Gluten – the protein found in some grains – is about as divisive a topic as you can get right now. The sceptics reckon they’ve eaten bread and other foods containing gluten all their lives and they are just fine. They are calling out the so-called BS on arguments that gluten-free diets are better for you.
However, for some people, abstaining from gluten is not a fad but a necessity. Coeliac disease sufferers are so allergic to the protein that they can ruin their gut lining and be susceptible to a range of debilitating conditions, including malnutrition, if they ingest gluten. Estimates put the number of people with coeliac disease at one per cent of the population.
An increasing number of seemingly healthy people are also finding relief from bloating, belly aches and diarrhoea if they avoid eating foods containing gluten. Yet many studies indicate that evidence of gluten contributing to irritable bowel syndrome symptoms is inconclusive.
Other researchers say the proof is palpable that gluten causes inflammation and is addictive to boot. One such expert, Dr William Davis, pulls no punches, declaring on his website: “The food you eat is making you sick and the agencies that are providing you with guidelines on what to eat are giving dangerous advice with devastating health consequences.”
The cardiologist explains the opiate-type effect of wheat is exerted by gliadin, “the protein in wheat that was inadvertently altered by geneticists in the 1970s during efforts to increase yield”.
“Just a few shifts in amino acids and gliadin in modern high-yield, semi-dwarf wheat became a potent appetite stimulant. Ignorance of the gliadin effect of wheat is responsible for the idiocy that emits from the mouths of gastroenterologists” who claim a gluten-free diet is unhealthy, the food expert argues.
“In the simple-minded thinking of the gastroenterology and coeliac world, if you don’t have coeliac disease, you should eat all the wheat you want . . . and never mind about the appetite-stimulating effects of gliadin, not to mention the intestinal disruption and leakiness generated by wheat lectins, or the high blood sugars and insulin of the amylopectin A of wheat, or the new allergies being generated by the new alpha amylases of modern wheat,” Dr Davis says.
Critics of the common herbicide used on wheat crops, Roundup, also claim that it is the toxic chemicals in the weed killer that are responsible for an increase in coeliac disease.
Not surprisingly, organisations that promote consumption of grains are pushing back, saying that avoiding gluten is leading to people missing out on vital nutrients that may help them fight diabetes and heart disease.
Whichever way you feel about gluten, discuss with your doctor any major changes to your diet first.
Do you become bloated after eating food made from wheat? Do you know anyone who has coeliac disease, and if so, how difficult is it for them to avoid gluten? Do you think a gluten-free diet is just a fad?