The Gluten-Free Fad Is Dangerous - So Is The Backlash
    By Hank Campbell | November 12th 2013 10:29 AM | 47 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
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    In the summer of 2012 I wrote Celiac: The Trendy Disease For Rich White People, which annoyed a few people with celiac disease but a whole bunch of people who had latched onto a fad and craved medical or scientific legitimacy in doing so.

    That article had been building for years but now everyone has caught on. Gluten-free is suddenly a $5 billion business and it has snowballed to a point where gluten-free labels are creating people who are worried about gluten because of so many gluten-free labels - the tail wags the dog. The newfound array of choices are, as I noted then, terrific for celiac patients, because the days of unreliable mail-order products and nasty quality are long-gone. 

    My concern was that the fad nature of it was placing celiac patients at more risk; if someone knows a friend who bounces along to whatever crackpot myth Gwyneth Paltrow is embracing today, they might lie about whether or not something has gluten just to avoid amateur theatrics. (1)

    Most fad diets are harmless, they only impact the dieter, (2) but the Faux Celiac trend is dangerous to millions of people. The fad groups latching onto it are getting all of the attention now - Gluten Takes a Beating From Fad Dieters, Matthew Boyle writes in Bloomberg, for example - and that means the backlash against gluten-free will be more dangerous, because gluten is in so many things. And as diets go, it isn't helping many of the people adapting it, other than that they think it is.

    Julia Llewellyn Smith at The Telegraph notes that, in blind tests, 75% of people who claimed to have an 'allergy' or 'intolerance' to bread showed no signs of any symptoms after eating it.  She quotes nutritionist Ian Marber: “If gluten really is the root of all evil, then celiacs, who really can’t eat it, would be in perfect health. I’ve been avoiding gluten since about 1823,” he joked, “but I still have all the normal aches and pains and health issues.”  

    1% of people are being placed at real risk due to an impending cultural backlash against 20% of people claiming they buy it because it makes them feel better, it will help lose weight, or has superior nutritional value. Claims of the diagnosis are up 2500% over a decade ago, though actual diagnoses are not.

    The 1% of real instances are a lot more than in the past, of course. When I was a kid, doctors were surprised to ever see a case in their entire lives. Obviously that is due to better diagnoses. It can't be because of claims of some 'genetic' change to wheat, there isn't anything biologically different about wheat in the last 50 years, though gluten-free fad proponents claim it is somehow different.

    But food companies are not in the business of correcting the public about science - unless it hurts sales. And gluten-free foods increase revenue, because they can charge more. So beer makers and even Hooters are happy to cater to this new 'healthy' lifestyle. The lifestyle supposedly healthier than natural wheat is extra sugar, extra fat, hydroxypropyl methyl cellulose and xanthan gum. Don't you feel better knowing those are your alternatives? It's like when fad health claims said all-natural butter was worse for you than artificial margarine

    Because gluten-free is why you go. Links and credit: Hooters and Pinterest

    Politicians are happy to jump on fads also. Democrats are chomping at the bit to put warning labels on genetically modified foods, of course, but there are plenty of anti-science positions that need to come first; they want to ban trans fats, which will help absolutely no one.  So after they use the awesome power of government to ban doughnuts, crackers, movie theater popcorn, frozen pizza, coffee creamers and canned frosting, they can turn the legislative guns on gluten. Then, after that, maybe finally get that ban on GMOs, because the public will have been trained that 'consensus' about science is created by watching the Dr. Oz show or reading the New York Times and demanding that politicians take action against the Scare Journalism of the week.


    (1) Here's one way to know you are dealing with a fad dieter, from a celiac site that nonetheless embraces pretenders who do not have the disease: "Lately I say things like, "When I was diagnosed with celiac disease...", even though I never got tested by a doctor. I am SELF diagnosed, but if I say that no one takes me seriously. The way I say it, I'm not lying exactly, just heading off the misconceptions."

    (2)  Some are not harmless. If you feed raw sprouts or raw milk to kids or pregnant woman or the elderly or people with weakened immune systems, you are acting irresponsibly and dangerously. If you consume those yourself because you think they are 'healthier', you simply need an IQ test.


    More and more Children are being diagnosed with Celiac Disease especially in children with MS or Diabetes. No I am against the ban on assault weapons, but when it comes to food and the dangerous chemicals being put in are foods such as GMO'S, I am proud to say I WISH GOVERNMENT WOULD BAN GMO'S AND DANGEROUS WHEAT IN ARE PRODUCTS. I am a Tea Party Conservative and a member of the TEA PARTY NATION and do not have Celiac Disease but know many people who do and it is growing, the problem is less and less people are doing the biopsies today because blood and generic testing is safer and more accurate. With a biopsy they want one friend of mine who's blood and generic test came back positive but her biopsy came back negative to continue to eat GLUTEN until they see damage. What more proof then blood tests and generic test do you need to prove you have Celiac Disease. One more thing, meny Celiacs are choosing not to do the biopsy and that is the only way you can be put as part of the 3 million statistic that you have Celiac Disease. My friend is not listed or gets any tax benefits even though her blood and generic tests came back positive for Celiac Diseae. I assure you my friend, it is more then 3 million and actresses like Goldie Hawn and Fox and Friends Elizibeth Hazzelback who have Celiac Disease. The numbers especially in children are growing. STOP LOBBYING NEWS CRAP FOR THE WHEAT INDUSTRY. People need to go Gluten Free if they wish to get themselves less bloated and more better/

    Nice work talking about big government and then claiming you are a Tea Party member. For a minute you had my hopes up - science is used to left-wing people being conspiratorial crackpots about food so it was going to be a nice change of pace that it was a right-wing person. No such luck, though.
    As a person that is fairly liberal that is going to school in hopes of working with GMOs, with my friend that works for Monsanto, that is practicing the same methods used by Norman Borlaug in the 1970's, I can tell you it's not all liberals that hate GMOs. Science is doing what it wants no matter what either side tells us about global warming, GMOs, evolution, or vaccines. For some reason we seem to think science is political. It's not. It's about as split as the nation identifies.

