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

This Gluten-Free Thing Is a Really Overblown Fad!

glutenfreeThis is a comment I’m starting to see more and more often. Go to any news article about gluten and the comment section will be littered with angry outbursts and outright vitriol for people who go gluten-free. Skeptical blogs love to trot out posts lambasting and ridiculing the “gluten-free fad.” And from what I can tell, nothing inspires a contemptible eye-roll like a person asking a waiter in a restaurant if they have gluten-free options. By some stretch of the known laws of cause-and-effect, the removal of gluten from someone’s diet apparently causes irreparable harm to people with knowledge of the decision and deserves unequivocal reprobation. Otherwise, why else would they care so much?

Well, gluten-free is clearly more popular than ever. More and more people are becoming aware of it. Google searches for “gluten” have been trending higher month over month for years, while the number of searches for “celiac” has plateaued. 30% of American adults are actively trying to reduce or eliminate gluten from their diets, according to a recent pollGluten-free dating sites are popping up to help gluten-free dieters match up with people who share their situation. The FDA’s just weighed in with some official standards for gluten-labeling. It’s everywhere, in other words. It’s arrived. It’s popular. And whenever anything gets popular, people immediately begin hating it. I’m not sure why that is, really, but it’s a known human phenomenon. Couple that with your already annoying co-worker droning endlessly on about this new diet she’s on, and I can see how someone might get a bit annoyed at all the gluten-free talk.

But is the vitriol really necessary? Does its popularity invalidate it as a legitimate therapeutic option for people with a sensitivity or downright intolerance to gluten? Should incurious cynics masquerading as skeptics be so quick to dismiss it?

Okay, maybe sometimes people can be a bit evangelical about avoiding gluten, and that’s unpleasant. And sometimes, people can’t give you a straight answer when you grill them on exactly why they’re avoiding gluten. I’d wonder why you felt it was your place to “grill them” in the first place, of course, but there is that subset of the population who takes umbrage at people making health decisions without conducting randomized controlled trials, being able to cite research by memory, and consulting the authorities.

I’ll also admit that the prospect of marketers taking over and appropriating the movement for their own benefit concerns me. For many people, a “gluten-free” label unfortunately bestows a cachet of health onto whatever processed food it graces. Potato chips? They’re gluten-free! Triple-chocolate brownie mud slide fudge-topped soy flour locust bean gum explosion? Gluten-free! Eat without guilt! Gluten-free bread that makes up for the lack of gluten’s texturizing power with a half cup of soybean oil? Go for it! Even foods that never contained gluten in the first place, like Cheetos, and hummus, are getting the gluten-free label to capitalize on the trend.

On one hand, it’s like the fat-free labeling craze, where you had fat-free cookies with twice the sugar, fat-free yogurt with thrice the sugar, fat-free salad dressing with whatever sorcery they incorporated to make that possible. And people ate those things with willful abandon, confident that “fat-free” was a synonym for “healthy” – and obesity rates continued to rise. Heck, the fat-free movement most likely exacerbated America’s obesity problem. I can understand why people who mistrust food marketing would be skeptical of gluten-free in general.

Of course, there is an important difference that distinguishes gluten-free from other faddish, market-driven diets: you don’t actually need gluten-free products to go gluten-free. The fat-free movement turned people off of legitimately healthy nutrient-dense foods like beef, eggs, butter, nuts, avocados, and olive oil just because they contained fat, whereas going gluten-free doesn’t remove a vital, essential nutrient or food. In fact, it can even increase your intake of nutrients, assuming you replace the gluten-containing foods with naturally gluten-free meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, and nuts rather than gluten-free junk food. In my experience, gluten-free consumers are more informed about health in general and do the former.

Amidst all the marketing speak, the gluten-free water, the gnashing of teeth upon discovering that the person you’re talking to avoids gluten, real science is being done, and any honest, literate person who looks at the available evidence on the health effects of gluten will admit that there’s something to this “fad.” And yet, I’m increasingly struck by the unwillingness of intelligent people to acknowledge the reams of research coming out every week exploring the effects of gluten on non-celiacs.

It couldn’t be that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is real and we don’t know how many people actually have it as the epidemiology is too new and underdeveloped. It can’t possibly be that gluten-free diets might reduce adiposity/inflammation via epigenetic effects (potentially reaching across generational lines). There’s no way that gluten free diets help non-celiac IBS patients who had no preconceived notions of gluten-free dieting (and thus no risk of being influence by the hype). And that case study of the child with type 1 diabetes going into remission with a gluten free diet? Let’s just sweep that under the rug and completely forget about it. Oh, what about the link between autism and non-celiac gluten sensitivity? Doesn’t exist. PubMed is a liar. Those autistic kids with GI symptoms who do respond positively to a gluten-free diet? They don’t, and the study you just thought you read is a figment of your imagination. All that hubbub about modern dwarf wheat being more allergenic than ever is also nonsense. Besides needing a stool to reach the top shelf, modern wheat is totally identical to older wheat and is no more allergenic.

Another popular canard is the “celiac is too rare for most people to worry about” one. Well, about that: the latest research out of Australia (a remarkably gluten-conscious country) shows that celiac is far more prevalent than previously thought and about 50 percent of the population carries the genetic markers associated with gluten sensitivity. Scientists used a combination of traditional antibody testing (which measures the immune response to gluten) with analysis of genetic risk factors for celiac to reach their conclusions. Not everyone with risk factors actually displayed gluten intolerance or celiac disease, of course, but the presumption is that some combination of environmental factors – inflammatory diet, damaged gut microbiome, etc. – could trigger its expression. (Epigenetics rears its head yet again.) Most people skeptical of gluten-free diets take an “either you are or you aren’t” stance on gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, while the results of the Australian research would suggest that it’s far more dynamic and that a large portion of the population can develop issues with gluten given the right (or wrong) environmental context.

Nope, forget all that research: it’s just people latching onto a fad. It’s just nearly a third of Americans going gluten-free because Miley Cyrus did it (I eagerly await widespread adoption of twerking by millions of soccer moms). It’s millions of people sticking with a dietary regimen that offers no tangible benefits and actually makes them actively unhealthier. And if there is a benefit, it’s all in their heads.

I guess it’s easier to pick on the easy targets and ignore the people with evidence. It’s easy to dismiss the entire movement because of a few misinformed trend-followers, but it’s dishonest. Look – I’m all for the denunciation of health fads and trends that don’t make sense and are based on spurious claims, but not everything that’s popular is bad.

My favorite thing is when “concerned health experts” caution against starting a gluten-free diet without talking to your doctor, paying for a test to determine a gluten allergy, and consulting with a registered dietitian. As if giving up bread, pasta, and cake for more animals and plants is a dangerous undertaking that requires professional assistance. As if removing gluten and feeling loads better only to feel terrible upon a chance reintroduction is an unreliable way to determine if you should go gluten-free.

Here’s why I welcome the explosion in gluten-free awareness, even if it all amounts to a whole lot of nothing for some people: it leads to an overall more healthy diet. Even if you can eat gluten without incident, even if your gut flora is able to cleave gluten in twain for easy digestion, you will still get more nutrients by replacing your grain products with more meat, seafood, vegetables, roots, and fruit. Sure, you’ve got the folks who go gluten-free by swapping in gluten-free versions of all their favorite foods and end up eating nutrient bereft diets full of refined alternative flours, but I think they’re in the minority for a few reasons.

First, gluten-free junk food tastes worse than the originals, although that’s changing as the market grows and food producers improve their methods.

Second, gluten-free products are generally more expensive than the regular products.

Third, in my experience, people who go gluten-free usually stumble into a Primal way of eating. The way I see it playing out is you have sweet potatoes or rice instead of rolls at dinner. You go with a real corn tortilla or lettuce wrap tacos instead of burritos. Instead of buying all that gluten-free bread that turns into dust at the slightest touch, you spend the money on meat and vegetables. You go out to eat at a burger joint and maybe they don’t have the gluten-free bun that day, so you have the patty on a salad and realize it’s not such a bad way to eat – and you stick with it.

I’ve read the studies. I’ve consulted the experts (who are actually studying this stuff). I’ve witnessed the incredibly positive changes in thousands of readers, friends, family members, and clients who gave up gluten (and most grains for that matter). Heck, I’ve felt it myself. Is there something to this whole gluten-free thing?

I’d say so, yeah.

What about you?

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. I had gone gluten free long before the Primal Blueprint even existed, although I cheated some. But going back long before that, for many decades of my life I sneered at people claiming to have “allergies.” It was a case of denial. Somewhere inside I knew that wheat products were making me sick. After a plate of pasta, I would be very sick for 3 days. After a friend’s “intervention,” I admitted the truth.

    So, reacting to gluten isn’t “all in my head.” I am, thankfully, not celiac, but more than a tiny bit of bread makes me sick.

    Thanks for the thorough review, Mark.

    Harry Mossman wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Agree whole heartedly. My skin peels off of my face and my entire body swells. I’ve both knees replaced at 47 and had to have both thumbs surgically reconstructed. My fingers, toes, hips and shoulders ache for days after consuming gluten products.

      kayceepee wrote on September 5th, 2013
      • The skin peels off your face and your joints ache? ME TOO! And everyone acts like I’m crazy… Sorry, it’s just validating to see someone else with similar symptoms, though I think yours may be more severe than mine at this time.

        Ali wrote on September 8th, 2013
    • What a great article! Boy, it says ALL the things I have been saying for years!

      To make matters more interesting (??!!) I also have a bad reaction to dairy products. (But this was ignored too for quite a while until I started vomiting almost immediately – and then of course I am TOO SICK to clean up. HA!)
      I have had people grilling me about my (fad of) gluten and dairy intolerances (also soy products which generally make me feel decidedly unwell) (In hindsight I now realize that I have had these problems all my life and not in my imagination – and over the years had become progressively worse – and that is why some people NOW find that they have these problems – probably had them all along.)

      I used to clamp my jaws shut so that I would not say things that I would later feel were far below my usual standards of behaviour. Ahem!

      Now, I just smile sweetly and ask (if I am invited to someone’s home for dinner etc) whether they have several toilets as when I am unfortunate enough to eat either gluten or dairy or worse still both together, then I will need these facilities (and a large bucket) for say eight plus hours.
      Plus I will need to go home once I can leave these facilities and be taken straight home to be in very indifferent health the next two to three weeks.

      (I also have Multiple Chemical Sensitivy, which is another story just designed to be difficult and be the centre of attention, – as if you would want to be the centre of attraction whilst unconscious and/or vomiting – I can think of a whole lot of much more attractive activities without much effort!!)

      I have had people (with gluten intolerance etc.) tell me of “well – meaning”
      friends and family, who try to show them that it is all imaginary, by secretly mixing these things into their food – after all if they don’t know they are eating it, they will be perfectly fine. Except that isn’t actually what happens in reality. I would automatically revoke their status of friends and family.

      Mostly, I now take a couple of delicious dishes (or cakes depending on ocasions) so that I merely eat what I bring. And my hubby checks out whether or not it is SAFE for me to come into the home (re my Multiply Chemical Sensitivities) which is great but sadly he does not fend off
      these “grillers” and I am often left feeling that I am some sort of freak – somehow I feel that if I were bright purple I would fare better.

