluten-free diet on the jacket of the book. He gets demonized for that?
I think you will get a lot of argument here on the concept of gluten intolerance. But I don't think any celiac (at least on this forum) advocates the gluten-free diet as a weight loss measure (the only person I have seen is Elizabeth Hasselback to sell books). That was not the part of the article that we all took exception to. It did have that added benefit for me, but half of the celiacs, it seems, are trying to gain weight.
Since many people who have problems with gluten and also have other autoimmune diseases test negative for celiac, it is pretty hard to say that they are not intolerant to gluten. You can argue that the tests are inaccurate, which we do, but without that diagnosis of celiac what else are you going to call it??
"Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted." - Albert Einstein
"Life is not weathering the storm; it is learning to dance in the rain"
"Whatever the question, the answer is always chocolate." Nigella Lawson
Caffeine free 1973
Lactose free 1990
(Mis)diagnosed IBS, fibromyalgia '80's and '90's
Diagnosed psoriatic arthritis 2004
Self-diagnosed gluten intolerant, gluten-free Nov. 2007
Soy free March 2008
Nightshade free Feb 2009
Citric acid free June 2009
Potato starch free July 2009
(Totally) corn free Nov. 2009
Legume free March 2010
Now tolerant of lactose
I, personally, have never met a single person who does this diet as a "healthy lifestyle choice".
Me either. I have read about them, in news articles and such, yet have never met anyone who does it.
I know there are many of us here who could write an article, which would be wonderful for the gluten intolerant. This person is not one of us, he is just writing what he has been told. It's difficult to know how we feel unless the person is also walking in our shoes.
It's n ot a bad article, it's just not a good one either...mediocre is the word for it. At least it gets people talking, and if just one person see's the words gluten intolerance, and does research, then finds a reason for why they feel the way they do, then wonderful!
Deb Long Island, NY
Double DQ1, subtype 6
We urge all doctors to take time to listen to your patients.. don't "isolate" symptoms but look at the whole spectrum. If a patient tells you s/he feels as if s/he's falling apart and "nothing seems to be working properly", chances are s/he's right!
"The calm river of your life approaches the rocky chute of the rapids - flow on through. You are the same water. The rocks cannot hurt you. Remember, now and then, that you are the water and not the boat. Flow on!
I have a sister-in-law who is always trying fad diets. She went thru a gluten-free phase indirectly as part of the blood type diet. She might have also been gluten free when she was selecting food by color but I can't remember the details of that one.
One data point for knowing a person who chose the "lifestyle". I personally like these people because they increase the market demand for gluten-free products and labeling.
We have readers who don't have celiac disease but feel much better on the gluten-free diet. They’re gluten sensitive, right?
Years ago, I was skeptical about so-called gluten sensitivity. Today I’m very respectful of individuals who don’t have celiac disease but who report a real benefit from the gluten-free diet. Improvement in health can be coincidental to starting the diet or it can be due to a placebo effect—but certainly not in every case. There’s a lot of research going on in this area, including in our lab at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. The data is preliminary but suffice it to say that research is now revealing that changes do occur in the intestines of gluten-sensitive patients when they ingest gluten. More will be uncovered about this in the future.
Please note reference to the "placebo effect", as referred to in Daniel Engber article.
So what if someone wants to adopt a gluten-free diet as a healthy choice?
Those of us reading and posting on this board are here for a reason. Either you have a confirmed diagnosis, or you are suffering symptoms for which you suspect or are wondering if gluten is the culprit, or you have a family member who is affected. We are looking at a gluten free diet as a way to remedy or at least provide relief from these physical problems.
Let's say I wasn't desperately seeking relief for my daughter - and I really wish I weren't - but had stumbled across Elizabeth's Hasselhoff's book. And I embrace the possibility that a glutten free diet for myself would be a means of both better nutrition and losing a few unwanted pounds.