    I'm having a hard time backing up the claim that "three-quarters of people who believe they have an allergy or medical intolerance to bread show no signs of any symptoms in blind testing." The first use of it seems to come from a BBC magazine article and doesn't specify a source.

    I am, however, familiar with this double-blind placebo-controlled study that shows self-diagnosis of gluten intolerance - even among those who definitely do not have Celiac - is more effective than placebo.

    I also have a hard time believing the poll that indicates some 27% of Americans are gluten-free. They have not released the methodology of their polling, and their results conflict widely with polls released by the respected industry advocate, the Food Marketing Institute. FMI reports that about 7% of the population is seriously trying to be gluten-free, and that this number hasn't changed a whole lot in the last three years. That number if also close to the early estimates of all immune reactions toward gluten, but it will be hard to get specific numbers on "Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity" until we have some objective metrics to measure and classify it with.

    Aaaaand... are you like, actually denying that trans-fats are bad for one's health, or that there's no public health benefit to restricting their use? I thought that was pretty well-established science by now. I hate to say it, but you might have drifted so far to the right-wing and science denialism that everyone else looks like a leftwing conspiratorial crackpot. "Back in my day, we didn't have to worry about all this stuff science has discovered since then!!! A typical doctor couldn't diagnose a single case of Celiac in his entire career, and us non-Celiacs were just fine with it!"

    No, I have said I never bought into the awesomeness of partially hydrogenated oils when health and mainstream media was insisting butter was bad for us and animal fat caused heart attacks. Banning trans fats will not cure obesity any more than replacing saturated fats did. I don't think everything needs to be made with lard and using some hydrogenated oil is not dooming the population either, I was just against it before it was cool to be against it so I am not going to jump on the bandwagon either, but I am going to ask the awkward questions and try to be a trusted guide for the public - something they won't get from Mark Bittman or Dr. Oz or most corporate media pundits.

    I doubt that sane right wing people have said trans fats are healthy. I assume if they are small government types against social authoritarianism, they are instead claiming that bans on trans fats aren't solving problems. They'll stick to banning gay marriage and pot to save us all.

    edit: Oh, and on the 75%, why not just write Smith at The Telegraph and ask? When I write for corporate media, USA Today or whatever, I endure three days and half a dozen emails with a fact checker and The Telegraph is a real paper so she likely did the same thing.
    Honestly, Hank, every time I see you write about the gluten/celiac issue, I think that you must be in bed with Big Bread.

    I agree with you that people shouldn't make up a celiac diagnosis to justify a gluten-free diet. But this is more about about the marketing gimmicks. I saw beef jerky today that said "gluten free" on the label. The same goes on in the low-fat world. Going gluten-free is very hard work, but it is worth it for some people who get to a certain age and think they are too young to feel so crappy. Tinkering with fad diets is a great, low-tech, low-cost way to experiment. Sometimes it works out well. Other times, people go back to old habits until they try out something different for a while.

    Everyone is entitled to not eat whatever they choose, but we are so very judgmental about other's eating habits. I was a vegetarian for ten years, I should know. And my Muslim husband was generously offered pork at every family function (on my side). Ever see a whole family of heavy people at a buffet place? The government even gets in on the act, banning large sodas, etc.

    The government is obviously behind the curve on the obesity and diabetes "epidemics", and patients and their doctors are educated by marketers selling another pill. True celiac patients learn to cope with their illness, whether gluten-free is a 5 billion dollar industry or not. They have no choice. But that is ok because there is plenty of other stuff to eat out there.

    Your comment is a mishmash of confusing, even opposing points. Big Bread, whoever they are, is not funding any studies to show that gluten is harmless, they are the ones making gluten-free products. They love this fad.

    And I am the one standing up for celiacs and noting they are at risk while you espouse the 'choice' of people to trivialize their disease. 

    I haven't said gluten-free foods should be banned, I never even came close, I have been laying out for a confused public that there is reality and then there is marketing that is exploiting claims about health - and yet you say anyone laying out truth for free is "in bed" with someone while the people making $5 billion are ethical?  Do you realize how goofy you sound?
    Hank is in bed with Big Bunny Bread.

    I tried to sit through that opening Flash stuff and got impatient. Is it made from actual bunnies? If so, I am going to buy it.
    FYI, almost all commercial beef jerky is NOT gluten free, because it usually contains soy sauce, which contains wheat.

    Yes pal I am with the Judson Phillips Tea Party Nation. Does this upset you, too bad. More and more Americans are being diagnosed with Diabetes Type 1 and Multiple Sclerosis and I work as a Registered Nurse at a hospital. I have fought Obamacare, I realize what will happen unlike Grover Norquist if illegals are given citizenship, I agree unlike you establishment's that Glenn Beck is right when he says Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell an establishment Republican has to go. I will not be supporting ESTABLISHMENT Pat Toomey again after his support of ENDA or the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and Gun Control Legislation. I also unlike Fox News that President Obama's Trans Pacific Partnership which I believe will screw MADE IN AMERICA PRODUCTS and the internet over.

