This Gluten-Free Thing Is a Really Overblown Fad!

Gluten FreeThis 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?

TAGS:  gluten, marketing

About the Author

Mark Sisson is the founder of Mark’s Daily Apple, godfather to the Primal food and lifestyle movement, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Keto Reset Diet. His latest book is Keto for Life, where he discusses how he combines the keto diet with a Primal lifestyle for optimal health and longevity. Mark is the author of numerous other books as well, including The Primal Blueprint, which was credited with turbocharging the growth of the primal/paleo movement back in 2009. After spending three decades researching and educating folks on why food is the key component to achieving and maintaining optimal wellness, Mark launched Primal Kitchen, a real-food company that creates Primal/paleo, keto, and Whole30-friendly kitchen staples.

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456 thoughts on “This Gluten-Free Thing Is a Really Overblown Fad!”

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  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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

  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.

    1. 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.

      1. “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.

      2. If that’s not the quote of the week on Sunday, I’ll be surprised. 🙂

      3. 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.

    1. And unfortunately the rest of the world follows… Processed food is processed food! Single ingredient food is the way to go…

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. Having a full blown asthma attack and the skin peel off your face is not a fad – it is a serious alllergic reaction.

        3. 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

      1. 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

        1. 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.

    2. 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!

      1. 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.

  5. 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
    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:

    1. 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?

    2. 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.

    3. 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:

      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: and lectins in general:

      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:

      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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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! 🙂

        2. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. “The trouble with quotes on the internet is it’s impossible to truly know their source.” -Abraham Lincoln

      2. 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.”

      3. 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.

  7. 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!

    1. 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.”

      1. 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 🙂

    2. 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.

      1. 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?! 🙂

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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.

      3. 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.

        1. 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?! 😛 (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!

      4. 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!

        1. 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.

  8. 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.”

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

    3. 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! 🙂

    4. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. Agree! Tinkyada pasta is the best gf pasta I’ve ever tasted!

    5. Can you elaborate on what you mean by an outbreak of inflammation?

    6. 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.

    7. 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.

    8. 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.

  9. 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! 🙂

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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)

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

      3. 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.

        1. 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”.

    2. “if I can’t proselytize, they can’t whine”

      I think this will be my motto for a while.

  13. 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.

    1. 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.

        1. Depends on how much you trust the restaurant and their kitchen staff, and how much value you place on not getting sick.

        2. 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.

        3. 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 🙂

    2. 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’.

      1. 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! 😉

    3. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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.

        2. 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 😉

        3. 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!

  14. 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.

    1. 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?

      1. 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.

  15. 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.

    1. 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.

  16. 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

  17. 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.

    1. 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).

      1. 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. 🙂

      2. 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.

        1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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.

        1. 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

    3. 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.

    4. 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.

    5. 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.

    6. “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.)

    7. 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!

    8. 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!

    9. 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.

      1. Wow, a true believer. Has your gut recovered yet, from all those antibiotics?
        I guarantee that vaccines have never saved my life.

        1. 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!

  18. 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.

    1. 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¢. 🙂

  19. 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! 🙂

    1. 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.

      1. Good point! Did the sourdough bread thing (made from my own starter) and still had allergic reactions.

    2. “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. 😉

      1. +1

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

    3. 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!

      1. 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.

    4. “Bread is the staff of life”

      Ooh, nooo! Fatty meat is the staff of life! 🙂

      1. 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!

    5. 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.

    6. 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.


  20. 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?

    1. I totally agree…I tell people it’s not a competition…it’s just a different way of life…

    2. 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!

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

  21. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    2. 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. 😉

      1. 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.

    3. 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.

      1. 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!

        1. 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!

  22. 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.

    1. OK – please post the Flourless Chocolate Cake recipe. I am interested:)

  23. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. Seriously? Iron and B12 deficiencies?



        ….I have no words. *facepalm*

      2. of course they have to say that, think of the law suits if they didnt……

      3. 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.

  24. 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).

    1. 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!

      1. 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.

  25. “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

  26. 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.

  27. 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.

  28. “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.

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  29. 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.

    1. 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! 🙂

      1. 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!

    2. 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.)

      1. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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!!

  33. 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?

    1. Yes, the meat product is gluten-free. There is no gluten in the end product, even if the animal has eaten gluten-containing food.

    2. 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.

  34. I think you kind of touch on why people get so heated about gluten-free, it creates this wacky health halo. Additionally, I think people say really dumb things like “Oh well I was slightly allergic to gluten” or “I was really addicted to gluten” etc which is just not true in most cases. The big reason a lot of people lose weight and feel better is they stop eating crappy food. Even thought things like Cheetos are gluten free, I feel that when people steer clear of gluten the gravitate towards whole, natural foods and tend to cut out a lot of carbs. Which is a good thing, but their reasoning is just flawed.

    1. Yes this: “The big reason a lot of people lose weight and feel better is they stop eating crappy food”. You nailed it.

      In all this discussion, I haven’t even realized that my goal isn’t “gluten free”. It just happens to be that way because I go for primal. People assume I’m doing gluten free. They rarely assume I’m trying not to eat crap.

      1. I have to be gluten free and it saddens me when my parents try to “help” by asking me if I can eat low fat salad dressing, Pam spray, and other processed foods as they’re preparing dinner for the whole family. Sometimes, I ask to look at the ingredients and even though gluten-containing products are not listed, I tell them, no, I can’t.

        My mom is definitely drawn in by the gluten-free label. She knows nothing about cooking in general, and even less about gluten-free cooking, so for her the label is “helpful” for feeding me when I come to visit.

        My sister has recently gone gluten free and is on the gluten-free-packaged-food train. I’m trying not to make a big deal about it right now since I know I had that sort of transition before eating really food…

        I lost weight eating crap. Gluten-filled low-calorie crap. Then I transitioned to a real food diet. Unfortunately I really didn’t feel any different, except less hungry! Going gluten free and emphasizing nutrient-dense traditional foods made the real difference.

  35. Gluten-free is more expensive? It’s funny when people say that. I go, compared to what? Considering, I rarely go to the doctor except for check ups. I rarely get sick. If I had to sit someone down and ask them: okay tell me your grocery list of all the shampoos and conditioners, facial washes, laundry detergent, followed by the money you spend on aspirin, antibiotics, other medications, trips to the doctor, money spent going out to eat and how much time you lose when you get sick (because time is money) over the course of a year?

    I’m pretty sure my simple grocery list of organic and gluten free food and time cooking all this tasty food is probably going to be comparable to all the money they’ve spent. And, I don’t spend much on hair or face products because ACV, coconut oil and filtered water (at the health food store) still beats out a 19.99 special of Proactive (oh wait I don’t get acne because of the primal lifestyle) or having to even cheap 1.99 shampoos/conditioners several times a year. The math will speak for itself.

  36. Mark, I felt the bite of a bit of sarcasm, but with my own experiences with gluten, I have some of the same sarcasm as well.

    Well, after having 50 years of day and night crippling abdominal pain and chronic diarrhea and finally giving in and I started wearing a diaper to be able to go somewhere fun with my husband. Then on my MDs advice was to try going gluten free for 6 months, and out of desperation to try anything I did it, and the diarrhea and pain stopped completely after about ten days, and then normal bowel movements became a usual daily, controllable occurrence. The first time I’ve ever been normal!!! Can anyone imagine how I felt, physically and mentally?

    I now have freedom to come and go places and enjoy life, without the fear and embarrassment of having accidents, nor do I have to know ahead of time where every bathroom is. I have even gotten to the point that I go places without even thinking of the possibility that I might have an accident. FREEDOM!! And way less stress now.

    THEN, slipping back to eating the gluten, the pasta’s, the hamburger/buns during a ten day trip to California and back, whaddya know?? Ta Dum….The diarrhea and pain returned with a vengeance!!

    So, those naysayers who tout wheat’s value, and voice their opinion about my gluten free diet, they need to just shut up because they don’t know what other’s have been through while living with the healthy wheat/gluten’s.

    I am now GLUTEN FREE AGAIN!! I will never eat it again!! For SOME people, going gluten free is NO JOKING matter!

    @Jejunum, I will try sour dough!!

    1. I wouldn’t suggest sourdough if you truly react that horribly to gluten.

      The souring process does pre-digest some of the gluten and lots of the starch in wheat, but it doesn’t completely eliminate it from the bread (else sourdough bread would not have any holes in it, or a crust, due to lack of gluten to hold its shape as it rises).

      I’m a long time bread baker. I mastered the art of sourdough baking in a quest to find a bread I could eat, that would not give me the bloating and belly ache and the anxiety spikes, and an awful rash, that gluten was giving me. It didn’t work for me.

      If you’re that sensitive to gluten, there is no safe amount to eat, and sourdough wheat bread, spelt bread, emmer bread, and einkorn breads all contain gluten.

      I will grant, though, that spelt, emmer, and einkorn wheats have a different type of gluten or a different composition of it that some non-celiacs seem to tolerate better than modern wheat. I don’t seem to have a reaction to 100% spelt or einkorn bread that I do to free-threshing hard winter wheat (even the organically grown kind).

      I’ve made bread from spelt I soaked, sprouted, dried, and ground and tolerated it well. I’ve also ground fresh spelt and used a spelt desem to make 100% spelt bread and that was tolerable as well, but it is one of those foods I can’t eat too much of too often, else the symptoms return.

      It’s easier to just go primal.

    2. Phyllis, I would skip the sour dough if I were you. You’re obviously highly gluten-intolerant, and the idea that “acid breaks down the gluten” is more than likely bogus.

  37. I have just recently discovered that I am a classic female Aspie (Asperger’s). The interesting thing is that, as I read through the symptoms, I realized I used to have some of those symptoms but no longer do. Why? Because those symptoms were all diet-related. Since I’ve completely cleaned up my diet, many of the characteristics have abated. I hope they keep researching the Autism/non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I think it’s broader than that, but they are certainly on the right track.

    And, yes, people don’t have to inflict their “gluten-free” lifestyle on the world. Stay home and cook. On the rare occasion that you go out to eat, have a steak and a salad. Going to a coffee shop with a friend? Have a nice cup of coffee. Pass on the pastry, and don’t grouse about them not offering gluten-free pastries. Once you stop eating out, you’ll find that eating out becomes something you’re no longer interested in. Plan your celebrations in some other way–like, at home, around the table, or on the back patio.

    Yes, I realize this is a typical Aspie response. 🙂 60-years of habit die hard, even after cleaning up the diet.

    1. I understand what you’re saying, but isn’t it a good thing that there’s more awareness now that gluten has ill-effects for an awful lot of people, meaning we ALL have more choice?

      Staying home and keeping silent has never helped anyone, especially those with non-obvious health issues – the very reason there’s more awareness about Asperger’s and the massively wide range spanned by ASD is because people didn’t stay silent, and braved the same storms of “Oh, that’s just some fad label, everyone has a ‘syndrome’ nowadays because it’s fashionable” etc. 🙂

      Also, if you search up the term “gluten + schizophrenia” you’ll come across a very interesting study that showed that as wheat consumption fell during WW2, so did levels of first-admission diagnoses for schizophrenia – which leads me to think that any reduction in the amount of gluten consumed would be a good thing on a mass scale.

      Finally, as I commented above, my lifelong clinical depression had eased considerably since cutting out gluten, something I would never have thought to do without reading so many stories, websites and even the haters, who all brought it to my awareness. 🙂

  38. While certain food allergies are real (peanuts can really kill some people, for example), it is also true that the placebo effect of changing ones diet is also real. And so some people attribute feeling better to cuttingout natural, wholesome grains, potatoes, etc. in their diet, because of this well-known effect.

    There is also a genetic disposition that plays a role in all of this. For example, Italians eat lots of pasta and bread and live very long lives. But high-carb diets in some populations (Native Americans, for example) results in the diabetic condition.

    1. Do you have any links to prove that placebo applies to dietary changes, especially on an ongoing basis?

        1. and this doesn’t prove anything. I have not looked at PubMed, etc. Placebo is powerful, though, and if dietary changes make us feel better, that is a good thing to an extent (pork chops don’t grow on trees, etc.).


          1. I would think any placebo effect from dietary changes would be countered by the placebo effects in favour of gluten and wheat, especially the CW’s endless claims that it’s “heart-healthy” – which are plastered all over the cereal boxes in supermarkets – and that all cereals should be at the absolute foundation of one’s diet? 😉

            If the majority of dietary voices, from family & friends, medics, the media and everyday food labelling in stores tell you something’s healthy, they are more likely to affect the psyche than the relatively few (still) voices of those who suggest otherwise.

          2. I suspect you’re young or lucky or both. Dietary changes for us less fortunate are not placebo effects. It’s harder to prove on a population level, but elimination diets in individuals is the scientific method in action.

            At any rate, I’m sure that my parents didn’t imagine my dairy allergy as a (very) sick infant. Even if you don’t buy “gluten free” for the general populous, celiac disease, food allergies, etc are known medical issues that don’t respond to placebos.

        2. Jejunum – There’s nothing to the link provided. It’s not a study – it’s n=1 (or n=2) experience if you read the comments.

          If you’re used to eating a certain diet, reactions to formerly “okay” foods happen. My husband is more sensitive to carbs now that we’re low carb/Paleo. It doesn’t mean the reaction is in his head – it means that his body has adjusted to the diet and has returned to a healthy reaction to junk food.

          For instance, almost everyone when they start smoking has to overcome a gag/coughing reflex. This is your body’s way of saying “Stop doing that, you maroon.” With enough time, however, that initial reaction goes away as the lungs adjust to inhaling the smoke on a regular basis. When a cigarette smoker stops for a while, the gag/coughing reflex has returned. That’s not a “head” thing – it’s a “my body is no longer adjusted to the crappy things I’m doing to it” thing.

  39. Awesome article. My new doctor brought up that many people are gluten-sensitive without it showing up on tests and that people are sensitive to GMOs, too. She said it was great that I’m avoiding them. I was pleased to hear that doctors are starting to acknowledge these facts, too. 🙂

    I have had people roll their eyes at me about avoiding gluten, but I feel so much better avoiding it and other carbs in general (corn and potatoes) . No more bloating or feeling lethargic!

  40. Time will tell if it’s a ‘fad.’ Low carb was very popular but now not so much. Gone are most of the lowcarb special meals at restaurants. Gluten free could go the same way. Even good things don’t always stick, especially if medical science attacks them. I have always had wonderful digestion so I was not at all a candidate for celiac. I had cut back on wheat due to paleo suggestions but finally I tried a run of no wheat at all and I found that I didn’t have asthma when I didn’t eat any wheat. The response was quick too, most asthma was gone in 24 hours. The last bit of improvement took a few months though. I went from daily medicine to zero medicine for 6 months now. But most people I tell act like I must be delusional because they can’t see any obvious mechanism behind wheat (something they love) and asthma. And they don’t want to hear it either. Plus we are typically told that there is no cure for asthma other than medicine so even I was surprised when it went away. Ironically, I CAN eat wheat once now with no apparent ill effects, I ate some noodles and someone’s house and cake at my birthday. SIngle times well spaced out do not cause apparent problems so there seems to be some kind of cumulative effect at least for me. One reason I really hope gluten free sticks around is because we will be more likely to see more research on it.

  41. Are there people loudly advocating low fat eating? Are there people rigidly following (or trying to follow), low fat eating? Of course. I suppose that we can call low fat eating a fad, can’t we? An official fad with lots of official backing.

    My lady friend suffered a lot of GI issues, and initially it was medically considered the excess stress caused because her former husband was in her care for Alzheimer’s. Her life was stressful. But after he passed away, the GI problems continued.

    She may have missed a clue because she went back to her native Vietnam for a month including the New Years period. She ate Vietnamese exclusively and had no GI problems. When she returned home, the GI problems resumed.

    Subsequently, I introduced her to “Wheat Belly” and she recalled that virtually absent from classical Vietnam cooking is wheat. By avoiding wheat, she lost her GI problems, and lives more happily.

    The gluten and/or other proteins in wheat seem to be causing the problem. We haven’t gone the full gluten free route, but she does know that the “Gluten Free” products are “Wheat Free”, and once in a while will buy a tasty snack just because it is Gluten/Wheat free.

    She isn’t celiac. Her doctor took the easy way out and labeled her as “wheat sensitive”.

    Doctor “Wheat Belly” is right in that wheat (and sugar) are in an amazing range of processed food products.

    People are faddish about “low fat”. And in that context, people are faddish about “Gluten Free”.

  42. Is gluten-free a fad? Well, possibly when you see the label on products that SHOULD be gluten free. Is gluten sensitivity real? Absolutely. All I can add is my own experience. Before adopting the Primal Blueprint diet, I had regular IBS-like symptoms where I would be up all night in the bathroom. This was a near weekly occurrence with no explanation of cause. Now, after three years of eating differently I rarely have this problem. In fact, I can almost guarantee that after eating a certain threshold level of wheat products I will spend the next night in the bathroom. So I avoid grains not just “because Mark says so” but because it makes me feel better.

  43. I love this completely fact-based post on what’s fast becoming an emotionally charged topic. Also wanted to point out that New York Mets pitching star Matt Harvey credits a low-carb, gluten-free diet with eliminating his lifelong stomach pains.

    From a recent ESPN article:

    Q: What do you like about your body?
    MH: I take pride in not being injured. I know sometimes you can’t control that, but fortunately I’ve never had issues. Also, I have an athletic build. Looking good with your shirt off doesn’t mean anything in the game of baseball, but it’s something I take pride in. I’ve always been interested in my body and my health. I eat healthy; I don’t eat gluten. Anything I can do performance-wise and healthwise, I’m definitely doing.

