Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
7 Mar

A Tale of Two Gluten Studies

wheat“It was the best of times,

it was the worst of times,

it was the age of wisdom,

it was the age of foolishness,

it was the epoch of belief,

it was the epoch of incredulity,

it was the season of Light,

it was the season of Darkness,

it was the spring of hope,

it was the winter of despair,

we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…”

A couple recent gluten studies made me think of Dickens’ opening lines from “A Tale of Two Cities,” which describe the concurrence of contradictory states of being and consciousness in 18th century Western Europe. That’s people for ya. We can be miserable and happy at the same time. We can believe something despite evidence to the contrary staring us in the face. You’ll see it in online arguments, especially regarding subjects whose research luminaries publish in journals that offer online access to study abstracts for us plebs. That’s why comment board arguments between two opposing camps touting completely contradictory information stretch endlessly – because they can always trot out URL after URL of an abstract that appears to support their point. For every study, there’s a counter study.

Back to gluten. Two studies, one negative and one positive. The “negative,” a double blind, placebo-controlled RCT, found that gluten caused symptoms of gastrointestinal distress in certified non-celiacs with irritable bowel syndrome. The “positive” found that putting people on a gluten-free diet lowered levels of beneficial gut flora, potentially impairing immune function. Study, counter study. What can you do but throw up your hands, sigh, and resign yourself to never knowing the real truth?

You can look a bit closer. It’s reasonable to assume that the gluten RCT, being randomized and controlled and all, offers valuable information. Both groups had IBS and were eating gluten-free diets, except for the experimental group’s two slices of actual wheat bread and muffin each day (gluten included); the control group got placebo baked goods. 68% of the gluten group reported no improvements in IBS symptoms, while just 40% of the gluten-free group reported none. Put another way, 60% of the truly gluten-free felt better, while just 32% of the faux gluten-free felt better. In the gluten group, pain, bloating, and tiredness increased, stool consistency satisfaction decreased, and general negative symptoms got worse and more pronounced.

The gut flora study doesn’t even address gluten itself when you look closer. It’s addressing the reduction in dietary polysaccharides when following a gluten-free diet. Beneficial gut flora had fewer polysaccharides to feed on with whole wheat out of the diet.

You gotta wonder what exactly these gluten-free diets consisted of. I don’t know about the gluten-free folks you know, but the ones I come across who identify specifically as gluten-free tend to eat a lot of gluten-free treats. Flourless cakes, rice crackers, gluten-free brownies, weird gluten-free pizzas made with bean/rice/corn flour. They’re gravitating toward the boxed snacks and treats and breads so long as the “GF” label graces the box. They’re chowing down on ultra-processed, refined carbohydrates, with rice products dominating. There’s not much for the gut flora to work with there.

Check it out: “This study included 10 healthy subjects (30.3 years-old), who were following a GFD over one month by replacing the gluten-containing foods they usually ate with certified gluten-free foods (with no more than 20 parts per million of gluten).” So, yeah, they replaced gluten foods with “certified gluten-free foods,” which means crap-in-a-box and rice flour brownies. Meat and veggies may not contain gluten, but they aren’t “certified gluten-free.” They don’t get the nifty label. Gluten doesn’t have a wondrous effect on human gut flora. It’s not a magic protein. It’s the food that most people use (and, indeed, become obsessed with) to replace gluten-containing foods doing the damage. Poorly constructed gluten-free diets might negatively affect gut flora and immune function, but the Primal way of eating is not a poorly constructed gluten-free diet.

Although the authors were interested in understanding and overcoming potential downsides of typical gluten-free diets (they suggest dietary counseling, probiotics, and increased polysaccharide intake), this is the type of study that will get thrown around haphazardly in an argument against gluten avoidance in the general population. “See? Gluten-free diets reduce immune function and kill good gut flora!” accompanied by a fancy embedded link. It’s nonsense, of course, but it’s what we’re up against. Be prepared.