      Somebody was telling me that if I cut out grains (gluten) and dairy, that I would be forced onto a very restrictive, unhealthy and boring diet.
      To my shame, I laughed rather uproariously and said that it was rather the opposite that, ever since I left gluten, soy and dairy products behind,
      our eating plan is much more delicious, much healthier, much more interesting – in fact it is like a wonderful world of beautiful great fresh foods – meat, fish, all sorts of veggies, salad ingredients, delicious fresh nuts, berries and fruits especially the tropical ones. C oconut for one.
      Oh but said this expert (and sadly she was a dietician) it would be too difficult to keep to this “diet” (said in a very disapproving tone of voice too, poor lamb) and the average person could not work out a “balanced” diet without grains and dairy and it would be soo very much more expensive for the average family to undertake removing gluten and dairy from their diet.

      Well, our new and improved eating plan (this will be the way we eat for ever more and not just until we lose the extra love handles as with most “diets”) is sooo much cheaper and a lot more enjoyable – and it is soo much easier avoiding all those “treats”
      (highly processed foods/manufactured products and empty calories) and I have slowly and steadily lost a lot of flab and with some Paleo exercising, I have dropped a few dress sizes without even trying and I feel better and happier that I have whilst trying to juggle a “Govt suggested balanced diet”.
      Go Paleo – it is such freedom.

      peggywh0 wrote on September 12th, 2013
      • I think it’s the condescending attitude that adds to the doubt concerning the condition. It’s too bad that you have these reactions and I’m glad that you have things under control but “our eating plan is much more delicious, much healthier, much more interesting – in fact it is like a wonderful world of beautiful great fresh foods…”

        Yes, I’m sure it is… more healthy that what??? What you ate before? or are you comparing to what those “gluten-eaters” would typically eat.

        Dave wrote on December 6th, 2013
        • Dave

          I don’t quite understand your gripe. The primal/paleo lifestyle is healthier!!! In comparison to every other eating plan on the planet.

          It’s remarkable that in less than 200 years the “sandwich” is an accepted part of a daily diet because because of its convenience and if it’s whole grain it’s considered even more healthy. Yet it was “invented” by an individual and is now mainstream.

          However for a couple of million years we ate nothing like that. So it doesn’t matter what diet she is comparing to… This is the only and Best healthy eating/lifestyle option available.

          Gary wrote on April 16th, 2014
  2. “…there is that subset of the population who takes umbrage at people making health decisions without conducting randomized controlled trials..”

    Thank you Mark for stating this so succinctly. There are simply not enough unbiased studies to make nutrition choices based on proven fact. If there were, I’d just eat what was proven to be healthy. Since the reality is murky, I make my choices based on the science available, anecdotal evidence, logical intuition, and personal experimentation.

    Panko wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Cynics/skeptics bring the same utility to any discussion about health as a eunuch would bring to an orgy.
      Gluten has no intrinsic nutritional value and so many people have experienced increased well-being (and weight loss) by making other choices that it’s a no brainer we can well do without it.

      Laurie Willberg wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • “Cynics/skeptics bring the same utility to any discussion about health as a eunuch would bring to an orgy.”

        That is amazingly well-said. So many people think they’re high and mighty for “ignoring the fads” that they are denying logic and evidence with a straight face.

        My friend, who claims to be some sort of underground medical expert (who flunked general bio) laughs at gluten-intolerance and calls it a myth. Such idiots do not deserve the energy needed to argue with.

        Mark P wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • If that’s not the quote of the week on Sunday, I’ll be surprised. :-)

        Darcie wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Skeptics and cynics are not the same…. Skeptics are critical thinkers who reserve judgment until enough evidence is gathered. They weigh, analyze, and process. Cynics are just plain naysayers…the “sour grapes” kind of people…the “I don’t know enough, so I will just pretend it is your fault” dudes. I am proud to consider myself a skeptic… and once upon a time I too doubted “gluten-free” until I read studies, listened to other people, and became an experiment of one.

        Stephanie wrote on September 5th, 2013
  3. I sense a tad bit of sarcasm in this article ;)

    JC wrote on September 4th, 2013
  4. Ahhh, the good ‘ol USA…where Frankenfood reigns supreme.

    Nocona wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • And unfortunately the rest of the world follows… Processed food is processed food! Single ingredient food is the way to go…

      Madeleine wrote on September 4th, 2013
  5. I’d say so, yeah, as well :) and this: “…because Miley Cyrus did it (I eagerly await widespread adoption of twerking by millions of soccer moms).” lol thanks for the laugh this morning!

    Charlotte wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Who is Miley Cyrus?

      Rich wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I wish I could say that…..

        Glen wrote on September 5th, 2013
  6. I don’t think ‘gluten free’ is a fad. There are people with real allergies right? Gluten free diet will lead to the Paleo ways of eating naturally. I know for one that I need to cut back on all grains which would in turn lead to less gluten. I think that most people do understand that we need to cut back on carbs, bread and then in turn gluten. Good read, thanks!

    Tom T. wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • It’s not a fad to those committed to maintaining their health by eating well. It is most definitely a fad to those who get their nutrition information from Cheetos bags.

      The fad will pass to something else as it’s already done. In my lifetime we’ve already had calories->low fat (long time on that one)->whole grains->calories->gluten free.

      There’s just no avoiding food fads, unfortunately.

      Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I’m going to go against the grain here – I think it’s a fad. People struggle at losing weight and people will try anything new if they think it will help them. It’s clear that going gluten free has benefits for some. However, when you go from eating loads of CRAP to eliminating it completely, anyone is going to feel better. The same can be said of the paleo diet. When anyone eliminates the amount of CRAP in their life, of course they’re going to feel better.

        Matt wrote on September 5th, 2013
        • There are more people with food allergies than ever before. Its not a fad and many people have to live like this and I am one of them. If I eat gluten I get sick for a month and that doesnt cover what damage goes on internally. You can find more information on that on line. You havent had to deal with this or have someone close that you see get sick because if it hits home then you will probably think differently. People can still eat crap when they are gluten free. Check out the processed gluten free products in the stores. Its not healthy its just gluten free. I dont eat grains at all now because it works better for me.

          connie curtis wrote on September 5th, 2013
        • Having a full blown asthma attack and the skin peel off your face is not a fad – it is a serious alllergic reaction.

          Kat wrote on September 5th, 2013
        • And your point is???

          So what do you consider isn’t crap?

          You’re gonna need to do better than this if you want to make statements like that

          Gary wrote on April 16th, 2014
    • agree

      craig almaguer wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • This is such an awesome way to keep a sense of humour about how much the world loves to hate anything new. It can be frustrating but I agree that keeping it to yourself and only offering advice in small portions WHEN/IF asked is the way to go. Thanks

        Niki wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • I disagree. If you do that then you miss opportunities to educate. There is alot of miss information out there and sharing what you know will make a difference for others because there is alot of misinformation out there.

          connie curtis wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • I am a type 2 diabetic (from Australia). I have been told for years by the dietitian that I should eat more bread, pasta and rice and at the same time I need to take off weight! In the last year I have started going to a different doctor, where I explained that my blood sugars rise dramatically after eating bread, rice, pasta, oats … and that I wanted to go grain free. This is the first doctor who has actually listened to what I have to say, so after of showing him results from a food diary and blood sugar measurements of 2 weeks , he agreed that I should go ahead and try. So far, after 6 months I have lost 10 kilos, and I still don’t do much (enough) exercise! I feel better than I have for years, I have more energy and blood sugars are going down. I have a cousin in the same boat, but she won’t try reducing her grains / gluten because her doctor told her is was rubbish that gluten would affect her diabetes. Incredible!

      JennyCK wrote on September 16th, 2013
      • PS, the same dietitian also said she couldn’t understand why I had diabetes as I have always eaten very healthily, don’t eat sugar products, sweets, or anything much in the way of processed foods apart from whole grain bread.

        JennyCK wrote on September 16th, 2013
  7. It is interesting as a high level smell test that none of the longest lived people have anything like a Paleo or GF diet. See slide 40 http://www.nsca.com/uploadedFiles/NSCA/Inactive_Content/Program_Books/PTC_2013_Program_Book/Aragon.pdf
    Meaning to say, I am sure that the micro work on Gluten etc is valid but to a modest degree in the overall body. For people sensitive, sure, it matters. But if you try to sell the Paleo diet to a healthy weight, fit individual without coeliac disease, I’m not sure the evidence is very compelling it will make any difference to their health at all. Sure you can find problems with grains but I bet if I wanted to I could find problems with ANY food if exclusively looking for negatives. Where are these amazing paleo specimens that are living longer and in better shape than people that do same amount of exercise and obsessing about their food but maybe not following Paleo? I doubt there is any difference.

    Nassim Taleb raises the problem of a diet high in protein ignoring Jensen’s inequality and points to a more varied diet here for example:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_tWBTIBjH8

    Jonathan wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Paleo is not a high protein diet, it is a high fat, moderate protein diet. From looking at your embedded link, it is more than apparent that the author has a few axes to grind, even directly quoting from some paleo author’s books without attribution.

      Let me guess; vegan, right?

      KitC wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • No.

        Jonathan wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • I started eating gluten free to support my wife when was encouraged to do so after dealing with some ‘woman troubles’. It brought her fast relief and she’d never go back. Since I wasn’t looking for relief, it would be very hard to quantify my benefits, but I’m aware of the disappearance of things that I would have never mentioned to a doctor–dandruff, a touch of eczema, a sense of vague anxiety on occasion, etc. My point is simply that research will never incorporate the observations of people like me: the solution isn’t really being attached to a quantifiable problem. Maybe it is all psychosomatic for me, or maybe it just coincides with turning 50. In any case, I’m not going on a gluten binge any time soon.

      Philip wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • Hiya Jonathan,

      So I’ll start by saying that I love Alan Aragon, and the super-intelligent work that he does. That being said, while I agree with his points about grains, legumes, and maybe even whole-grains from an inflammation standpoint (in humans, as the link mark cites above is in rats), I disagree with a few other points. He cherry-picked some data about the evolutionarily “ancient” nature of grains, thereby ignoring studies that linked meat consumption to a far longer time scale than grains. Ex: http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0046414

      Despite this, I’m not here to argue that the fact that meat has been eaten 1.5mya or grains were “only” eaten 10-100kya is really the difference between healthy and non-healthy (and it would take too long to rebut the other things I disagreed with – i.e. his omega-6 ratios being relative not absolute amounts, etc). People here may disagree with that statement, but the fact is that the evolutionary focus of the paleo diet is more of a probabilistic tool than surefire diet template. It is simply more likely that grains aren’t as well tolerated or absorbed – yet I agree with Alan’s points about whole-grains’ relative lack of inflammation, though I hold reservations about lectins such as wheat-germ agglutinin: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19332085 and lectins in general: http://www.pjbs.org/pjnonline/fin1120.pdf http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1115436/
      http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/33/11/2338.full.pdf+html

      What is more clear is that gluten has an effect on gluten sensitive individuals… which may range from 10-30% of the population, likely closer to 15%. That’s quite a large number of people – especially when gluten is linked with causation/aggravation of a huge list of neuropathies: http://evolvify.com/the-case-against-gluten-medical-journal-references/

      Keep in mind that gluten sensitivity is sub-clinical, therefore kind of like a “silent but deadly” thing in susceptible individuals (i.e. 15% of America?). So your body may be in good shape, but your brain may be slowly damaged by gluten.