    Anyway my opinion is as a Tea Party Member YES, we are becoming aware of the dangers of Monsanto GMO'S, IF MONSANTO HAS NOTHING TO FEAR THEN WHY NOT PUT GENETICALLY MODIFIED FOOD LABELS ON PRODUCTS THAT HAVE GMO'S IN THEM. Again as a Registered I am seeing more and more people who find out too late after getting Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis that they had Celiac Disease before getting diagnosed with the condition's that are far worse then Celiac Disease. I am sorry this upset's you that Tea Party Nation members like myself want Government to respect the Constitution and work with the people. That is what the Tea Party is all about. Go back to being South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham and Arizona Senator John McCain who would take money from the wheat lobbyist community and keep telling you lies YET cannot explain why Diabetes and Multiple Scenarios is on a rise in are country. CELIAC DISEASE IS ON A RISE AS WELL AS GLUTEN SENSITIVITY AND OTHERS. Stop attacking the truth. Ken Cuccinelli I was proud to have supported in this year's Virginia Election and he only lost to Terry McAuliffe by a few percentage points and remember unlike your establishment party guy Chris Christie, Cuccinelli's had to face 2 opponents and only lost by a tiny percentage of points. Clinton's idea of three party candidates in elections sadly beat a good Tea Party Guy for Virginia. Many Tea Party people like myself would want Government to do more to end Abortion, Keep Traditional Marriage in check, and to try to do more to regulate porn. Now my politics may upset people but the Tea Party is not against Government, all we want is Government to respect the Constitution. At any rate YOU SIR REALLY DO NOT KNOW THE TEA PARTY. Yes the Tea Party does want regulations on harmful foods. SURPRISED!!!

    Hank, where did you go so wrong here that you've invited these YouTube-level, sophomoric comments laden with illogic, bad grammar, spelling and punctuation, and liberal use of the Caps Lock key? Shiver me timbers at the thought of this one being a registered nurse should I need treatment.

    Thank you for the read! I don't pay attention to gluten-free, sugar-free etc labels as I do not have diseases that require me to do so. I am a logical person who is not defensive about shit she or he doesn't know much about. I also don't love to spout party bullshit. It is unfortunate that there are so many who take media and political blathering at their word as to what is good for us. Being a scientist myself, it pains me to hear the uneducated statements about much, especially health, that are passed around. I find myself even thinking that way when I don't really care to research something because of the minimal effect it initially has on my eating. After hearing bs passed around a few times, however, it becomes part of my knowledge database and I think nothing of it. Time later, possibly years, and I look up something only to find out I did not know the truth. Bugs the shit out of me.

    I have met true celiacs and would never want to be one considering the ingredient's ubiquitiousness. And I have met people that excise various things from their diet for no scientific or health reason other than the latest fad diet. Unfortunately, stuff like this cycles round. Someone will take some study part out of context and make a big deal about how bad it is for you and then the sheeple follow the wolf to doom.

    If I choose to incorporate or dismiss something from my diet, there better be a damn good reason. And a scientific one at that. But biology is an amorphous science and we learn more everyday that changes the open, science minded people's opinions. That is science. Open your mind, let a little light into the dank cavern of religious/political sheepleness. You would be amazed at the fascinating stuff out there.

    Anyway, I feel your pain a bit in regards to posters like the two above. Again, thanks for the read.

    It's sound advice. In another article I addressed how I used to answer questions regarding how I stayed thin - "I eat like an idiot" - in that I did not obey the fickle whims of health pundits claiming meat and eggs and butter caused heart attacks, while psyllium and oat bran would save the world. In the past few years we have had similar miracle claims about red wine, Acai berries, chocolate and the Mediterranean diet and the New York Times even goes a step farther and demonizes all sugar while claiming turtle blood and ch'i as legitimate health treatments.

    Every week the public is barraged with alternating scare journalism and miracle cure claims. It's not a bad idea to at least introduce some skepticism - especially when a fad places actual patients at risk. But when something is really popular, like the gluten-free diet, people get emotional and lose the critical thinking they would have if someone said a Kool-Aid diet was healthy or whatever. 
    I've got to admit that gluten-free seemed like an overused panacea, and quite frankly, a marketing tool to sell overpriced, bad tasting, icky-consistency food. But…
    About 3 years ago, my then 9YO daughter started fainting, getting really sick, and was diagnosed with Grave's Disease. Her treatment at our local PSU Med Center with a well-respected endocrinologist followed the usual course of closely monitored meds & blood work. She didn't respond after 2 years, and the next treatment was radioactive iodine. My 11YO daughter had an appointment to swallow radioactive pills & be quarantined for a few weeks, all in the hopes that the treatment would destroy a critical body part. Lovely.
    Then my wife read that occasionally gluten-free diets have helped people with thyroid issues. I was skeptical, to say the least. But here we are, ~6 months later, and my daughter is symptom-free, and has STOPPED her thyroid medicine.
    I have a scientific mind. I understand that I'm talking about a small sample size (1). It could be argued that she was going to age-out of her problems anyway. We just don't know.
    But I DO know that she's much healthier than she was, and she doesn't have Celiacs.
    I wonder what the medical community will think about us 100 years from now as we are beginning to discover the benefits of gluten-free diets...

