Why We’re Wasting Billions on Gluten-Free Food

Many of us paying a premium to avoid the gluten in our food are doing so without any good medical reason.

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A new survey from market research firm the NPD Group finds that America is cutting gluten out of its diet in a big way. Just under one-third of 1,000 respondents agreed with the statement: “I’m trying to cut back/avoid Gluten in my diet.”

That’s the highest level since the company added gluten consumption to the surveys it does about Americans’ eating habits in 2009. TIME labeled the gluten-free movement #2 on its top 10 list of food trends for 2012.

As food fads go, though, this one’s not only enormous: It’s enormously expensive — and many of us paying a premium to avoid gluten are doing so without any legitimate medical reason.

First of all, why is gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye and barley — so bad? Well, for most of us, it isn’t. The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center estimates that more than 3 million Americans — about one in 133 — have celiac disease, in which consuming gluten triggers a serious autoimmune response in the digestive system. A larger number — exactly how many has been the source of debate, with studies some claiming as many as one in 16 Americans and others saying  far fewer — have a less-severe sensitivity to gluten that causes gastrointestinal distress.

But that still doesn’t add up to the NPD Group’s finding that 29% of Americans are trying to avoid gluten. The numbers suggest that many consumers are staying away from gluten simply because it’s trendy to do so.

(MORE: The Evolution of the Corporate Event)

Avoiding certain ingredients goes in cycles: Back in the 70s, it was sugar. Then it was fat, then saturated fat. Then fat was in but carbs were out. Gluten is the pariah ingredient du jour, and there are a lot of healthy people shelling out big bucks for gluten-free food they probably don’t need.

“Most people must be doing this because they think they feel better, or they do feel better but they’re not diagnosed with gluten issues,” says Harry Balzer, chief industry analyst at the NPD Group. As TIME Healthland pointed out:

People who have bad reactions to common gluten-containing foods — pasta, breads, baked goods and breakfast cereal — may actually be sensitive to something else… It’s also possible that some people develop gastrointestinal or other symptoms simply because they believe they’re food-sensitive.

None of this would be a huge problem, except that this is an exceptionally pricey food fad. Producing gluten-free items, especially baked goods, is more expensive because manufacturers have to come up with alternatives that will give the finished product the same light, chewy texture that gluten imparts.

Researchers from Dalhousie Medical School at Dalhousie University in Canada compared the prices of 56 ordinary grocery items that contain gluten with their gluten-free counterparts. All of the gluten-free ones were more expensive, and some were much more expensive. On average, gluten-free products were a whopping 242% pricier than the gluten-containing versions.

(MORE: Americans Are Eating Fewer Calories, So Why Are We Still Obese?)

An increasing number of food manufacturers have risen to the challenge of producing more gluten-free products, and the category is big business. Market research company Packaged Facts said in a report last fall the gluten-free market in the United States was $4.2 billion last year. It predicts that the category will grow to $6.6 billion by 2017.

Balzer thinks the gluten-free craze is an evolution and an expansion of the low-carb trend. Unlike a dietary modification that affects only a fraction of the population, like cutting out certain foods to reduce cholesterol, framing the gluten issue as being about “wellness” makes it inclusive enough that everyone can participate. “Digestive health has become a buzzword of how to deal with health in America today,” Balzer says. Probiotics are another popular food trend that fits the wellness category.

“We’ve come to address health as something beyond removal” of ingredients, he says. In other words, we’ve abandoned the idea of deprivation and decided that instead of simply eating less to feel better and be healthy, we’ll just eat different stuff. “The concept of being on a diet is, I think, losing favor even if you are watching what you eat,” Balzer says. “It’s so much easier for Americans to say I’m concerned with wellness — I’m on a gluten-free diet.’”

(MORE: Why We So Love Those Limited-Time Offers)

It’s also easier to declare success when “wellness” is the goal. If you’re on a conventional “diet” for months and still wearing the same size pants, you’ve clearly not achieved your objective. Declaring yourself gluten-free, on the other hand, takes away the pressure to achieve a visible result. Now you can have your (gluten-free) cake and eat it, too.

303 comments
Fannymae
Fannymae

I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease (Coeliac is the UK spelling) when I was 60 years old after DECADES of being so very sick to my stomach all the time. Through the years, many doctors said it was a 'functional disorder' or 'IBS'.  Now, at age 65, after being on a very strict gluten free diet for 5 years, I finally feel a bit better and can actually have somewhat of a life -- although my digestive system will never quite heal due to the lining of the small intestine being totally ruined by this disease.


