Why are gluten free diets considered a scam?
Do a search on gluten free diets and you will not only find advocates, but naysayers. The gluten free movement has exploded recently, and with it dozens of websites, blogs, opinions, articles and debates.
Those who say gluten free is a scam obviously don’t have a gluten intolerance, or celiac disease. Some say if you are not diagnosed with celiac, it is all in your head. I beg to differ.
What motivates people and industries to go gluten free?
Money. Diet books and diet foods are a huge industry right now, with more and more people in the US trying to eat better.
Health. Weight loss, digestion, brain fog, joint pain-these are just some of the reasons someone might stop eating gluten.
Celebrities. This is where the fads come in. I believe celebrities who are going gluten free just because it is the latest fad hurts those of us who actually need to be gluten free.
Below is an answer to an online question “is gluten free a scam?” that I believe to be misguided:
“The gluten-free diet is not a scam… at least, not at first. In 2011, an Australian scientist, Dr. Peter Gibson found that certain people who did not have Celiac disease (a well-known autoimmune disorder discovered in the 2nd century CE where people cannot eat gluten) also reported several gastrointestinal disorders when eating gluten that went away when they stopped. As is the case, as soon as a single nutrition paper comes out, someone will write a diet book based on it. This can be dangerous (in the 1980’s everyone was told to eat saturated fat-free diets… which meant eating lots of trans fats, which we now know to be extremely toxic, killing 20000 Americans a year… oops), though in the case of gluten-free diets the risks aren’t so bad as long as one gets vitamins elsewhere.
However, Dr. Gibson himself never trusted his work, and like a good scientist tried to repeat it. In 2014 he published a paper showing that people with “non-celiac gluten sensitivity,” when told they were on a high-gluten diet, always reported feeling sick even if they were actually being fed gluten-free foods! He concluded that his initial report three years earlier was wrong. Many other scientists have confirmed his work, but the damage was done: in those three years, gluten-free food became an industry worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Pseudoscientific claims [gluten causes all symptoms of every diseases ever, gluten is a GMOs, gluten is a CIA mind control device, etc] have gotten more popularity than Dr. Gibson’s works ever could, and a fad has started that will take a lot of time and information to die down, if it ever will.”
There is an interesting article on Dr. Gibson’s views here:
I find it very difficult to believe that someone being fed gluten free foods would have symptoms of gluten intolerance, even though the mind can play tricks, like a placebo effect. Each of us knows our own body better than any scientist, doctor, or wannabe expert. I tried for years to get doctors to believe I had IBS symptoms. I was told:
“It’s related to your periods” by my family doctor
“It’s related to your digestion” by the OB/GYN
No one would listen to me. It was all related to hormones, stress, having no gallbladder, having ovarian cysts, etc. I took care of the hormone issue and the cyst issue, thinking, ok, that should be the end of it. Wrong! While it played a part, it wasn’t the whole gluten free enchilada. And it took 15 years of suffering to get a doctor to listen to me about my “female trouble”.
Celiac disease was ruled out for me. But actually being diagnosed is not that simple. Presuming you find a doctor that doesn’t brush you off and write you a script for antidepressents, it is an uphill battle.
Yes, pseudoscience does exist and so does marketing for profit. However, I believe the person who wrote this answer to an online question has never experienced the horrific effects of gluten intolerance. While everyone is entitled to their opinion (CIA mind control device, really???) please educate yourself on what you are writing about. Just because you read it on the internet, see it on Dr. Oz (God forbid)or CNN doesn’t mean it is so, and just because a “study” is done doesn’t mean it isn’t slanted, or junk science. Think Measles vaccine as an example.
Yes, gluten free is a money maker and a celebrity band wagon. But please don’t forget about those of us whose lives have changed for the better because we stopped eating it. It is no picnic-in fact, it is a very difficult lifestyle. Not glamorous at all.
I hear people complain all the time about their “stomach issues”. But when I try to tell them-it might be gluten, or dairy, I get the denial. No, that can’t be it. I just ate yogurt. It’s supposed to help with your digestion. Thank you Jamie Lee Curtis! Not if you are lactose intolerant, which, by the way, 65% of the human population is. We are not baby cows! We were never meant to drink cows milk. Ok, I will get off my milk box.
I would say to the original poster, walk a mile in my shoes-go gluten and dairy free for a month. I’m sure it would be a gut experience. It may even make you feel better.