    If that is the only change you made, and so you are sure it works, I say go for it and congratulations on having a healthier child.  The human body is a mystery sometimes. 

    What do we call alternative medicine that is shown to work in double-blind clinic trials? Regular medicine. So let's get out there and show that abandoning gluten cures more people without Celiac disease than a sugar pill will.
    Look Hank you are wrong. Why do you think they test Diabetics for Celiac. Many people are getting Celiac and again because of the fear of the Biopsy many will not go with the Gold Standards and instead just take the blood tests and generic tests at there word, which is why only 3 million Americans are listed as having Celiac, but keep in mind 1 in 100 Americans is believed to have Celiac but has never been tested. There are plenty of Americans who have not been tested for the Disease YET can't explain there problems with bloating and stomach problems. Plus keep in mind the technology we have since the year 2000 or 1998 to be specific such as the TGG tests and EMA tests with advancements in blood tests and generic are telling the truth to people who are being diagnosed with Celiac Disease. Back then we did not have these tests. Of course people were not always getting sick back then from eating Gluten but mind your readers there are more people with SILENT Celiac disease which shows no symptoms but years later many of these people end up getting cancer before finding out too late. People are always under the impression Celiac show signs. SILENT WHICH IS MORE PREVALENT DOES NOT SHOW SIGNS. I am a registered nurse and I have seen to many people hurt with Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis and if they had gone for testing of Celiac they would never have had the problems they do now. Your wrong Hank. I know that Republicans are strict believers that food regulation is a nutty idea and like Fox Businesses John Stossell want Government not to tell people what to put in there body, however you scientist can still not explain why Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis is on a rise. Today more and more conservatives are realizes that supporting companies that put out anti depressant drugs are not the right move because more and more people are getting harmed by anti depressant drugs and are hurting them more then helping them. AKA George Bush senior and Eli Lilly and there anti depressant drug. It should also be pointed out that the department of agricultural recently admitted that yes WHEAT HAS NOT CHANGED BUT **VITAL** WHEAT IN FOODS IS ON A RISE. Just google search this title ** WHEAT BREEDING” NOT A LIKELY CAUSE OF INCREASED PREVALENCE OF CELIAC DISEASE** Anyway I have spilled all I can now and your article to me is not convincing enough. Until you can explain why Diabetes and Multiple Sclerosis are rising in this country I am not at all convinced. Thanks for your opinion now I have given mine. Take Care and good luck to the Tea Party movement in this country.

    One more thing Hank, I want you and your commentators to read a Science article that just came out today. Talk about luck!!! Google this title in your Search Engines. ****Microbiome Changed by Gluten Increases Incidences of Type 1 Diabetes**** I know Hank you really do not understand because you do not work in the Medical field that CELIAC IS ON A RISE. Many people are afraid of doing the Biopsy which is why only 3 million are being put in the census of people having Celiac Disease. CELIAC IS ON A RISE, but most people are opting out of the Biopsy. Hopefully this article will appear on Drudge, but it is proof Type 1 Diabetes and Multiple Scenarios can be prevented by having a Gluten Free Diet. THESE ARE SCIENTIST HANK, your article about unsafely with Gluten Free is JUST NOT FACT, because you leave out VITAL WHEAT HAS INCREASED IN WHEAT PRODUCTION.

    Copy and Paste this Link to the top of your web browser:


    (1) That's a press release. (2) You pay so little attention you don't even get the name of the press release site correct - but you are certain they are 'real' scientists. (3) The actual study is in a pay-to-publish journal, so they handed over a credit card and the study went out. The actual level of peer review is unknown. (4) The study was in mice.

    So you are saying all of the studies showing no effects of gluten in mice and in humans are junk but this one is valid? 

    Seriously, go hang out on or whatever crackpot site you came from. You make it look like giving up gluten causes an intelligence drop.
    Hank: Tea Party Nation 4 Life strikes me as a crank, and I'd like to know what hospital s/he works in so I will be sure not to admit my patients to it. However, I do want to urge a little closer attention to the article s/he mentioned.

    First, PLOS ONE, is a respected peer-reviewed journal despite being OA. Many traditional, standard medical journals also charge page fees for publication, so pay-to-play alone is hardly a compelling criticism of a journal in medicine. My department of medicine has a large subvention fund to pay such fees for our docs, pretty much always to the major medical journals in our specialties.

    Second, the authors of the study in question are respected medical scientists at the Mayo Clinic, and while I am not proposing that reputation is a guarantee of validity, they have little to gain from publishing shoddy work that will be subjected to an extra level of critical scrutiny given the topic, the sponsoring institution, and the clinical implications.

    Finally, Tea Party Nation seem to draw the wrong conclusion from this study. The study suggests that early exposure to dietary gluten may be one factor in the expression of Type 1 diabetes in mice that are already known to be diabetic. The clinical implications for humans are for children who already have T1D; the study does not suggest that gluten causes anything, anymore than aspartame causes PKU. So, the study may have a high level of validity, but it has little if any relevance to mice (or humans, presumably) who do not already have T1D.

