159 Putting Gluten Free To The Test
My last blog post was intentionally short and incendiary, and I sincerely appreciate the commenters that respectfully called me out on the overgeneralizations. They were to make a point, but I do apologize.
The point is this: Of those who self identify with gluten sensitivity, only a tiny 5-7 percent claimed to ever have had their alleged allergy or intolerance formally diagnosed by a doctor. In fact, gluten-specific effects occurred only in 8% of people who identified themselves as having Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity when they were tested. Jumping to conclusions about gluten can mask the real causes of your symptoms, many of which can be very serious.
NaturalNews.com blames gluten for symptoms similar to IBS: migraines, fibromyalgia, irritability, dizziness, and fatigue, going so far as to call it a Peanut Butter and Death sandwich. Parents of children with autism in particular are now being targeted by gluten free food as a cure for their children’s autism by the likes of Jenny Mccarthy. Sales of Gluten-free foods last year topped 10.5 billion dollars, who sell food for 76% to 518% more. Gluten-free is big business.
But don’t take health advice from alternative peddlers: there are also a number of scam allergy tests out there. Specifically IgG and IgE antibody tests which have no clinical relevance to food allergies. HemoCode, the York Test, and the LEAP test are three common scams which have taken in some friends of mine in the past. For a one time fee of a few hundred dollars these tests will give you random results with a list of your “sensitivities” that come back different each time.
We can see how pseudoscience builds off of existing conditions and fears in popular culture, and then makes a leap in logic in order to market a product. In this case we start with Celiac disease, a gluten intolerance that causes serious gastrointestinal symptoms in 1% of Americans. Also wheat allergies, which could actually be triggered by any number of plant proteins not specific to wheat. And lastly, a very small number of diagnosable GI disorders (sometimes called Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity) or symptoms of IBS that may be triggered by short-chain carbohydrates (fermentable, oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols called FODMAPS) and are not actually affected by gluten specifically. Experts are still looking for the exact cause and argue over what to call it, but these are real issues.
The pseudoscience being sold is that gluten is also responsible for your symptoms and ailments, whatever they may be.
Is this the gluten one?
Of course it is.
This is the best pizza ever!
Wait, nope. That was the control pizza. All gluten.
ACK! I'm having a sensitivity attack!
Oops, my mistake. It was gluten free.