Those who frown on Celiacs and write articles such as this one -- saying that it is not a real disease -- need to get educated. I would suggest talking to someone at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center or the University of Maryland Celiac Center. Don't write about things of which you know very little.


As for the gluten-free diet fad...well, it has been a boon to those who have Celiac Disease. Although, I do not eat many of the pre-packaged gluten-free products because most products still have a bit of gluten in them and can make me very sick -- but, unlike others, I am super, super sensitive.

LindaBeckGehm
LindaBeckGehm

I have a gluten intolerance. I am so frustrated that in most restaurants the gluten free menus are too expensive. I believe that they can get profits from other regular menus to cover the gluten free menus. No big deal!

LindaHost
LindaHost

@LindaBeckGehm So people on a regular menu should pay for your gluten free menu and that is no big deal.  Why isn't that a big deal?  You would want to pay for choices other people make and consider that a big deal.  Gluten Free has gone Viral.  It is proven that it is harmful to Celiac Disease and Digestive Disorders....No proof of any other reason requiring a very expensive diet.  I was shocked to see such an opinion that other people should pay for your choices and you think tht is no big deal.  You want gluten free pay for it like "REGULAR MENU" people do.

ashleighdennis18
ashleighdennis18

I have the coeliac disease okay so I know how to spell it. Maybe you should learn to spell it.

TelePete
TelePete

If celiac disease has taught me anything, it is that people can have very, very strong opinions about things they know little about. Wheat. The forbidden fruit. Did you really believe that it was an apple?

AliciaHerzing
AliciaHerzing

This article pisses me off!  You're basically saying that "gluten free people" aren't worth the extra expense and frustration of companies having to produce and manufacture it!  Not cool!  However,  I do believe for many it is a "fad" and many people have became gluten free just to "join in"..... BUT  I have recently found out I have an intolerance. No I don't have celiac disease but I have found by consuming gluten my depression is worse, I can't lose weight, I am tired all the time  and I have unexplained  migraines.  And I don't mean just a little sleepy, I'm talking severe exhaustion to the point I couldn't function... I have been gluten free for over a month now and all of those issues (except my weight problems) have all but completely disappeared!  So lets talk about this, TIME magazine....  Gluten in many forms is a man made product!  It's found in almost all packaged foods.  As far as I'm concerned people would be more healthy if they followed this simple step... If it doesn't come from the ground, ie fruits and veggies, or from an animal, we shouldn't be consuming it.  Yes I realize that's hard to do, and NO I don't live by that theory 100%.  BUT 50 years ago we were.  And 50 years ago all of these diseases and ailments afflicting Americans today didn't exist.   Fibromyalgia!  Are you f'ing kidding me!  That in itself is such a BS "disease"... Dr's tried to diagnose me with it years ago, because they couldn't figure out what was wrong.  I had chronic back pain, still do.  But I think Dr's diagnose people with this made up disease because they feel they need to tell patients something because they can't find any other reason for their pain.  I apologize to people who believe it but I don't buy it.  There's a disease for everything these days.  You never heard of autism, and restless leg syndrome and ADD/ADHD and other problems that were around weren't as severe as they are now.. Like my depression.  NO, please don't read into that wrong, I do believe autism is a real disease but it wasn't as rampant as it is now.  And it certainly wasn't caused nor is it caused by vaccinations... That's a whole other rant.   At any rate I think this article is offensive to those of us with real gluten issues.  I thought it was total BS too until I went off it and seen my health dramatically improve.  And just cause I'm the only one in my household with this problem, doesn't mean I have to pump my family with gluten, cause it will just turn out to be an issue for my children down the road as well.     And I don't think it's fair for us gluten free folk to have to pay so much extra for something removed from our food that really shouldn't be there to begin with!  That's like us having to pay more for foods that are organic and GMO free..!

ericajohnson
ericajohnson

@AliciaHerzing  The ignorance of your comment is remarkable. You don't seem to have been diagnosed with an intolerance but think you feel better, which the article addressed. Then you said gluten is a man made product. It is nothing of the sort. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley - you know, foods that come from the ground. The ones you said we should be eating. Your children aren't going to have gluten issues unless they're part of the 1% of Americans who do, which is highly unlikely. People have been eating gluten forever - it isn't something new that's causing health issues.