See? When you look more closely, some of those contradictory studies start looking complementary. It’s good to understand why, not for online battles (necessarily) but for your own enrichment.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. Nice.

    Found some gluten free beer a couple of weeks back (sorghum + pear juice + yeast). Drank a bunch of them, and felt just as terrible the next day.

    Doesn’t mean its good for you just cuz its GF!

    Graham wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • You should try Saint Peter’s sorgham beer. It’s actually quite tasty and, though I’ve had to cut beer out of my diet, Saint Peter’s will do the trick when I do want that occasional beer (about once a month for me). I feel just as good the next morning after having consumed a bottle of sorgham beer as after consuming a glass or two of wine or spirits. Nowadays, even a single bottle or mug of typical barley malt beer will leave me a bit sluggish and bloated the next morning.

      Aaron Blaisdell wrote on March 8th, 2011
      • Nice try, guy who works for Saint Peter’s sorgham beer company.

        Anon wrote on March 10th, 2011
    • I checked out gluten free beer and found out corona was made from corn it’s hard to get info so I tried it HAPPY DAY no problem at all I have 1 several times a week once in a while 2 hope this helps some of you Tiger

      Marilyn Bailey wrote on June 26th, 2014
  2. There’s a new study by Alesio Fasano which links gluten to a large number of other diseases and disorders. Scary stuff.

    When I first went GF I made the mistake of eating “GF foods” but fortunately most of what was available was pretty gross and what I could get was limited. That plus I already knew that rice was an issue for me. It could have been much worse, but I wasn’t eating that much processed to begin with.

    Sandy wrote on March 7th, 2011
  3. I tried GF before I found Primal. My wife is a GF pescetarian and she eats the said “crap-in-a-box,” albeit not much anymore. It’s still crap, it just has different properties of crapness than “normal” gluteny foods.

    I tried the GF beer and it was way too sweet for me.

    Edward wrote on March 7th, 2011
  4. Good point on the second study, although you ignore the question of whether some carbs are useful for gut flora.

    On the first study, I suspect “double-blind” would be hard. Gluten free bread does taste substantially different. Placebo effect seems stronger than any actual results.

    Gluten free seems to mean more sugar.

    robert evans wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • Makes it extra interesting that they did get those results then, eh? If the people getting gluten-free bread could tell there was something “funny” or unusual about it, they may have (erroneously) assumed they were in the treatment group.

      Jenny wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • From what I read when this study first was released, they used gluten-free bread and muffins as the base, adding wheat gluten to them for the gluten eating subjects. Therefore, all the treats tasted like crap. This was an attempt to foil the placebo effect, since REAL bread and muffins are tasty and gluten free versions are not tasty.

      Roland wrote on March 7th, 2011
  5. That was what I assumed when I first heard that. The notion that humans NEED gluten to have an optimally healthy gut is the silliest thing I have ever heard and Dr. Greger and these other dogmatists ought to be ashamed. How fortunate we are to live in the land of gluten when all of our ancestors for all those millions of years had to live with unhealthy guts due to a gluten deficiency!

    *facepalm*

    Stabby wrote on March 7th, 2011
  6. I’ve been gluten free/wheat free for about a year now. I’ll admit that I fell into the pattern of buying anything that was gluten free, even junk food. I found a wonderful local bakery that made the most divine gluten free cupcakes and cinnamon rolls. Seriously, as my junk carbs increased, my health decreased.

    I’m back to the basics now…there are plenty of naturally gluten free foods to eat that are not processed and not loaded with extra carbs and sugar.

