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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

The Demonization of Gluten

The Demonization of Gluten - Freakonomics Freakonomics

"LEBWOHL: There are also potential health concerns with going gluten-free. Gluten-free substitute foods often have more calories than a gluten-containing item. They often have higher fat content. A gluten-free diet is often a diet low in whole grains, low in fiber. We actually compared people who ate high-gluten diets to those who ate the lowest-gluten diets. We found, actually, that overall, when looking at the outcome of rates of heart attack, for example, there was no significant difference with regard to heart attack risk according to how much gluten you eat in your diet. But if you then take into account whole grains, those who ate more gluten in their diet, due to having a higher whole grain content in their diet, actually had a lower heart attack risk. In other words, a gluten-free or low-gluten diet, if deficient in whole grains, could actually increase the heart attack risk.

FASANO: Let me clarify something. Not only gluten is not a villain, but without gluten you and I, we still jump from one tree and another. We [would] not have build the Coliseum or the Eiffel Tower because before the agriculture and, therefore, predictability — humankind spend 90, 95 percent of activity for food procurement and 5 percent for reproduction. No time to unleash ingenuity or doing anything about it...

LEBWOHL: A gluten-free diet is also potentially more expensive, particularly if looking at gluten-free substitutes...
I realized that there were some really interesting parallels between Taoist monks’ prohibitions on the five grains — the so-called wugu — and modern avoidance of grains. The promises that these monks made were promises of miracles. They said you could fly if you didn’t eat the grains. You could teleport. You could avoid disease, live forever, clear up your skin. I started to think to myself, “What if what seem like scientific prohibitions on foods today actually have more in common with these religious prohibitions than most people think?”...

LEBWOHL: … it looks like the majority of patients with celiac disease are still going undiagnosed, and therefore eating gluten possibly to long-term medical harm. Despite that we have all these other people who don’t have celiac disease and have adopted the gluten-free diet. It could very well be that our efforts for outreach and awareness of celiac disease have been basically met on the wrong audience or a different audience. Our efforts to say “celiac disease can affect all races and ethnicities, young and old, the many faces of celiac disease” has not fallen on deaf ears, but fallen on other ears, a different set of ears. Those with celiac disease by and large haven’t gotten the message."
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