Poochi
Poochi

@ericajohnson @AliciaHerzing Actually, the gluten manufactured today IS indeed enhanced by man made chemicals.  Back during the "dustbowl" days, scientist were brought in to develop a way to make the gluten products we were growing, more plentiful and abundant and sturdier to the elements that were causing their demise.  Those "enhancements" are what so many people are now having difficulties with. Even people who test negative for gluten allergies, still have adverse reactions to gluten, so choose to eliminate or at least cut back on their gluten intake.  Justifiably, gluten is indeed a real issue for more than 1% of the population.  

applejackson75
applejackson75

@Poochi: Nope. Do more, verifiable research.

@AliciaHerzing: Wow. Your post is hilariously misinformed, hypocritical, and loaded with evidence of placebic results from your gluten free diet (which I HIGHLY suspect is not truly gluten free). I love how you buy into the gluten hysteria, but don't believe in other ailments. Lots of daytime television watching in your schedule?

pgolgi
pgolgi

"But that still doesn’t add up to the NPD Group’s finding that 29% of Americans are trying to avoid gluten. The numbers suggest that manyconsumers are staying away from gluten simply because it’s trendy to do so."


What  an offensive statement made about the public, undermining their ability to make wise choices. 
Sure celiac disease is not as common as 30%. But celiac disease is only the gastrointestinal - flat out, obvious manifestation of gluten intolerance.


Also consider the fact, that doctors around the world are often slow in diagnosing Celiac disease, often it will takes over 20 years and I have cases like this in my family! Living in Poland, Canada, US. The guidelines are also imperfect from the point of view of the patient, because why should anyone wait for intestinal collapse of the villi to prove that they have coeliac. Yet this approach is still often followed. Also doctors in many societies reluctantly will test for celiac disease. 


All this clearly means - follow your own reasoning as well and listen to your body. 

DesElms
DesElms

THE ARTICLE's HEADLINE and SUB-HEADLINE: Why We’re Wasting Billions on Gluten-Free Food | Many of us paying a premium to avoid the gluten in our food are doing so without any good medical reason

MY RESPONSE:  Amen! Only from  0.02% to no more than 1% of the humans on the planet have celiac disease; and that's a provable *FACT*; and no amount of their wishing otherwise will change that. And no one who doesn't have celiac disease needs a gluten-free diet; ande equally-provable fact. 

Moreover, those who don't have it, but ridiculously claim that they feel better from a gluten-free diet, anyway, are suffering from the very suggestability on which low-life, good-for-nothing stage hypnotists (who embarrass people by making them do humiliating things on stage, once they're hypnotized) are counting. 

I could take any number of people who don't have celiac disease, but who think they feel better from a gluton-free diet, and feed half of them a diet packed with gluten, and monitor both groups for six months, and, trust me, neither group would be able to tell the difference. It's a ruse. You're all (who don't have celiac disease, but who still think you need or want or feel better from a gluten-free diet) suckers... to the last of you: willing victims of the gluten-free industry that simply found a new way to sink its hooks into people. 

The suckers will, of course, decry what I'm here writing, call me names; say I'm nuts or wrong or mean or worse...

...but the *FACTS* don't lie; and it is, again, an incontrovertible *FACT* that from only 0.02% to no more than 1% of all humans on the planet have celiac disease; and no one who *DOESN'T* have it benefits in any way from a gluten-free diet. Not in any way. None. Nada. Zilch. Period. 

One's odds of winning the lottery are better than that they either have celiac disease, or would benefit in any way from a gluten-free diet if they don't. I wish I could joke that, in fact, their odds are better of being mauled by a brown bear, a black bear, and a polar bear -- heck, let's even throw-in a Koala bear, and a Sun Bear  -- during the same third-Sunday afternoon in the month of July, while wearing a pink shirt and jumping up and down on one foot on a deserted island in Lake Michigan, but clearly their odds are better that...

...though not by very damned much. So, then, are you idiot gluten-free diet lovers who don't have celiac disease enraged yet? That's my goal, you know; in the hope that maybe -- just MAYBE -- a tiny handful of you will suddenly snap to your senses by all the high blood pressure or something. Get. A. Friggin'. Clue.

Sadly, those who don't have celiac disease, and so who don't benefit in even the slightest way from a gluton free diet, but swear by it, anyway, can't be disabused of their embarrassing lunacy because they're believers. And as Carl Sagan once wrote, as the character "Dr. Arroway" in Sagan's 1985 book "Contact":  “You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, [rather] it's based on a deep seated need to believe.”