    Rachel wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • Rachel I would have to mimc your response and I would have to agree full heartedly. I’ve been diagnosed with celiac for about a year, and have been GF since… I have to admit that simply removing gluten from my diet (even with the GF ‘crap in a box’ additions I made) I did feel much better, but when I compare it to how I feel eating primally, the difference is unbelievable (as well as the positive changes in my mind and body) =)

      emily wrote on March 7th, 2011
  7. Thank you so much for this post, Mark. (By the way- Tale of Two Cities is my favorite book of all time!) I don’t know how many times I’ve gone over the same issue in my head. Once being diagnosed Celiac, I started attending a Celiac Support Group. Don’t get me wrong, it was nice to have a group of people together educating themselves about nutrition, but I was shocked at the amount of time spent on GF “substitues” or “alternatives.”
    Special GF wheat flour, soy flour, GF oats, and then more soy, soy, soy!! To top it all off, many of the products they were touting were basically sugar plus sugar plus more sugar! In fact, it was the support group that made me seek MDA out, and I am so glad I did! I still get phone calls and emails reminding me of the group meetings, but I just can’t do it. It makes me sad to watch the members, especially the diabetics, get rid of gluten only to kill themselves with the alternatives.

    And to Robert regarding the placebo effect, you are so right. There is no real substitute for gluten filled baked goods and you’d have to lack taste buds to not know you’re being served up a substitute. No offense to all of the wonderful recipes out there– I love them and eat them all, but no matter how hard you try to fool yourself, GF baked good substitutes simply do not taste the same. Good thing is that with time, most Primal eaters don’t crave the gluten filled stuff anyway; well, at least I don’t– just the smell of bread makes me sick. Besides, the almond crust pumpkin chiffon I made for Thanksgiving (thank you Primal Palate) beats out any pie I’ve EVER had!

    Sara wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • Just over 60 days Primal….

      I love the smell of bread… especially crusty french or sourdough. But it is so true that there are no gluten-free substitutes for those things so I just go without (except for a treat now and then.) I find that I would rather just get used to not eating that stuff instead of pretending I am still eating it. The exception is Primal Pizza and Coconut Pancakes, I eat those pretty regularly.

      Mary wrote on March 7th, 2011
      • I enjoyed coconut pancakes yesterday and today for breakfast :)

        Primal Toad wrote on March 7th, 2011
      • Try the coconut bread. It is great. The next time I make it I might add a like dark chocolate to it.

        Tina wrote on March 7th, 2011
        • just a note – 100% coconut bread did SUCH a number on or family’s bowels – not sick but rumbling and subsequently quite unpleasant “air” in the house for hours – yecht! we are more cautious and use it more sparingly now… ahem…

          DaiaRavi wrote on March 16th, 2011
  8. Physicians show their stupidity when they make dietary recommendations based on one study. One study only establishes a data point, not a trend. The study needs to be repeated with a different population, then the implications explored with further studies. #mdfail

    Richard Gay wrote on March 7th, 2011
  9. I found that adding back in starchy tubers helped my gut flora

    Gut Flora, Jr. wrote on March 7th, 2011
  10. I found that adding back in starchy tubers helped my gut flora. After dropping all grains, etc., from my diet, I became constipated. Adding in the sweet taters made me all good again.

    Gut Flora, Jr. wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • I had the opposite effect after dropping grain! I found elimating much easier. Fat & veggies straightened me right out! and some greek yogurt or kefir once in awhile for good measure…

      Peggy wrote on March 7th, 2011
      • I was already a huge veggie eater and that stayed constant. The only change I made was dropping grains and adding back in good quality meats, and I was constipated until I added back in the sweet taters.

        Of course, the flora part is merely guesswork on my part and maybe it was just a matter of getting past something that might have been normal for the first few weeks after making the switch.

        Gut Flora, Jr. wrote on March 7th, 2011
  11. In my experience, most of the products that try to be something without the key ingredient a) suck, and b) make it that much more difficult for someone who is trying to avoid that kind of thing in the first place. Replacing one habit with another is a sure way to fail. You see it a lot with smoking, gluten-free diets, vegan/vegetarian diets, etc. I spent a decent amount of time as a vegetarian, and to be honest, I found just about everything that “pretended” to be meat to be even less enticing than actual meat itself.

    jodaro wrote on March 7th, 2011
  12. I too ate everything I could find that was ‘gluten-free’ when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease. It was all awful – not ‘the same’ at all.