    Q: Why no gluten?
    MH: I’m Italian, so I grew up on pasta. But I’ve always had a bad stomach and could never figure out why my stomach was hurting. Maybe two years ago somebody asked, “You ever thought about not eating pasta and staying away from gluten?” Once I did, I stopped having as many problems. I haven’t gotten tested for food allergies yet, but for me, staying away from it has helped.

  44. I discovered my gluten sensitivity 12 years ago when I tried the Atkins diet. It changed my life for the better. Transitioning away from bread, pasta, and other gluten products was made easier for me by substituting gluten-free versions, but I no longer use them. They can be a good temporary crutch for some, especially children.
    I am not convinced that all gluten sensitivity is a classic immunologic response. I had comprehensive skin allergy testing that indicated no food sensitivities, although now I know that wheat and dairy both cause problems for me. I believe that the environmental trigger could be a common virus or an effect of viral load in susceptible individuals. That would explain why the problems often show up in adulthood.

  45. For years, I had intolerable, bleeding, cracking eczema, mostly on the backs of my hands, and my legs would often itch incessantly. The doctor could offer only prescription skin cream. After enduring a few years of that, doing my own reading, I learned that wheat can cause eczema. I dropped the bread, and lost the eczema. Wheat is bad stuff, considering too, what I’ve learned after starting Paleo.
    I lost the gut that I had for years despite being very active, and now on the scale I’m at or below my “ideal” weight. 40 pounds down in four years with no extra effort until starting commuting by bicycle just this summer.
    One does not have to, I found, buy gluten-free products which may or may not be GF, but to cook in such a way to avoid it as much as possible. Meat, vegetables, I make my own salsas, and will avoid things like tomato sauces and other store bought, packaged, who-knows-what’s-really-in-it, sauces. Instead, tomato sauce can be made with fresh tomatoes, for example.
    For one who is not celiac, I have found that cutting the wheat back to a minimum allows for minor indiscretions.
    I accept what I first learned from Robb Wolf’s and Dr Cordain’s excellent books. The “wheat” we are sold today is a modified, hybridized, mutated version of what used to be wheat and is not fit for human consumption.

    1. “I accept what I first learned from Robb Wolf’s and Dr Cordain’s excellent books. The “wheat” we are sold today is a modified, hybridized, mutated version of what used to be wheat and is not fit for human consumption.”

      Do you tolerate spelt?

  46. About 3 years ago I went gluten/wheat free based on what a friend of mine told me about her ordeal – she has fibromyalga and celiac disease. So, I am all for trying to be more healthy (and I am a Yoga teacher)….what a difference!!!

    Not only did I feel better overall, I didn’t get the “head fuzzies” in the morning, I had a whole lot more natural energy (no jitters), and I was able to do my Yoga postures much more easily and better! I am convinced that gluten and wheat can be very bad for people whether or not they have an obvious intolerance. And now eating Primal, well, it just doesn’t get any better than that!!!

  47. Wow, great post. Lots of points to remember if I ever run into the bashing, which I haven’t yet. Pretty new ar this but so far finding ways to order just meat and vegetables without mentioning gluten free. Eating this way is making enough of a change already – gluten never “seemed” be an issue for me – that I can appreciate your passion about this. I imagine you’re in for a nice long paddle this afternoon. Thanks Mark.

    1. Be careful if you order fried meat, as some meat like steak, liver (especially) and even things like lamb or pork chops can be dipped in flour, or the gravy thickened with flour.

  48. “…gluten free water” – I love it! I’ve been waiting to hear this on a commercial or see it printed on a bottle. It will happen, the time will come.

    1. Like the signs on Pizzerias…”we use real cheese”. To even have to say something like that means we have strayed badly. Isn’t this fun?

  49. I’ve been gluten free going on 4 years now. With exception of a few denial moments. Anytime I’ve reintroduced gluten the reaction is stronger and more unpleasant. I don’t follow a primal diet to a “T” but when I stick to no grains, whether its rice or wheat, I feel sooo much better. Most carbs for me affect every organ in my body. I get the eye rolls and I think my family gets really sick of hearing how I think they should eat. The research is too compelling to ignore if you have any common sense at all. Unfortunately, carbs are addictive and hard to break away from. Thanks for the post Mark. Helps me reaffirm why I’ve made the changes I’ve made!

  50. Everytime I read about the CW mindset it always brings me back to the same thing; When the Zombie apocolpse begins I know who is going down first and it ain’t going to be me.

  51. I think the rising popularity of gluten free is a double edge sword.

    In a way it undermines those with celiac disease. My son and I are celiacs and we get REALLY ill if we eat just a crumb of gluten – e.g: something cross contaminated in cooking. Before the rise in gluten free awareness we didn’t have many problems when eating out as restaurants always took us seriously as they knew we had a medical disease, now because it’s way more common we are treated as an inconvenience, another one of those people on a faddy gluten free diet and I think somewhere the fact that some of us don’t just have an intolerance has been lost.

    On the upside the choice and awareness now is amazing, especially for a shy, easily embarassed 11 year old boy.

    1. I’ve never eaten anything that has said Gluten Free. What are some of these choices that make you so happy and are amzed with? What about just eating Primal? Curious…

  52. Went gluten free to help my husband recover from lifelong IBS and also from memory loss from a concussion. In the process, I lost 52 pounds, he lost 40. I lost 11 inches of belly fat, we have more energy than when we were teenagers. Husband’s digestive issues gone. Memory better than in his whole life. All our aches and pains gone, off anti-depressants, off BP meds, off cholesterol meds. Eating real food that is delicious. We get teased constantly about our strict adherence to this way of eating. Too bad – we will never go back to eating grains of any sort. Going primal changed our lives in no time flat. We’ve had no less than 3 doctors nearly fall off their chairs when they reviewed the complete tunaround in our bloodwork. While other people our age continue to get fat and have chronic pain and memory issues, we’ll be hiking in the park and eating some grass fed steak. So there.

  53. I myself found my way here several years ago (forget how many now) while Googling for gluten-free Christmas cookie recipes after my step-mother was diagnosed celiac. Changed my life.

  54. I am one of those people who had no preconceived notions about gluten. I was trying the low carb Dukan diet to lose weight, when I noticed that various issues – gastroparesis vomiting, psoriasis and sneezing until I got a bloody nose – cleared up. I couldn’t understand what those things had in common and why a low carb diet could fix all of them. That’s when I found this site and others like it that actually had an explanation.

    The thing that bugs is me is when the angry outburst come from people with celiac disease. Rather than acting like we have a common cause, they act as as though being non celiac gluten-sensitive was somehow a threat to them!

    1. I have Celiac disease & while I actually encourage everyone to try going gluten free (especially if they have health issues), in some ways it has actually made life harder for those of us with severe reactions, just because it’s assumed by so many that we’re following a fad. See Sarah’s remark above & my reply on page 1.

      However what I hope is not that the fad goes away, rather that gf (better yet Primal) becomes a way of life for so many that it stops being seen as an attention-seeking annoyance & begins to be taken seriously by most of the people I meet. That would truly be heavenly!

  55. Typical BBQ conversation this summer:

    Person A: “No bread? No bun? Don’t you like it?”

    Me: “I’m sure it’s great, but it gives me ‘wheat butt’, so, no thank you.”

    Person A retreats to their corner of the room, and I stand alone and victorious, with my burger on a fork.

  56. I am Italian. I have been eating pasta, bread and bisquits for decades. I was NOT celiac. I was, on the contrary, healthy… at least according to the standards.
    However, removing wheat, oat and barley (I still have some rice occasionally) definitely improved my health, I am not speaking about washboad abs, I am speaking about hydric retention, bloating, brain fog and such.
    Everybody is gluten sensitive, some more, some less.

    1. You must be from the northern part of Italy where they grow rice.

      Enjoy some Risotto! 🙂

  57. Good article overall!
    Only caveat:
    People who have any reason to suspect they have celiac disease should be tested by a doctor BEFORE going gluten free. It’s good to get the diagnosis (especially for kids, because then schools /colleges have to accommodate) but it can also be helpful in work situations, if you’re ever hospitalized or in any other setting where you can’t control your own food (only examples I can think of are jail and the military, but there may be others) There’s also other tests that should be done for people with celiac – vitamin levels, bone density, etc.. Plus the endoscopy gives the doc a starting point to see if the gluten free diet is working and the gut is healing. If you go gluten free without having this done, any testing for celiac disease will be inaccurate – or you’ll be forced to go on a ‘gluten challenge’ which involves eating a significant amount of gluten for a couple of months. The first test is a simple blood test that any doc should be able to order for you – it’s pretty accurate, but technically the ‘gold standard’ for diagnosis still includes an endoscopy to view the small intestines and check for characteristic damage. If you don’t care about testing, or you’ve been tested and it was negative, then by all means give up the gluten and see if it makes you feel better. I never had the endoscopy portion of testing done, because of bad advice from a doc who told me to just try the diet after I had the positive blood test. Part of me wishes I’d had it done now – more to see how bad the damage was (and whether I’m healing now) than because of any doubt that I’ve got celiac. Celiac isn’t a joke or a fad – and personally, I think we’re going to find out that non-celiac gluten intolerance is just as real – either as a separate disorder or in people who actually have celiac and just aren’t sick enough for it to show on tests yet.

    Celiac has definitely helped me eat a healthier, more primal diet. When first diagnosed, it’s easy to binge on all the ‘gluten free’ substitutes until you realize that they don’t taste that great, they’re pricey, and you don’t feel that good after eating them. Not worth it; would rather have a piece of dark chocolate!

    1. Agree very much Kate, they will also be properly monitored for related issues and deficiencies. In the UK celiacs get free prescription items and are also not allowed to join our armed forces!

  58. The stark, aggressive reaction common of those ‘supposedly’ skeptical of the gluten free fad derives from a fear of everything they enjoy being removed from their life. I say ‘supposedly’ because it is becoming far too obvious to anyone that there is something to this ‘fad’ – they are just not willing to admit it. The relationship people have with these gluten containing foods is the first sign of an unhealthy eating habit.

    1. This!

      After I explained to a friend that gluten makes me debilitatingly hypersensitive to seasonal allergens, even when the pollen count is low, he recommended I be gluten-free during the times of the year when allergies peak and eat gluten as normal the rest of the year. After a bit more explaining on my part that this wasn’t enough and my allergy attacks couldn’t be predicted by a pollen forecast and that they were in themselves a symptom of a greater problem of inflammation, he ultimately told me he loved bread so much that if it made him sick, he’d rather eat it and stay sick than live without it.

    2. “The relationship people have with these gluten containing foods is the first sign of an unhealthy eating habit.”

      I’m convinced gluten has addictive-like effects on a lot of people, primarily because as a former booze-addict the same arguments I’d hear from friends – “Surely you can have just one, a little of what you fancy does you good, don’t you know it’s good for the heart” – and, on a couple of occasions, attempts to actually spike my drink and slip me some booze unawares – are all very similar to the tactics used re: gluten and wheat-based products.

      If anyone thinks I’m going too far, reflect on whether a sardine-free diet or a growing interest in cutting out sardines would raise the same emotive and wheedling reaction – “can’t you have just these special sardines, they’re an ancestral variety, anyway you probably could eat sardines but you’re just being faddy” etc that I see here and on other forums.

      Not to mention that chef guy who was giving people food with gluten in for a laugh after they’d specifically requested not to have it. Can you imagine anyone pulling that kind of stunt with spinach?!

      When it becomes the norm to talk about consuming a particular thing in moderation, that indicates that a significant number of people regularly consume more of it than they’d planned to, despite known adverse effects – a classic indicator of addiction.

      And when people know deep down that they have a problem with something, they can stand anything but seeing someone else who’s walked away and is free, healthier, and happier than ever before.

      JMO. 😉

      1. “When it becomes the norm to talk about consuming a particular thing in moderation, that indicates that a significant number of people regularly consume more of it than they’d planned to, despite known adverse effects – a classic indicator of addiction.”

        Yes, yes, yes!

        I was talking to a person (online) adamant that his 3 to 4 time a day soda habit was “moderate” and okay with an otherwise healthy diet. He didn’t like it when I asked why you’d want to drink that much soda if eating an otherwise healthy diet. He then got offended when I suggested there wasn’t all that much difference between a habit like that and cigarettes. (I’m good at annoying people. 😉 )

        Personally, I don’t care if someone has those type of habits (unless I’m asked to pay for them.) I’ve been there too with bad habits. I still have a few. But I’m a lot happier and more grounded by knowing that they are bad habits. No more “all things in moderation” rationalizations.

  59. There’s almost no reason to ask for gluten free options at a restaurant. You do your best. You order things that are identifiable as real food. Order a baked chicken or a piece of fish. Decline bread. Ask for salad dressing on the side. And don’t expect a restaurant to be as good for you as eating at home where you get to control whether or not the eggs are soy free or the chickens and beef pasture raised. It’s not that hard. It’s easy to ask that a piece of fish normally served on rice to instead be on a some steamed veggies. I’ve never had a problem using these simple ways. And if people think gluten free is a “fad” they’re welcome not to do it. My friends look at me and say they didn’t think you could look like this at 64.

    1. I like liver, but that’s most usually coated in flour before frying, so there are occasions when even the most primal foods have to be prepared in a way that cuts out exposure to gluten. 🙂

    2. I do this. And then I’m constantly surprised when I later find the allergen statements or ingredients lists that even the rice (local Mexican place), grilled shrimp (Chili’s), or STEAMED ASPARAGUS (Red Lobster) has gluten in it! More often than not, it’s the industrial seasonings. It’s a good thing I’m not sensitive to occasional cross-contamination, but it’s bad news for people that are. Sometimes it’s best to ask for a gluten free menu just for the awareness. I’ve worked in a kitchen before, and just having people ask for a gluten-free modification made the kitchen more aware of how they cross-contaminate allergens. When they didn’t think we had gluten-free customers to worry about, they’d get sloppy. ie. they’d not reuse a pan that was used to toast pecans to make the cookies, but they’d reuse the pan that was used to make croutons to toast the nuts.

  60. Thanks for this wonderful post! My husband and I have been primal since spring but once a month we have a traditional Italian pizza – our only cheat in the whole month. It makes me so itchy every time, and the weirdest thing is that the next morning I always wake up 2-3lb heavier. The weight goes back to normal in the next 2 or 3 days. Last time I ended up having a pizza on two consecutive days and hated myself for it afterwards. But it was an interesting experiment nonetheless .I was 2lb heavier the morning after the first pizza, but I didn’t think the second pizza would have the same affect, The next morning I was 3lb heavier! So 5lb in two days. It took me around a week to shed the weight. And that’s for someone whose weight never fluctuates by more than 1lb! For me, that’s definitely a proof that gluten (or grains in general) has a very bad effect on my body. My theory is that it’s probably water retention due to toxic effects of wheat. In any case, even if a lot of people don’t understand us, primal eating is the best thing anyone can do for their health!

    1. Vita, I love pizza, but now I do the toppings alone on a Pyrex heatproof glass plate, or make mini-versions on a big flat mushroom, and i quickly realised it was never the base that was the high-point anyway! 🙂

      I usually squoosh a few tablespoons of a herby/garlicky tomato sauce over the plate, then layer on mozzarella, then add whatever other toppings… I’m not sure if that would translate for your own trad. recipe but I can definitely tell you there are pizza-LIKE options, even serving the same toppings on sliced baked potato or slices of ham, chicken skin, or omelets! 😉

      1. Thanks for the ideas! I can’t say I am actually craving pizza so much, I could simply give it up completely. The problem is my husband is Italian and, since he’s given up everything Italian by going Paleo, going to a pizzeria once a month is like a very very special treat for him. What’s interesting is that he feels perfectly fine but I feel completely “hungover” the next morning. I suppose Italians probably have some kind of “resistance” genes for wheat like Russians do for alcohol! 🙂 Next time, I’ll simply order some seafood or a salad. It’s the only cheat I still allow myself and I’m definitely not proud of it.

  61. Yes, my dad referred me to a story where someone got really sick after ELIMINATING gluten. Some baseball player’s wife? I have no idea, but he clearly thinks it’s a fad. I, however, refuse to listen to anything that implies gluten is GOOD for you. It’s not. It’s something to be removed from your body, not something that nourishes it.

    I too suffer from asthma and eczema. I have been gluten free for about 45 days now and most of the eczema has cleared up and the asthma is better too. I have never had a complete food allergy panel skin test done although I know I have terrible reactions to pineapple and sunflower that are immediate and unmistakeable. I did ELISA delayed food response testing to 377 different foods and nothing really came up (except honey? Weird). So I’m not too sure about testing reliability. I certainly feel better and have lost 8 pounds. I don’t miss wheat. I also removed gluten free substitutes and that makes things simpler as well. Paleo coconut bread works fine if I desperately must have a sandwich. I was never much of a pasta eater anyway. The big elimination for me was the flour from sweets. That’s made all the difference, from what I can tell.

    1. You can, for example, send your dad this link:
      It is not just any “story” – it is a proper interview with a scientist who is working on celiac and gluten sensitivity research. Very informative and thought-provoking. He basically says that NO ONE can properly digest gluten. Humans just don’t have necessary enzymes for it. People who tolerate gluten, can get rid of undegistible parts more or less well. Those who cannot do it, develop gluten sensitivity or celiac.

  62. I understand some of the push back on the gluten free trend even though it seems legitimate, why? Because Americans seem to overdo any trend and it gets morphed into something beyond its original intent.

    The fat free one was probably the most terribly devastating one to overall health of people for the reasons given in the article.

    Now, the most overdone trend these days is the word “amazing”. Everything is now “amazing”! 😉

  63. Anyone who thinks Primal, paleo, and/or gluten-free are fads should:

    1. Try it for 30 days. If it’s not true, and you notice no change, you only lose a month, right?

    2. Read Mark’s books and also pick up a copy of “Wheat Belly” somewhere for a little deeper explanation of the science behind going grain- (not just gluten-) free.