      Lastly, I don’t have time to watch that Nassim Taleb video (though I do like him as well), but keep in mind that he is a) speaking at the “ancestral health symposium” b) not a researcher, scientist, or doctor c) is probably wrong. If you can point me to primary literature that states high protein diets are in any way deleterious for a human with healthy kidneys… I’ll eat my hat (for the fibers, you know?)

      P.S. Blue Zone outliers are just that… outliers. Think: genetics = ~1/3 of the variation in longevity.

      Long live science, dairy, and legumes. Grains can go suck eggs.

      Whitefox999 wrote on September 5th, 2013
      • Thanks for the post Whitefox999…. from the responses you can see that nearly everyone is speaking from the standpoint of some existing health issue and how going paleo helped them but it is not clear to me that the alleviations of symptoms from a switch to paleo was necessarily because of the reasons paleo advocates suggest. E.G. weight loss, going from a terrible diet to one suddenly focussing on good quality food is generally going to lead to results, whether it had, say, beans or not i think is pretty irrelevant to most people.

        Paleo makes many claims from the toxicity of grains, omega 3/6, protein /fat ratios etc.etc that it is hard to know which are largely irrelevant and I am still rather suspicious about the significance of paleo diet to people with no medical issues. As you see, the longest lived people in the world are carb heavy decidedly non paleo types. Rather a difficult issue to overlook for paleo unless we see the current generation of paleo individuals living for statistically significantly longer periods of time. Chris Kesser had an awkward podcast recently answering a question from a listener that before 1900 we had very high carb/grain diets and very little of the modern disease Paleo types blame them on. His answer was it must be due to gut bacteria in the 1800s being able to offset the negatives of all those grains… hmmm.

        Taleb is worth listening to even though he has a very annoying personal style. He is also a great respecter of evolution, (not sure why you raise the ancestral forum as a problem, surely they are going to be very sympathetic to paleo given their focus is on our evolutionary heritage?) He notes that anthropology teaches us that many peoples have had diets with periods of fasting, or no meat etc for religious reasons ostensibly but underlying maybe personal experience of what ‘works’. He is not anti protein at all, just the consistent 3 meals a day heavy on protein each meal diets. Look up Jensens inequality… some natural systems benefit from a lot of rest and some stress more than a steady state (in this case of protein intake or even food intake , think IF) .. some dont, like your granny probably prefers an even 70 degrees than half the time at zero and half at 140. For the former, think about strength training, its better do have a lot of rest and then intense activity than a high average steady state of exertion, same goes for mental stress.. I think he classes the digestive system in same way.

        Jonathan wrote on September 6th, 2013
        • Jonathan wrote:

          “…. from the responses you can see that nearly everyone is speaking from the standpoint of some existing health issue…”

          Actually the vast majority of posts in this thread, my own included, discussed how a change of diet, either to full-on primal/paleo, or by simply eliminating gluten first, improved a wide variety of health issues that our doctors (and in some people’s cases, even consultant specialists) had never thought to attribute to diet, and specifically to gluten.

          My life-long dpression, for which I’ve been offered every medical treatment under the sun, for example – improving *every day* now in the absence of gluten – along with my hair being thicker than ever, stronger nails, all tiny markers which make me wonder what long-term insidious damage gluten was doing, that I had no clue about, because for ages I too looked on it as a fad.

          And the main point is, if many of us experienced relief from these types of underlying non-typical symptoms just from eliminating gluten, wouldn’t it be beneficial for everyone to trial a period of exclusion, and see how they fare? :)

          Isn’t that a sound scientific principle – in the same way we now expect our healthcare providers to discourage smoking, even though not all smokers have smoking-related health problems, and I’m sure most of us know a smoker or two who lived hale and hearty into their eighties or nineties?

          Doesn’t that seem far more reasonable than your conventional wisdom-based argument that grains, even the high-protein modern version of wheat, which has far more gluten – are perfectly healthful except in a tiny minority of people – when so many of us have had the exact opposite experience?

          Wouldn’t it be best to urge caution, and not advocate people consume something until they hit a clear, recognisably-related and serious symptom?

          That, after all, isn’t the approach doctors like to take with cigarettes or alcohol, or even body fat – “Mr Smith, you’re 5 stone overweight but no chest pains yet, and your arteries seem okay, so please, by all means keep going with the doughnuts”! ;)

          The people you mention who traditionally eat a diet with higher grain levels than the primal blueprint are doing so in the absence of the multitude of medical, environmental, and psychological stressors we encounter – many of the meds may be life-saving, but where ancestral people had a grave-mound and a fond memory, we have Uncle Pete alive and well, but with his gut bacteria permanently altered, while his 42-hour working week, polluted air, and so on all make his whole body a different affair than it would have been 200 years ago.

          Not to mention that wheat is now bred to have far more gluten, since it improves the texture of baked goods – something our great-grandparents simply didn’t have to contend with.

          Oh, and many of us here are also of the generation that was raised with margerines made from hydrogenated veg fats, bnow fully recognised as toxic, which is also something new upon this planet – they were in every biscuit, cake and bar of chocolate as a child, and you didn’t have to be like the brats in the Willy Wonka movie :) to have still eaten our fair share of them, since the manufacturers and our parents genuinely believed they were great.

          That substitution of hyd. veg. fats in place of animals fats like lard, is a one-time only blunder made in the pursuit of health that’s affected almost everyone alive right now.

          So, with all that in mind, I think the more extreme emphasis placed in the primal & paleo plans, on good quality foods, NOT bulked out with cereals, is a necessary redress to the unique situations we find ourselves in, raised as many of us are on sugars & tarns fats, medicated with vaccines and anti-biotics, and working longer hours than our bodies evolved to cope with.

          Also you mention “going from a terrible diet to one suddenly focussing on good quality food” – in my case, this just wasn’t true, I was already eating mainly organic fruit and veg, good quality and often free-range/pastured red meat and fowl, and yet STILL saw improvements – in a multitude of tiny things that I would also never have bothered telling a doctor about, and most certainly, not things that would remotely be classified as typical celiac disease.

          So the underlying points primal makes about the toxicity of grains have been borne out in my own life in definite terms, I’m actually still eating the same meats, veg etc., I was before, just grain-free, legume-free, and having substituted my calories from carbs, to fat instead – a steak fried in butter with some stir-fry veg, for example, instead of the same beef, grilled and served cold with wholemeal bread and a salad.

          The only thing gone there is the anti-nutrients from grains and legumes – I didn’t leap from a diet of cola and pop-tarts to steak and spinach!! ;)

          Final point, and sorry this reply is a bit long – have you ever tried eliminating gluten yourself, Jonathan, for maybe 7 or 14 days? Can I really respectfully suggest you give it a go, if not? You might, like me, be in for one hell of a nice surprise! :)

          Patrick wrote on September 7th, 2013
        • Patrick nailed every aspect of my thoughts. Being someone that was notorious for my healthy habits, counting every calorie and exercising. I never bought processed foods, absolutely no artificial adders, or even “natural” flavorings and everything had to be no more than five ingredients. I ate like this for 12 years and still was progressively getting sicker. 8 months ago I was the model student for following the conventional healthy eating methods but I was still getting sick. 8 months ago I made one change and it changed every aspect of my life. I just removed wheat/gluten. Before that I never read studies, never read blogs, never posted to forums, never did I follow a fad diet but ate exactly as was recommended by every doctor and health authority in main stream media. Never again. I will do my research and test it for myself on myself.

          Em wrote on September 9th, 2013
  8. Yes, the contempt and accusations of “orthorexia” are discouraging when one reads it. I will say that, personally, I’ve been treated very well by anybody I’ve had to talk to about GF. I think that not being preachy to those I’m sharing with helps. I think that being gracious and easygoing when out at dinner or being hosted is the other thing that helps. I’ll keep my own counsel in the meantime, and ignore the public voices best I can if I’m enjoying my food and health.

    Joy Beer wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Yes, it’s helpful to be the “nice/easy going” one in the conversation. It puts people in an awkward position if you’re all about only worrying what’s on your plate (or just your kids) in social situations.

      Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
  9. Thank you for this post… so very much.

    Meredith wrote on September 4th, 2013
  10. Agluten for punishment?

    Nocona wrote on September 4th, 2013
  11. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.

    -Mahatma Gandhi

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Not Ghandi, rather Nicholas Klein, an early labor leader.

      BillP wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • “The trouble with quotes on the internet is it’s impossible to truly know their source.” -Abraham Lincoln

        FireFlyFan wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • LOL!!! :)

          Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Classic, FireFlyFan. : )

          Madama Butterfry wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Klein said:

        “First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you. And that, is what is going to happen to the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America.”

        LynnA wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • That’s “Gandhi.” PBR spelled it right the first time.

        …Sorry. I don’t usually correct that, but I’ve seen people misspell both that name and Buddha so many times I’ve lost count.

        Dana wrote on September 4th, 2013
  12. Great read, I love your sarcasm/wit! “PubMed is a liar.” Haha, amazing!
    I was never tested for Celiac disease, but figured I really didn’t need to after feeling substantially better with the elimination of gluten from my diet. Apparently society doesn’t agree – the attitudes and remarks you’ve described here are exactly what come my way when people notice I am gluten-free and find out I haven’t been tested for CD!

    Brittany wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Medical testing is often just a formality for people who need someone with a title after their name to confirm what they already know. Testing for gluten sensitivity falls into that category. Formal testing is expensive and unnecessary. A much cheaper “test” is to heed that old adage: “If it looks like a duck, walks like duck, and quacks like a duck, it probably is a duck.”

      Shary wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Mmmm. Duck !

        Brad wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Although I agree that testing isn’t a ‘must-have’ especially if you know that eliminating gluten has made you feel better, there is something to be said about diagnosis. Someone with a confirmed diagnosis of celiac is at risk for a number of other health issues in the long term even if they eliminate gluten. Therefore, a diagnosis puts the individual in a better position to stay on top of their health. Without a celiac diagnosis, Drs may be reluctant to check for other potential issues related to celiac such as infertility, osteoporosis and a host of other auto-immune disorders.

        The only thing I would hesitate with testing is the potential for it to sway individuals back to gluten if they are given results that indicate no gluten sensitivity, intolerance or allergy but luckily that’s not likely to happen to many folks in this forum :)

        Chantal wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Amen to that.

          Ally wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • I was diagnosed by blood test as gluten sensitive seven years ago. My doc felt it was unnecessary to do the gold-standard biopsy for celiac as the blood test results made it clear that gluten was a no-go for me. Plus, lack of a clear diagnosis is plausible deniability for life insurance quotes. (Rates are higher for celiacs.)

      That said, I’m glad I was tested before going gf. I know my chances of cancer are higher and I know I need to be vigilant in monitoring other potential autoimmune issues. I don’t judge anyone who notices that a shift in diet works and they go for it. But, I also think there is still some value in knowing if it’s sensitivity or an autoimmune disorder. The former creates a diet choice with ‘feel good or feel bad’ consequences. The latter creates a diet imperitive with ‘my body works or my body breaks’ consequences. The stakes are simply higher when straying from the diet for celiacs and that’s one heck of a motivator.