    Janet NZ wrote on March 7th, 2011
  13. love your post, I’m still waiting for a recipe for home-made mayonaise. I saw it on here a while back, but lost it. Please post it again. thanks

    Barb wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • I found this using the site’s search function. Hopefully it helps:

      http://www.marksdailyapple.com/alternative-healthy-condiment-recipes/

      Gut Flora, Jr. wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • Barb, just do a search for mayonaise up in the search box, & you’ll find all the the links to articles/recipes for mayonaise :)

      Kellie wrote on March 7th, 2011
      • :-) and it’s EASY. i made my first batch of mayo the other day in the food-processor by Julia Child’s recipe.

        tess wrote on March 7th, 2011
        • yeah i like making my own catsup too, no HFCS :) and it tastes great…my teenager brought a recipe home for me from “culinary arts” class

          DThalman wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • Barb, MDA’s mayo link is– http://www.marksdailyapple.com/alternative-healthy-condiment-recipes/

      You may also want to check out this post about homemade mayo–http://theclothesmakethegirl.blogspot.com/2010/06/secret-to-homemade-mayo-patience.html

      It’s almost the same as the MDA recipe except that she uses the entire egg, not just the yolk, and she also gives an extended explanation on how to make it.

      I can’t believe my parents raised me on “Miracle Whip.” Yuck! I love my mayo!!

      Sara wrote on March 7th, 2011
  14. As someone with IBS, I can definitely attest that eliminating grains from my diet has helped me immensely! And I had tried all the diets: vegan, vegetarian, eating GF foods, etc…but I feel the best eating primal, both mentally and physically. At some point, we all have to conduct our own experiments and just find what works best for our own bodies.

    Melissa wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • “…we all have to conduct our own experiments and just find what works best for our own bodies.”

      Exactly!

      Alison Golden wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • I have had the same results, cut out the grains and the IBS went away, eat a grain product on a “cheat day” and woe is me for a day and a half.

      rob wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • YES so true!

      DThalman wrote on March 7th, 2011
  15. how wheat affects the immune system and blood counts.

    http://paynowlivelater.blogspot.com/2008/12/doctors-and-nutrition-part-2-my-wheat.html

    http://paynowlivelater.blogspot.com/2008/12/doctors-and-nutrition-part-2-my-wheat.html

    my husband has a low white blood count since he cut out wheat, but is surprisingly resistant to infections. it’s been years since he had a cold or fever.

    bee wrote on March 7th, 2011
  16. Thanks for the post Mark! I too have allowed myself to be sucked into buying a lot of gluten free products lately and didn’t think they were bad for me at all. Seeing this post has reminded me that anything in a box should be avoided…this might also explain how lousy I have been feeling lately. Back to true primal living for me!

    Theresa wrote on March 7th, 2011
  17. I wish I had more time to cook for me some gluten free cupcakes.

    Elena wrote on March 7th, 2011
  18. Interesting, it will never stop although this Gluten Study must not have been very well funded, some corp must be feeling the pinch of not enough sales sooo they will confuse and debunk all that they can, thanks for bringing articles like this to our attention. I’m new but i wasn’t born yesterday.

    rking wrote on March 7th, 2011
  19. I am so sick of all the pseudo-paleo folk who blog about their diets and meals that consist of work-around baked goods and junk made from “paleo-friendly” ingredients.

    Just eat your damn meat and vegetables!

    Rhys wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • No need to get cranky :-) Remember different strokes for different folks. If you need a pseudo pizza to make it thru the day and make it with all healthy/primal ingredients…..what’s the harm?

      bbuddha wrote on March 7th, 2011
  20. I went GF due to IBS, but found that the carb count was too high to maintain any weight loss. Cookies and such still contained all the sugar as the “real” deal, in most items. I’ve eliminated all packaged (processed) items, and my weight is going down once more.