    I have always known I’ve had a grain sensitivity, since maybe 19 or 20 (I’m now 36). Turns out my little brother was sensitive too: he went grain-free (including his beloved beer) and has lost probably close to 30 lbs in the last year since I sent him Primal Blueprint and Wheat Belly. Both of us have lost severe heartburn (he was on prescription meds for years; I chewed Tums like jelly beans constantly) and moderate-to-severe depression and anxiety problems disappeared as well.

    It’s no fad if it works; it’s settled science at this point. Even if you aren’t gluten/grain sensitive/allergic, if you are eating grains, you are messing up your insulin/blood-sugar regulation, causing addiction and inflammation, hurting your teeth/gums, and are probably at least a little overweight and yet still malnourished. Grains are grass seeds that have evolved to pass through animals’ digestive tracts unharmed in order to spread. Grains are NOT food any more than pine cones or peach pits are food. It’s time we stop treating them like they are.

  64. When I started my paleo journey over four years ago my health improved immeasurably. The people around me did not fair so well – they all developed a pain in their ass – me.

    I have simply made peace with the fact that everyone needs to find what works best for them. I have recently started to cheat more, but only good bread – not mindless pasta dishes or crappy stuff. Gluten free pizza works for me. Eating largely paleo with lots of intermittent fasting has kept me healthy, with the weight off. I can eat like this for the rest of my life – no problem. Never eating any wheat again? I’m lucky – apparently I can get away with it – I intend to enjoy good food and that will sometimes include wheat. But I have found from all of this – number one – listen to your body.

    I think if you are getting lots of hostile or sarcastic reactions from people regarding your food choices, it is best to examine your own views. I know I felt and often acted superior – often with just that energy or intent – the words were not necessary. People reacted my energy and intent – not my food requests or ideas.

    I think it’s very easy to be swept up in all the positive changes resulting from paleo eating, including gluten free. I was genuinely enthusiastic to spread the word, but I was preaching.

    Paleo Ron Burgundy said it best above:

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

    Epictetus (55 AD – 135 AD)

    Those Stoics were pretty smart. And the people around me have found their painful asses feeling much better and it was me that changed – not them.

  65. At first, I thought gluten-free was silly, but when my husband and I went Primal, we eliminated bread (my husband still misses it). I experienced no noticeable effects, but my husband’s intestinal problems disappeared, which he had experienced since he was a child. I just thought that it was due to eliminating bread; I really did not know that it was the gluten. Also my daughter who had earlier gone Primal realized that her problems had likewise disappeared. So I definitely am persuaded.

    1. What is a doctor? I’ll only go in an emergency (probably beyond my control).

  66. My angle on Paleo/Primal diet (I hate the diet word… more a lifestyle for me…) was health by removing processed foods from my life… Naturally, grains went out the window as well as industrial oils….

    I had IBS and Reflux for most of my adult life… Specialists often told me there was nothing to do, it was just like that… live with it and take your proton pump poison… Hmm… Now, is it the lack of gluten or industrial oils? I don’t know, but since going strict 8 months ago, no more gastric problems… its almost like a new life…

    I say strict, because before that 8 month I was doing the 80/20 rule… and that did not work… I saw a huge difference when I went 100%… I even abandonned beer… and that was almost more difficult to kick than bread!… But what a change…

    I don’t eat gluten free… my diet simply happens to not contain any grain (not even rice…). It also contains a lot of good fat… but this is probably the subject of another comment…

    Great post Mark…

  67. As a 30+ year celiac, the hype has been good for me.

    Now, there is at least a chance I can buy a few commercial product or eat out and not get sick afterwards from hidden gluten.

    While some of the product marketing is really over the top (and thinking people can figure this out), having the food industry recognize there is part of the population that wants accurate food labeling has been a benefit.

  68. A tactic I’ve been using when I have to eat out is to tell the waiter that although the bread/pizza/whatever looks good, I’m going to need their help finding something gluten-free, because I’ve been put on a strict gluten-free diet for X number of weeks (I usually say six) by my GP pending some tests – this gets a better and less sneery reaction than my experience a few times of asking about gluten-free options, without qualifying the reasons.

    It’s the classical “transferral of responsibility” tactic that parents use with children, when they say “Don’t break that or the man in the shop will tell you off” etc., and it’s corny as hell and bad that we should need it – but, I have to eat out a few times a month for work, and it works so far.

    And yes, it’s a lie, but a white one that harms no-one, and prevents inadvertant or neglectfully careless harm being done to me, since flour is often used in small amounts in meat dishes to coat the meat or thicken a sauce.

  69. And maybe one of these days, the FDA will actually require gluten to be on a label. It irritates me to no end that only “wheat” is required to be labeled.

  70. Great post. I went paleo for training purposes and ended up with a positive celiac diagnosis. If not for the ‘fad’, I would still be sick and miserable (and 50lbs heavier!), and headed for many bigger health problems.

    I just wish we had more discussion of primal/paleo/whole foods in the general discourse. It bums me out when friends figure out that gluten-free really works, then end up living on gluten free junk food and wonder why they still feel terrible. I think its more common than indicated above, actually…I’ve seen it happen with lots of new celiacs and gluten sensitives. Its not really about removing gluten, its about replacing it with healthful, real food. But a lot of people don’t even know what that is.

    I sometimes see people who get so hung up on gluten = evil as a single variable problem, that they become rather fixated, anxious and even obnoxious about it. Just the other day, I stood behind a woman in a takeout place who had the poor kid at the counter bring out every restaurant bottle of dressing so she could (loudly, plaintively) recount every ingredient aloud, and comment on whether it was gluten free or not. Seriously, please don’t do this (especially if you’re incorrect, which this woman was, with about half the things!). I have celiac, and I don’t do this, because its a lousy, entitled, obnoxious thing to do. If you’re so sensitive that cross-contamination is a factor, that’s valid; but realize that most commercial kitchens are not able to cater to you. Cook for yourself, and seek out GF restaurants. Becoming a huge pain in the butt makes it tougher on everybody (by contributing to the derision and eyerolls Mark references above). I think there’s room for improvement on both sides of this issue.

  71. Good post!

    My two cents is this:

    I absolutely HATE being preached to by others on what I eat.

    I absolutely LOVE learning about choices and information about what I eat. There is a BIG difference.

    I eat Primal and intermittent fast 5 days a week. All my vital signs are excellent! Two days a week I eat whatever I damn well please. Pizza, bagels, ice cream – whatever.

    I really APPRECIATE you info and ideas. It has helped me a great deal. Please keep it up.

  72. The reason you will continue to see “gluten-free” appearring on the labels of products like humus, yoghurt, and yes even water 🙂 is that many of these are made or packaged alongside gluten-containing foods, which could corss-contaminate them to the small degrees which celiacs find problematic.

    The European Union has issued new guidelines on this:

    “The European Commission, using recent internationally recognised scientific evidence, has introduced compositional and labelling standards (Commission Regulation (EC) No. 41/2009) that set levels of gluten for foods claiming to be either ‘gluten-free’ or ‘very low gluten’, which came into force in January 2012. These levels are:

    * ‘gluten-free’: at 20 parts per million of gluten or less
    * ‘very low gluten’: at 100 parts per million of gluten or less – however, only foods with cereal ingredients that have been specially processed to remove the gluten may make a ‘very low gluten’ claim.”
    (There’s a link from my name below this post to the UK govt’s page about this.)

    If you go to purchase a product that contains no obvious sources of gluten, yet is not labelled with one of those terms, you now know it’s possibly cross-contaminated – be it the food in a Pret A Manger that has no wheat in it, yet may be cross-contaminated because the tongs or serving tray have been in contact with wheat products, or the yoghurts or rice packaged in the same factory as a crunchy-wheat yoghurt pot, or a cereal packing company that also handles barley.

    So THAT’S not a fad, either – just a recognition of some people’s extremely high sensitivity to gluten. 🙂

  73. I’m tired of all the strange looks from people when I tell them I’m eating Primal and have cut out breaded products, etc. Always followed by, “you don’t need to diet, you’re tiny”. Since I began this “diet” at the beginning of summer, I no longer have indigestion, heartburn, nor am I bloated. Still working on joint pains in my lower legs/knees and fingers, but even that’s better. I don’t eat the “gluten free” marked products either and have found tremendous pleasure in grass-fed meats and quality veggies. I did have a cheeseburger this Labor Day weekend (w/bread) from Jake’s Wayback. Yum. Funny, I realize while that burger was great with all the fixin’s including the bread – I’m fine not eating it again for a long, long while. I try to spread my wisdom when someone asks and acts as if he/she are interested, but I also know when to keep my mouth shut to keep from getting utterly frustrated.

  74. I went to Panera today for lunch (I know, not the best choice, but forgot to pack lunch and had half an hour and limited choices…) I ordered the most primal thing I could find- soup and salad.

    The woman at the register asked me, “bread, chips, or apple?”
    Me: “Apple.”
    Cashier: “Ok, bread…”
    Me: “No, NOT bread.”
    Cashier: “What do you mean, no bread?”

    ***face palm****

    1. Panera has a hidden menu! Ask for it at the counter. Just say “I want to order from the hidden menu” They will verbally tell you several Primal-ish items to choose from. I imagine they hide it because there’s no bread on that menu. And Panera loosely means “Bread Store” in Spanish and probably Italian as well.

  75. I found this post to be really interesting. I became gluten free about a year ago, when I did a Whole30. I really didn’t expect gluten to be a culprit, but once I eliminated it and added it back in, the difference was clear. For awhile, I kept eating primal because I felt so great. Over time, I allowed myself to add more non-gluten grains (like rice) and gluten free baked goods to my diet (despite the fact that I knew that baked goods are never good for you- ha). In part, I want to blame the fact that gluten free is becoming popular and more options are available. If there are gluten free buns or pasta or beer or baked goods when I eat out, it’s like “Oh, I don’t normally have that, so I should indulge now” whereas, I’m content to stay grain free if there aren’t gluten free options like that. BUT, I know that it’s a matter of my own perspective needing to change. I’m realizing once again that I don’t feel great eating grains, even if they are gluten free, and so I’m wanting to eat grain free again (which is to your point about gluten free people finding the primal diet naturally). I’m getting back into the mindset of wanting to feel healthy more than I want that gluten free goodie, so the temptation isn’t even as strong. I’m glad, in general, that more people are cutting out gluten (I sure wish my husband would), and I’m glad that there are gluten free options for the occasional treat or for those who don’t (yet) want to be grain free.

  76. Thanks for this fun read! I have to laugh at all the “haters” out there.

    Funny, I actually stumbled upon this website years ago when I was researching how many carbs to eat when trying to lose weight and then I started hearing about this “wheat and gluten thing”. I have PCOS so I’ve been researching for years and years to find natural alternatives to heal myself since the meds I had to take before made me so incredibly ill.

    I actually read a success story posted on this site about a woman that cured her PCOS by following the primal/paleo lifestyle and I gave it a whirl. I can’t tell you how amazing I felt even after a few days going grain free. I’m on the road to recovery now and I’ve been seeing results in a few months I didn’t see even after years of medication. The most important thing now is I actually have HOPE when I felt doomed all my life. It’s an incredible feeling.

    So yeah, I’d say this gluten-free grain-free thing has some substance to it 😉

    Thanks Mark!

  77. Great article. I came to paleo after removing gluten and soy from my diet. I have horrible allergies and had a love/hate relationship with breads and pastas. The occasions that I ingested gluten or soy ended up with unpleasant results. Once I removed gluten from my diet, I noticed similar reactions to other grains and started investigating paleo. Going paleo was difficult after being vegan and fat free for many years. Been paleo since May and I’m not going back. I do keep it to myself as I have many vegan friends who don’t mind telling me that a healthy diet is lots of whole grains and vegetables. And the meat and fat will kill me. Interestingly, I have no GI issues, now. Also, lost a lot of weight and still losing on low carbs.

  78. I have a different situation. I am allergic to wheat. When I tell people that, they think I have Celaics disease or something and give me that look. I have heard/felt the eyerolls and sighs.

    When I eat wheat my nose clogs up, if it is mixed w/sugar I get asthma. Not to mention that drip down the back of my throat. It is just annoying enough to allow me to still eat it during the day and suffer at night as I try to breathe. The mind has a great way of compartmentalizing so I forget the aftereffects.

    That said, I went gluten free w/those substitute grains etc and it sucked. Here i am eating whole wheat and have to go to pasty rice bread subs. Getting the nerve up to go paleo – did it twice and it was excellent, still feel I have to suffer, I guess. Soon….

    1. Caroline,
      I have that exact reaction to wheat and sugar! I don’t miss that drip down my throat at all!! Or all those sinus infections that I used to get.

      1. Same here, after reading “Wheat Belly” and other information I learned that wheat produces mucos…. ew….. after getting rid of that and later the rest of grains I no longer get the sinus infections and other reactions.
        Hopefully more in my family will start to eat primally or paleo and find relief from their health problems too.

  79. I’ve read that the reason for the surge in gluten sensitivity is that the grains are genetically modified. Also, grains are typically stored in silos where they become infested with mold and fungus which contributes to candida, and mycotoxins.

  80. Good nutrition is the best medicine. Im 73 and I had so many things going on with me that the Drs had me taking 7 Rx for the symptoms. I started eating the Paleo way and recently did the Whole30 and it was like God had healed my afflictions. Chronic backache went completely away. Diabetes went normal and off medication; Allergies disappeared; Rheumatoid Arthritis reduced Rx to half and painfree; headaches disappeared; lost 9 pounds in 30 days; and sleeping like a baby. A whole new life begins when you feed your body right.

  81. I used to think it was a fad. Maybe it is a fad, but since I no longer eat much from the grain department, I feel a lot healthier and do not miss it. I can eat things contaminated with gluten without harm so it makes it easier to eat out. I just go ahead and order the burger and simply remove the bun and eat it with a fork rather than lament the lack of gluten-free options.

  82. What strikes me is that those who feel judgmental about others attempts to discover health through dietary changes or experiments fail to understand that something drove people to experiment. Nobody who feels great and is thriving on the typical foods would seek to change their diet. Nobody jumps on an inconvenient “fad” who was already feeling fabulous and at peace.

  83. Becoming allergic to wheat was the biggest blessing in disguise. I feel so much healthier without it–and my family and friends have noticed the change, and cut back on the gluten crap, too.

  84. Ooh, lots of looong posts! THE one thing I’ve always been fascinated by, is the need to find a substitute for any item being avoided/eliminated. Gluten-free beer? Tastes like garbage. (Then again so does most beer!) Other than the dabble with the beer, I’ve not once deliberately looked for a gluten-free substitute for any gluten-laden produce. I either go without, or consume (and suffer the associated consequences), which, on the paleo journey, is happening less and less.

    1. My experience with the beer from a local brew pub shows that beer as the only grain in the diet, did not reverse the gains from long term grain free. It did reverse the weight loss to the tune of 40 pounds in 3 years. It might be significant that my GI track was well healed before I found the pub.

      1. As long as you FOUND the pub…I think that’s really the important point here.

  85. I am one of those people who had IBS and stumbled onto eating gluten free, as a means of feeling better digestively. I was sick most of the time, but didn’t know why. Then the dairy products had to go, then the sugar, then the legumes. So when I recently (started on September 1st) decided to go paleo, it wasn’t that big of a change for me. am very hopeful that I am going to be healthier for it.

    I have encountered a great deal of negative feedback from family and co-workers, which I thought was very strange. It’s helpful to know I’m not the only one who is getting crap for trying to eat healthy.

    Thank you, Mark, for your excellent article!

  86. Mark – your sarcasm and wit are highly entertaining, but believe it or not (and I am a highly educated person), it tends to cloud the point you are trying to make. If someone doesn’t read carefully or attentively enough, it would be easy to think you are supporting those “studies” rather than refuting them. Unfortunately, a lot of readers may miss your point, and the point is so valid that I hope that doesn’t happen.Great article, nevertheless!

    1. No, his wit and sarcasm make it fun to read. It’s my responsibility as the reader to slow down and understand. I’ve done enough writing to know that you can compose a sentence like this:

      The Post Office is on the right, by the House o’ Food Fads shop.

      Then a reader will go “Okay, thanks. But where’s the Post Office?”

      Skimming is not the author’s problem. I’m sure he typed slow enough for everyone.

  87. Excellent rant, Mark! Well done, well written, well timed. Keep ’em coming. I really enjoy your sense of humor, your outrage at ridiculousness, your well-informed self. You are clearly helping me stay healthy. A big ol’ thank you is cyberly heading your way!

  88. Great post. I have to confess to being one of those eye-rollers that thought the gluten-free thing was something made up by over-protective soccer moms. Until 2 years ago when I developed a very sudden and very severe intolerance for gluten. I went undiagnosed for 18 months and it was hell. I’m gluten free for 6 months and feel wonderful and feel better than I have in years. I wish I had given it up many years earlier. Now that I understand what gluten is and what it does to the body, even if I could eat it, I would choose not to.

  89. “…there is that subset of the population who takes umbrage at people making health decisions without conducting randomized controlled trials..”

    If you say “I prefer food without gluten” or “I’d rather be cautious and reduce gluten where I can” you don’t get an eye roll (from me). The problem is, people don’t say that. They insist “gluten is bad for you!”, “gluten is poison!” or “I’m allergic to gluten and so are you!” Yes, I’ve been told all of those. The last one about dairy as well, from a naturopathic “doctor.” A disturbing amount of the time the person then describes how he or she went to his naturopath and got his “levels” measured by some machine.

    In the absence of evidence caution may be justified. Evangelism, stating absolutes and dispensing health recommendations is not.

    1. “If you say “I prefer food without gluten” or “I’d rather be cautious and reduce gluten where I can” you don’t get an eye roll (from me).”