I don't think that would be any different than my observations several years ago when my father in law was diagnosed with diabetes and he got dietary instruction as part of his treatment plan. It was a very balanced plan and it did help him. A side effect was that he lost weight. At the time, I encouraged my husband (who was trying to lose weight) to adopt this plan. My husband didn't have diabetes; I just thought it could help him achieve his personal goals.
A meal plan or an exercise regimen might very well be targeted to a specific problem but could very well benefit any one else not suffering from those specific issues.
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.
1. Most of the data he cited for celiac disease was correct, but he was attacking those following a gluten-free diet wouitht a celiac diagnosis. He said that non-celiac gluten intolerance is not identifiable by laboratory tests. That is patently incorrect and dismissive of those who are gluten sensitive without villous atrophy. There is at least a 15 fold increase of gluten sensitivity, as measured by serum anti-gliadin antibodies, as compared with celiac disease. 2. There is value of questioning many things provided one does not attack based on personal bias and intolerance. Given his careless disregard for the facts, I'd say that this article qualifies as slanted, unwarranted and baseless attack on those who follow a gluten-free diet in the absence of a celiac diagnosis. 3. There are many studies showing that the EMA and tTG are missing as much as 50% of milder cases of gluten induced villous atrophy. Because of his sloppy research, seronegative celiacs are thus being criticized for following a diet that is, by his own admission, healthful for them. 4. Who is best equipped to judge whether the removal of a particular food is making them healthier? A physician? A lab technician? A journalist? or the person who has chosen a restrictive, often inconvenient diet? My vote is for the latter. 5. Asking questions is usually a good thing. However, discrediting individuals for their dietary choices, especially when they often have to overcome resistance from relatives and friends, based sloppy, inadequate research is not very valuable to anyone. 6. I emailed the writer the same day I read his article. He hasn't responded. 7. Academic questioning and skepticism can be very valuable. But if we don't first do our homework, the questions we ask are foolish and reflect that we are ill informed. That is what this article reflects. Unfortunately, because he is an artful and effective writer, he has quite effectively discredited many folks who are trying to help their children despite a resistant spouse or members of the extended family who, because they see the child as deprived, "treat" her or him with tasty and addictive gluten foods.
There’s a lot of research going on in this area, including in our lab at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center. The data is preliminary but suffice it to say that research is now revealing that changes do occur in the intestines of gluten-sensitive patients when they ingest gluten. More will be uncovered about this in the future.
One thing that SHOULD be written about is the unfairness of the astronomical price of gluten free foods. Of course many companies out there are jumping on the bandwagon and producing it because there is a lot of money to be made! For anything that comes into the limelight, there will be someone wanting to make a buck.
I try not to buy prepackaged gluten free items as much because it is truly killing my grocery budget. Fresh meat, fruits, vegetables are much healthier anyway. But when I see gluten free pasta or mixes that cost 3 times as much as the regular variety I get so discouraged. Does rice flour really cost that much?
rh+ Mr.Engber provided links to backup his statements. I would greatly appreciate if you could provide valid links to back up your statements number 1 and number 3. I would prefer they would be from either a .gov or a .edu site. I don't have a much faith in .com sites.
When I first read this article, it made me angry. Why? Along with his cited information, he makes a lot of assumptions, and assigns emotions to eating:
According to a 2006 study in Journal of the Pancreas, a colony of lab rats subsisting on low-carb, high-fat food pellets ended up with less pancreatic α-amylase, an enzyme that helps break down complex carbohydrates. Now imagine that you've cut out gluten from your diet completely—that means no bread, no cereal, no wheat whatsoever. Chances are you'll have reduced your total intake of carbs, and thus the amount of α-amylase in your gut. In other words, the mere fact of being on a gluten-free diet could make you more sensitive to grains and cereals—which would only reinforce your conviction that you're gluten-intolerant.
I'm not a rat, and I probably eat more complex carbs than before (no meals entirely of pretzels and salsa).