      More important than the above, I also know my kids have a one in thirteen chance of having gluten issues. My oldest tested positive through blood draw. My youngest chose to join us on our diet at age seven. She quickly realized she felt so much better gf, that she started following the diet without any prodding from me. Two years into it and she’s still vigilant about avoiding gluten.

      My maternal grandfather died at 51 from cancer. My mother died at 53 from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a top killer of celiacs. With the gf (and primal diet, thank you), my kids might be the first in three generations to not lose a young parent to cancer. Plus, I’ve set them up for better health when they become parents. Gluten-free: the gift that keeps on giving. I’m not sure I’d have that long a view if I hadn’t been tested.

      Again, to each their own, but there are solid reasons to consider getting tested before going gf.

      Melie wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • That’s an excellent and detailed post!

        I didn’t think cutting out gluten would do me ANY good, but tried it, and within 3 days knew I’d never want to eat wheat products again… the reason I’m not willing to chace a return to eating gluten for a few weeks in order to get the tests is that I’m afraid I’ll get a false negative, and that the presence of that on my records will make it more, not less, likely that I’ll be fed wheat products if I’m ever hospitalised.

        It’s a bind to be in, but had I got a false positive before doing my own trial cutting it out, I’d have believed it since I was so ready to be skeptical about non-celiac gluten-avoiders, with who knows what long-term consequences? :(

        So my advice would be, get the trials if you can, yes, for all the reasons above, but still do your own 3, 7 or 14-day trial of eliminating gluten, because the tests don’t pick up every case. :)

        Meanwhile, I almost wish someone would set up a religion that advocates banning grains (or is known to ban any one food stuff – soy, dairy, whatever people cut out for their health without a DX), just so that hospitals & prisons etc HAVE to comply with your requests… what are those Jedi guys up to these days?! :)

        Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Thanks for the replies – great info! But, along with being GF, I am also fully Paleo/primal, plan to be forever, and will raise my children the same way (when the time comes). So, as for testing, it will either confirm that I am on the right track for optimal health/wellness, or tell me that I don’t “need” to continue to do what I am doing. I just don’t think it is necessary for me to hear one way or another, as my mind is already made up.

          Brittany wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • The problem is that a lot of people try going gluten free for just 7-14 days and don’t see a difference when it takes some people 3-4 MONTHS for their bodies to completely eliminate the gluten protein out of their systems. I always encourage people to go for the longer period before they decide that gluten doesn’t bother them.

          Lora P. ND. wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I don’t know that it’s fair to say that celiac is the only form of gluten intolerance that’s auto-immune in nature. Gluten ataxia is immune-mediated as an example. Celiac may be the form of immune-based gluten intolerance we’ve recognized for the longest time and know the most about, but it doesn’t mean other manifestations of gluten intolerance aren’t immune in mechanism. It may be more an issue that we don’t know how to test for those immune mechanisms yet.

        KMJvet wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Then there’s just the way wheat proteins (not just gluten but WGA and others) can cross the gut lining and really outrage your immune system, and *that* can cause inflammation, autoimmune or not. It’s bad news either way.

          Dana wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • I have gluten ataxia, and I can tell you from experience it is not fun. If any of you who are interested in gluten free living have not read Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD, I highly recommend it. It explains why modern wheat is so toxic for our bodies (not necessarily just our digestive systems) and describes the many nasty manifestations from eating gluten.

          Karen Mortensen wrote on September 5th, 2013
      • I feel the same way about testing. I found a blog by a GF mom a while back and she went in and did a whole bunch of detailed food-allergy blood testing and discovered she was sensitive to LOTS of stuff. I’m starting to wonder if I shouldn’t do that. I have no trouble staying off large amounts of gluten, only occasionally getting traces like what’s in soy sauce, as consuming gluten makes me sleepy and stupid. But maybe if I knew whether or not my immune system were outraged every time I ate it, I’d be more vigilant–and if I knew I were sensitive to other foods and which ones, I might feel more motivated to avoid them forever.

        Because even with skipping the gluten, I can tell something still isn’t right. I’m pretty sure I have some sort of issue with nightshades, for instance, and suspect I have problems with casein too. And those are two major irritants in the American diet, Standard Industrial or not.

        Dana wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Get the tests if at all possible. I’d never heard of them 3+ years ago until my naturopath suggested them. Eye-opening. You’ll get several pages with a line per food item and a bar chart indicating low/med/high sensitivity. From that, I learned that not only dairy, eggs, and soy are problematic for me, but also flax, turmeric, cucumbers, and kale. For example. I would never have learned that on my own, can you imagine a turmeric elimination diet?! :-P (Now of course I wouldn’t eat flax anyway after going primal 10 months ago.)

          I’m sure having that knowledge eliminated years of feeling lousy for perplexing reasons. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor!

          Lynn wrote on September 5th, 2013
      • I wish I could convince my friend to at least TRY gluten free for a while! She has medical background like me, and has systemic scleroderma (autoimmune based). At 45 she has an high CRP (inflamatory marker leaves her at high cardiac damage risk) an enlarged heart, pulmonary fibrosis getting worse (rapidly) so she can’t walk 100meters without being very breathless, esophageal hardening so swallowing is a problem some days and reflux is a constant nightmare. She has whole body pains, worse of course at night so does not sleep. She takes over TWENTY different medications, has a ‘portacath’ for the chemo drugs supposed to help (they just did nothing and put her into early menopause). But STILL, despite ‘modern medicine’ trying as hard to kill her off as the scleroderma is, she flatly refuses to consider changing what she eats. It is the ONLY power she has left to make a difference and chooses not to even believe it might make her feel a little better (it may not….but I bet my house it will reduce many of her symptoms!). So my friend will probably be dead by 50, and her obese kids most likely to follow. I find it simply CRIMINAL that the so-called medical specialists refuse also to consider diet changes a means to help improve these auto-immune conditions, or at least as many of the symptoms as possible, when the evidence is glaring! Had her specialist told her to go gluten free, I bet my house again she would! So sad, so frustrating, so futile to sit and watch!

        Michelle wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Michelle, I agree about a great many in the medical community. They don’t think diet has anything to do with anything going on in our bodies. That’s why I go to a naturopath. They believe diet has MUCH to do with what’s going on in our bodies. She has helped me tremendously.

          Karen Mortensen wrote on September 5th, 2013
  13. Some people are just glutens for punishment :)

    Groktimus Primal wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • +1

      Colleen wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • It’s very punny today! :)

      Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
  14. I’ve been gluten-free for over a year, and in the last six months I have tried “gluten-free” baked goods twice, once in the form of a pizza crust and a few days ago as a couple of cookies. Both times I experienced outbreaks of the same kinds of inflammation I associate with gluten. This makes me wonder what else is going on, and I wonder how successful people who simply switch their diets over to those types of foods will be. I really don’t miss or need pizza crusts or cookies, but a lot of people think life’s not worth living without such “treats.”

    Alice wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Same here, inflammation for me too, which I originally put down to gluten but I think they may be separate issues, to do with poor digestion (which can be helped with Dr Christopher’s herbal formulas) and a starch/ carbohydrate intolerance which I am trying to find out more about, which I have put down to blood sugar issues. I have cut them largely out of my diet but don’t know what the long term answer to that is yet, because I also eat alot of low starch vegetables mostly raw, with fruit included in my diet and nuts. I can’t take any grains, potatoes, pseudograins either, because of high carb and I am not so sure beans either which I tend to avoid for other reasons which for me are the the same reason I avoid gluten. I don’t tolerate eggs well as they give me mucus and I not sure about cheese either and I don’t eat meat so I obviously need to find out some more. But the inflammation is a real problem for me, and one that has worried me alot.Here’s wishing good health everyone.

      Rachel wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Have you researched any sites on Candida? Your food intolerances sound very similar to mine and of course the Candida diet would have you pretty much eliminate carbs altogether. Some even say no fruit for at least 6 months while you take herbs or whatever you choose to eradicate the fungi. With the proliferation of antibiotics handed out like candy for the last 30 years it would be amazing to find anyone without some degree or form of Candida.

        Marge wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Funny you should ask that, because I do suspect candida as a problem that I may have. I could go on with the list but may bore a few people. I figured if I find the healthiest diet possible then try and tweak it to suit me. Still figuring a few things out. People say fruit is bad some say it is good. Largely fruit is just great I think, ie apples,blueberries and grapes are excellent for diabetes( I have blood sugar issues) etc It may be possible fruit is not good with other food, some say you should eat it separate or before a meal. Anyway, hopefully sort it out soon. Coconut butter is very good at getting rid of candida and I have interestlngly noticed that some of my symptoms improve after taking some. I am loath to give up the fruit as all my beliefs of diet and training in diet have led me to believe fruit is a cure for cancer etc. But we will see. Thanks for asking.

          Rachel wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • You may likely have an intolerance to dairy if you are still having a reaction to gluten free pizza and cookies. Dairy and gluten intolerances are commonly found together unfortunately.

      peacemakerfan wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • It most likely is NOT Candida.. Actually what is labeled “gluten free” may have traces of gluten. Just as some products may be LABELED as trans fat free or sugar free if they have below a certain amount, the same goes with gluten free labeling. So therefore gluten free labeled products may have traces of gluten. My sister has Celiac and found that many of those products gave her a reaction of being “glutened”. After doing some research it was discovered that some products labeled as gluten free may have traces of gluten and still be allowed to be labeled as gluten free. We swear by Jules gluten free products (you can google her) as she is a Celiac sufferer herself and makes her own flour and baking mixes, etc. They are expensive but delicious. Of course it is better to eat real food rather than baked goods, but if you MUST have something, knowing you aren’t going to be eating something that will make you sick is a plus.

        Margo wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • I’ve noticed the same, Alice. I’m sure there are other proteins and compounds in wheat that might trigger problems.

      I think of it like BPA in plastic. BPA-free is all the rage! But we still have hundreds of other plasticizers in plastic:
      Bis(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), Diisononyl phthalate (DINP), Di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP, DBP) etc.

      Yep, I don’t eat wheat-anything anymore. Just like I don’t eat plastic. In fact, I can’t help but imagine that spaghetti, bread, etc, is just like plastic – it’s a decoration you shouldn’t eat! :)

      Tom wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Lots of people are sensitive to the gums in gluten free products – xanthan gum and guar gum are both used to imitate the function of gluten. My husband doesn’t have a gluten problem, but he gets sick whenever he has my gluten free stuff – one of many reasons why we don’t buy the processed gluten free crud anymore.

      Kate wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • If people would read the list of weirdo ingredients in some of that “processed gluten free crud”, they would quickly decide it isn’t something they want to eat. Moreover, most of it tastes pretty godawful. Most gluten-free replacement foods do nothing but take up space in your digestive system while providing neither flavor nor nutrition. Foods that are naturally gluten-free are a much better choice.

        The only GF exception I’ve ever found, on the rare occasion that I make spaghetti, is Tinkyada brand rice pasta. Their linguini and spaghetti noodles (made from rice) are almost identical in flavor and texture to wheat noodles when cooked according to the directions.

        Shary wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Agree! Tinkyada pasta is the best gf pasta I’ve ever tasted!

          Karen Mortensen wrote on September 5th, 2013
        • bionaturae is good. also trader joes corn pasta

          Robin wrote on September 6th, 2013
    • Can you elaborate on what you mean by an outbreak of inflammation?

      Mantonat wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Just wanted to throw this comment out as I’m not sure that I noticed it mentioned.