      But, with respect, avoiding gluten isn’t about “reducing” it since very small amounts can start the immune and inflammatory responses that cause life-shortening and health-destroying reactions. For example, the EU, never the most holistic-minded of agencies, recommends 20 parts per million of gluten, or less, before a product can be labelled “gluten free”.

      “I prefer” or “reduce where I can” sound far more like the tedious fudges used by people who wish to avoid fat in their food for supposed health reasons, yet by the end of the meal will cave in and start scarfing their dinner date’s ice-cream, and would be even less likely to be taken seriously. 😉

      I don’t “prefer not” to eat gluten, in fact when it comes to preferences I used to LOVE wholegrain breads – but I’ve found my lifelong clinical depression, brainfog, and a myriad other small but nasty problems eased up since I eliminated it from my life, and I don’t see why I should risk being physically damaged by someone who thinks “Oh, it’s just a preference, so a little won’t hurt” if you see my point? 🙂

      There was a case a while ago of a chef giving people who had requested the gluten-free menu options gluten-packed pasta, since he evidently believed it was a matter of neurotically fussy eaters not really knowing what’s good for them, and since that can do serious harm, it’s not really an issue we should be willing to fudge about, apologise for, or in any way give ground.

      I doubt whether anyone would like to eat food that the chef has spat into, even if the high temperatures destroyed any germs and made that spit completely harmless, and to my mind this is the same issue – if you request not to have gluten-contining ingredients used, you have a right for that request to be respected by the people whose wages you’re paying, and not to have to apologise, explain or backtrack – “I prefer it if Juan doesn’t spit in my soup, I’m trying to reduce the amount of body-fluids I swallow before 6pm where I can” or something!

      The issue is ultimately about consumer choice, and respect for that, not whether the chef, wait-staff or anyone else has the right to sneer at your request and give you whatever’s most convenient (or amusing 🙂 ) for themselves.

      1. Patrick, I don’t know you, but I Love You Primally. I have thoroughly enjoyed your well-reasoned and gently-put thoughts throughout this thread!

  90. I have had no “symptoms” of gluten tolerance issues as far as I know, however, one and a half years of forgoing grains and wheat have been a blessing to my health and wellbeing. Also, I get to joke with carb-eaters at their expense!
    Recently I went on a month long binge of craft beer drinking and my cholesterol skyrocketed after having dropped 60 points previously. Coincidence? Doubtful. Gluten reaction? Probably!

  91. Just an observation: I have seen on Dr. Oz presentations by Dr. Dean Ornish and Dr. Andrew Weil, who both recommend grains, and noticed that both appeared somewhat puffy and unhealthy, compared to Dr. William Davis, who appeared and spoke about his book “Wheatbelly”, looking very fit and healthy.

  92. To get off humans for a second, gluten issues can affect pets, also. A lot of dry (and even canned) dog and cat food contains wheat and corn. Recently I had to feed my 90-year-old-mom’s cat for a day or two, with dry food; she advised me to feed the cat in small doses because he would throw it up if given the entire amount all at once. The first ingredient, chicken. The second, whole wheat flour. The third, corn gluten meal. I almost threw up myself. This is an obligate carnivore we’re talking about. And this was a ‘Science Diet’ formulation. Talk about marketing!

    1. One of our dogs started getting horrible diarrhea several times a week. On our vet’s suggestion, we switched him (and all our other pets) to grain free food, and it cleared up the problem immediately.

      Horses can also be gluten intolerant.

    2. I fed my cat grain free food. Pets dont normally eat grain . That is what I say plus you could get contamination if they lick on you too.

    3. My dog went grain free long before I did! Funny thing was I didn’t realize it until 2-3 months after discovering that I had a gluten intolerance… I had adopted her three years ago and she would have bouts of diarrhea and throwing up, I finally went to a local pet shop and she highly recommended Acana dog food. Sure enough all her problems stopped, I never read the label to understand why… until I thought if this gluten free thing works for me is that what worked for her? She has been grain free for 2 years now and I have been gluten free for 8 months.

      I’m working on the grain free/dairy free portion for myself now. My stomach/skin/energy problems aren’t 100% cured but they certainly are 90% there and more than 1000% better than I had ever felt on my healthiest day in my former life.

  93. I then ask these people to explain why after a Whole30 I couldn’t walk after the day I ate bread….Knee inflammation was through the roof…sigh

  94. when they grill you about why you avoid gluten just tell them it gives you diarrhea. nobody will argue with diarrhea.

  95. I, for one, am THRILLED that this Gluten Free thing has become a fad. It’s making my life as a busy, working mother who feeds her family 80% primal/paleo, a whole lot easier.

    I have 3 teenagers. Sometimes, they just don’t want to chop vegetables and wait for the meat to cook. Yay for having a few crappy gluten free snacks on hand. I’ve noticed the grocery stores are carrying more of these, and the prices are going down too. I just found frozen, gluten free waffles at HyVee for $2.18/box. I know these snacks are poor fuel, and I don’t consider them paleo/primal. But, at least these foods don’t give my kids headaches and damage their gut linings.

    I must be an egomaniac, because I just don’t feel the disdain you mention. 🙂 If anything, I have to manage my own thoughts and not be critical of those who have not connected the dots yet. I guess our waiters/waitresses are going back to the kitchen before they roll their eyes, because up to this point I have been impressed by the lengths restaurants have gone to to accommodate our diet. Pays to not pay attention, I guess.

    Thanks for the great article.

    1. “Yay for having a few crappy gluten free snacks on hand.”

      You’ve raised a very good point 🙂 – I hadn’t realised it before, but the availability of foods that resembled the familiar ones was a large part of the reason why I trialled going gluten-free, which has been the best thing I ever did for my own health – mental, as well as physical.

      Probably, if the gluten-free breakfast muffins, and the gluten-free everything else, hadn’t been there as a substitute I’d have been much more wary – they made the transition much easier.

      I hardly use them now, but in the first few weeks they meant I didn’t have to redesign my entire food plan from scratch, and could be faced with something reasonably familiar looking at breakfast and so on.

      So while some purists might sneer at them, they are doing a very good thing and are also raising the profile of gluten-free eating for those (like me) who previously only thought it was appropriate for a minority of fully-diagnosed celiacs. 🙂

  96. I concur with the conclusion that if we at least reduced our dependence on food products that contained gluten then it would at least force us to rely on a more varied and balanced diet.

    For two days last week I was in a “fast paced” mode, and just grabbed any foods that would quickly and easily fill my belly which resulted in me eating a disproportionate amount of bread. I quickly gained 3 lbs.

    It may be considered inconvenient to go gluten free, but then it’s inconvenient to be spending time in doctor’s offices trying to figure out why we’re not feeling up to scratch.

    I agree, you don’t necessarily have to consume gluten free food products to replace products which contain gluten. There are so many other more natural [and far less expensive] food products which can provide us with a health, balanced diet.

  97. Great article. Look what I found on Prevention’s website,in it’s
    ’25 Worst Diet Tips Ever’

    “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”

    Their claim seems ridiculous to me.
    Gluten is basically garbage that can be cut out, right?

    1. Gluten, and the cereals that contain it, are not essential to human life nor are they consumed by every community of humans, so the claim you’ve mentioned from that site is factually incorrect. 🙂

      Nor was anything resembling modern grains ever eaten as a staple food by our ancestors – that is the gist of primal eating & paleo diets.

      Archeological records show that the introduction of farming and the resulting increased reliance on grains led to a sharp decline in bone health and an increase in dental problems – which used to be agonising, and frequently fatal, before modern dentistry.

      Don’t believe everything you read just because it’s stated by a nutritionist, the vocal majority are still following the grain-based USDA food pyramid that has crippled, maimed and killed so many good people since the low-fat craze began. 😉

      1. Thank you.
        My wording might have been confusing.
        I didn’t believe their claim for a moment.
        It’s surprising that a nutritionist would make such a ridiculous statement.
        I’m not going to consult my doctor before I cut out the Ramen and cupcakes!

  98. Migraine free for 16 months and counting….this must just be a fad too then! Gluten is straight-up poison for me!

  99. Thanks for the article. While for some it may be a fad, for others it is a reality. My nutritionist suggested I might have a wheat sensitivity nearly 30 years ago – long before the general public was hearing about it. After an allergy test found I am, indeed, highly allergic to wheat I eliminated it from my diet. It was life changing. I experienced better digestion, more energy, less grumpiness, and loss of abdominal fat. In those days there were very few tasty gluten free alternatives, so I just stopped eating breads and other products made from processed flour. The difference in the way I felt more than compensated for the lack of baked goods and pasta.

    I have found that some people are exceptionally rude when I say I don’t eat wheat and I’ve always wondered why others care what I do or don’t eat. Personally, I’ve never felt it was my place to determine what another person chooses to eat. I figure it is their body and their decision – whether due to allergies, personal taste, liking to be a part of the current fad… whatever. It is really up to them.

  100. I’ve been 90% Paleo for almost two years now but have always avoided wheat bread. Yesterday, I was in an extreme rush, hungry, with limited food options.
    I got a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread.

    About two hours after eating it, I began to experience stomach pains. Over the course of the rest of the afternoon and evening I felt progressively worse and went to bed as soon as I got home from work at 6pm. My skin also started to itch.

    Today I still have a dull stomach pain, although I am starting to get an appetite back. I am tired and feel like I got ran over by a truck.


  101. It helps to be able to explain to people (who are amenable to listening) what the difference is between gluten free and grain free – and why it matters.

    As this post points out, there’s much confusion. As I’ve written in earlier comments, I’ve become hesitant to talk about how I eat. But when I do mention that I don’t eat grain, it’s pretty clear that most people think I mean I’m gluten free (like someone else they know, who they tell me about at that point).

    I feel like if we (Primal followers) are going to talk about Primal, we may as well be clear. All “gluten free” usually amounts to is taking the gluten out of grain and eating what’s left of it (including harmful lechtins and phytates – which few seem to know or care about – plus the attendant carb load, plus all the stuff usually added to gluten free food, like sugar and other sweeteners).

    Grain free means no grain – as in not any part of it. Most people don’t even know what counts as grain (like anything with flour, for example).

    If we’re gonna talk, we should do it clearly. That’s all I’m sayin.’ 🙂

    1. “Grain free means no grain – as in not any part of it. Most people don’t even know what counts as grain (like anything with flour, for example).”

      Ignorance is everywhere – when I was a vegetarian, I was frequently offered things made with gelatine, or fish, or even chicken dishes! 😉

      The vast majority of people haven’t got one clue to rub against another, which is why they just eat any old crud – it’s on the shelves, so it must be cool, right?

      1. Ha ha! That reminds me of the movie “Ratatouille” where Remy the rat’s brother is eating some garbage, and Remy says, “What are you eating?” and his brother is like, “I don’t really know. I think it was some sort of wrapper once.”

        Sadly, I know way too many people like this. I’ll ask my roommate what she’s having for dinner, and she has to consult the box to answer me.

    2. This is how I feel. I have been wondering why it is not mentioned more, not even by Mark. This topic was brought up on Medpage a week ago. The comments here are so much better. There were many comments that Mark was spoofing in this post. It is sad, how MDA members are smarter than those who read a doctors educational site.
      bang head on desk.

  102. I read severeal books and articles that recomend giving up on Grains, Sugar and mainly processed foods. All of them with a different level of information or making the point on a different basis.
    I read Atkins, and bounced back, I followed for some time John Gabriel principles (read his book of course), and finaly researching on why I felt so bad after my former prefferred dish (pizza) I bumped with Robb Wolf´s work on Paleo, kept on reading Peter Atia sometimes anoying blog and finaly reached Mark´s Daily Apple.
    After all that info, if someone ask me why I quit on complex carbs (grains and sugar), its just because I finaly started to feel good.

  103. You have an agenda, Mark: you sell products that promotes a Paelo diet. So of course you will push it every chance you get. I used to read you with regularity, but now when I see your posts I take them with a grain of salt. I know you are simply pushing, pushing, and I cannot trust that it’s trustworthy information. And the remark about soccer moms blindly following Miley Cyrus? How about that for vitriol?

    1. He’s pretty open about that agenda. The whole site is dedicated to information about Paleo. Yes, he’s going to push it, partly out of a need to make a living but also because he’s experienced good health on it. The regular posters and the endless Friday success stories should be enough to convince an observer that he’s at least not alone.

      I’m not sure what’s gained here about making a claim about not “trusting” him anymore. You should have always been taking every post with a grain of salt, along with everything else out there on the ‘Net. I like this site precisely because personality cults seem to be discouraged and critical thinking is encouraged.

      And the jokes are also no surprise – there’s all sorts of them to be offended by in many articles to be offended by. Humor is relative. If you’re really offended by it, there are other Paleo sites that are much more “just the facts ma’am”.

      1. Can I risk being annoying, Amy & Amy 🙂 and just quickly point out that this site and Mark himself don’t promote *paleo* eating, which almost always prohibits dairy and is far more committed to low-carb, and instead is about primal eating?

        Many paleo authors believe the human body has no need whatsoever for any kind of dietary carbohydrates, for example – whereas Mark posts dessert recipes, has suggested up to 150g carb as a guideline daily amount for a non-athlete looking to maintain their current weight, and the primal diet doesn’t prohibit dairy for those who don’t have an intolerance.

        As to products, Mark’s posts (don’t unlike some sites) promote his supplements in the articles themselves, along with fear-mongering warnings of the dire consequences of not taking them, so to my mind his integrity is impeccable (ick, I sound like a right suck-up there! 😉 )

  104. Sorry to say that, given the current state of American’s health and where it is trending, unless a large number of our fellows have a change heart, the problem is likely to work itself out in less than a generation.

    “Better to light a candle than curse the darkness” – Gandalf the Grey – honest

    1. …on the flip side, if everyone goes paleo tomorrow, we may all be in deep kimchi!

      Frodo Baggins – no lie

  105. I gave up gluten almost two years ago for chronic, persistent nausea and constipation. It has made a significant difference for me. My very practical doctor here in Canada told me to either take Gravol (similar to Dramamine in the U.S.) OR – and I quote, “find that thing that gives you a stomach ache and then don’t eat it.” Rather than all the tests and scopes and other procedures – that’s what I chose to do.

    If I have to go to a pot-luck gathering, I always bring something I can eat – and I always label it ‘Gluten-free’, since so many people are adopting that way of eating these days. When we have our own dinner parties, I always ask the guests if they have any allergies. Because I ask this question all the time, now people are asking me, when we are invited back.

  106. “Glu-Tards; People on a gluten free diet”. Urban Dictionary. Anyways EVERY person I know who does this gluten free thing eats total crap. Chips, fries, candy, sugary breakfast cereal. They just dont eat wheat. NONE of them are the slightest bit interested in eating paleo. They think Im the weird one. So dumb. I know a lot of people that do this. Maybe its just the class of people in my area. Also none of them exercise.

    1. I kinda mentioned something similar to this in an earlier post, but I hope I was a bit more even handed about it.

  107. I love how “gluten free” labels are popping up on EVERY supermarket product lately…but labeling items for GMO’s seems to be too big of a job for companies to handle! #ridiculous!

  108. My favorite are the accusations of ‘orthorexia’ that seem to happen every time someone tells the MFP community they are avoiding anything – even something totally junky like pop tarts!

  109. My only criticism of the post is that testing *should* be done before one goes gluten free if you suspect celiac disease. The reason is that celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder and knowing whether or not you have it, will change how you track other related health issues. If you have one autoimmune disease, you are more likely to get others. Plus, celiacs have a higher risk for colon cancer and so need more screenings to ensure they aren’t developing a potentially lethal condition. Knowing if or how bad your villi is damaged is important in knowing how to go about healing that damage.

    Other than that, though, I think this article is spot on. I went gluten free because I was diagnosed with an immune (not autoimmune, just immune) reaction to gluten. I was one of those seeking out the GF marked processed foods. And gaining weight as a result. I went to a doctor that specializes in metabolic disorders who put me on an elimination diet. I found that paleo recipes were great as most of them already adhered to the restricted foods list I was on.

    It angers me when I see “experts” on TV warning people to not go gluten free unless they have celiac disease because the diet is dangerous for your health. Which makes no sense at all. If it’s dangerous for non-celiacs, it would be dangerous for celiacs, too. Yes, trading one junk food for a gluten free one is not healthy. But there’s no reason you can’t eat healthy AND gluten free, both at the same time!

    1. A lot of tests seem to produce false negatives though, which is the main reason why, having done a fair bit of research, I’ve made the decision not to get tested. They’re simply not, yet, at the point of being able to diagnose every case where someone had problems with gluten, just as, 20 or 30 years ago, testing for (for example) bowel cancer wasn’t as accurate as it is today – we even have DNA tests now that were an impossibility a few tears ago.

      I was highly skeptical about people who didn’t eat gluten and had I gotten a false negative, would have merrily and smugly continued eating it – and not seen the dramatic improvement in my mental and physical health that came hot on the heels of eliminating gluten completely. A frightening prospect! 🙁

      1. Not really true that there’s lots of false negatives. The blood tests are 90+ percent accurate. There’s nothing to lose by having the blood test done (and, potentially, a lot of information bout your health to gain). If it’s negative, you can still drop the gluten anyway.

        1. But by the figures you quote (I don’t have my own research handy) I would therefore have had a 1 in 10 chance of thinking I was fine to keep on eating gluten, and since I was skeptical about the benefits of cutting it, I WOULD certainly have been one of those people who just trusted the test! 🙂

          I don’t want to bore you with a list of minor improvements to almost every system of my body and mind since I quit gluten, suffice to say that things like hair-growth, improved mental health for the first time ever, and stronger nails make me believe that it was the best choice I ever made.