    David Taylor, MD

    First, PLOS ONE, is a respected peer-reviewed journal despite being OA. 
    I know Mike Eisen, we've been on panels together, he has guest-posted here and I respect what he did in co-founding PLoS - but facts are facts, and no tiny company is peer reviewing almost 300 articles each and every day, just in one journal, nor do they claim they do. Instead, editors have a checklist of 4 items; it is editorial review and then maybe peer review light, and then sometimes peer review - and I don't know which that paper got. I do agree that PLoS Biology and the others are quite good, I am only talking about high-volume PLoS One, and only about being unsure how to treat a paper on complex issue that makes some bold suggestions that are going to get attention because they just happen to piggyback on fad claims.
    Celiac disease is only ONE way in which Gluten Sensitivity manifests. This affects less than 1% of the population. Gluten Sensitivity, however, is a medically recognized condition officially given status last February (2012) by an international panel of experts. And it may affect 8 to 40% of the population, depending on which studies you read. And more often than not, people with gluten-sensitivity never even complain of digestive distress. Instead they may be affected in the brain, the skin, or by some other serious disorder that was brought on by gluten. The gluten-free diet is not a fad and its not jut for celiacs! The science is out there to back up the claims. But I have a feeling you haven't spent much time doing PubMed research. It looks like you're sourcing your information from Bloomberg and the Telegraph alone.

    Heather Jacobsen
    Stuffed Pepper

    Alas Heather you are an anti-science fanatic, everyone, including Hank, can see that for sure. Plus you claim about pseudo-science that has not been verified nor reviewed by, and this is bad bad bad, since it is THE scientific authority out there, and frankly the only one able to say what is Science and what is Evil.

    So please get diagnosed or die, because we are more of us like me to prove you insanely wrong, than there is of you saying thinking bad ideas might be good, and this is only justice, because we talk about science here, not about all of you moronic people of the real world believing that what is wrong (untruth) is right (true).

    Don't you understand your mistakes, poor you! Your cognitive cues must be so obscure (so unlike ours!)

    (Oh I wish there would be a licence for commenting on the Internet, because that would help getting rid of people like you having bad opinions!

    Your sarcasm is weaker than your rationale. I am fine with beliefs - that is why some people like certain art and music and certain website - but facts are facts. You can't pick and choose your science a la carte but that is exactly what charlatans are doing.  I can't say "I have brain cancer, I just haven't been diagnosed" just because Gwyneth Paltrow might claim gluten causes brain cancer either.

    By all means give up gluten - but I am saying they should not demean and trivialize the people who have a serious issue by inventing their own medical conditions. If that fits you too, well, grow up.
    so you are pro-GMOs and the unlabeling of them? and pro trans fats etc... have you an explanation? you sound like a bigger jerk with every sentence.

    You're asking the wrong sentence; am I pro-science and don't think the public should be scared by labels that are meaningless? Yes. I don't, for example, say that organic food needs a label that says 'may contain E. Coli and may sicken or kill you' despite the fact that organic food overwhelmingly does those very things compared to conventional food. GMOs have yet to cause a stomachache in 15 years.

    So 'jerk' means rational, evidence-based and not a crackpot? Sure, that is me; along with the bulk of the world. 
    Well, despite the fact that your opinion is shared by most readers, I can say it's only an opinion and not a factual assessment. The fact that your opinion is shared by most readers is a fact though but not a scientific fact, and this is because exactly it cannot be reproduced due to the other fact that now that this opinion has been had by most readers, most readers precisely, have it and can't forget about it. And this fact, the fact that this fact is true that most readers share your opinion cannot be reproduced per se as a factual event, thus invalidates the scientific status of the entire series of cats about your opinion, and as such a matter of non scientific value this, as a matter of fact so to say, has to be ranked as an anti-science intimidation and act of agitation and propaganda for the insanity of creationism and scientific heresy, which is a fact absolutely proven by the other fact that you are actually having this opinion as it is reproducible each and every time that you will read again these words.

    We told you, we are more of you truth haters, and you can take it for granted for we are the people of science who know the reasons behind the fact that we are right to say we know what we a re talking about, which is we have read the figures, and we can do the maths to conclude about that what we know is the true story behind the grand wazoo of it all, ok? right, so don't mess around, 'cause otherwise we'll hunt you, find you and prove you wrong and you'll be ashamed for the rest of your life.

    And don't get a brain while we're at it, because it's proven to tend to catch nasty cancers too (ask Hank he knows about his!) after a long time of use! Just stick with your butter pastry and get a sweet heart thing, it hurts a bit but it's leaner and proving you were the nerve kind of people and not the sitting flesh'n'bones kind of moron like all of them anti-GMO parrots!

    Or go read somewhere else like or, it's a science blog thing here no need for sceptical red necks like you all bunch of fooding nerds!

    I have a gluten intollerance and I am self diagnosed. I did an elimination diet to find out what was causing my symptoms. When I felt better after eliminating gluten I spoke to my doctor who told me at the time there was no way to test and confirm, that if I felt better avoiding gluten to just keep doing it. I'm greatful that the gluten free choices have grown. But I doubt people would fake it to be trendy unless they were rich because gluten free can get pretty expensive and I am by no means rich. But I do what I must. I just hope when the fad end the choices won't go with it.

    Like I said, if you feel better doing it, do it. Some people will feel better but that isn't a disease. Vegetables make me ill, they really do, so I don't eat them. A doctor in his right mind should not say to me, eat vegetables even if they make you gag, it is counterproductive.