      I am most certainly a Celiac, however due to the mis-handling of my case by the Dr’s, I was not able to be tested prior to my going gluten free and will never have an offical diagnosis. I could really care less, it was pure survival at that point. I thought I was dying.

      Point being that the Celiac world is getting harder to navigate because there is rampant “Gluten free, but not for celiacs” type of foods being offered by many restaurants etc. The food may be made without wheat, but it is prepped in the sane area as the gluten containing foods and is therefore cross-contaminated. Which means that a celiac can’t eat a gluten free pizza from the local pizza joint without getting outrageously ill due to the contamination.

      It is possible that you may be having a cross-contamination issue.

      K10 wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Maybe it’s because gluten isn’t even the worst thing in modern Frankenwheat. Google for “amylopectin-A” and “gliadin”.

      For years, I had mysterious arthritis in my hands (last so-called “doctor” I complained to about that told me that since he couldn’t find the cause, it must be in my head, so I should see a shrink). It was so bad that I had to give up playing my violin in public because I couldn’t practice enough to stay proficient. I cut out grain because I wanted to be the supportive husband when my wife went low-carb — knowing full well that we’d be worse off in 6 months, simply because that’s what diets do.

      I knew this time was different when my hands quit hurting 3 days later.

      Is it the gluten? Frankly, I don’t give a damn. I will never willingly eat anything containing wheat again.

      Howard Lee Harkness wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Those things can often contain rice flour, and it wasn’t until I went Primal that I realized it was rice responsible for my gluten-like symptoms.

      Ellen wrote on September 5th, 2013
  15. Great post! Gluten sensitivity/intolerance is a measureable genetic fact for a portion of the population. Once all the marketing hype dies down, I hope this fact will remain and people with this trait will maintain a grain free diet. Paleo is good for everyone, not just the gluten sensitive. No one needs inflammation and gut permeability in their life! :)

    Goddess wrote on September 4th, 2013
  16. My husband suffers from arthritis (among other things), and decided to give a gluten free, grain free diet a shot. He noticed a reduced amount of pain and greater range of movement as a result. We are both now following a primal/paleo diet!

    Rose wrote on September 4th, 2013
  17. Let’s not forget the effect gluten has on asthmatics (says the mom of three!). The first two things to go when my kids get sick-dairy and gluten.

    kate wrote on September 4th, 2013
  18. Fantastic post. I’m guilty of zealotry which in terms submits me to mockery and skepticism. The stats about celiac disease being tossed at me, the “lack of evidence” cries that are hurled at me, so on and so on and scooby dooby doo wah.

    I’ve learned the hard way to zip it. If people want to choose a different path for themselves, go for it. But I find myself (on my more intolerant days) wishing the people whining about headaches, joint aches, bad skin, sleeplessness, allergies, and so forth would just shut their pie holes.

    If I can’t proselytize, they can’t whine. Fair enough to me.

    Julie wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I am pretty sure everyone who has gone paleo/primal goes through their own secular, nutritional proselytization period. Similar to the known stages of grieving. After that comes:

      Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you, and be silent.

      Epictetus (55 AD – 135 AD)

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Love this!
        I too blabbed on about gluten & carbs when I first discovered primal /gluten/ carb free accidentally while doing the HCG diet in 2010. I won’t bore you with the details except to say I feel so damn good! I love my mirror now! Now I just keep my mouth shut, eat my veggies, enjoy my fat, forage for organic fruits while watching people half my age bloat up & complain about how bad they feel, how many meds their doctor has them on while they stuff themselves with bread.

        Linda wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I’ll only add that I don’t think the later “stage” here is better, and that people should fast-forward to it. It seems appropriate that humans would want to share what makes them happy, but that the urge is naturally self-limiting to leave room for others to share different things.

        I mostly only tell my family. Since they share so many genes with me, not telling them that gluten-free helped me with migraines and OCD would be like not telling them there’s breast cancer (or whatever) in the family. They should know.

        Dave wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I actually think the preaching serves some kind of neurological function because EVERYBODY undergoing a life change goes through that stage, unless they’re a weirdo or something.

        I was reading a long time ago about how sincerely held religious beliefs are embedded in human memory in a much different way than a fact one merely learns. Those beliefs become hardwired, pretty much, and it’s very difficult to shake them.

        Well, what does a person do to reinforce religious belief? They might chant, which is repeating words and phrases over and over. They might memorize scripture verses. They might celebrate the same holidays over and over, year after year, at the same time every year or the same appointed date on the calendar (which can differ if you follow a lunar calendar). But the common theme here is *repetition.*

        Now think about how it was when you were preachy. Weren’t you pretty much repeating the same facts over and over again?

        Think about how a kid behaves when they learn something new. Don’t they like to go around teaching it to everyone else? Over and over again, endlessly?

        I think that’s what this is about. “I have learned something new and must commit it permanently to memory. Teaching others is a great way to do that.” It’s not even a conscious choice. It’s almost reflex. And I notice most people outgrow this stage, too, with every life change they make. They preach/teach, then they feel comfortable with the knowledge, then they settle down and give everyone else breathing room again.

        Dana wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • It’s also a good way to drown out the incessant marketing of “heart-healthy wholegrains” – “Have A Break – Have A Kit-Kat!” “Snickers Satisfies” – “Once you pop, you can’t stop” and the multitude of other insidious marketing brainwashing we imbibe from the cradle onwards, ranging from idiotic jingles to sciencey-sounding BS about the benefits of breakfast cereals, corn sugars, soy, etc.

          The junk-food and drug-food industries spend tens of millions each year on their marketing to saturate our minds and normalise their non-essential, addictive foods, so a few weeks or even months spent ranting should be weighed against the marketing messages each of us receives everyday for diets that are the exact opposite of healthy, by any standard – messages we endlessly receive, but seldom notice – because the food-pushers have made them our “normal”.

          Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • “if I can’t proselytize, they can’t whine”

      I think this will be my motto for a while.

      Sue wrote on September 4th, 2013
  19. I’ve seen the argument that the GF trend can make things harder for people with celiac disease because standards for “gluten-free” (e.g. in restaurants) are getting sloppy, and something that might make some of us bloat up a bit might put a celiac in bed for a few days. Something to remember.

    Anemone wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Most restaurants do have gluten-free options these days, which I sometimes take advantage of. I do feel better if I don’t eat grains, but I don’t have Celiac disease. A little gluten accidentally ingested isn’t going to make me sick. IMO, anyone with CD should avoid restaurants because of the high possibility of cross contamination.

      Shary wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Wow – seriously? I (as a celiac) should never eat out?

        Sarah wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • Depends on how much you trust the restaurant and their kitchen staff, and how much value you place on not getting sick.

          Shary wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • For somebody with full-blown celiac, eating out can be a real problem. I recently interviewed Sally Krumdiak (a highly-rated women’s MMA fighter) about her celiac. She also has other sensitivities, which may have been caused indirectly by gluten (or other toxins in modern Frankenwheat). It’s so bad that even on the cruise we were on, she had to pack her own food.

          Howard Lee Harkness wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • That was hard for me to get my head round too. I only go to really good places now – eat out less often but high quality – and talk to the chefs, not the waiting staff. I felt sooo awkward to start but they were always very accommodating and, after a bit of trial and error, I don’t get contaminated. It’s a journey, but starting to avoid contamination is really important. Best wishes :)

          Elizabeth wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • yes, very true, I’ve just written a similar comment (I’m a celiac) and am not so happy about the rising popularity for this reason, in a way it makes thing harder for ‘us’.

      Sarah wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • On the other hand, products and restaurants will follow the money, so if more people are requesting gluten-free, there’s going to be more incentive to offer it, and if use of the term “gluten free” hasn’t yet been regulated where you live, it probably soon will be.

        In the EU nothing can be labelled “gluten free” unless the product contains less then 20 parts per million of gluten, and this has to be regularly checked and verified, so the increase in demand has probably motivated more shops & eateries to fork out for the test so they can sell these goods – faddy or not, money talks! ;)

        Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I have run into this problem myself. Waiters see the fad-folks ordering gluten free this or that & then nibbling their friend’s cake, & it looks like a joke & a mere annoyance.

      Now when I talk to waiters I have to say “I’m not just on a diet– I have Celiac disease & I could get very sick if you just take the croutons off the salad…” etc. I hate it because it makes me sound all the more whiny & difficult & makes trouble for everyone. So though there is more overall awareness out there, I don’t eat out as much. It’s sad really.

      Paleo-curious wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • It’s sad..but then again, honestly, much of the “fun” of eating out is gone when it’s Paleo. ((Full disclosure: I also live in the land of chain restaurants. There’s very little gourmet/indies around us.)

        Sure, there’s always “something” to eat. That something being a)steak and salad or b)chicken and salad. Most restaurants seem to reserve their creativity though, for the carb heavy (and cheaper) dishes.

        In that sense, it’s really not that much of a loss to stay home. We almost always eat better/more interesting dishes for less cost.

        Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • For me, the fun of eating out is being with my family or friends (I have never eaten out alone in the 7 years since my Celiac diagnosis!) But I feel having to explain all my needs to the waiter, chef, etc. in excruciating detail is a pain in the butt for them too. Yet if I elect not to eat at all (which I honestly don’t mind now that I’m fat-adapted!) they feel uncomfortable too. Sigh.

          Paleo-curious wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • We have set up “out to eat” nights with our friends. We rotate whose house we go over to, so once a week (minus the host) we all “eat out”. All of us love it, and not only is it much cheaper than going to a restaurant, it feeds the social addiction. :) Of course, when it’s my turn to host, everyone eats primal ;)

          KD wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • KD, that’s a great idea, especially if you have friends who really get it. My book club works that way, & funny, at first I was the weirdo with the restrictive diet but now four others (out of 11) are gluten-free, or at least gluten-aware! So I guess I owe the “fad” for that one!

          Paleo-curious wrote on September 4th, 2013
  20. It’s not just gluten. Carb conversations are very similar.

    Jason wrote on September 4th, 2013
  21. I think it’s a fad for many. Nor am I as convinced as Mark that most gluten free folks are eating a more nutrient dense diet. Sadly my brother’s family went this route b/c of his daughter’s skin condition but they have substituted with things like crepes made with corn starch and rice cakes topped with veg oil (formed into “butter”). Soy. Lots of corn. Etc. I have 19 first cousins on one side of the family, mostly in 40s-50s. None had gluten issues growing up. There are 38 children of those cousins, 1 is celiac, 2 are gluten free due to medical issues, all 3 since being young children. Looks to me like epigenetic expression. Until more people understand these types of issues, gluten free will be mostly a fad or a marketing campaign. We are not gluten free. We no longer eat bread or pasta or the like at home, mainly b/c of carb content, but do buy sauces or the like which contain gluten. We do not had identifiable health issues from this. And on occasion, naan or pita when eating out.

    Colleen wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • If it is epigenetic then in a few generations your brother’s future lineage will less likely be able to reproduce. Isn’t this darwiniasm in action?

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • In general, I am happy to see Darwin in action. So for my brother and his wife I really don’t care, but it’s sad to see your 3yo niece being fed a nutrient devoid diet. In the meantime, we get to pay to care for these Darwinian losers — just when I want to opt out of this flawed system we are all forced to join.