          And because of that I shudder to think what would have happened if I’d kept on merrily eating it – I was never a total d*ck about people who avoid gluten. but I was incredibly skeptical until I felt the results first-hand.

          So I’m not arguing against tests at all 🙂 but I don’t think they provide a gold-standard and I hope any other skeptics reading this (as I used to read these kinds of articles myself) summon up the curiosity to give their own diet a trial, first-hand and full-on. 😉

          You have nothing to lose and possibly a LOT to gain!

        2. Yes, there’s still a chance of having a false negative. Dr. Rodney Ford has a great post on what test to get. The chances of a false negative are greatly reduced with the full set he recommends: The over reaching advice that gluten is bad for everyone and we should all stop eating it is good. As I said, I’d still recommend that anyone who thinks they might be celiac should get tested first. Whether or not the tests are negative, it’s still best to go gluten free. This is something that Dr. Ford has been recommending for some time now.

      2. Plus, not everyone has the money to take expensive tests to tell them they feel like crap when they eat something. Why should I believe someone I don’t know over myself? Why should I need a test to not eat something that is not necessary to humans? It makes no sense. I guess soon we are going to have to take tests to see if it is healthy if we want to stop driving a car or if we stop using non-stick pans…

        Although I AM planning on asking my doctors if they think it is ok for me to stop watching t.v. 🙂

  110. What about chappati flatbread? They are made of natural buckwheat or millet. I don’t have a physical problem with grains. What’s the big deal with have a flatbread with copious veggies, fruits, and a little meat?

    1. If you search up the terms “buckwheat + gluten” and “millet + gluten” you’ll see that the grains themselves have no gluten in them, however you might want to check that the chappati doesn’t have added gluten to give it a bit more flexibility.

      Most of the gluten-free products I’ve tried are dreadfully crumbly, as it’s the gluten in wheat that adds the springiness, so I can’t imagine a gluten-free chappati being anything like a normal one – I know that gluten-free pizza bases are pretty useless if you like to eat pizza as a hand-held slice, because they crumble too easily. 🙂

  111. I’ve gotten some VERY scathing comments from a few people I considered “friends” when I had to go gluten free. Apparently I did not suffer enough to get my “celiac” diagnosis, nor does my condition EXIST without the proof of submitting my medical records for perusal before my gluten free diet would be accepted. Needless to say, they are no longer considered friends.

    I appreciate this article and knowing that there ARE people out there who understand my condition as well as my choice to live gluten free. It’s not a choice I made to garner ATTENTION, it’s a choice I made for my health.

  112. This is one of the greatest posts ever Mark! I’ve been strictly gluten-free since January, even though I’ve never ever shown a single sign of gluten intolerance. Yet somehow since going gluten-free I feel AMAZING all the time. Hmmm….That can’t be true…

    1. Me too mate, for whatever it’s worth – I thought I was healthy and definitely didn’t have any typical celiac symptoms, but EVERYTHING has improved in the months since I stopped eating gluten, my hair’s even got thicker than it was when I was in my 20s!!

  113. I recommend Udi’s gluten free bread. Great tasting and gluten free. I am gluten free because it helps me keep the fat rolls off my waist. It is so much easier to maintain a six pack when you are gluten free!

  114. I hate it when a lifestyle choice becomes a religion; I was vegan for thirteen years and I grew weary of hearing the mantra of veganism as a panacea for the world. I’ve been primal/paleo for about two to three months now (arriving via 4 hour body) and I’m amazed at the changes I’ve experienced. My hair is growing back-I used to have a helicopter landing pad on my head; no digestive problems at all but the key thing for me is I am happier- I don’t get depressed. Don’t get me wrong, sad things still affect me but I find it much easier to deal with them and get on with my life. I’ve suspected for years that diet is a huge contributor to mental problems-there have been many studies regarding the restriction of gluten in those with Autism and subsequent behavioural improvements. As I said I tried the 4 Hour Body plan and physically it worked and that cheered me up a bit and having been a vegan (and a vegan cook in restaurants) it really played to my strengths coming up with fantastically tasty lentil recipes (and the chick pea stuff was out of this world) but I still had reflux and other digestive problems. When I cut out lentils and beans etc the change was so quick-it was fantastic. I reconnected with the early teenage me who devoured Sunday Roast leftovers and then gnawed on the bones.

      1. I’ve always thought it was odd that most people take it for granted that mental problems are not connected with other bodily problems as well. If diet can effect every other organ: skin, heart, intestines, etc – why wouldn’t it also effect the brain. It’s a part of the body, an important organ. Why do people have the tendency to hold these separately?

  115. Heh. When I was doing Weightwatchers a couple of years ago, I was eating bread, but we agreed to not eat bread for a week and see what happened. So a group of us quit eating bread (was already not eating pasta as it was too many “points”) for a week – lost 2 pounds. So kept off the bread for a while, lost more pounds. Time passes and I got down to my “goal weight”, stopped going, piled on lots of weight etc.

    Years later, I think to myself, “I’ll see what all the fuss is about. My personal trainer is banging on about it and so on.” I am perfectly happy to experiment on myself, although I like to see the evidence before I do anything. I’m a scientist and a lawyer after all! Got myself a copy of Wheat Belly, read up all the various studies etc. Quit with the gluten (and what was great is that I incidentally quit eating sugar too) last October. Alas, haven’t quite kicked the sugar thing, which is vexing, but I now notice that I get some weird tummy symptoms when I do eat gluten-containing stuff. I suffer from migraines, which seem to be caused (partly) by excess sugar in my food – I was still getting migraines even when completely gluten free, so it’s not a complete solution.

    I’m glad that I’ve quit eating gluten but I do get no help/encouragement at all from my work colleagues. They’re constantly stuffing themselves with cakes, donuts, biscuits etc and they are all quite slim. Very depressing. But I’m doing 21 Day Sugar Detox now in an attempt to get my weight down before I go on holiday next February! My parents, on the other hand, think I’ve gone completely mad and are pretty worried about me.

    1. Try not to let others discourage you. Just because they’re slim doesn’t mean there aren’t other health problems they are suffering with. I wasn’t overweight yet I lived with a myriad of symptoms prior to going primal. I bet you’ll be amazed how great you feel as a result of an elimination or detox.

  116. There are tests that you can take to see if your celiac. It tests the DNA of a person. There is a test called a ELISA which I think is the most accurate out of tests that you have. I use this website for information Gluten Free Society. I started reading it about 2 yrs ago. I already knew I was celiac and couldnt have milk but my doctor wasnt helping me get my gut healed. I keep feeling worse and not making any progress or the progress was short lived. There are many things to look at besides what you are allergic too. For example my liver wasnt working right among so many other things. I have a new doctor who did tests and detox. Not juice that has me on the right road to recover and I eat no grains for 2 yrs now which makes huge difference among some other things I have found that dont work for my body.

  117. I really enjoyed the article, but the headline seems a bit misleading. I’m not sure what you’re trying to say until I read the whole article, unless it’s getting you more clicks and reads.

  118. One of the best posts I’ve read on this blog. I love it! Not just the content but the wit is amazing and the writing is superb.

    English Nerd

  119. “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” – Mahatma Gandhi

  120. Mark,

    Subject is not a fad and I can testify

    Eating crap can be tolerated to a very great extent by those who do regular exercise

    Those who don’t or can’t are health susceptible to the poisons deliberately or stupidly contained within processed foods

    Gluten is there to aid the mass production of “so called” food

    Heaven knows why!

    Wheat, gluten, tomato and citric acid or their derivative are in every product on the supermarket shelf

    Mass produced processed food is not fit for human consumption

    Pandemic diabetes in the USA is a simple single illustration of the result

    And, there’s more folks!

  121. I am not gluten-free. I know people with Celiac and people who do it for health reasons. As a long time former line cook, I hated people ordering something on the menu that was full of gluten and then saying they want it “gluten-free”, although an all gluten free menu should solve that problem. The biggest issue I have is with people that talk about it in 75% of their conversations. My mom is now on this “diet” where she is giving up sugar, flour, gluten, alcohol, lots of other things, etc. AND SHE WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT IT. That is what drives people to vitriol. Not every conversation should be about your food choices. You are coming off as entirely self-involved.

    1. “My mom is now on this “diet” where she is giving up sugar, flour, gluten, alcohol, lots of other things, etc. AND SHE WON’T SHUT UP ABOUT IT.”

      All those things are pretty destructive to most people – just be glad your mum’s alive, mate, and doing things to stay that way for (let’s all hope) many years longer. 😉

      All those foods are heavily promoted as “normal” despite being either outright chemically addictive for everyone (alcohol) or having a very addictive-LIKE effect (sugar, wheat) on many people, and I doubt she can rant on about them as frequently as the media from just about every source pushes them at us all as “normal, enjoyable” parts of a “healthy, balanced” life.

      I was addicted to booze and for a while after I got sober, I used to be a bore about it just because it’s everywhere – google the word “celebration” and you’ll see a picture of a champagne bottle, look at any ad and there’ll be a few wine-glasses or wine bottles in the background wherever possible, yet it’s a highly addictive substance that kills tens of thousands globally every year. Things like that, and the realisation of how hard they’re pushed once the scales fall from your own eyes, can make a person get kinda antsy! 😉

      It’s almost like you need to hear your own voice for a while, just to drown out the low-level drone from the multi-million pound industries pushing that stuff.

      1. I have actually stopped drinking because I could tell how it affected my body because of my food allergies. I use to feel really bad when I drank. I decided its just a drink or food. If I feel better without it then do it. Some people get that others go in their head worrying about if they couldnt have this stuff.. I think people are starting to see how it affects people around them and going maybe I should try doing that too.

        1. There’s an author called Jason Vale who’s written a really good book called “Kick The Drink – Easily” – I highly recommend it for anyone, but *especially* for people who mostly drink socially, are thinking of cutting down or giving up for a while, and who are turned off by other books on the topic, like Rational Recovery and the whole AA thing, both of which are mainly addressed to rock-bottom alcoholics.

          He also writes with a similar mix of humour backed up with science as Mark (imo anyway). 🙂

  122. While I agree with most of the article is it too bad that gluten, however bad it is, gets the bulk of the headlines. People make “informed” decisions and go gluten-free, but then don’t eliminate other grains because they think gluten is the ONLY problem child here. Not the case.

    Quinoa is such a healthy, gluten-free item, right? Wrong. Look up saponins. This quinoa’s destructive protein coating that acts similarly to gluten, just not as well studied yet. Same leaky gut, same problems. Best bet is to eliminate grains entirely and not take on any of the destructive proteins.

  123. I agree overwhelmingly with the points made in this post. As a nutritionist, I do have a couple of counterarguments, however.
    Firstly, it is important that a person has a coeliac screen before going gluten-free. The reason for this is that if they go on a gluten-free diet and feel fabulous, they are likely to never let so much as a wheat cracker pass their lips again (which is great) – but this precludes ever doing a coeliac test again, as you need to be eating wheat in fair quantities for a coeliac blood test to be reliable. So why does the coeliac test matter? It matters because there IS a big difference between being coeliac and non-coeliac gluten intolerant. Coeliac disease brings with it some well-documented significantly increased risks of things like bowel cancer and osteoporosis. Non-coeliac gluten intolerance doesn’t. So you need to know why you are removing gluten. If you are coeliac, you need to be much stricter in order to avoid these risks. While you may, as a non-coeliac gluten intolerant, choose not to consume gluten, chances are, the occasional crumb from someone else’s toast is going to find its way into your butter, and that will do you no harm. If you are coeliac, this WILL do you harm, and you need to take extra measures to avoid it.
    The second comment is this: non-coeliac gluten intolerance may be on the rise, but so is FODMAPS intolerance, which also causes digestive symptoms when bread is consumed. In one recent study of a group of patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome), 60% had a FODMAPS intolerance! It is important we don’t label ourselves as “non-coeliac gluten intolerant” when it is actually a FODMAPs intolerance we have, as this creates confusion and scepticism about the concept of gluten intolerance, which doesn’t help the kid with autism, the kid with diabetes, and all the rest of the people with genuine non-coeliac gluten intolerance. This is a bit like the impact that “pescovegetarians” or fish-eating vegetarians have on the genuine vegetarian movement – it dilutes the concept and makes it much harder for genuine vegetarians to defend their stance.

    By all means let’s get rid of the wheat and/or gluten out of our diets because it’s great for our health and makes us feel good. But – let’s leave it at that and not use research that may not apply to us to convince others. Or, alternatively, get yourself tested – make sure you are not coeliac, which carries its own special health risks due to unintended ingestion of tiny amounts of gluten – and see if the reason you feel better without wheat is a FODMAPs intolerance, which may then lead you to realise you also feel a lot better on a true low-FODMAPs diet, which may exclude some of your favourite Paleo foods!

    1. “But – let’s leave it at that and not use research that may not apply to us to convince others.”

      But with respect Alyssa, without that research being talked about everywhere, on sites like this one, WAPF, paleo sites, forums, etc., people like me wouldn’t even BE so aware of the problem gluten causes many people in the first place! 🙂

      I’ve had major gains since quitting gluten in terms of physical health (which was never bad enough to warrent me thinking I had celiac disease), biological markers like hair growth, and even my mental health – formerly dogged by lifelong clinical depression, and a brain-fog that’d been growing in recent years – has got better.

      I undertook to eliminate gluten very skeptically, I mean VERY, and had I been one of the many false negatives from testing, I would never have made that leap – the fact is, the tests don’t yet pick up on every chain-reaction in the body that may be making gluten a problem. I know in my case it’s not other foods, as the change from cutting out gluten was immediate (noticeable within days) but for a while I ate everything else that I had before.

      The testing needs to evolve so that prolonged re-exposure to gluten is no longer necessary, instead – I would never willingly eat gluten again, and the risk of a false negative dogging my medical records makes me doubly sure of that.

      I’m not against testing but I am opposed to anyone who delays making beneficial changes while they struggle to afford, be referred to, or otherwise arrange for a test. If I had perceived that nobody should stop unless they had a test, thinking that I had no obvious celiec symptoms I wouldn’t have had it, so I would simply not be as healthy, alert and mentally at peace as I am today, writing this. 🙂

      And what got me here – ALL that got me here – was the growing minority who quit gluten and felt fabulous, with or without a formal diagnosis. So I hope this doesn’t look like a rant but with the stakes so high for me, I hope you can understand why I see the issue somewhat differently. ‘)

      When a test requires prolonged re-exposure to a potentially harmful food, one that’s increasingly being recognised as harming people even without traditional extreme symptoms, it’s the test and not the people who are sidelining it that needs to be improved, right? 🙂

  124. I find people’s choice of “gluten free” foods to vary hugely. And surprisingly, as a general trend (with some exceptions) I’ve found people who have chosen to be gluten free and felt better as a consequence choose healthier diets than celiacs. This may just be the people I’ve come across here in Britain, but it seems that the medicalisation of the health problem has disenfranchised those individuals of their choices to a certain extent.

    As an example, my sister is diagnosed celiac, has registered with a celiac association/body, and they send her through free gluten-free foods which she thinks is great! As you might imagine, these are commercial, manufactured products that have little to no health benefit. She is not a generally health conscious individual, this is a medical condition that she feels is a burden and the gluten free products are a way for her to carry on unconsciously choosing foodstuffs purely based on taste derived pleasure. They are the nutritional equivalent of the medicinal quick fix society has come to expect from physicians.

    Also, as an aside, I can confirm that gluten free and whole food/paleo diets have worked wonders on type I and type II clients I work with at any age. Mine are not controlled trials they are real life health and fitness sessions, but I’ve done enough with these types of clients to satisfy myself that this is no coincidence. Every single type I diabetic I’ve come across has treated my suggested regimen with something varying between caution and disdain, but those who have taken it up and seen it through have genuinely thought it a revelation.

    Great article as always.

    1. When I was first diagnosed with Celiac I had been an expert baker. It was part of my identity & extremely painful to give up as my friends & family loved my creations. (I baked 40 dozen cookies every Christmas, no joke!) So at first I tried like mad to create gluten-free substitutes for my favorite recipes & I did come up with many very tasty ones.

      However, my health didn’t get to 100% until I accepted the fact that NONE of that was good for me (or anyone else for that matter). Now I might bake a treat two or three times a year, but otherwise I eat healthy & whole & almost always Primal.

      I’m honestly not sure I could have handled that huge a shift emotionally if I’d gone all the way on day one. I suspect that sort of thing accounts for some of the behaviors you’ve seen. (I see them too in various Celiac groups I’ve joined.) Remember, Celiacs don’t have the luxury of the 80/20 ease-in.

      1. “I’m honestly not sure I could have handled that huge a shift emotionally if I’d gone all the way on day one. I suspect that sort of thing accounts for some of the behaviors you’ve seen.”

        It’s a *huge* shift to think about food we use to celebrate and give routinely to children as a “so bad for me I should never (or hardly ever) eat it” food. I totally understand. It was big deal when I realized I wouldn’t be baking regularly anymore either. (We did low carb first before Paleo.)

        In that sense, I think substitute foods are good for transitioning to a lower carb/grain-free/grain-lite/gluten-free world. People do need time to adjust. They can help people see there is a life after “normal” bread and cookies. See, everyone survived when you said “no” to cake at little Johnny’s Birthday party, including you. 🙂

        1. Thanks, Amy, it really is such a mental shift at first. That whole concept of “breaking bread” with loved ones is so deeply ingrained. (Heh– unintentional pun there.) “Nothin’ says lovin’ like something from the oven.”

          Luckily that’s not really the best way to show your love & there are other ways to be generous & festive! Plus there’s always bacon. 😉

  125. The quote that immediately came to mind after reading this article (whether Schopenhauer actually wrote it remains debatable, but regardless…)

    “All truth passes through three stages.
    First, it is ridiculed.
    Second, it is violently opposed.
    Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.”

