The Case Against Gluten: For Everyone

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In the U.S., public awareness of gluten free diets has reached widespread recognition, but largely in name only. For those suffering with celiac disease or acute wheat allergies, it’s critical. For those with known reactions to gluten, it’s of serious importance. For those who don’t really know what it’s about, but see it on packaging, it seems to evoke a similar response as being forced to “Press 1 for English”. Journalists tend to frame the gluten free approach as legit for celiac treatment, but ultimately a fad diet controlling minions of mindless Gwyneth Paltrow lovers (AP Article). The paleo diet community views it as more of a religion (that’s tongue-in-cheek hyperbole, people!). Before we continue, here are my biases: I experience repeatable,  specific, and boring symptoms from gluten intake, but I do not have celiac disease or a “gluten allergy”. Evolutionary biology is a scientific fact and I believe the paleo diet provides ultimate explanations for why we shouldn’t eat grains. So what are the proximate explanations for going gluten free? Is it fad or for’ real?

A quick and dirty primer

Celiac (or coeliac) disease is an autoimmune disorder in which the small intestine is damaged by components of gluten, a protein found in wheat and other grains. The effects of celiac disease are numerous, serious, and varied. For a entertaining sobering look, check out Tim Ferriss’ How to Keep Feces Out of Your Bloodstream. Strictly speaking, a “wheat allergy” can be similar to something like a peanut allergy. Folks in this group experience rapid onset symptoms that are serious, including the potential of anaphylactic shock. It’s mainly for these folks that food is required to expose the presence of wheat content on packaging.

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