    Marlowe wrote on March 7th, 2011
  21. Wow, I think it is a testimony to the issues behind grains when you see how many are posting with their celiac experiences. I am considering doing the GAPS diet to restore those beneficial intestinal bacteria. Anyone out there give it a try and find positive results?

    Crunchy Pickle wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • I’ve had miraculous results doing the SCD™ with some GAPS and now PRIMAL “tweeks”. I do really well on the yogurt which Elaine Gottschall recommended for the Specific Carbohydrate Diet™. (It is almost lactose free after being in your yogurt maker for 24 hours.) I tried the GAPS probiotics but I feel better eating the yogurt. I also try to eat Bubbie’s pickles and sauerkraut once in a while.

      FarNorthGirl wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • I just researched GAPS and it’s a two year commitment to restore benficial flora.

      Lisa wrote on March 8th, 2011
  22. I wish that someone would fund a Primal or Paleo diet study. I am sure the medical world would be rocked to the core!

    Rebecca wrote on March 7th, 2011
  23. When I was first diagnosed with Celiac and actually still to this day, people always buy me GF stuff. I kindly tell them.. yes its great that all this is out there, for special occasions, etc. However, it is not going to get me healthy! I have gained a bunch of weight since being diagnosed, some due to wrong eating and some due to the healing that the intestines go through. BUT please don’t make me anymore sugary gluten free brownies!!!!

    Cathmac wrote on March 7th, 2011
  24. Since going primal and off both grains and dairy,
    I can tell when even the slightest grain or dairy go into my system… gluten, entering the body after being gluten free is truly hard on the system: bloating, pain, gas. Better to just stay primal and forget the other stuff. I agree with what Rhys said above… meat, veggies, nuts oils and fruit. That’s all we will ever need.

    Ron McCallum wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • nice to know i’m not the only one this sensitive to foods

      DThalman wrote on March 7th, 2011
  25. I myself have read the labels of Gluten-Free foods and the ingredient I find in EVERYTHING is Rice in all forms, syrup, flour…ect. How is that healthy? Dessert should be limited, but if you want to have it on occasion, then try it with Almond or coconut flour, and not the high sugar and fating rice. Of course all the primal eaters will already know this. I wish they would do a real study, one that is true to it’s cause and not bias.

    My husband and I started a bakery that’s Gluten free. For those who have CD, or just want to eat healthier overall. Since we live in a world that’s surrounded with sugar and grain breads it’s nice to have an better alternative. We only use Almond and coconut flour, and Agave for sweetener. Plus we love using Coconut, in all it’s forms.
    And the results are so yummy. You don’t miss the fating and nasty oils or flour everyone seems to have grown up on. But of course in moderation….

    Oh and our brownies are amazing! Made with Almond butter, no oil, and just agave for the sweetener. Who says you can’t make bread or crackers with no grains/flour and still be healthy? Try it with almonds and a little flax seed (I hope is a primal food), talk about helping your flora. A couple of slices of our bread and you won’t need that fiber one bar! Trust me. :)

    Esther wrote on March 7th, 2011
  26. I’ve been gluten free 30 plus years and am paleo, for the last three. My gluten intolerance support group leader still tells our group about all these gf products, even Betty Crocker sports GF stuff.
    I always say to them, don’t eat that stuff. Shop around the edge of the supermarket and stop eating all the sugar.
    Some are actually starting to listen to me.

    Lauren wrote on March 7th, 2011
  27. That is why I always call my recipes Gluten & Grain free…cause both cause so many problems when I eat them!

    The Real Food Mama wrote on March 7th, 2011
  28. Hmm…confusing at best. My whole family is Primal. Me (IBS, Multiple Sclerosis), my husband, my 6 year old daughter (discovered she had celiac disease at 15 months old), my four year old son (possible Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis), and my two year old daughter (still breastfeeding). When we went gluten-free over five years ago we went the packaged gluten-free route. Sugar is still sugar. The key to great health is to minimize the sugar intake and high carbohydrate intake so that our insulin levels stay low, which gives our bodies a chance at doing exactly what it needs to do to keep itself healthy.