        Colleen wrote on September 4th, 2013
  22. I generally feel better when I stay away from carbohydrates. Period. That awareness can be stimulated by the gluten-free trend, although gluten-free has nothing to do with eating less carbohydrates. I still eat gluten but not nearly as much as I did ten years ago. I have traded it in for more meat, fat, fruits and veggies. And when I make myself a small treat, I often now make gluten-free chocolate chip cookies with less sugar, higher cacao content chocolate and grass-fed butter or coconut oil. Lots of carbs? Sure. But maybe not with as much bloat or as many industrial food ingredients.

    While some may call this a fad, and it is to some degree by only those who are uneducated, it is really part of the larger movement by millions towards taking back our food freedom and, with it, more consciously aware eating habits.

    Barry wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Am I going to eat that carrot, even though you may think it’s good for me? Not when the carrot puts me to sleep for 4 hours! My husband has the same trouble with broccoli.

      Wenchypoo wrote on September 4th, 2013
  23. Gluten Free and loving it! I enjoy the spontaneous “Trials” by the doubters! Keeps me sharp.
    I still can’t believe that Twerking made it into the dictionary, but hey…. If Miley is doing it, it must be good for us! … The gluten Free thing! lol

    Rod Hilton wrote on September 4th, 2013
  24. I always wonder if every one else has the same experience with doctors that I do.

    I would never “consult my doctor” before doing anything health related (or otherwise, I guess), because I’m more informed. How could a doctor possibly know anything or provide me with any sound advice? The idea that we are supposed to treat them with reverence and as if they can solve problems is astounding. Seeing a doctor is just an irritating way for me to waste 4 hours of my day.

    They spend less than 5 minutes in the exam room with me, treat my statements with skepticism, give me a prescription without even looking me in the eye and leave the room to let the RN finish the paperwork. I check out at the desk, they bill my insurance for $150 and I don’t bother to fill my prescription.

    10 times out of 10, that is my experience with doctors, therefore I would never take their advice or consult them for anything. What a waste of my time and money.

    I am lucky in that I don’t have a life threatening illness and I would hope that if I had to go to the ER someone in there might have the skills to save me from death, but otherwise I can’t believe that anyone actually goes to a doctor. What for? It’s like the biggest scam I’ve ever seen.

    Please tell me, I’m not being sarcastic. Why do you go to the doctor? Do they actually provide you with anything worthwhile? I would love to know. Perhaps my experience is out of the ordinary.

    Doctors are a leading cause of death. 187,000 Americans die every year as a result of health care errors, hospital infections, and prescription drug side effects.

    I don’t know about you, but I try to avoid the doctor, a common killer.

    Bev wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Find a new doctor. The new wave of “in the know” MDs are functional/integrative medicine practioners. For example, Dr. Amy Myers (and she has a free podcast). Chiropractors are often dialed into real health.

      I get where you are coming from about “doctors as leading cause of death”; however, but there is a natural bias in that logic. Similar to, “Teachers are a leading cause in education”. (Minus the old teachers protected by their union who could care less about teaching. Come on, we all had one of them).

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Ron, it’s really not that easy to find good Docs. I’d say that Bev’s experience is typical, or at least it matches mine own. If you have a good one, count your lucky stars. Chiros are helpful, but I don’t think they are allowed to prescribe meds or give out real referrals to specialists. (Both of which, unfortunately, we’ve genuinely needed in the last 12 months)

        Ironically, I’ve found a reasonably good practice (my standards are set to the best I can hope for out of the current system) but we’re already thinking about moving on. They have a TV in the waiting room that the staff can’t turn off or down that’s set to what I call the “Dr. Oz.” channel. It’s like 10 minutes of “health” information done in the same chirpy style as morning talk shows. Then another 10 minutes of drug ads.

        I’ve already listened to hours of it and…I’m done. I just hope the practice doesn’t catch on.

        As an aside, it seem to me that the point of the channel is as a thinly disguised vehicle for drug ads. Can you imagine how valuable an ad shown to a patient about to see their provider would be to drug companies?

        The office manager (already spoken about it twice and made a fool of myself once) claims “they don’t get paid”. I looked at her like she was an idiot, because if it’s true that there’s no kickback, then this practice has the business sense of a garden slug.

        Okay, rant off. :)

        Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Absolutely agree! If you’re doctor is so old-school and out of the loop, it’s time to start investigating. I know first hand what it’s like to have a forward-thinking and prevention-oriented practitioner. I have a healthy weight, am very active (and fit), eat an unprocessed diet of mostly vegetables, fruit, meat and fish and yet my doctor was all for ordering a full blood panel…and I’m only 30. Her reasoning? Lets get a baseline reading now so that we can actually make a real assessment later on. I’ve been seeing her for over five years and I’ve yet to be prescribed anything beyond vitamin supplements and massage therapy.

        Chantal wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • I have a great functional doctor. I would look there but sometimes they dont even know enough.. Go to gluten free society. they have a directory of doctors and if there isnt one in your area. Suggestion the certifications to your doctor or make a trip to houston. I went to 2 other doctors and didnt get any where .. I thought I was but then started feeling bad again. I am now feeling the best ever and its taken time and some work but well worth it.

          connie curtis wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I feel the exact same way. I’ve struggled with this for years, feeling somehow guilty that I don’t agree with anything the doctors have told me about how to deal with my digestive issues and food sensitivities. But I don’t see how someone who doesn’t know you or really understand your health history, could make a diagnosis and give you prescriptions after a two minute conversation. But what I do miss about seeing a doctor, though, is being able to talk to someone who has studied these issues in depth and can give you some cohesive, sound advice and guidelines for how to improve your health and change your lifestyle. I’m so tired of trying to find that person that I’ve just decided to try to put together all the pieces on my own.

      alliecat wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I found a doctor through the Paleo Physicians Network who is also covered by my insurance. I’m guessing there are listings for every major city in the US and probably some of the smaller ones too.

        Mantonat wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • not all good. My first doctor was on that and i asked questions he couldnt answer and wouldnt do any kind of testing so if you have a good one .. your lucky

          connie curtis wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Bev, I agree with just about everything you said. My experiences with doctors over the years has been a case of they either didn’t help me or else they made me appreciably worse. I try to avoid them to the maximum extent possible. I am currently looking for a holistic doctor to have on hand in the event I should need one, but I haven’t been looking very hard.

      Shary wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • My son has cystic fibrosis, so I’m extremely grateful for his doctors and the drug companies that have so greatly increased the life expectancy of people with CF (and all who have contributed to research). But even with them, we are active in the process and ask a lot of questions, go to the conferences, etc. A good doctor can answer an intelligent question. There are lots of doctors doing a lot of good, and it sounds like you have one who isn’t exactly inspiring…so yeah, find another one. Check the Paleo Physicians Network.

      Tom B-D wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I agree with your assessment of the situation, Bev. However, if you do have a serious issue, they tend to respond a little better. Something more interesting than the standard stuff seems to make them provide a little more service than normal.

      Diane wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • “Why do you go to the doctor? Do they actually provide you with anything worthwhile? I would love to know. Perhaps my experience is out of the ordinary.”

      As an adult, I’ve gone to the Docs because they offered me a lower insurance rate if I did their “preventive” annual visit. (Really!) I take the children for the immunizations (what a miracle) and the occasional pink eye.

      Other than that, I’ve had extremely similar experiences to you. I have no idea why people are so hung up on seeing MDs in particular or why they’d like to have a “relationship” with one or why you’d want to model your business on

      I will say that I did discover the value of at least not terrible MDs over the last 18 months. We went to “any old” pediatricians to start my infant daughter on immunizations. They turned out to be a total nightmare when we discovered an issue requiring specialists and hospital stays. We had to switch primaries to really work through the issue as specialists no longer talk directly to the unwashed masses.

      In that sense, locating a primary provider that’s not truly terrible and seeing them once a year might be a good idea. Not that they provide immediate value (although that would be ideal), but to make sure you’ve got an “in” to the modern medical system when you need it. (And then pray you never do.)

      Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Bec I have to agree with you! 32 years of nursing confirms many doctors have tunnel vision and are hopelessly unable to keep up with current research. Some try…and when you find them, stick with them! Most get overwhelmed and don’t bother (GPs). I went to a local surgery group to find a female GP to work with me and a bio identical hormone clinic in another State. She flat out told me she did not believe in “all that rubbish” about bio identical hormones, it was not research based (it is, I checked or I’d be psychotic on nothing!). Long story short I left….so she did nothing, but berate my choices, and STILL slugged me with a bill! (Here they can choose to bulk bill -medicare pays – or not). I did find a thorough GP who is excellent, and not closed minded!

      But on the whole I do believe you are right!

      Michelle wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Bev, I showed this comment to my husband, and he said.”Yup! My feelings exactly!” Mine, too, btw. Thanks for the well written comment.

      And don’t get me started on the side effects of prescription drugs!

      Karen Mortensen wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • It’s for when you have an injury or treatable illness. This summer, I got a cut on my foot while camping that got pretty badly infected. I went to the doctor and got antibiotics and the infection went away. Before antibiotics, I could have lost my foot, leg, or died.

      When I was a young child, I had pneumonia. I went to the doctor and got antibiotics for it. Looking at infant and child mortality rates before antibiotics, that illness could very well have killed me.

      Oh and vaccines probably saved my life many times over, and yours.

      That’s what doctors are for; not to tell you to eat a low fat diet.

      Ali wrote on September 5th, 2013
      • Wow, a true believer. Has your gut recovered yet, from all those antibiotics?
        I guarantee that vaccines have never saved my life.

        Greg wrote on September 5th, 2013
        • erm polio, smallpox? But no, we don’t need 18 before 2 years of age, or whatever it is now. Wrong forum for this debate!

          Freya wrote on June 16th, 2014
  25. I thought I read somewhere that it’s not the gluten in wheat that cause people problems but rather the pesticides being sprayed on wheat? Scary.

    Lorraine wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I used to eat almost exclusively organic wheat products (monitored & accredited here in the UK by various bodies) and yet simply cutting out gluten via removing wheat, rye and barley products reversed a myriad of small nagging health issues, made my hair grow thicker (something everyone is now noticing 8 months on) and generally made me feel awesome.

      So I don’t think pesticides are the issue here at all.

      My 2¢. :)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
  26. I always get a chuckle when those who consider tolerance and diversity virtues turn around and refuse to tolerate grains, carbs, etc.

    Bread is the staff of life. If you are afraid of it, try making sourdough; the acids break down the gluten. You’re not amino-acid intolerant, I hope! :-)

    Jejunum wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • If you can tolerate grains and carbs, that’s awesome for you. But not everyone can. Many people can’t because of gut issues or a genetic tendency to have problems with these things.

      It’s not about picking on people who can successfully incorporate grains, especially “properly prepared grains” like that sourdough bread. It’s about having to constantly defend our choices from self-appointed food nazi’s who start freaking out and foaming at the mouth about gluten free (and paleo, and Weston A. Price, and whatever) being a fad.

      Suzanne wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Sing it!

        Julie wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Good point! Did the sourdough bread thing (made from my own starter) and still had allergic reactions.

        bamboo wrote on September 4th, 2013
        • The whole WAPF regimen gave me reactions!

          Wenchypoo wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • “I always get a chuckle when those who consider tolerance and diversity virtues turn around and refuse to tolerate grains, carbs, etc.”