    But of course plenty of people adopt fads. It is why diet and health books outsell Harry Potter.  You seriously never saw a celebrity saying they adopted a gluten-free diet? I also noted a few times that the fad at least has an upside, in more choices for actual celiacs who used to lead a pretty miserable life. And it has been a huge revenue source for bread and cereal companies.
    Interesting discussion. Twenty years ago, I chose to eat a gluten-free diet, and, happily, my gut and skin issues, and joint pain, disappeared. I support labeling because it gives me the power to choose; and without it I'd be sick. I'm in that 1% who really appreciates labeling. If it turns out a gluten-free diet helps people with other problems, that's great. (Everyone's different. I love vegetables; but, if you're a "super taster" broccoli might make you gag.) I don't think all the long-term studies are in yet to justify some of the strong opinions on either side in this debate, but there are some intriguing new data that I hope will help educate all of us in the next decade. Some believe that Celiac Disease + NCGS = 25-30% of the population. Gluten is just one factor in a complicated cause and effect chain, behind some diseases mentioned. It would be great if solid research nailed down causality so we could help slash health care bills we face as a nation.

    I am the person you quoted about being self-diagnosed. When a person has no insurance, yet has severe symptoms such as rashes, digestive issues including diarrhea and undigested food in stools, insomnia, frequent headaches, and a host of others, AND when one has a family history of celiac disease (my mother was diagnosed by both blood test and biopsy), one will most likely try a gluten-free diet.

    And when ALL of those symptoms clear up after a few months of being gluten-free, it is such a clear indication that one does indeed have the disease, that there can be little doubt. My own doctor is satisfied that I have it based on family history and my response to the diet, so much so that it is now in my medical record.

    I'm sure there are many others like me who have no insurance, but who have responded to the gluten-free diet. And please, why would ANYONE go on such a difficult, restricted diet just to be "trendy"? I know there are those who think it will help them lose weight, but in actuality, those people are the ones who "cheat" on the diet without consequence. I and many like me on the other hand, would end up so sick if we "cheated" that the thought never crosses our minds. Ask anyone who has eaten off a "gluten-free" menu and due to cross-contamination, been sick for weeks.

    I myself refuse to eat ANYTHING I didn't cook myself. No restaurants for me. Now please, if I were trying to be "trendy", why would I limit myself both gastronomically and socially to such an extent?

    If you left that comment, you are now saying something substantially different - your comment said you claimed the disease and self-diagnosed because you didn't want to have skeptics about it, now you say it runs in your family and it's in your medical records that you are celiac. Those are different. "When I was diagnosed" is not the same as "I diagnosed myself".
    I DID diagnose myself. My doctor agreed with me.

    I left that comment on many different threads, not just the one about your article claiming celiac was a disease for "rich, trendy people". If you did your homework before quoting me you would have read that I have a family history and resolution of symptoms. AND that my doctor agrees that I have celiac and thinks there is no need for me to be tested.

    Some threads I said this on were addressed to people who were contemplating going back on gluten for three months so they could get that official diagnosis, even though their symptoms had cleared up on the gluten-free diet and going back on gluten meant OVER three months of debilitating symptoms.

    Some of those comments were addressed to people who had "friends" who refused to believe that gluten made them sick, or family members who thought "a little bit can't hurt you."

    Some were in reference to restaurant servers. (I don't eat in restaurants but many celiacs do.) I have heard so many horror stories about servers who pick the croutons off someone's salad because they think it won't hurt them. I advise anyone with celiac to make it very clear to servers that they are NOT being trendy, and that they DO have a serious disease so that these servers will understand and be more careful.

    But more to the point: I have a friend who claims she is allergic to cats because every time she walks into a room where one of the little creatures resides, her eyes get watery and she starts sneezing. No doctor diagnosed her with a cat allergy though, she diagnosed herself based on her symptoms. Does that mean she is just being "trendy"?

    Or do you believe that it's impossible for people to be aware of their bodies, pay attention to what makes them sick, and remove the offending substance without the benefit of expensive testing by someone in the medical profession?

    I DID diagnose myself. My doctor agreed with me.
    Or your doctor appeased you. 

    So which is it? You had to diagnose yourself because you had no insurance or the doctor said you have it, without running any tests? Neither one of those sounds like evidence-based medicine.

    I'll not wate any more time on someone who is obviously just trying to insult me, my doctor, and people with celiac WHICH IS A REAL DISEASE. It seems you just like to stir people up with your outrageous take on this, perhaps in an effort to get more clicks on your blog. (How much do your advetisers pay per click anyway?)

    I can only hope that someday you will educate yourself.


    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    On April 1st 2009 a specialist neurologist doctor told  my mother that he was 99.9% certain that she had motor neurone disease (MND or Lou Gehrig's ALS) and that it was the worst bulbar palsy type of MND based on her symptoms of difficulty breathing but no lung disease or allergies, fasciculations of the tongue and various muscles, emotional lability, drooping neck and fatigue and so on and then he told her he was immediately arranging for her to go to a Brisbane hospital for 3 to 5 days where they would be doing some 'very painful and expensive muscle biopsies' to confirm his diagnosis. 

    I asked him why on earth he thought she should do that? He said it was to confirm his diagnosis. I told him my mother was obviously suffering terribly both emotionally and physically without adding that painful and expensive procedure to the equation and he gave me a strange look and said 'no one has ever refused the MND biopsy before'. 

    I then told him that was funny because another hospital doctor who specialized in respiratory problems had accused my mother last month of deliberately malingering because sometimes she could blow into the machine OK and sometimes she couldn't and when he accused my mother of malingering I told him we were leaving. He then told me that no one had ever walked out of one of his respiratory tests before.

