While all food trends are potentially dangerous, some seem to stick in the public imagination more than others. Few have gained the acceptance, and notoriety, as gluten, a composite of proteins found in grass-related grains that, if you believe some holistic blogs, is responsible for most of society’s (and your digestive system’s) ails.
Or, more specifically, celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting the small intestine which results in a host of gastrointestinal-related problems, including chronic diarrhea, malabsorption, nausea, fatigue, and distention. There is no argument that gluten is a cause of this. What is argued is how many people actually have it (as compared to how many self-diagnosed because they read it on a blog) and, more interestingly, other potential causes not discussed as often.
If untreated celiac disease can lead to cancer and early death; quality of life is greatly reduced in the meantime. Exact numbers of celiac disease sufferers are hard to pinpoint because symptoms are more prevalent in some than others. In some regions it is estimated that 1 percent of the population suffers; in others, the number is closer to one in forty.
A genetic prerequisite greatly enhances the possibility you’ll acquire celiac disease; roughly 40 percent of people are born with this disposition. Yet not everyone will get it in their lifetime, making it even harder to understand.
Add to this the fact that gluten has health benefits that are often overlooked. More specifically, gluten’s delivery mechanisms, such as wheat, rye, spelt, and barley, as well as its popular incarnation as the foundation of imitation meats, provide necessary fiber while delivering protein and dietary minerals. In developed nations with diverse menus gluten can generally be avoided, but in many countries wheat, and therefore gluten, is a necessity.
While celiac might be in the heads of the holistically minded, there is actual cause for concern: celiac disease is, like bread in fermentation, on the rise. Over 31,000 infants born at a Denver hospital between 1993 and 2004 were tested for a genetic predisposition to…