      Tolerance and diversity are generally held to be good things when applied to other human beings, obviously not as blanket attitudes to everything – nobody wants tolerance of housefires or muggings, nor acquires HIV so they can have more diversity in infections.

      So, I fail to see the relevance, especially since most of us who’ve bothered reading this blog are well beyond seeing a buzzword like “tolerance” and instantly abandoning all critical thinking in the face of such a concept. ;)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • +1

        I have no idea how eating stuff that makes you sick has anything to do with living in a diverse society.

        Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I really hope you are kidding. There’s an enormous difference between accepting and even celebrating differences among humans and electing to avoid eating something because it makes you feel bad. Your analogy is equivalent to saying that if we’re truly diverse, we should enjoy hanging around with drug addicts and embezzlers. Hey, they’re not bad for us even if they do bad things!

      Mantonat wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Agreed, also, bread ISN’T the staff of life – it’s highly likely that the period when we stopped being semi-nomadic hunter gatherers, and settled down to to the back-breaking process of tilling, sowing, then harvesting, milling and storing grains was when battles stopped being mainly ceremonial and short-lived, as they are even now in hunter-gatherer societies, and instead became the knock-down, drag-out nightmares, that continue to this day.

        There was no incentive whatsoever to commit genocide against another tribe until we had these vast, fixed-in-place, hard-worked-for crops to maintain and protect.

        Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • “Bread is the staff of life”

      Ooh, nooo! Fatty meat is the staff of life! :-)

      Raynote wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • this is not true!

      Elisabeth wrote on September 9th, 2013
      • ops, this reply was ment for this post:

        I always get a chuckle when those who consider tolerance and diversity virtues turn around and refuse to tolerate grains, carbs, etc.

        Bread is the staff of life. If you are afraid of it, try making sourdough; the acids break down the gluten. You’re not amino-acid intolerant, I hope!

        fermenting does NOT break down gluten!

        Elisabeth wrote on September 9th, 2013
    • How nice for you. For you, bread works. I daresay there are many here who share similar experiences to mine. For me, bread caused aggravating, itching, cracking, bleeding on the backs of my hands, and my legs/calves itched incessantly. That’s called eczema, if you want a name for it. I needed no diagnosis to figure this out. The doctor could offer only expensive prescription skin cream. I learned through my own reading that bread can cause eczema. I quit the bread and within a week, my hands and legs were normal. Now, I don’t need to be a detective or a doctor to make the connection. Many have much more severe reactions than mine.
      The bread our ancestors ate may have been “stuff of life” but it has been genetically modified and hybridized into something the human body doesn’t recognize.
      You may be okay with bread, and you’re welcome to it! Please though, the tolerance and understanding you speak of is completely out of context with food intolerance. Your experience is different than others’. We all have different bodies and different tolerances.

      Shane wrote on September 9th, 2013
      • Love your answer Shane :)

        robyn wrote on September 9th, 2013
    • Before commenting, you probably should have first read the study on sourdough bread and celiac disease. It was very small study (n=17) in Italy nine years ago and the sourdough starter and bread was custom made for the study, a blend of different grains and was not commercially available to the general public. Some members of the control group had to drop out of the study because of adverse reaction to the wheat gluten (Duh!) – the test group using partially fermented sourdough still had some damage to the intestinal tract and the test subject with the fully fermented sourdough did not have any changed in their intestinal tract or increase in the antibody levels, but then I still stress that they were using a sourdough starter and bread specifically designed for their study and, and again stress, not available to the general public.

      If the study had a larger test group (N >100+) and utilized sourdough bread “off the shelf” the study results probably would have been more credible.

      Ref.
      (http://www.celiac.com/articles/752/1/Study-Finds-Wheat-based-Sourdough-Bread-Started-with-Selected-Lactobacilli-is-Tolerated-by-Celiac-Disease-Patients/Page1.html

      Lee Graham wrote on September 10th, 2013
  27. Raw onions give me a migraine that will last for days, so I don’t eat raw onions. No one cares about that. But when I eliminated grains 2 years ago, bring on the unsolicited opinions! If I feel horrible when I eat it, therefore I don’t eat it, why do you even care?

    KB wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I totally agree…I tell people it’s not a competition…it’s just a different way of life…

      Penny wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Sourdough bread with caramelized onions and butter is delicious and because of the whey the flour is fomented and the the onions cooked, might be tolerable to you. Don’t fear your food!

      Jejunum wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I don’t know if you are aware, but you are on a PRIMAL DIET site. One of the main points of the diet is to not eat grains – particularly wheat. No one cares or minds if you eat wheat, but your comments are unhelpful at best. There are plenty of bread-lovers sites where you will find plenty of people who agree with you if you have a problem with those who don’t.

        Nomad wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • People with celiac’s disease have a life threatening condition. I don’t think it’s the height of responsibility to imply cooking wheat based products a certain way makes them okay. The conservative course to avoid all gluten containing products, regardless of how they are cooked.

        Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
  28. Gluten free can be great for some people. But for those of us who are not intolerant or sensitive to it, I honestly see no reason to eliminate it from our diets. Limit? Reduce? Yes. But eliminate? No.

    Brendan Coburn wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Try eliminating gluten 100% for just 2 weeks (3 weeks is even better) and see the difference it makes. It is rather surprising.

      I didn’t think gluten was affecting me either, then I stopped for three weeks. The improvements were so gradual that I didn’t fully recognize them. And then I ate half of a tortilla and I was back to my “old” normal.

      A young guy like you might not notice the difference as much since you haven’t had the decades of gluten slowly chipping away at your system. But after three weeks, there WILL be a difference. Just try it.

      Robert wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I agree wholeheartedly. My story exactly. I suffered from IBS all my life and finally ended up taking Prilosec for 6 years to keep my food from getting caught in my throat. Thanks heavens I found a nutritionist (chiropractor) who cared enough to listen. I have never been tested, but after a month on an elimination diet, it was crystal clear. I ate a piece of whole grain toast and 20 minutes later was in pain in the bathroom. Everything is so much improved. Don’t be afraid to try it.

        Lynn wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • I eliminated gluten with a skeptical mind, THINKING it was going to make no difference because I had no major GI problems etc., but thinking I’d give it a go… OMG, the difference it made can’t be put into words. :)

      I would therefore rather advise people to eliminate it totally for 3, 7 or 14 days, then if they see no differences (I did after just 3 days) they know they’re not having problems.

      Advising “moderation” isn’t the answer, since the problems are caused by various inflammatory/immune responses that will kick in even with relatively small amounts – I personally was usually only eating a couple of slices of good quality organic bread most days, yet the diff. when stopping that small amount was radical. :)

      I sincerely wish I hadn’t allowed skepticism to get the better of me for many years after I first started reading sites discussing undiagnosed intolerances and the benefits of cutting out gluten. ;)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I eliminated gluten for a month.

        Not that I ate much of it anyways, but I didn’t worry over it particularly either – I didn’t care, for example, if I thickened a sauce with white flour, corn starch or xanthum gum. And though I generally low-carb due to diabetes, I considered a slice of good sourdough a worthwhile cheat. So going gluten-free wasn’t a huge change for me, since I have a pretty low grain intake anyway.

        After a month gluten-free, nothing changed for me at all. I bought a sub one day to test and had no symptoms from reintroducing it either. So gluten became primarily irrelevant to me, same as it had been before.

        It’s a worthwhile test to do, as it’s a lot easier and cheaper than an endoscopy to just stop eating it for a month and see if it makes a difference to your health.

        But arguing whether gluten is the devil or not is a tad silly.

        If you have celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, someone contaminating your butter with a double-dipping knife can make you very ill – it’s serious stuff for those people.

        If you don’t, well eat it or not, none of my business, I don’t much care what you eat unless you have a particularly kewl recipe to share.

        IMO, at best, grains are “filler” food, even when properly prepared via soaking, sprouting or souring, they provide little nutritionally and thus are mostly empty calories. We’re all better off with more animal foods and nonstarchy veggies for most of our plant foods to maximize nutrition and hence health.

        Grains are primarily for feeding people cheaply. If you’re broke and have a bunch of bellies to fill, this is useful; if you’re aiming for maximum nutrition, grains displace better foods, so it’s not.

        jpatti wrote on September 10th, 2013
    • Gluten containing foods usually have little to no nutritional value, and are thus empty calories. Not only that, but they don’t even taste good on their own. Once you conclude that pasta, bread, cereal, etc., are just vehicles for other stuff (sauce, meat, etc.) that DOES have value and tastes good, it becomes a lot easier to reduce and even eliminate gluten. The benefits have been worth it for me.

      Kurt B. wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • I agree! I used to really miss spaghetti. Then after reading a comment similar to yours, I decided to just make the sauce (I make a very thick meat sauce) and ate it like chili. It was great and I didn’t miss the noodles at all. Now, whenever I crave wheat, I ask myself “What is on it that I really want?” And just eat that!

        Nomad wrote on September 5th, 2013
        • Nomad! I totally agree! I love meat sauce (spaghetti sauce with browned ground beef stirred in–and other optional ingredients, if you like them, like mushrooms, for instance). I eat a bowl of it, sprinkled with parmesan cheese, and it is sooo delicious. I don’t miss the pasta at all!

          Karen Mortensen wrote on September 5th, 2013
  29. I went gluten free and sugar free about 10 months ago and have seen dramatic improvements in my health. When I do cheat, I get immediate digestive pains. I would like to add that one doesn’t need to feel deprived of anything in order to eat this way. But I do think cooking one’s own food is very important. I never buy the ready made GF bread or dessert products. I make my own from a blend of flours like coconut, almond, chickpea, flax meal and rice flours. I use stevia to sweeten my goodies. I make a loaf of “white” bread and a loaf of a sweet bread (pumpkin, raisin, prune, etc.) once per week. These breads are healthy, delicious, and more than enough to carry my husband and I through the week without any feelings of deprivation. I’ve even started making GF pizza crust and delicious desserts using stevia (flourless chocolate cake anyone?). I know this might be difficult for someone who doesn’t like or doesn’t have time to cook, but for me, it’s the only way I can do it. It’s well worth the time and effort to have the foods I love.

    Kathy Dawson wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • OK – please post the Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe. I am interested:)

      Lynn wrote on September 4th, 2013
  30. Yes. This.
    “My favorite thing is when “concerned health experts” caution against starting a gluten-free diet without talking to your doctor, paying for a test to determine a gluten allergy, and consulting with a registered dietitian. As if giving up bread, pasta, and cake for more animals and plants is a dangerous undertaking that requires professional assistance. As if removing gluten and feeling loads better only to feel terrible upon a chance reintroduction is an unreliable way to determine if you should go gluten-free.”

    Also – Has anyone else noticed a decrease int he their blood pressure? Both the wife and I have had noticeable improvements and my blood pressure is now better than it was 20 years ago when I was 100 lbs lighter and running five miles a day in the army.

    Robert wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Agreed!
      Even Prevention magazine said to consult a doctor first!

      quote: “cutting gluten without checking with your doctor first can lead to deficiencies in important nutrients, such as fiber, iron, vitamin B12, and magnesium, says MaryAnne Metzak, CDN, a nutritionist in Southampton, NY”

      I’m starting tomorrow, on payday. No doctor will be consulted.

      Andre wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Seriously? Iron and B12 deficiencies?