But there's a complicated relationship between feeling good and eating less. When a restrictive diet becomes an end in itself, we call it an eating disorder; when it's motivated by health concerns, we call it a lifestyle. That's why Hasselbeck says going gluten-free will make you slim (a sign of wellness) rather than skinny (a symptom of anorexia). It might also explain the relationship between food sensitivities and fad diets: People who are intolerant of gluten or lactose get a free pass for self-denial.
I am far from slim, and I deny myself nothing (except things that make me feel bad).
More worrisome is the fact that adhering to a gluten-free diet creates its own set of anxieties. To eliminate all wheat products from your diet is an incredibly ambitious endeavor.
I would call it annoying. When you first start out there's a fair amount of anxiety, but once you adapt your habits, I think most people lose the stress associated with the diet.
Then there are the more abstract costs of an unnecessary gluten-free diet. I won't dwell on the idea that eliminating wheat deprives you or your children of certain culinary pleasures.
Again, not deprived, nor do I feel my diet is excessively expensive, but then, I rarely buy the subs. I don't see this as any different from someone who routinely chooses a fairly healthy diet with occasional indulgences.
"But then, in all honesty, if scientists don't play god, who will?" - James Watson
My sources are unreliable, but their information is fascinating. - Ashleigh Brilliant
As a "non officially diagnosed" gluten intolerant person, who has had other auto immune problems for her entire adult life, including many neurological symptoms which mimiced MS, and who SELF DIAGNOSED based on a brain scan, showing lesions, that the doctor told me STILL had nothing to do with my diet,
I was infuriated by the grotesque "food trolling attitude" of the original article.
SO, if you just signed up here with an account, in order to defend yourself or whoever wrote that garbage, bring it on.
I would be more than happy to tear your stupid publication's desire for cheaply attained internet hits apart, line by line.
Why don't you do an article next week on the neurotic need for type I diabetics to use insulin to alter the way their body can process dietary carbohydrates, when everybody knows that if they just would have better emotional control and self esteem they could enjoy all the candy bars they wanted ?
Or are women with auto immune diseases just all continuously lumped into the "hysterical" category with people with emotional issues ?
Please continue to promote the selfish attitude that it is really difficult and annoying to hang around with people eating differently in social settings.
Or are women with auto immune diseases just all continuously lumped into the "hysterical" category with people with emotional issues ?
I think many of them are. Especially during the many years it takes for proper diagnosis of autoimmune disease. I believe that is the category I've been lumped into, since I have no concrete lab results to explain my symptoms. Going on 7 years of trying to figure it out now.
Most of the latest estimates I have read have increased the number to 1 in 100. I don't have citations for this statement.
Mushroom - You are right. Here ya go, just in case someone wants it backed up... :-)
"The prevalence of coeliac disease is estimated to be one in 100 in the general population, although only 10-15 per cent of these are thought to have been clinically diagnosed. While many of the remainder will feel well, a significant minority will have chronic health problems such as GI symptoms, the effects of anaemia and lethargy. These symptoms may result in recurrent consultations with GPs and extensive investigations without a concluding diagnosis.
Coeliac disease can be effectively treated simply by a switch to agluten-free diet so it is important for GPs to identify people with undiagnosed disease to improve their health."
Butt, S.. (2009, June). New guidelines on coeliac disease. GP,28-29. Retrieved August 3, 2009, from ABI/INFORM Trade & Industry. (Document ID: 1785584191)
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.
I defintly agree with your view on the article. I actually thought it wasn't that bad the first time I read it through...but I do think he could've wrote it in more of a way that you are writing with the questioning of "why" and then look at the possibilities....
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.
"It" refers to an article other than the Slate article.
It was a well written article (not the Slate article) that led to my questioning celiac disease in myself. The Slate article was the opposite to the one I referred to. Currently awaiting blood test result. Looking forward to feeling better whatever the result!