    It seems to me that some people, especially doctors are incapable of understanding that painful diagnostic tests are often avoided by people who are suffering serious symptoms already but that this doesn't mean that they don't have the illness or that the illness can't still be diagnosed from the symptoms and treatments alone. The diagnosis can often be confirmed later, as in the case of celiac disease by the treatment of removing the known causative factors such as gluten from the diet and the patient then becoming symptom free. 

    In my Mother's case her MND or Lou Gehrig's ALS disease diagnosis by the doctor was subsequently confirmed by her dying from textbook MND symptoms, unable to breathe, speak or eat 8 months later. The autopsy also confirmed the MND Lou Gehrig ALS diagnosis for which there was no known treatment at the time but a potential L-Serine treatment for MND ALS is currently being tested.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at
    So to keep on assessing this argument the author can't acknowledge because of his hypothetical bias postulating scientific methodology in medicine is universally applied, here's a recent article, short, a team seems to have develop a fast and easy biomedical test for allergens of all sorts, including gluten :

    That's great, but when will I see this test at the local pharmacy?, when will my MD be informed to use it and read it properly?, when will the medical and paramedical services be able to orient towards this kind of tool?, these questions are the big issues never understood by the author. In a few years from now, if ever this test becomes available worldwide as an affordable well distributed product, chances are my MD will never specially come across this information, because he's too old, too young, or doesn't believe in this or that, or because he will not meet a salesman med rep to sell it to him, chances are the social med institutions where I could also meet this product will decide to have a policy to bypass new products, chances are in my specific region of the world the price will not be as low as promised due to local contractual situations, and in the end, I will not take this test and will remain ill with a MD that looks everywhere but the obvious (otherwise) environmental factor that makes me sick of an undiagnosed so-called conveniently "auto-immune" condition.

    This is the real world, this is how it happens all the time, you can deny the factual aspect here only to make yourself more of a ridiculous opinionist if you will, and until it is not sorted in a way so that every MD will think of this environmental factor first as a major source of etiology in a series of given health disorders, you can as well think of this "fad" as a good way to help things happen and the generic issues of such factors become a true cause for the people who actually deliver the medicine on the ground of the daily life.

    A MD's career lasts 2 or 3 sociological generations, he can learn new major techniques and even a new frame of thinking maybe once or two during this time, and we are at a time where the patient may as well point towards plausible causes, inform his MD, give feedbacks about his practice, help the doctor find out about his condition.

    And this is all this human complexity which is absurdly called names by the author theorist in chief of a situation that is nowhere to be found in the field : medical science.

    This situation would require from the author to study this aspects of the reality with more precision, but he won't do that because he would be forced to conceive his view is short of a world out there...

    Your rather silly posturing about me aside, you have a good point; there should be more evidence-based medicine in medicine. Unfortunately, the people I am talking about don't want that, they instead want symptom-based diagnosis, which doctors have been trying to do away with for 50 years.

    Doctors would be happy to use more evidence and reason but, as another commenter put it, doctors often just put things in medical records because a patient insists they have it, even if the tests don't show it. If they don't do it, and on the 1 in 10,000 chance something really is wrong, they get on 60 Minutes and will be sued.

    So the reason doctors don't use more medical science is the patients.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Hank, all diseases are defined by their symptoms. A blood test or biopsy confirming a diagnosis is just more symptomatic evidence of the condition. I agree with the commenter you were replying to who made some very good points. Doctors are often out of touch or being misled by constant visits from medical reps from pharmaceutical companies.Most medications don't cure the disease they simply treat the symptoms so why risk a painful biopsy for example and the 1 or more in a 100 risk of infection from antibiotic resistant bacteria that are now prevailing in hospitals all over the world when simply removing the cause of the symptoms fixes the problem?

    Take for example Lipitor the multi-billon dollar drug for reducing cholesterol. Many doctor's offices show evidence of past Lipitor sales campaign in the form of mouse pads and pencil holders on the doctor's desks etc. Doctors are also given paid holidays by the pharmaceutical companies to attend drug promoting conferences in attractive locations. 

    Not many people know that a statistically very significantly high incidence of Lou Gehrig's ALS or MND disease has been correlated with patients who are taking Lipitor and that this was warned about by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 2007. No one took much notice and probably most Doctors and Lipitor medicated patients don't even know about this worrying connection. My mother who contracted ALS MND was also taking Lipitor prior to developing motor neurone disease and her doctor didn't even think to stop giving her Lipitor when she was dying of ALS MND until I showed him the WHO report.

    A  lot of medical staff all over the world make a lot of money from doing unnecessary medical procedures to confirm a diagnosis when simply removing the cause of the symptoms is probably just as effective, especially as the diagnosis will only then justify prescriptions of expensive medications to treat the symptoms and not the cause and often these also have adverse side effects. 

    I recently read this article called 'UF researchers find that ‘peanut butter’ test can help diagnose Alzheimer’s disease'  which describes a cheap and painless home test that people can do to find evidence of possible early neural cognitive deterioration which may be a sign of early Alzheimer's. It costs nothing and simply requires a jar of peanut butter and a ruler, I doubt if it will receive much promotion by many medical practitioners or companies unless they are selling Alzheimer's treatments.
    My article about researchers identifying a potential blue green algae cause & L-Serine treatment for Lou Gehrig's ALS, MND, Parkinsons & Alzheimers is at
    Hank, all diseases are defined by their symptoms. 
    Well, no. If that were so, homeopathy would work and 'you cured the symptom but not the disease' would not be a saying. Symptoms are a clue.  If you go to a doctor and say you have a sore neck and the only thing he looks at is your neck, run away, he is a terrible doctor. 
    This is where you show yourself being really short-sighted about what you're ultimately talking about, the daily practice of medicine (in the average place where only it is practised.)