    And isn’t this just human nature in a nut shell anyway? I’ve about given up trying to convince those who refuse to be convinced of what I’ve accepted as nutritional “truth” because after years of this futility, I’m not sure the frustration I suffer is worth it (to my health)!

  126. Funny – I feel so much better being Primal than I ever did eating according to the Canadian Food Guide. Asking for “gluten-free” seems a simpler way to explain things to people than it does to deal with the shock of explaining that I do not wish to eat ANY of the grains they want me to eat. I have to say I never was tested for celiac disease, but had stomach issues for most of my life and it was not until I stopped eating grains, that I could finally see/feel the difference. Without a test to prove it, I still feel confident that I could say that I have a “gluten allergy” simply based on how I feel not eating it.

    Thanks Mark for the post – it is a great read with a lot of good points.

  127. Hey Mark!

    Thanks so much for another great post!

    It IS irritating when something so obviously good for most everyone (giving up gluten) is dissed by folks who don’t want to look into the research.So often people are only too willing to give their personal responsibility over to the medical “authorities”, distrusting what is called “anecdotal”, as though that were a bad thing. Humans can be so stubborn and perverse at times.

    My dear old Dad always said, “most people behave like sheep.” Sad to think he was probably right.

    Keep on doing what you’re doing. You are helping so many people. Thanks again.

  128. The third reason is exactly how I came to Paleo. When my doctor asked how I got my cholesterol and triglycerides so low I told him it was because I eliminated all processed food from my diet. I also told him that I was eating pastured beef, wild caught fish, bison and pork as well as pastured eggs and cage free “hunt and peck” chickens. He couldn’t believe that such a diet could give such amazing results. I told him he should try it. He just shook his head. Live and learn.

  129. It’s hard NOT to sound evangelical about the benefits of primal eating and eliminating grains especially, when you see one friend starving and going crazy eating a classic low-fat low-calorie carb-based diet that’s caused them to rebound so many times before, see another struggling with brainfog that they try to alleviate with mid-morning and mid-afternoon doughnuts and cookies, and realise that almost everyone around you is doing the opposite of your own primal choices and getting sicker, fatter and more miserable, while you’re busy getting leaner, healthier and happier.

    I don’t know at what point to throw my hands up in the air and say I give up, since it was precisely because I kept hearing about the benefits of primal, gluten-free etc., so many times and in so many places, that I started to explore it myself.

    Do I worry more about being unpopular, “that guy” 🙂 with the theories and stuff, which is my ego talking – or do I do my honest best to help people at least consider their options, and risk getting the “pitch” wrong (in which case, no change) for the slim chance they’ll finally do as I did, and give it a fair shot?

    Not an easy call to make sometimes. 😉

    1. No, it’s not an easy call. I’ve come to a place where I eat normally in public and if anyone asks politely, I’ll explain. (Sometimes I call myself “gluten-free” because people “get it” faster, but lately I think it’s the wrong road.)

      I’ve stopped talking about food with my immediate family members. If they don’t want to see the good health after 9 years of eating well or the listen to my utter silence when they talk about prescription meds/seasonal allergies then there’s not a lot I can do. My relatives are simply not the kind of people that will take suggestions, particularly from me.

      However, I may slip in a line or two if someone is in the process of thinking about their diet. I consider it “seed” planting. It may spout tomorrow or 5 years from now or not at all, but at least I left the seed.

      For instance, an acquaintance was trying a vegetarian diet to lose some weight but was very skeptical. I relayed in 2 sentences our own bad experience on vegetarianism. I then slipped in that we’ve kept off the weight with Atkins for years (she wasn’t the kind of person to check out a blog like this) and considered it very healthy. No lectures, no long boring nutrition speeches. Just “this worked – you might want to consider it”. I spent most of my time listening, really. It felt like a good conversation from my end — hopefully it was on hers.

      1. the best testimony is just being healthy and looking good. I have had many people just come out and ask me what I do to look like I do…when they find out that last year I weighed almost 240lbs…they look at me in disbelief…..if they see my drivers license they invariably comment….and I tell them to check out this site….evidence makes converts…no need to preach

  130. Gluten free is not a fad to me. I did it because I had Celiac Disease with co-morbidity (osteoporosis with frequent fractures, chronic anemia, chronic dermatitis), as does my mother, brother, sister a maternal aunt and one of her kids. I’m working on the idea that there is familial inheritance to the disorder. I’m now working at going totally grain free. I’ve already eliminated the corn and corn by-products (sounds a bit lit dog food) and hope to eliminate the rice by the end of the year.

  131. I’ve yet to be convinced that gluten-containing grains are necessary and required in the human diet. I still eat them and don’t have any obvious side effects, but I choose to avoid for the most part because there’s bigger, better food out there.

    Whenever an article exclaims, “but contact your doctor, a nutritionist, a therapist, a witch doctor, and your senator before considering a gluten-free diet” is just covering their bases against legal or societal backlash. However since a low-fat diet is recommended by the FDA, they don’t need this disclaimer.

    Do what you want. Do what works for you. And yes, we all get a bit obsessive and sometimes preachy when things are work and are awesome. When my brother-in-law went vegan, we all went through the “conversion” phase with him. Now we all pleasantly agree to disagree, and share the salad.

  132. For those of us who are gluten-intolerant, the news the a GF diet is a fad is horrible. All it does is make us more vigilent in reading labels before purchasing anything. Going GF without the necessity, makes you susceptible to lower levels
    of B vitamins, and other things I’m sure.

    FDA approves GF labels, but I will still read labels carefully.
    And I agree, going out to eat is a pain – no one understands it and will tell
    you anything they want.

  133. Regarding the wisdom (or otherwise) of people who eliminate gluten without first getting the standard tests done: suppose someone walks into their clinician’s office and says, “Look, doc, I think I’m an alcoholic and although I’ve not vomited blood, got in any fights or crashed my car, this has been on my mind for a while now and I really think it’s a biggie.”

    The responsible thing to do is, first, DO NO HARM – if in doubt, the doc should tell that person to immediately lay off the drink, right, and maybe tell them about support options, or give them some meds to ease their detox, but primarily, to stop.

    And certainly *not* to continue drinking at their former level, for weeks on end, while they seek a referral for diagnostic testing (and perhaps struggle to finance that test out their own pocket in some cases) – especially with, for example, a 1 in 10 chance the test will give them a green light to continue drinking.

    Since we know that even the smallest amount of exposure to gluten is harmful to celiacs – a fact which doesn’t ONLY become true after they’ve been diagnosed – and that many people who have problems with gluten don’t present classic celiac symptoms, surely DO NO HARM ought to be recognised here, and using the alcohol-based example above, surely people should be praised for responsibly taking action, and not mildly criticised for not delaying things further and letting any problems escalate? 😉

    Procrastination is a terrible beast, and not many people find gut biopsies and blood tests fun, so I imagine the drop-out rate between intent and actually having the tests is pretty high.

    Just my thoughts, I do agree with and understand the valid reasons for getting tested, and I respect everyone who’s put that point forwards 🙂 but I think any medic who refuses to accept you may have a problem with gluten unless you agree to several weeks eating lots of the stuff, probably is forgetting DO NO HARM in favour of their own prejudices.

    1. I agree with you on testing. Gluten is not a vital nutrient. Not eating it shouldn’t take a test or Doc’s note. If it makes you feel bad, stop!!

      I have a known dairy allergy. I was tested as a kid and had allergy shots. It worked until I was 30, when that (and many other things) changed in my body.

      I’m pretty sure I have a wheat/gluten sensitivity. I’m not going to bother with the testing I had as a child. It’s a waste of time and money. I was already low carb – Paleo just tweaked it.

      1. agree….like the joke …”hey doc, it hurts when I do this…..well don’t do that”…….no need for testing that affirms what we already know…if we pay attention.

  134. I have been allergic to gluten for more than 40 years, though I didn’t realize the cause of my suffering until a couple of years ago. Dermatitis herpetiformis, mostly on my scalp with itching all over my body. Yet people don’t get it when I say I am allergic- gluten free being popular has made some aspects of life easier, but it’s clear a lot of people dimiss it as the latest diet ‘flavor of the month’.

  135. That anyone could call being gluten-free an overblown fad is preposterous. I am gluten sensitive, can only tolerate very small amounts before the wrath of God descends upon me. Many of the gluten free products admittedly are not necessary and probably should not be ingested at all. It is quite easy to manage a diet which does not rely on special foods. The Primal Blueprint system is of great benefit and I intend on keeping myself in tune with it.

  136. Wow Gluten & Grains are taking a major MDA pounding this week!!! I love to see that! From Kellogg to Twerking in back to back posts too…. Awesome!

    Keep up the great work everyone. This week will be hard to top.

  137. I have long suspected that for most, going gluten-free is just a way to lower their carbohydrate intake without having to feel like an idiot because they are intentionally doing something ”unhealthy.” It’s a way for implicitly rational people, with explicitly irrational beliefs about diet, to acknowledge what they can’t help but sense about carbs – without having to actually acknowledge it. Going gluten-free allows them to tell themselves that they are lowering their carbs merely for the gluten, and therefore they haven’t been mentally-passive and gullible all these years.

  138. Just paying attention is much of the battle…….but when we make no personal efforts to “change and see” there is nothing to pay attention to. I have had people look at me in wonder and ask me what I have done…p90x?….spending all day at the gym?…on and on.
    I have lost about 60 lbs of fat in about 6 months….knees have been restored- no inflammation…have abs that are almost freaky(on which I spend about 5 minutes a week- max)..and am recovering from new activity as well as when I was 20 years old (playing pro baseball). I will be 49 in November. All this after two Achilles tears – one transplant and 8 pelvic fractures…and the wear and tear from pitching for decades. Plus…I look better naked than almost all men half my age. And my bloodwork – including lipids and insulin resistance – have all improved since going primal
    Gluten….Who cares? – it just so happens that I don’t get much of it now….and ate a ton of it before. Just coincidence?…I doubt it, but I am just happy being blissfully unconcerned with the specifics of exactly why I feel and look great. It is just like finding one thing that you can do in a golf swing or pitching mechanics…One thing that is do-able that takes care of all the other mechanics (specifics)…What a joy…to enjoy each day with hope of a healthy future.
    Just paying attention and making simple associations can tell us a lot…it is really not that hard. Even emotionally…I feel so much more stable and relaxed that I no longer enjoy arguing much about the why-s. I can’t even get myself to hate gluten…I just don’t want to eat it.


  139. After a bad bout of inflammation of my eye, I tried an elimination diet and discovered I had a gluten sensitivity. Went gluten free and alleviated that sensitivity issue but just replaced my SAD gluten food with all other grains (brown rice pasta became a staple) …. eventually went low carb to lose weight … then discovered the paleo / primal thing … so yes, the path that ultimately let me here and actually made primal “easier” to adjust to, was the “training” I got while going gluten free.

  140. Well… all I can really say is that I ate a hamburger on a bun night before last (first time in many months). It’s not easy to sleep when you’re throwing up all night because you put something stupid into your system and you know better! Won’t make that mistake again.

  141. I always give a fad a go! If there’s a fad bandwagon I have to jump on and see what the fuss is about, after all, who wants to miss out? Gotta have a sense of humour with opinionated cynics, tell them you’re a ‘weak minded fad-lover’ and then they miraculously let their guard down and want to know more… And end up trying it themselves!

  142. Couldn’t agree more! I not only get it with GF, but also regarding supplements. While I admit that not all supplements are created equal, I have had friends liken me to anti-vaccinators and phrenologists for taking vitamin supplements!

    Friend that eats normal, modern diet: “Everything you eat already has all the vitamins in it you need.”

    Me: “Says who exactly?”

    Friend/s: “Scientists.”

    Me: “Which ones?”

    Friend/s: “…all of them. I dunno look it up.”

    Seriously? I have serious eczema problems because of living in China*, and going pure paleo (and taking ridiculous amounts of supplements) is the only thing keeping it at bay/improving slowly.

    *Chinese diet is not what you think it is. In a bid to be more “modern” they have adopted all the bad habits of the West (refined sugar, refined wheat, vegetable oils) and combined with their own unfortunate cultural habit of degrading the quality in everything for larger short-term profits (melamine in baby formula scandal, using gutter oil, etc.). And because of these factors, I have had the worst eczema of my life and it’s been this way since December/January more or less after being here for 6 months.

    Haven’t seen/read anything by Sisson on Leaky Gut Syndrome, but would be interested to see his take on it as extreme gut inflammation is what most likely has happened to me.

  143. As Mark stated, what’s crazy is when you see people shopping for Gluten free junk food. Just the other day in the grocery store, I saw a mom instructing her daughter to pick out a gluten free variety of whatever prepackaged snack/junk item from the shelf they were looking at.

    The other amusing thing is when a food that never had any gluten in it, is labeled as GF.

    I might argue, that ‘fad’ comes into it when people start buying GF without any idea what a ‘gluten’ is and what the concerns of it are.

    But to each there own, what others do is none of my business. People in general (including myself) are becoming more aware, and that is what matters.

  144. I can’t understand why the gluten sensitivity test seems to be such a sacred cow among the medical fraternity. Even when my mother was in hospital with an inoperable brain tumour, her specialist wanted to her to have it. This, despite the fact that she has been gluten free for many years and previous issues with dermatitis herpetifomis and peripheral neuropathy have completely resolved as a result.

    It is almost as if gluten is thought to be an essential nutrient!

  145. I’m ashamed to admit I’m guilty of living off gluten free bread ie soy/rice/tapioca/maize flour.
    I got back into this rut when I fell pregnant which triggered my colitis symptoms. I find with colitis, eating white rice and potatoes and gf bread is actually soothing to my digestive tract because of the soluble fibre. I also must have a very fast metabolism because meat & veg just doesn’t satisy me and there are only so many vegetables and roughage my tummy can take – including cooked vegetables.
    I find the FODMAP diet to be helpful as it allows the rice/potato while excluding a few paleo foods (some fruits and veg because of high fructose) which can be problematic for digestive disorders.

  146. No. I have not tested positive for celiacs. But, I started eating gluten free and my symptoms improved. Then my doctor put me on a modified Paleo diet ( no fruit), because I had lost so much weight. And, I feel great. I have put on 30 lbs, mostly muscle. I am now back up to the weight I was in high school. Those who say there is no such thing as non celiac gluten sensitivity just don’t know what they are talking abut.

  147. Hi Everyone,

    I actually have a few friends who are celiacs, and they are the thinnest people i know, yet very healthy. I stumbled upon primal from being a raw vegetarian for 2.5 years. I was always skinny fat. It wasn’t until i moved to australia and found it hard to find proper foods (beef is cheaper than vegetables here) I became severely iron deficient. So, in one day it was meat and veg for me, and i literally slept for three days. So far, i feel great. I eat way too much, but my calories and sugar are always under control.

    My question is this, i was a vegetarian for health reasons, but i also sort of wonder about the effects of consuming too much meat on the environment. Cows produce a lot of methane that seems to effect our ozone layer. Ghandi says eat less meat, etc. I am by no means an animal rights activist, but I’m conscious about it. As a surfer who sees the effects of pollution and feels it sometimes on the beach, someone who always picks up their trash, and tries to do right by the environment, it would be nice to have a reason to negate this tiny twinge of guilt i feel sometimes. Mind you, i buy grass fed, free range, etc. Its very easy to find here in australia. They still have local butcheries, and creameries. Shopping takes forever, but it feels great to support the local farmers.

    I actually just read about GMOS and was so excited Australia had banned em!

    From the San Diegan lost down under!

    1. Talk to some of those local farmers. A farm without animals is an unsustainable one, requiring artificial fertilizers. In any place that will support grass, responsibly grazing cattle is an environmentally friendlier choice than tearing the sod up and using the land for mono-culture.

      As much as I respect Gandhi, vegetarianism is a hierarchical viewpoint of the world. It requires viewing some lifeforms as more important than others based on the existence of central nervous system. All life is important to the planet, including healthy humans.

      And lastly, the methane issue is about man-made global warming, not the ozone. The science behind AGW was always shaky, requiring the use of the same type of computer modeling that the weather forecast is based on. The notable difference between the weather and AGW forecasts is that AGW modeling requires many more assumptions and reliance on inferred data.

      1. Spot on.

        “As much as I respect Gandhi, vegetarianism is a hierarchical viewpoint of the world.”

        Vegetarianism was also never traditionally practiced by all castes of Hindus, nor by all sects – many Shakta Hindus both eat meat and conduct animal sacrifices, many warrior caste Hindus, the men espacially, would eat large amounts of meat to build strength and aggression, which it was their moral and religious duty to maintain.

        Yet most of the emphasis in the west has been upon the very Brahminical and Vedantic varieties of Hinduism, with their requirements for non-violence towards all living beings – perhaps that’s why the recent atrocities towards women in India have come as such a shock to so many spiritually-involved people I know.

        Avoiding slaughtered animal products (note that high fat ghee made from butter was held as sacred and essential to the diet) is part of the soul’s progression towards liberation from rebirth in this world, because it allows the aspirant to avoid creating karmic entanglements created when they kill another life-form. Many Hindus I’ve known personally advocate it for the Brahmins and yet deliberately eat meat (excluding beef) themselves, as they have no desire, yet, to cease their cycle of human lives.

        On the general topic of ethics, I read a quite disgusting account by a lab tech recently (NOT an a PETA or animal-welfare type site) about how researchers into IBS inject capsaicin, that’s the stuff used in pepper spray, into rats’ rectums so it floods and irritates the colon.

        This is a routine practice in researching visceral pain (and for that reason, there’s no anaeasthesia) – over time, the rats’ colons shrink and thicken from the burning effect, and they suffer severe intestinal pain, to the extent that measurements show that even their feet hurt, because they’re served by the same repreatedly aggravated nerve channels as the colon.