    Lauren wrote on March 7th, 2011
  29. My SO has agreed to try the primal way of eating for one week. I’m really hoping that many of the digestive issues he’s had will be so much better that he’ll give it more time. It would be so much easier if there weren’t oreo’s in the cupboard. :-)

    bbuddha wrote on March 7th, 2011
  30. I’ve given up all grains, all processed sugars. If it’s not in the fruit/vegetables to begin with, it doesn’t belong there. Reading GF product labels it’s clear that the manufacturer tends to substitute or increase bad ingredients for the one they’ve left out. That’s usually sugar. Just like in the ‘fat-free yogurt’ craze. Read the label. The fat-free stuff usually has twice, sometimes 3x the sugar of high-fat yogurt. Same with the GF foods. Just stay away from these products altogether.

    Karin wrote on March 7th, 2011
  31. Well said Mark. One of the comments I get the most from folks trying to start on this lifestyle is: “how do I know what’s right and what’s wrong? There’s so much conflicting information out there.” Glad to have your input to clarify some of the mess. Thanks.

    Matthew Myers wrote on March 7th, 2011
  32. I coordinate a gluten-free potluck group and I eat Paleo. The topic of gluten-free pizza comes up for discussion at every potluck without fail. These GF folks live for their carbs and don’t see the connection between their illnesses and their carb addiction. It’s sad. I don’t exactly fit in with the group but I always hope I can be a positive influence on someone. I tried GF first, and I can tell you that Paleo is *much* better.

    Amy wrote on March 7th, 2011
  33. I am tiptoeing into the waters of grain-free/sugar-free/gluten/free, and I tried a GF bread recipe that came out almost identical to cheap, squishy, supermarket wheat bread.

    Since I despise cheap bread in any form, this was not exactly a win. :-)

    Moe wrote on March 7th, 2011
    • yeah it’s tough but you get used to it…just lose the bread and enjoy some bacon instead

      DThalman wrote on March 7th, 2011
  34. I ate the GF crap for about 7 years and never even considered what was in it. It was only when my 1-year-old was diagnosed coeliac that I bothered to read the ingredients and was shocked. I started to research healthier GF alternatives… and that’s when I found MDA!

    PaleoMum wrote on March 8th, 2011
  35. I’m 38 now and was diagnosed as Coeliac 37 years ago thanks to a vigilant hospital consultant. For 35 years I followed the recommended GF diet. Replica bread (the first came in a tin), lots of carb replacement – mainly rice based, low-fat, Frankenfood of the highest order. It seems now that any chemical process they invented to make money from and call it Gluten Free was tried on us, the guinea pigs of dietary disorder!

    When I was 35 I weighed 19 stone and ended up in hospital with chronic pneumonia. That was my epiphany. During recovery I started reading – lots – and found a few web resources which made a lot of sense. MDA became daily reading, Hyperlipid, Stephan Guyenet et al literally dragged me kicking from an early Carb Induced Gluten Free hell.

    Today, I’m a couple of pounds over fighting weight hitting the scales at just over 13 and a bit stone (still got some christmas goose to lose). This past Sunday I was out in the frost in the Cotswold’s on the mountain bike for a couple of hours, then football in the garden with my son. I have never felt better.

    But back to the point in question. Foods marked “Gluten Free” which contain chemical replicas of wheat products are a disgrace, in fact they should be made illegal. These are the ingredients of a “Fresh Fibre Loaf” made by a well-known UK Gluten Free food supplier. Here’s the list of yummy goodness.