    MD are not scientists, they are somewhere between art and handicraft, influence and advisement, horse recipes and universal compounds, after sales and conciliation, outdated knowledge and matured intuition of health, experience and and reminiscence of erroneous fatalities, very far away from the labs and the actual physiological discoveries.

    It has always been this way, and it tends to better less slowly than, say, the average tech you are holding in your pocket, and it is so because the human factor is almost everything in medicine from the med school to the custom habits of the area of installation of the good doctor.

    So that what you are referring to is an ideal vision of what is not medicine, and this is your mistake : you started last year arguing about a reality that is nowhere to be found, and you keep on insulting so many people who keep on telling you your stories are not the wood the real life is made of.

    I really think this is a mistake because all this blurs your message to the point one cannot even read between the lines, you are not addressing the right signal to the right people, you're just adding noise to the noise of the world, and just let's set aside the vast majorities of the human being on earth that simply cannot see a doctor when they normally would do so to save or prolong their life.

    This mistake illustrates itself when you claim "if medicine fails it is on the patient, not on the doctor". That's the case indeed with all strong idealism : when the world is not good enough to live up to the fantasy...

    This is a mistake also where you prove somehow, and your entire editorial scene behind you, being unable to read the real stakes behind the factor that cannot be ignored and which exceeds the scientific measurements most of the time when it doesn't contain its self weak human science rectification method (call it sociology to make short), the world as it is lived and experienced by real human beings, when you sketch great plans on the Wazoo that fit nowhere outside of the idealism (which you abhor on the other side of the medal btw) you could call scientism if you were to review it.

    This scientism which one however hardly read in scientific releases themselves, but only on blogs online and their sequels on bookshelves with political books pleading for "a more educated scientism".

    A great physicist mocked the entire process under the fine name popperazzism to define this blogging about the imperious reason of science on the Internet, and you appear to be the great priest of of this entire scene, indeed, as you are told each and every time by numerous readers.

    And that's a pity because there would be a much more interesting catch to help popularize the insight such and such way of feeling the doctor finds nothing about in the blood samples, may well be coming from this plastics you cook in, from this food you get your poison from, from this environment of noise you resolve yourself to survive in, etc.

    Of course on the Internet anything goes and you would open the Pandora box your turn, but it is wide opened anyhow, and at least, that would shake the mind of million of decent honest people who suffer conditions that no tech speciality, even medicine, can deter, and that would help devising on the way to keep growing a better place for everyone with better materials and more limited impacts of the industry on the ends of life all around the world.

    But that would just be blogging or worse, journalism if you could do that properly, and I guess that's not enough, you have to be the one putting yourself forward to tell everyone your fantasy world of ideas is unjustly left behind...

    And sometimes you shake ideas on the brighter side of things, like when you plead for more use of GMOs in African agriculture f.e., but then it seems to be so because of your industrial implications in the field, so that's still nothing such as the same old lobbying... but that's another story.

    So to make it short, you could try and conduct a series of interviews with real MDs, and try and see if you could find that they have or not already a general idea of "health and disease" (or proper/improper, or whatever dichotomies they call it, that would be so interesting to read the words they use to describe that very realities of their goto "science"!) to guide them instead of a series of protocols and analysis/data : you'd be amazed to realise medicine is an unconventional science for the least, if at all it is! You could report on that, that would be so much more of a read for the general public!

    But again, the modest allures of decent writing are not hype enough in the craposphere to get paid with maybe...

    Looking forward to read your next articles though.

    So that what you are referring to is an ideal vision of what is not medicine, and this is your mistake : you started last year arguing about a reality that is nowhere to be found, and you keep on insulting so many people who keep on telling you your stories are not the wood the real life is made of.
    You're saying medical legitimacy is invalid but we should all just take the word of people who haven't been tested, diagnosed themselves and don't know any medicine at all as being more valid even though they know far less than doctors? That is a tough argument to make.
    Precisely in many affections that are environmentally born and systematically under-diagnosed, the main fact since the era of the Internet, is that the patient knows often much more about his problem, than the doctor does, and if many doctors complain about the fact they are becoming drug deliverers "à la carte", many find this development of the free information a great factor of enhancement for health in the corners where allopathic medicine has nothing to say nor to offer.

    You know not your subject enough, offering in each answer, more profound views about your inaccuracy. But never mind, good for you if it does good to you!

    tbc another day another time

    Stop the presses! Read your science!
    You report, "20% of people claiming they buy it because it makes them feel better."
    You also report, "in blind tests, 75% of people who claimed to have an 'allergy' or 'intolerance' to bread showed no signs of any symptoms after eating it."
    And you said, "1% of people are being placed at real risk [because they have celiac]."

    If your data is correct then:
    5% of the population show measurable symptoms from eating gluten!
    For every celiac, there are 4 who are not diagnosed celiac who also measurably benefit from being gluten free.

    While there is certainly a lot of placebo effect, the real effect is five times the size of the "celiac" crowd. If 5% of the population has a genuine gluten issue, that is way plenty to support gluten free options at the grocery and in restaurants.

    No, 1% is still 1%, even if you try to claim higher orders of 1% are 5%.
    No, data is data no matter how much you want to ignore the data that you provided. Look at your own data. Look at your own numbers. Become scientifically honest.