        I don’t even want to imagine how mush despair, fear and helplessness those rats, beings devoid of any higher intellect that would allow them to at least seperate themselves from their suffering, or relieve themselves with philosophy and distractions of the mind, must feel.

        Nobody can tell me a diet which sickens us, and then prompts people to perform experiments like this on millions of animals a year, is any kinder than a decent life for a grass-fed or free-ranging animal, that then ends in a fairly quick clean death in a slaughterhouse – and yet the less natural our diet, and the higher our levels of illness, the more of these grotesque experiments will be carried out, the majority without finding any breakthroughs, and the animal victims will never have known a moment’s quiet enjoyment, or freedom.

        I care deeply about animal welfare and I don’t think it’s at all inconsistant to eat meat, particularly not when we consider the unexpected side-effects of debasing our diet so drastically from what nature intended.

        Sorry to go a bit off topic 🙂 but it was things like this that have led me to think that eating primally is the ethical choice, since as a species we’ll always throw any other animal under the bus in order to treat our self-inflicted illnesses, and I don’t think that’s likely to change any time soon.

  148. What do I know? Two years ago (I am 52) if I walked for an hour my left hip – right in the joint – would be so painful I would finish my walk while limping. The pain would continue for the rest of the day reminding me that I had overdone it. I thought I ate well to boot.

    A little over a year and a half ago I changed my diet and eliminated gluten, grain, processed food, rancid oils etc. Basically following Primal recommendations.

    Today, yes today, I hiked up from Raven lodge to Helen Mackenzie Lake around to Battleship Lake and back to the lodge. (6 km – maybe not big hike for a 20 year old.) It took two hours with stops to take pictures and look out over the lake. None, absolutely not one twinge, nothing, nada, no pain in my hip whatsoever!

    That is my experience, and when people ask why I don’t eat bread that is what I tell them.

  149. Its pretty simple. Eliminate all gluten containing grains from your diet for 4-5 weeks, and then eat 2 meals which contain gluten (bread, pasta) in one day. And wait. I did that. And I had terrible diarrhea. So I permanently eliminated gluten.

  150. I think the scepticism from others and some journalists is pretty understandable. They are calling the gluten free fad a fad! What do I mean? I mean the same people that go on flavour of the month diets, who tout the wonders of the Ornish diet, vegan diet, low carb dietor smoothie diet for a few weeks, before quitting have found themselves on the gluten free diet.
    They claim it will make them lose weight, feel fuller, have more energy etc. Yet they’ll still eat processed fast food, drink soda, avoid veggies etc

    To the casual observer, they see the same pattern they’ve seem countless times before; people praising a new diet, failing to lose weight or improve in any way, then going back to their regular diet, before taking up another new diet a few months later.
    Of course I’m sure gluten free is helpful for many people, but I doubt it will be helpful for all. To those who are gluten sensitive then it makes perfect sense to enquire about the contents of your dinner meal. To those that don’t have noticeable symptoms then stuffing themselves with gluten free bread is pointless.

  151. I agree, it is ridiculous how people tend to hate on everything popular. It is really sad how something that is so clearly good for the vast majority of people is subject to such constant criticism and argument.

    1. As Mark alluded, some people can be so fanatical about their new way that it’s often the messenger that is the cause of rebuke.

  152. The whole gluten free fad makes me angry. I was diagnosed as ceoliac ten years prior to going primal, it wasn’t a choice I would have gladly made at 17. The idiots on the gluten free – because I feel like it cause Miley does it – bandwagon ruin it for real coeliacs, they piss off waitresses and chefs everywhere by asking if the main is gluten free then they are seen eating cake later. This makes it all seem unimportant and people think its not a real problem. A true coeliac won’t order a gluten free main then sneak a peace of cake later, or they’ll be running to the bathroom within ten minutes doubled over in pain, sweating and wanting to throw up and worse, oh and the bowel cancer too.

    In a way its laughable because most of the gluten free alternatives have more sugar and loaded with extra crap to try and make them taste decent. I’ll stop now I can feel myself getting stressed just thinking about this topic.

  153. How many generations is it since wheat has been radically altered? Is the effect worse on subsequent generations? Is it going to get worse in the next generation even without GM?

  154. I agree overwhelmingly with the points made in this post. As a nutritionist, I do have a couple of counterarguments, however.
    Firstly, it is important that a person has a coeliac screen before going gluten-free. The reason for this is that if they go on a gluten-free diet and feel fabulous, they are likely to never let so much as a wheat cracker pass their lips again (which is great) – but this precludes ever doing a coeliac test again, as you need to be eating wheat in fair quantities for a coeliac blood test to be reliable. So why does the coeliac test matter? It matters because there IS a big difference between being coeliac and non-coeliac gluten intolerant. Coeliac disease brings with it some well-documented significantly increased risks of things like bowel cancer and osteoporosis. Non-coeliac gluten intolerance doesn’t. So you need to know why you are removing gluten. If you are coeliac, you need to be much stricter in order to avoid these risks. While you may, as a non-coeliac gluten intolerant, choose not to consume gluten, chances are, the occasional crumb from someone else’s toast is going to find its way into your butter, and that will do you no harm. If you are coeliac, this WILL do you harm, and you need to take extra measures to avoid it.
    The second comment is this: non-coeliac gluten intolerance may be on the rise, but so is FODMAPS intolerance, which also causes digestive symptoms when bread is consumed. In one recent study of a group of patients with functional gastrointestinal disorders (e.g. irritable bowel syndrome), 60% had a FODMAPS intolerance! It is important we don’t label ourselves as “non-coeliac gluten intolerant” when it is actually a FODMAPs intolerance we have, as this creates confusion and scepticism about the concept of gluten intolerance, which doesn’t help the kid with autism, the kid with diabetes, and all the rest of the people with genuine non-coeliac gluten intolerance. This is a bit like the impact that “pescovegetarians” or fish-eating vegetarians have on the genuine vegetarian movement – it dilutes the concept and makes it much harder for genuine vegetarians to defend their stance.

  155. You make a very good point. Thank you for pointing out that the true healthiest choices are veggies and lean proteins, not just a bread substitute. I know a few people with the gluten allergy, and I am glad they have found a diet solution that makes them feel better. Everyone else needs to get over themselves and just make healthy decisions imho.
    🙂 thanks for always being so well researched! I appreciate your posts!

    1. Wrong on the lean proteins. That stuff usually got thrown to the dogs…

  156. I don’t bag people going gluten free if they choose – but it sure does make it an embarrassing thing for me to deal with when I’m eating out. I’m diagnosed ceoliac and the number of times I get asked if I’m just avoiding gluten because I choose to is so frustrating. I used to work in the food industry and the people who make a fuss to the waiter about not having gluten on their main meals etc and then turn around and have cake for dessert drove me crazy. Then when i ate out, I would get eye rolls when I tried to make as little fuss as possible about asking gluten free. Most times I don’t even want to bring it up so just order a plain steak and some cheese. That way I know its GF and I don’t get the pissy eyed looks from people.

  157. Reminds me of an article on food bullying I saw on npr awhile ago:

    I don’t understand why it’s so offensive to others to avoid certain foods. I was raised vegetarian and it was a constant battle of explaining, checking, and finally just bringing your own food at times. Though I’m not a vegetarian anymore, I have experienced that deflated look you get from the server when you order gluten free. Though I’ve experienced a lot of benefits from eating low-carb, I don’t get on a soap box about it. If someone gets healthier being vegan, what business is it of mine to convert them to my carnivorous ways?

    1. “I don’t understand why it’s so offensive to others to avoid certain foods.”

      Most people are walking round with toxically low levels of self-respect (a different thing to the more nebulous & controversial concept of “self-esteem”) and have many unexamined assumptions about the world and their place in it, and a lifetime of grudges, resentments, emotional wounds, and so on – some that would seem valid, if we’d “walked a mile in their shoes” – some, maybe, not so much.

      Therefore, when someone requests what seems like “special treatment” or implies they’re in any way more worthy of protection, care and consideration, and doesn’t just muck in like a good unthinking uncritical sheep, it triggers the observer’s buried fears that they’re personally not special at all and in fact are somewhat dispensible, unworthy, and being judged as less valuable and important – they perceive it as a hostile judgement against them, and the choices, values and actions of the people in their own lives.

      Best summed up as the “And WHO do you think YOU are?!” syndrome. 🙂

      Those of us who’ve come to primal and grain-free eating from vegetariasnism of veganism are already WELL accustomed to it! 😉

  158. Thirty years ago in a misguided attempt to put on muscle weight I discovered that you can blend an entire loaf of bread into one quart of milk to create what I called breadnogs. I drank a couple of these every day. Within a year I developed severe digestive problems. No GI doctor could figure out what was wrong with me. Many tests were done. The only person who helped was a “lowly” lab technician who told me he had seen gluten to strange things to digestive systems. So I changed. Duh. Gluten is bad stuff, especially whole wheat. Ten years ago I discovered primal and have been happy as a lark ever since. For me it is the ultimate diet, lifestyle.

    1. Interesting story, thanks for sharing it! 🙂

      I find it thought-provoking that the recipe you invented is simply a condensed higher-strength version of the standard breakfast, wheat-based cereal in milk – and maybe on the plus side, by overdoing it so much in a short time frame, you saved yourself the low-level degeneration caused by unawareness about the harm gluten can do – to you, at least.

      By initiating that crisis, and happening to find the right person to advise you, you very possibly did yourself a huge favour. 🙂

  159. I am French, wheat was a staple since almost birth for me. Until 2 years ago – you have to ditch it in order to believe it!! No gluten / wheat / grains, clean eating (no processed crap, no seed oils, no refined sugar everywhere, etc). Man! It’s like being born again to a healthy self!

  160. Not really. I’d argue it’s good to be skeptical. Read the available evidence, listen to what your own body tells you and draw your own conclusions.

  161. The good news is that both the positive and negative reactions are a proportionate indicator that the word is spreading!

  162. I have been reasonably gluten free for over a year now and feel much better for it. But one must read the label on gluten free products. Some of the ingredients may be almost as bad as wheat, like refined white rice flour???

    1. Rice noodles are nice once in a while (cooked in bone broth, for example). Nothing evil about it I think ?

      1. White rice is almost pure starch by dry weight. No nutrition to speak of, but likewise lacking in anti-nutrients. Just carbs and texture. No good, and no bad. A nutritional neutral.

  163. As someone who was DX’d Celiac long before gluten free was cool, the whole “fad” thing makes me insane. I love that more products are available but the eye rolls I get ordering off a gluten free menu now are ridiculous.

    1. Barbara, if I may play devil’s advocate 🙂 if there had been more widespread knowledge of the harm gluten can do, even to people (like me) who never superficially seemed to have a problem with it, maybe many other celiacs’ disease could have been caught younger and therefore they’d all have less time being put at risk for the long-term problems like cancer and osteoporosis?

      I maybe just have my optimist hat on this morning 🙂 but I do think that more widespread willingness to consider gluten as a possible bad-guy, which is part of the “new diet fad” syndrome, will help people like you who have genuine and very typical celiac problems.

      People who buy gluten-free anything just vaguely thinking it might be healthy are part of an over-all change in the culture, from which bread was “the staff of life” and almost the archetypal foodstuff, to a time when it’s no longer the foundation food, and therefore more open to being questioned in someone’s diet.

      Also, manufacturers follow the money, and it seems that more people avoiding gluten will continue to lead directly to more delicious (and, eventually, maybe even primal) gluten-free options for when you’re out or otherwise need some pre-prepared food.

      The rise in vegetarianism here (in the UK, avoiding slaughterhouse products is far more common than full-on veganism) has led to animal products like gelatine being removed, wherever possible, from foods where they’re not a key part of the recipe – I’m actually not thrilled about that now myself of course, but it does show that what was once considered a fad diet for crackpots has permeated mainstream food production, and resulted in the makers updating their recipes – and there are just as many “fad” vegetarians who eat chicken now and then, or bacon, as there are gluten-avoiders who cave in when confronted by a pizza or bit of cake! 😉

  164. The argument that frustrates me the most about the concern for gluten-free diets is the one that says if you don’t due this in concert with a doctor and get tested properly you might actually have some other issue rather than gluten-sensitivity which you will continue to be untreated for.

    Because guess what – people try these gluten-free diets after years/decades of issues that their doctors don’t identify or treat them for. I’ve had years and years of various IBS symptoms that my doctor(s) weren’t interested in – not even to the point of officially diagnosing me with IBS. Just advice to eat more fibre and drink plenty of water and some people just have these issues.

    Paleo/keto diets reduce the majority of my digestive issues. I don’t know if its gluten, or excessive carbohydrates that cause this. I suspect I have some fodmap problems that I am hoping to identify further.

    So they are right – I don’t know why going paleo gluten-free (as opposed to processed replacement gluten-free) solves the majority of my problems. But isn’t it better to not know why you use to feel awful and to feel better than to not know why you feel awful and to continue to feel awful?

  165. 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.

    Perhaps, but there is a much larger segment of the “special diet” population who use their choice as an attention-getting device, making a big scene out of their “health decision” at every opportunity, no matter how (in)appropriate.

    So, for example, if you’re gluten free and we invite you to dinner tomorrow, it’s cool to call the restaurant in advance and inquire about their gluten-free choices. It’s cool to call me and say “you know, I’m just not up for the food in that establishment, can I suggest this other place instead?” We can work out an acceptable spot.

    It’s not cool to grill the waiter while we’re all sitting there and whine about the answer when it turns out not to be what you want. You have the health decision, you do the ground work.

    Guess which of those two scenarios I’ve seen the most.

    So yes, if your health decision causes me grief, I may well feel inclined to grill you on it. And if you are doing it for a reason that seems simply trendy or fad based, expect to be called on it.

    The onus is on the person with the health decision/issue to do their prep work if it’s necessary, not on everyone else to put up with the drama.

    1. Same thing can be said, by the way, for vegans as well.

      Oddly, it’s never been an issue with regular vegetarians, but vegans…ugh.

  166. Really at the end of the day I see people eating gluten as natural selection on its course. Good review Mark.

  167. I went Primal to be a good lad and help my girlfriend who suffered from colitis and gastritis. We started eating primal and life changed!

    She healed herself and me? Well imagine my surprise when I noticed allergies, nosebleeds were gone and a lot of things changed for the better!

    For what I have been researching, a lot of people have been like me. They healed issues they weren’t even aware they had them.

    Gluten free is a fad, indeed. But I agree with Mark here. As long as more people adopt healthier lifestyles, the world benefits from that.

    Hope more people turn primal!

  168. Hi Mark. Agree. I have had to go Gluten free for medical reasons.

    Just one thing. Most burger patties contain gluten.

  169. I couldn’t agree more. I resisted the probability that I was intolerant to gluten for several years. I tried to pin it all on dairy, which was difficult enough to avoid. The truth is I was eating antacids like they were after-dinner mints. My belly was in constant turmoil, though no dairy improved things a bit. Well, now I have been GF for 2 little months, which is not very long, but the change in my digestion is immense. I lost 8 lbs, my belly is flat, I feel good. I don’t go to bed after dinner, curled up, trying to sleep off the pain in my gut. As a bonus, my skin looks (can I just say) radiantly healthy. Before, I would erupt in acne unless I was on hormonal drugs. Now – no hormonal drugs and my skin is completely free from any blemish. At one time, I said I could “never” give up bread, pizza, pasta; just never, you know? But now I feel so good, I don’t want it. It is not worth it to me.

    1. Danielle I had almost the exact same experience. I suffered for years since age 19 or 20 with odd, seemingly random, health issues and tummy upset, and thought “oh gosh, not dairy! Dont take my cheese away!!”… yet as my symptoms worsened and worsened even after removing dairy, I had to face that it could be something else. It took me 10 more years… With the help of a close friend and my husband, I was able to finally dive into going gluten free, and surprise, all my issues started disappearing, and FAST. I am finally not cheating on my GF diet at-all-ever-no-way-no-how, and one of the first things I noticed was my tummy flattened out after always just being kind of roundish, and I dropped 5 lbs almost overnight. My skin is getting softer and smoother, and my energy is so much more LEVEL. Despite knowing TONS about gluten intolerance, I struggled for the past 13 months just getting fully on board with eating this way, honestly mainly BECAUSE of all the nay sayers and social barriers. Now Ive taken a whole different approach socially speaking that there is absolutely NO WAY I would eat those things and I dont care what anyone thinks of that, and being strong willed about it has really helped. People dont question nearly as much when they can tell you are very firm on making your health a priority. As you said, it is not worth it to ever eat gluten no matter what.

  170. Nope, don’t agree. For every study on one side, there is a study on the other.

    The bottom line is pick a diet with more veggies, fruits, lean meat, good fat, complex carbs, and water and you will see similar effects. Unless, of course, you are celiac. People gong gluten free are often doing this…. of course with the omission of the obvious.

  171. Wow Mark, such a lot of comments! Good post.
    This is why, from my perspective, dietary changes are a problem and we’ll turn it around and talk about veganism. Years ago some very nice vegans moved into the neighborhood and converted another family, my friends, into the tribe. I like both of the families and we interacted a lot b/c of kids and similar interests. Suddenly I couldn’t eat with any of them. My feelings were hurt and I was appalled b/c the vegans were very overweight, even the kids. Every time I talked about it to other people I rolled my eyes at this vegan conversion. I was not happy with the change b/c it excluded me. It made it hard for me to be with them. I was not able to judge the diet in a scientific way although I thought it was wrong, but I had nothing real to say about it. People who eat bread must feel the same way, “hey this is good stuff and now I can’t share it with you!” I get that.

    I also know that for me gluten free means my hand is no longer swollen. Yay!

  172. I turn 21 next week, and have been Primal for about 15 months now. I was young, healthy, eating not-bad by any realistic measure, and fitter than average when I went Primal. Not surprisingly, the only physiological change/benefit I noticed was becoming fat adapted, which has nothing to do with gluten.