    “Water, Gluten-Free Wheat Starch*, Skimmed Milk Powder, Ground Linseed (2.5%), Vegetable Oil (Rapeseed), Sugar, Yeast, Stabilisers (Guar gum, Xanthan gum, Hydroxypropylmethycellulose), Apple Fibre, Salt, Raising Agents (Glucono delta-lactone, Sodium bicarbonate), Preservative (Sorbic acid), Colour (Plain caramel), Iron Powder, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, B6, Folic Acid. *This ingredient complies with the Codex Alimentarius standard for gluten-free foods”

    Wow, that’s appetising. Can’t wait to get me one of those. The thing I now find incomprehensible is that they make this stuff with Gluten Free Wheat Starch. This is wheat with the gluten removed (most probably chemically) but it doesn’t remove all of it. It leaves a residual amount which is what the Codex Alimentarius standard for gluten-free foods legitimises. This states that “Gluten-free foods do not contain wheat, rye, barley, oats or their crossbred varieties and the gluten level does not exceed 20mg/kg [20 parts per million] in total, based on the food as sold or distributed to the consumer”. So legally, a food company can label something as Gluten Free even though it isn’t. There’s not enough gluten to make someone feel ill immediately – but over a long period of time what does this do to a person’s body? The most laughable aspect is that in the UK these products are available on prescription from your doctor. If you are under 16 you get these products for free! Sure, it’s better than eating real wheat bread (but so’s chewing cardboard) but is it really the answer?

    I think I found out the hard way. My diet now revolves around Organic eggs, coconut and olive oil, duck and goose fat, lard and dripping, Meat and offal, lots of dark dark chocolate, fresh veg and some colourful fruit. Occasionally I’ll have some potato, brown rice or hummus if I’m in need of some carbs. If I have a tipple it’s organic cider or red wine. I cannot remember the last time I felt stomach discomfort and I used to live with that on a daily basis.

    So, to me, Gluten Free should be Gluten Free. No middle ground. Anything else is just asking for trouble. Oh, and thanks to Mark and his blogosphere colleagues without whom I’d be a middle aged, lard arse, desk jockey, pin up boy for an early grave.

    Andi W wrote on March 8th, 2011
    • Andi, brilliant blog.

      Annakay wrote on September 5th, 2012
  36. Even more fun, about a year ago, manufacturers (what else would you call them, they’re industrial after all) started producing “no nitrate added” hams, and other products.

    It turns out they sneak in nitrates through concentrated celery root extract!
    If you look closely there’s an asterisk after the statement, and down below in mouse print they say “except for naturally ocuring in celery root”, but if you look at the ingredients, they don’t list celery root extract. I guess that’s what they mean by “natural flavor” – which probably also hides MSG in the form of autolyzed yeast extract or other evil stuff.

    And it’s absolutely intentional. They’re actively trying to trick people who read labels. Here’s the proof:

    http://www.developtechnology.co.za/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=19843&Itemid=31

    “The advantage of this innovative extract is that it has to be declared as a celery extract and not as E251, the E-number for sodium nitrate,” says Bolel. While the product does retain the celery taste, it is effective in processed meats as the flavour often complements the overall product taste.
    Naturex’s Celery flesh 6:1 is available as a clear brown powder with a characteristic celery flavour.

    A paragraph or two above that, they even mention carcinogenic worries about nitrates, but here the same industry that apparently realizes these things might be bad are promoting a way to HIDE nitrates and advertise something in a way that would trick their consumers!

    Screw’em all, I’ll stick to burgers and steaks from local grass fed producers.

    A couple of years ago, there was a show on PBS, might have been Frontline, that documented a whole stretch of flavor and odor companies in NJ. You open one bottle, it smells like fresh burgers, you open another, it smells like blueberries, and so forth.

    The “food” industry buys their stuff to hide that what they sell would be unappetizing and nasty without those extra additions. They of course also add coloring to make it look appealing, because humans are drawn to the bright colors of fresh fruits and veggies. So if they make it smell and look good, they can hide how devoid of any nutrition, if not outright toxic their products are.

    And of course things like HFCS, fat, sugar, salt, MSG, gluten tend to be addictive. Some of these have the effect of extending shelf life too.

