Gluten: no more controversies
Nowadays, there are three gluten-related conditions that are officially recognized: wheat allergy, celiac disease, and gluten sensitivity. Approximately one in a thousand people may be allergic to wheat, almost 1% of the population may have celiac disease, and slightly more than 1% of the population is sensitive to gluten. And when one says gluten, one means gluten in wheat, rye, and barley.
Unlike people who have celiac disease, people who switch to a gluten-free diet do not do this to prevent serious complications that arise from an autoimmune reaction that occurs in people with celiac disease, but only to rid themselves of some of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity and thereby in some way improve the quality of their life.
How is celiac disease diagnosed?
When a person for some reason thinks that they are sensitive to gluten and wants to find out if they really are sensitive, they first perform a diagnosis for celiac disease, which currently involves taking a blood test and a small intestinal biopsy. And if the result is positive then one switches to a gluten-free diet. But if the result is not positive then one always has the option of eating healthier food, which means, eating more fruit, legumes, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts on a daily basis.
Farce and misinformation
What is ironic – and also published in the Lancet, the most prestigious British medical journal – is that most people with celiac disease are unaware of their diagnosis, while millions of people who are not sensitive to gluten exclude gluten from their lives and spend roughly three times as much on gluten-free foods, but continue consuming animal and refined plant products on a daily basis. Why are people doing this? People do this because the information presented to the public leads them to think that gluten is the main cause and solution to all nutritional and health problems, drawing their attention away from the health consequences of consuming animal and refined plant products. If people could get genuine information, they would spend their money on foods that really promote their health like fruits, legumes, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts.
WHILE multi-billion dollar financial interests exist on both sides – the multi-billion dollar industry of products with gluten and the multi-billion dollar industry of gluten-free products – it’s important to know how to recognize contradictory and biased information and take only the information that is based on science of supreme integrity without financial conflicts and interests. And this science states that for people who are not sensitive to gluten, which is 98% of the population, grains not only promote health, but are also linked to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity and other chronic illnesses. Of course, this means whole grains and not refined grains such as white rice, white bread, and white pasta.
So no current data suggests that the general population should avoid gluten, but for people who have celiac disease or who are sensitive to gluten, a gluten-free diet may not only be beneficial, but life-saving as well.
And for those who have celiac disease or those who are sensitive to gluten, it is important to be aware that gluten is not the main cause and solution to all nutritional and health problems, but only one in a series of many components of a healthy diet. So if someone wants to eat truly healthy then one should also take into account other components of healthy eating, which means consuming as many fruits, legumes, green leafy vegetables, whole grains, and nuts as possible and as little refined plant foods as possible, and, if possible, completely eliminate animal products – meat, eggs, and dairy products – which all contain cholesterol and large amounts of saturated fat, and no fiber.
The road is long, but rewarding and worth the effort.