        I…

        they…

        ….I have no words. *facepalm*

        Shauna wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • of course they have to say that, think of the law suits if they didnt……

        Hanna wrote on September 6th, 2013
      • Well, going gluten-free CAN be bad if you do it by replacing all the standard gluteny foods with their gluten-free counterparts. Wheat flour is required to be fortified to prevent deficiencies, rice, tapioca and corn and such are not.

        In the “real world” where gluten-free bread, pasta and pizza are common place, there is a reason for caution.

        Here… not so much. I doubt readers here are going to decide to go gluten-free via a big pile of more expensive processed foods. No one gets LESS nutrition by replacing a sandwich with a big ass salad.

        jpatti wrote on September 10th, 2013
  31. Definitely NOT a fad. My wife has an intolerance to gluten. She gets itchy every time she eats anything with it! Depending on how much gluten she eats, she can get extremely itchy. To the point of not being able to sleep. So we basically cut that out of our diet.

    As for gluten free pastas and breads, we do indulge from time to time. But for the most part, we keep it out. We only wish that restaurants would cater more as I feel that even though there is an awareness, there aren’t really any great options.

    Some places they will go out of there way and the chef will really help out. Others, they don’t do anything. Since we live near NYC, we find that restaurants in NYC generally are way better at attending to these needs as oppose to where we are (Jersey City, NJ).

    Shamir wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • ITCHY! YES!!! I just made another connection! Thank your wife for me. This past weekend I indulged in food I’m no longer used to and had skin crawlingness/itchiness that was driving me mad!

      Julie wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • FYI – My allergic reaction to gluten – started with wheezing/runny nose, then heartburn, then GI disturbance, then skin rash. The last time I had pizza after not eating gluten for a month – I had all of that and angiodema (face/mouth swelling). It’s not something to play around with.

        bamboo wrote on September 4th, 2013
  32. “There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all argument, and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance. This principle is, contempt prior to examination.” Herbert Spencer/Wiliam Paley

    ‘Nuff said :)
    Happily Gluten free since 1987

    Serena wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Lovely and extremely apt quotation, thanks! :)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
  33. Mark

    Avoiding Gluten probably good. App. 70% of americans have so reaction to it. I think not eating processed foods much more important. You have to consider how what is called food has changed in just the last 30 years. Wheat in this country just 30 years ago contained about 16% proteins, While today about 3%. No wonder their is an epidemic of wheat bellies. Good article.
    Thx

    mrpom wrote on September 4th, 2013
  34. Mark,
    Thank you for writing this article because its something that if your celiac or gluten intolerant you get this type of service at restaurants. Not all of them but the majority. I dont want to eat out not because of just getting sick but because of how I am treated. Do waiters think its good customer service to feel sorry for some one who chooses to eat no grains and they cant imagine what to eat without grains in their lives. Just get how the customer eats and tell me what they can have or can be adapted. Its that easy. We created a food allergy training service but most restaurants think there is no problem or just dont think the employees can handle basic knowledge. Even if the chef or mgr comes to your table. If the everyone from the hostess , washer, chef, mgr had basic knowledge of food allergies. The experience would be so much better for food allergy customers. I just want everyone to enjoy eating out and what too. That isnt the case right now. I am a stand that we can eat again (food allergy customers) with fun and ease. From what I have heard europe and some other countries treat food allergy customers alot better than here in the states.

    connie curtis wrote on September 4th, 2013
  35. “Third, in my experience, people who go gluten-free usually stumble into a Primal way of eating. ”

    This was my experience. I was searching for ways to control my very bad heart burn/acid reflux and read somewhere that gluten could cause it. That led to me reading Wheat Belly. I thought it was crazy, but decided to give it a shot. It worked, so I started to wonder what else I was missing. I then read the Paleo Diet, and from there off to Primal Blueprint.

    YvonneJean wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • My experience was a bit similar to yours. In 2007, I had been on daily Prilosec when I tried a two-month anti-Candida diet. No yeast, nothing fermented, and very low sugar. I lost five pounds and didn’t need Prilosec, but when I went off the diet, back came the pounds and the Prilosec. When I stumbled on Primal 4 years later, it looked a lot like the anti-Candida foods. Sure enough, now I’m ten pounds lighter, but more importantly, Prilosec-free.

      oxide wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Ditto. Did trial elimination diet for PCOS in Aug 2011. My seasonal allergies disappeared and acne lessened. I continued to eat gluten off and on, so long as I didn’t respond negatively. By Thanksgiving my responses got suddenly worse. I started having GI responses to gluten, which I had never had. Plus my allergies sort of came back. Went consciously gluten-free in Dec 2011. In Jan 2012 my cycles regulated for the first time in my life. In April 2012 I suddenly became intolerant to avocados and pineapple. I realized just being gluten free was not enough to heal my gut, so I started looking into SCD, paleo, GAPS, and WAPF. Ever since I’ve adopted a diet that leans heavily on primal/WAPF, and as a result my avocado and pineapple issues are gone and my fertility was suddenly restored. I hold my 5-week-old son on my chest as I type this.

      I also hated that gluten free packaged foods still had so much junk in them. Pre-gluten-free I was baking pretty much all my bread products from scratch, with local organic wheat berries I milled at home. Even to make gluten free bread at home I needed ingredients I wasn’t comfortable using in my “real food” philosophy. Ultimately, eating paleo was much simpler. Even baking grain-free became simpler than using gluten-free grains.

      Michelle wrote on September 4th, 2013
  36. I have always been a skeptic of the gluten free lifestyle. Things change and life happens. We have a son who is now 2 1/2 and was diagnosed with ASD just after his first birthday. His is a non verbal form of autism. He would just look at things and not respond when you spoke to him. Not a sound would come from him. He would not look at you when you spoke to him. he would just stare blankly past you. He also had a bad case of exema on his face.
    We started doing research on taking his diet to gluten, dairy and soy free. We consulted with a wholistic pediatrician who also gave us a little guidance. He has been free of all of these for 8 months now. His exema is gone, he interacts with everyone he sees, he has great eye contact and is increasingly vocal. He still has not spoken yet, but we feel that will be soon.
    The GI issues that are associated with gluten are real and we have seen the difference. His issues are keeping him from absorbing all the nutrients in his diet, so we have to add a regiment of supplements just to bring him to normal levels.of the family. The doctor is wonderful and he is a big believer in eating paleo and he thinks that eventually we will be able to take him off the supplements and his diet should be able to sustain his health.

    Jay Sherman wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Removing gluten has greatly alleviated my often-crippling clinical depression (clinical meaning not caused by anything, and not amenable to doing things to “cheer myself up” either) and makes me wonder what my life would have been like if I’d been raised without it from infancy, as I was depressed and missing school because of it (not diagnosed as such) before I was 10 years old.

      I’m just mentioning this to show that it’s been my experience that gluten can have HUGE effects on brain & cognitive functioning, even in the absence of the normal celiac GI-oriented symptoms.

      I congratulate you on finding the right answers for your child, and wish you every success! :)

      Patrick wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Patrick, I have had a very similar experience. I had severe anxiety so long that I truly thought it was normal to live in constant fear. I thought everyone did. I was on and off medications for years for depression and such. The anxiety has cleared up 99% since going Primal. Whenever I “fall off the wagon”, some of the first things that starts are mood swings/anxiety (have you ever sat up half the night in panic that you forgot to water a plant at work?!?) It always makes me sad when I hear people describe themselves or family as BEING ADHD, OCD, whatever. That is a CONDITION, not who you are, and diet can have a HUGE impact on it if you just try!

        Nomad wrote on September 5th, 2013
    • Jay – Assuming otherwise normal interactions, (which it sounds like your son is now achieving), boys in particular can talk late even without other issues. My son didn’t talk until he was 3 and then by 9, the issue was getting him to be quiet. :)

      Ordinarily, with all the other symptoms the speech is a big cause for concern. However, if he seems like he’s “normal” (that’s so hard to describe for a 3 year old) with the diet changes then there’s a chance the late talking is just how he’s developing.

      I wholly heartedly recommend reading “The Einstein Syndrome” about the subject.

      (PS – My husband spoke late and my daughter is not speaking, but very communicative at age 21 months. It runs in families, so if there’s any relatives about that spoke late, that’s also indicative of a pattern.)

      Amy wrote on September 4th, 2013
      • Yes, I totally agree Amy. My middle son barely spoke until he was three, he had the odd few words. But then at three he started talking in whole sentences.

        Robyne Jane wrote on September 4th, 2013
  37. Great article, thanks!

    Googling around gluten-free recipes sites/blog is howI first encountered the paleo/primal concept. So I’m grateful for the gluten-free proliferation, at least in cyber-space. Grok-on!

    Mary Anna Singer wrote on September 4th, 2013
  38. After growing up eating all the processed, gluten filled crap that modern food chemistry pushes at the American consumer, I am now a senior adult who eliminated grains many years ago. It is amazing to me why consumers continue to each the pizza, pasta, bread, cakes, cookies, pastries, you name it – then complain how bad they feel and how fat they are getting. How they need heartburn meds, ExLax, Viagra and statins. Is it blind trust in the food industry? Is it denial?

    My oldest sister and an aunt both were diagnosed with colitis, then Crohns Disease in their 30s. But, would they even try a grain free/gluten free diet for a couple of weeks to see if it helped? No! The response: “what would I eat?” So they preferred drugs and surgery to giving gluten free a try. Go figure.

    I am pretty used to now being thought of as having “weird” eating habits. But, at 62 I jog, lift weights and live a very active lifestyle with no health issues. In biz situations, I often face the standard meal brought in for meetings – sandwiches, pizza, cookies. So, try to stay prepared with some raw almonds and apples just in case.

    Good article, and very accurate in terms of what we may face out there.

    Gluten-Free Deb wrote on September 4th, 2013
  39. After years of problems I was told I had IBS. No help from the Doctors. So, I did my own research and I sent for my own testing kit and lo and behold, I am gluten and casein intolerant. Not only me, but it is genetically passed down through my mothers side to my children according to the test results. Along with that, I can’t eat fresh fruit like apples, pears…. or any raw vegetable except tomatoes, cukes and lettuce. (sometimes lettuce is tricky)

    I have tried GF products and frankly, most of them suck or they still give me problems. They usually use a variety of different “flours” to take the place of traditional flour. Frankly, a Paleo diet is the only thing that doesn’t have me running to the bathroom. It’s tough to go out to eat even if you ask for the GF menu or ask them to tell you whats in a certain food item. Many times I still have problems. If I eat as simply as I can, I am better but it’s still no guarantee. I dread going on vacation or going out to eat. So to all the people who think this is a fad…..spend a day with me. :-)
    SO, thanks for the article!! It’s real!! Believe me!!

    Gina Cormier wrote on September 4th, 2013
  40. If an animal eats a gluten-containing product (e.g. chickens eating a non-pasture source of food) can that animal still be considered gluten-free?

    Paul wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • Yes, the meat product is gluten-free. There is no gluten in the end product, even if the animal has eaten gluten-containing food.

      Alyssa Tait wrote on September 4th, 2013
    • The meat will be gluten free… but the quality of the animal’s fat may change with the diet. Take beef: meat from corn fed cows is gluten free and so is beef from grass fed cows. The difference between the two will be in the composition of the fat.

      zusiqu wrote on September 13th, 2013

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