    Evolutionarily, we probably seek out sweet, salty, and fat foods because these tend to be rare and provide nutrients, but this stuff does not.

    Some of the worst stuff is aimed at kids, all they have to do is license a cartoon icon, or develop their own, and create a “fun” commercial, and they’re off to the bank.

    Remember, a corporation’s goal is to meet Wall Street’s expectations of exponentially rising returns year of year. It’s only answerable to it’s shareholders and it’s board. So they produce something that can sit on the shelf as long as possible, at the lowest possible cost.

    It has very little interest in it’s consumers, other than to entice them, addict them, and trick them into buying their products. Focus groups are intended to find ways to market the product by stating the right buzz words to get consumers to buy their junk.

    They are NOT intended to improve the health of their customers. The image of “natural” or “healthy” is good enough to them to get people to buy it.

    And should something fall out of favor in the media, say a lot of people make noise about High Fructose Corn syrup, MSG, or Aspertame, soy, no problem, they’ll just rename it to hide it.

    Beware the “natural flavor” label. Much can hide under there. Ditto “spices”.

    (Lest you think Agave Syrup is good for you, check carefully, you’ll find it’s all fructose, and in some instances higher in fructose than HFCS! You’ll damage your liver as much from any source of fructose as you would from pure alcohol. I don’t know about you, but I’d rather drink booze if I’m going to damage my liver.)

    Ultimately, the best way is to learn to cook from basic ingredients and avoid all products.

    If you must, buy the ones whose ingredients you recognize and know as beneficial, not just harmless, and are from reputable sources.

    Ultimately you are responsible for your own health. Your doctor is not, big pharma is not, big “food” is not. Your doc and big pharma can sometimes help, but you’re better off not needing their help as much as possible.

    raydawg wrote on March 8th, 2011
    • Thank you raydawg for these insights. This is good info to consider and do further research. I know I feel better about just cooking our own food, than relying on a restaurant or take-out to leave the bad stuff out. On days we’re too tired to concoct a meal, we’ve been headed to Whole Foods for pulled pork, then turned around because we know it’s full of sugar, and just had simple fish and broccoli at home.

      Rebecca wrote on March 8th, 2011
  37. I have celiac disease and the “typical” gluten free diet made me just as sick as the gluten. I did not actually start to recover and feel better until I went grain free. I put on a ton of weight on the typical gluten free diet also. SAD gluten free diet is still SAD.

    Lahoma wrote on March 8th, 2011
  38. when the amino acid chain link of the gluten is fermented or cultured for 24 hrs – is it regognized by the small instestine as an invader or does it get digested normally – thats the million dollar question – leavened bread is king – a quick rise yeast bread is for the uninformed masses. when in doubt always by your own grain and culture it yourself. raw butter and raw honey on traditional bread made from a starter can’t be beat.

    dave wrote on March 9th, 2011
  39. Heh, I used to have IBS! I cut out gluten, and it went away. I told my gastrointerologist this, and he replied “you tested negative for celiac; there’s no need to cut out gluten.” He proceeded to encourage me to enroll in an IBS study to test out some new drug treatment. *headdesk*

    Jules wrote on March 10th, 2011
  40. To all you Primal Newbs:

    All of you that still consume rice cakes and other baked goods that are gluten free must be newbies to the primal lifestyle.

    It’s been 1 year exactly for me now…I used to crave that stuff, too, when I first went primal. Figured once in awhile I cheat so what’s the harm. Yes, I call eating gluten free ‘cheating’. It’s not primal. Put down the gf donut!!!

    I don’t even consume chocolate or any nuts because of the extremely high phytate content.

    Meat,fish, fowl, organ meats, kidney fat, lard, tallow, all vegetables, salads, mushrooms, raw egg yolks, bone marrow, bone broths, stews without tubers, etc…

    Eventually, the cravings for baked goods and sweets goes away completely.
    I promise:)

    Suvetar wrote on March 27th, 2011

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