    However, I have found that wheat-based items no longer taste like food. Bread, noodles, pizza crust, cake, breading, fried flour coatings, anything that spent time as a dough… They don’t taste, feel, smell, or look like food anymore, and intellectually I agree.

  173. Yes, loved this article!! For years, I have suffered from debilitating fatigue, sleeping 10-12 hours a night yet still feeling painfully tired throughout the day requiring naps and always having mental “fog”. I often physically hurt I was so tired and would just long to curl up in a ball on the floor and go to sleep. I would go to my doctor every year for my annual exam and lab work and complain of this and they would check my Vitamin D and B12 levels, Hgb and Hct for anemia, thyroid and tell me they were normal and send me on my way. I’ve also always had stomach/intestinal issues for as a long as I can remember. I remember always telling my mom I felt sick after I ate when I was a kid. I had suffered through many days and nights of abdominal pain (to the point of not being able to stand up all the way), gas and severe bloating (by the end of the day, I would look six months pregnant and my abdominal skin would hurt it was so stretched). I was introduced to the paleo diet a couple of years ago when I started doing CrossFit. I did a couple of paleo challenges and would notice that my energy levels would soar through the roof and my fatigue would go away. But as soon as the challenges were over, discouraged by not really noticing major weight/body measurement changes and telling myself I felt “deprived” on such a “strict” diet, I would go back to eating “cheat” foods such as a cookie here, a piece of pizza there while otherwise eating Paleo. I noticed I went right back to having the fatigue and gastrointestinal problems even eating 80% Paleo. This summer, my fatigue got so bad I didn’t even have enough energy to want to carry on conversations. Looking for different answers, I visited with a naturopathic doctor. She listened to my complaints, reviewed my lab work and the first thing she said to me was “I want you to stop eating gluten. 100% NO gluten.” She told me some other things to try but her biggest takeway was don’t eat gluten and I should feel better in a few weeks. I walked away feeling resistant to this idea. How could I go through life never having a piece of my favorite pie at the holidays or going on vacation and not being able to eat what I want? And it’s not like I immediately felt or got sick after eating these things. I thought about it a lot and did a lot of research and I started looking deeper at the symptoms of celiac disease and saw things I had experienced that match such as canker sores and dermatitis herpetiformis. I thought maybe I should get tested but didn’t really want to bother with seeing a GI doctor and possible having a colonoscopy, etc. I talked to my family about my thoughts. Finally, I announced to my friends and family that I was going 100% gluten free. I decided that I would follow a paleo diet as closely as possible and when I needed a cheat, I would commit to a gluten-free cheat. That meant no more pizza or cake at work (i’m a nurse and a there is constant food). But what it did mean is that if I really wanted pizza or cake, I could make my own gluten-free version or find a gluten-free kind to buy. I realized it wasn’t the end of the world. I checked labels more closely and asked more questions at restaurants. Yes, I’m now that “annoying” girl at the restaurant, though it’s a rare occasion I eat out. Within TWO days, I felt better. The mental fog and fatigue gone. Within a week, I almost felt high and like I had been living in a “drugged” state for many years. My mental clarity, energy and mood all improved. I went on two vacations and survived them without eating gluten and was able to eat things I enjoyed. I began to no longer have any interest in eating those “treats” I once craved because I knew it was not worth how awful I would feel in the days to come. I am now 8 weeks gluten free and never looking back. My stomach issues did not improve right away but in the past couple of weeks, I’ve noticed much less distress and discomfort overall and the abdominal distention/bloating is gone (no more six month pregnant belly “stretch”). People often ask me “have you been tested for celiac?” and I say “no, because I would have to eat gluten to do that and I feel so much better not eating gluten, what better test is there than that?”

  174. Way to work out the skeptics Mark… your knowledge base on the subject of primal living and gluten free social perspectives always blows me away.

    I too have experienced everything in social settings from the “Why do you eat gluten free?” general curiosity leading to some really positive conversations, to definite annoyance if I even THINK of discussing my gluten intolerance. My own sister recently asked me “So why are you still talking about this whole gluten free thing? I thought you had it all worked out and you would drop it already”….. and when explaining that I thought she wanted to know, and how I get sick when I eat it (and drink coffee and rice!), she went so far as to say that it seems like Im “taking this whole thing too far”. Im not a gluten Nazi, I dont mind if you eat it, I just dont want to literally spend a minimum of 2 days, sometimes up to a week, sick and in pain. It seems like people get truly angry that they have to sit through those torturous 60 seconds of conversation you have with the waiter or chef to make sure you dont end up getting glutened. God forbid right?!

    While some people do adopt gluten free lifestyles because it is simply healthier (which I FULLY support!), some of us suffered for years and years until the knock-knock-knocking of our health issues became bang-Bang-BANGING that simply couldn’t be ignored. For myself, and many people I know, going gluten free was single handedly the biggest blessing that removed the daily back and joint pain I was suffering from, as well as a laundry list of crazy weird symptoms such as panic, fragile emotional states, popping joints, brain fog, memory issues, headaches, nausea, ear ringing, racing heart, loss of sex drive, moodiness, recurring yeast infections, and hair loss!! …and thats the short list! Who wouldnt drop gluten to rid themselves of a life filled with those issues and more???

    At 31 years old, having always been a vibrant active happy young woman up to this sudden onset of health issues, it makes me feel so unsupported when I am met with annoyance and even anger at my going gluten free. People arent yet realizing that for many many people, its not something we “chose” to happen to us… but how in the world do people think that a person IS supposed to deal with this type of issue except to just find out whats causing them to get sick, face it, accept it, and do it? Sorry I cant have toast with you anymore friends, didnt know that was a deal killer.

    Keep spreading the good word on MDA. Those of us who have literally healed ourselves just through eating real food thank you. Someday Ill write in on Fridays success stories when Im further down my path…

  175. I never knew until reading the first Primal primer what gluten was or how it affected my body. I went to the doc and had some testing done and it turns out that I have celiac type symptoms. Now i’ve always been a carnivore cause burnt animal flesh tastes better, but now with the knowledge that the other stuff was tearing me up inside it makes me understand why I was feeling so bad after certain meals like pizza. Now I wish I could find a good beer that had low levels of gluten, cause most of the sorgum beers suck! Help y’all

    1. Someone here recommended Omission beer to me as a good gluten free beer. I think larger beverage stores (BevMo by me has it) carry it.

  176. As I have gotten older I have had more and more of a problem with IBS. Bread, especially whole meal nutty bread, is the problem, cake less so.
    And, yes it’s how I stumbled onto Paleo/primeval. Now I’m careful what I eat and don’t have a problem.

  177. Thank You so much for this timely article. I was just jumped on last weekend at a family picnic with the exact words you mentioned.

  178. Hi Mark, In your research, I am wondering if you find that the culprit is WHEAT specifically, or if it is GLUTEN in general? In my own personal study of one, I have found that the problem is wheat…. and not the gluten found in less popular or in ancient grains.

    1. I’ve read in several places that wheat, specifically, has been bred in the past few decades to have far more gluten than it did, because high levels of gluten make for an excellent texture in baked goods – I remember reading that home bakers have to use “strong flour” i.e., one with more gluten, to make bread.

      This breeding is a seperate issue to laboratory-led genetic modification of wheat, which usually relates to pesticides and pest resistance – this is the farmers trying (as they understand it) to make an improved crop that makes better products.

      Also, many wheat products have added gluten, above and beyond that in the wheat itself – this is true of, for example, croissants and some wholemeal multi-grain or seeded breads, where added gluten helps to bind the seeds and other grains. That might account for the difference you’ve noticed there? 🙂

  179. My husband was diagnosed as coeliac a number of years ago so all gluten products were removed from our household, but there were times that I would grab a sandwich when I was at the shops, this would invariably much me feel quite ill. This is how I discovered that I had a gluten sensitivity. Most people who have a gluten sensitivity don’t realise it because they haven’t gone off gluten and so their body is trying hard to cope and adjust once you cut it out your body loses its tolerance to what is essentially a poison to your system. Perhaps these naysayer and eye rollers should give it a go before passing judgement.

  180. These are same people who deny climate change despite that science. Close minded, suspicious and stubborn. To them it’s just more “liberal, corporate-hatin hogwash.”

    1. Ironic, since that in itself is a very closed-minded, ignorant, and arrogant comment.

  181. I’ve been gluten free for several years and what an improvement in my thinking and overall well being. I’ve always been gluten sensitive; I never could eat white flour without feeling sick. When I eat gluten now, I get violently ill and can’t get off the couch for at least a day and a half. I will never eat gluten again.

  182. You can see it both ways:

    An improvement within doing something that’s unhealthy is still an improvement.


    An improvement while doing somethimg that’s unhealthy is still unhealthy.

    Either way: Let’s continue to influence peoples diet and health for the better!

  183. I can honestly say that reducing grain (and legume) consumption to less than 10% of my weekly diet has improved my whole system from top to bottom. I miss some of the flavours and textures but I get over it.

    I feel bad for people who have any food intolerances and will defend their choice and need with my own. I am lucky to be able to choose but just like I don’t like Brussels Sprouts, why should anyone care if I no longer want bread or grains.

    Thank you Mark and people who speak up about possible or definite gluten intolerances it does not have to be in ALL our food. My family has Celiac and my grandma who I had just met for the first time when I was 39, died of complications from celiac and a lifetime of dealing with it badly about three months later. I never got to really know her. With Celiac (and the like) it isn’t just a food allergy it must be way of life in order to live healthy.

  184. An important step to healing damage done in the intestinal tract of GF intolerant people is repopulating the gut with the flora needed for that healing. Your work is only half done if you don’t get the flora and feed the flora. You will still have food intolerance and inflammatory issues.

    I came to GF (August 2010) after a long battle with myself, my doctors and my lifestyle. I suffered from depression, anxiety, brain fog at times, lots of head colds, sinusitis and various female infections. I was also about 30 lbs. over weight most of my life. I, too wonder what my life would have been like if I had been GF my whole life.

    I now have Multiple Myeloma (Bone marrow cancer)-diagnosed 1/2011. I am only stage 2 and I have stayed that way for over 2 years. I believe diet and life style changes have made me much stronger.

    Do I think the life long problem with gluten sent me down this path-absolutely. New research from Sweden (Annals of Internal Medicine, Aug. 6, 2013) shows that if the intestinal villi don’t recover, people with celiac disease have nearly 4 times the risk of lymphoma compared to healthy individuals. In those individuals whose villi has recovered, the risk is only slightly elevated. Lymphoma and Myeloma are both blood cancers.

    With the changes I have made, I am dealing with this as a chronic disease, not a killing cancer…

    GF is not a fad. Selling GF junk food is a fad and as unhealthy as wheat based junk food.

  185. My favorite anti-gluten comment is the comparison to the low carb ‘fad’ diet. In my case, I was already following a low carb diet which worked well for me. Then I read this blog and realized that maybe low carb worked for me because I had removed grains from my diet, and not because of the reduced carbs. Once I realized that removal of wheat/grains was the essential piece, I added more fresh fruit and vegetables back into my diet without worrying about the carb count, and decided that paleo was a better ‘label’ for my preferred diet.

    Although I fail to understand why I need to a label – seems to make other people comfortable though ….

    My approach has been to remove the offending food type from my diet without looking for a productized replacement. The food industry will seek to regain their profits from the loss of cereal and bread sales by marketing gluten free products and in the process, they will create something unhealthy.

    If gluten free looks like a fad in a few years, it will be because people opted for gluten free substitutes, rather than just avoiding the center isles of the grocery store. Better yet, skip the grocery altogether and find a farmers market or coop. Better food options, without all the annoying marketing.

  186. Been gluten free for over a year, increased the variety of fats and oils in my diet. do a small carb refeed maybe twice a week, and I can honestly say I feel 10 years younger. My sleep is very restful and deep and I feel on top of the world. Best move I made.

  187. This is an example of a fascinating medical syndrome that I first noticed years ago – I couldn’t find anything in the medical literature about it, so I got to name it myself: Reverse Food Sensitivity by Proxy.

    Unlike most ailments, RFSbP is transmitted almost entirely electronically. Gluten is a common cause, as are MSG and aspartame.

    The syndrome can lie dormant for years – an attack is generally triggered when a “carrier” (who does not suffer from the disease, but merely transmits it) posts a message online about how he or she is sensitive to, or allergic to, or just made to feel bad by food . This statement somehow creates in the RFSbP sufferer, who may be thousands of miles away, the *absolute certainty* that the person making the claim is either lying or mistaken. (The mechanism by which this certainty is generated is currently unknown – but it would be sweet irony indeed if it turns out to be a histamine reaction.)

    A simple and inexpensive test is available to detect RFSbP. The patient is exposed to the sentence, “When I eat wheat, I get diarrhea,” and their response is evaluated. “Normal” (RFSbP-neg) responses include variations on the following:

    “Oh, that’s too bad.” or
    “Let’s talk about something else now.”

    RFSbP-pos responses are instantly recognizable because they’re things no sane person would say, like:

    “No you don’t.” or
    “Prove it.”

    Until the syndrome is better understood, hopes for a cure are slim.

  188. After 17 years on steroidal inhalers for asthma and drugs for GERD, both my husband and I were diagnosed, thru blood and sputum tests, with dairy allergies and gluten intolerance. Since eliminating them from our diet 3 years ago, we are both off our inhalers…only wrestle with seasonal allergies now; off the drugs for GERD because we no longer experience heartburn; we are saving $300/month on the drugs we no longer use; have adopted a healthy diet and lifestyle…used our savings on drugs to buy bicycles!… And at ages 62 & 64, we came down to a healthy weight, are more active and feeling better than ever and looking forward to retirement in less than a year.

    At our age, we really don’t care what the skeptics say because we are living the truth and proof of it!

  189. I’m a coeliac, and since my diagnosis a year ago I’ve put on about 20lbs- 100% proof it isn’t a weight loss diet!! All those brownies and cakes have extra sugar and flavourings in them to make them taste edible!! However, my hair has stopped falling out and I no longer sleep 12+ hours a night, so there have been improvements!
    The biggest thing from my point of view that the PB covers but I was never told on diagnosis, is that giving up gluten is only part of the answer to feeling better. I can’t eat dairy when I’m stressed and eating primally makes almost as much difference to how I feel as going gluten free did.

    1. Becky,
      May I make another suggestion on the weight gain from a gluten free diet; since “we” (I am coeliac as well) can no longer consume products containing wheat, rye and barley products or their hybrids, we switch to products containing corn and rice (… tapioca, pea starch, potato starch and other starchy foods), all of which have a high glycemic index, which contributes heavily to our expanding waistlines. For a gluten free diet to work for weight loss, you really need to eliminate all grains and restrict starchy foods to 1 or 2 times per week.


  190. Actually Cheetos have always contained gluten and hummus can contain gluten as well, you need to check your sources. Gluten is used to give consistency and texture to different foods (that’s why gluten free bread breaks). Also, don’t forget that grains are at the bottom of the food pyramid, therefore essential in our diet.
    And no, going gluten free doesn’t make you loose a ton of weight if you were already having a balanced diet. I’ve only started eating more processed foods in the past 5 years or so, and I was never under weight as Miley Cyrus is (because yeah her weight is not appropriate for her height and the “she is fit stuff” doesn’t work either, muscle is heavier than fat).
    I believe that making the gluten free diet a fab, where most people won’t even care if there has been cross contamination doesn’t help us coeliacs in any way.
    I was diagnosed 26 years ago, I’m 27 now, so believe me, I know what I’m saying.

  191. Funny what we push on TV – drink more milk, splenda is good for you, there is nothing wrong with high fructose corn syrup, nothing wrong with GM foods, eat beef that we shoot up with hormones and then antibiotics to keep them alive, and eat whole wheat (all things that indicate cause health issues).

    As my doctor has indicated for every 1 person informed they have issues with wheat – there are 80 that are not told they have a serious issue with wheat. He is telling all his patients to go 2 weeks off of wheat to see if they see any difference. The interesting part is all that have tried are now going gluten free. As he said to me wheat causes inflammation, which triggers a lot of health issues.

    It is sad that it took several years for a doctor to tell me to step away from gluten – I ended up with very serious health issues since it took years for them to come around and tell me to step away.

  192. Excellent article, as are all on MDA, love that you back your insights with studies Mark, often share them with my health coaching clients. I went grain free two years ago to help heal Hashimoto’s and feel so much better for it. Personally found it much easier to go grain free than gluten free, to avoid having to find similar substitutes – instead, like you say, real food like meat and salads and veg and fruit. Don’t feel deprived in any way.

  193. Hahahahaha. You left out gluten free rice! I love that it’s a consumer driven fad, because non-coeliac people were doing it before there were processed products to sell. Simply because they feel better sans gluten.

  194. Just to clarify… when products that have either always been gluten free by nature of their ingredients or are processed junk labeled “gluten free”…. YES a company might be benefiting from opportunistic marketing to a new wave of dieters and YES many people role their eyes at the site of it (“gluten free orange juice?! are you kidding me?!”)… but please step back and remember that it is actually serving a life saving purpose. 1% of the population can not consume even a trace amount of gluten without a severe threat to our health (which is actually a very high prevalence), and clear labeling let’s us know that the company selling the product has taken safe guards against cross contamination and it can be safely consumed. This is not a fad, its for the good of public health!

  195. Thank you, thank you, thank you!! I have been growing weary of the onslaught of negative publicity that this movement is beginning to receive….but in particular I have decided to stop trying to discuss going gluten free even amongst friends. The recent backlash against it…..and I can see from the tone in conversations that people think I am just part of a big fad. Heck, I was doing this a long time before it became popular. And I did it out of necessity!