Yet, go figure: such easliy-misled and insensibly-intransigent people are allowed to vote, drive, have children, own guns, and run for office.

Yikes! [shakes head in disbelief]


__________________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com

Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.


pgolgi
pgolgi

@DesElms  


- please if you would be so kind, provide the source that states that celiac disease has a frequency as low as 0,02%. 

- I think before raining down on people incompassionately your "medical insight" you must have read a lot of scientific / medical books. Can you name a few? 

- what is the research behind your "facts" that people withouth celiac disaese will not benefit from a gluten free diet.

- I suspect by the condescending tone you are not really using scientific reasoning, or have a medical background.

- it is sad, that people who are struggling with their quality of everyday life and fighting hard to make changes in the world that are so hard to implement have to deal with aggresive attidutes like that which you present.

- "One's odds of winning the lottery are better than that they either have celiac disease" 

I guess you should play the lottery if you think the chance of winning it is 0,02-1%, you could be a millionair by now. Or wait are you already?

- your idea of a research projects is not really worthwhile if you've already told us the answer (duh!).

- in the end I would like to say this about you: "You can't convince a believer of anything, for their belief is not based on evidence"

KelleyJeanBlas
KelleyJeanBlas

Its easy for some to discount this lifestyle as a fad but for those of us who have struggled with health issues for years only to find that removing processed, wheat based, dairy and sugar foods from our lives has increased our energy, overall health and FINALLY losing the weight that has plagued us for years, we are believers. This is not a fad, it is a revolution against an industry that has been lying to us and slowly killing us with their Low-Fat, FDA approved lies for years. Thank GOD for an answer that finally makes sense!!! 

ZapruderFrame313
ZapruderFrame313

These comments are proof how easy it is to fool the American public. A "Gluten Free Diet" is just another way for these companies to make an extra buck. If a person has Celiac Disease, then I can understand the possibility of adopting this diet. But how can those who do not have this disease be so sure that this new diet helps them. Bowel movements not only depend on what you eat but also your age, weight, personal hygiene, etc. For those who have children, this is no different than the vitamin scam that pediatricians try to pull off every year with trying to give kids more vitamins. The simple reality is that the American public is misinformed. Today, more people are worried about their own personal health than ever before and they're looking for new ways to become healthier. "Corporate America" knows this and understands that creating a new fad will only help their wallets. 

spammingunow
spammingunow

Ms White, I do not have celiac disease, but i eat neither gluten nor gluten free baked goods, I eat NO grains and very little seeds.  WHY do I do this?  Well, since starting this gluten-free diet, I have stopped having EXPLOSIVE DIARRHEA,  and I finally have NORMAL BOWEL MOVEMENTS  for the first time since the mid-80s.  And YES, it's worth it.

spammingunow
spammingunow

OH yes,, in addition,my headaches, skin rashes, arthritis pain, brain fog went away.  Plus I lot a ton of weight without ever feeling hungry, but the normal bowel movements are the best side effect of the GLUTEN-FREE CRAZE!!!   See you in the ladies room, maybe .. but then again, probably not.


lexsongs
lexsongs

On the contrary, Ms White, there are abundant medical reasons for any and all to diminish/avoid gluten-containing grains, especially wheat. This is not a trend or a fad. This is the result of people becoming educated and aware. I highly recommend your giving the book Wheat Belly (William Davis, MD) a peek. You may just learn something about your exalted whole grains.

JudyBorawski
JudyBorawski

For me gluten free eating is not a craze.  I have Celiac Disease, a disease that was slowly killing me until I was diagnosed and was able to eliminate gluten from my diet.  I still have the side effects of not have going gluten free earlier but I know that I am much better off know than I was eight years ago.

DesElms
DesElms

@JudyBorawski | If true (and I'm not doubting you, but my statistical training requires me to begin the sentence that way) then you're one of the only from 0.02% to no more than 1% of the people on the planet who actually *HAVE* celiac disease; and so, then, you actually *DO* need a gluten-free diet. I'm sorry to hear that, by the way.

With statistical odds like that going on in your life, you should buy lottery tickets more often. [grin]

But seriously, good luck to you. I'm glad to read that a gluten-free diet is helping you; and I'm sorry you didn't get help sooner. May whatever effects that still linger subside; and may you feel better, and live a generally consequence-free and happier life.



__________________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com

Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.

AngieDeLongBowman
AngieDeLongBowman

As a mother with a child that has been diagnosed with Celiac disease for 5 years, the GF craze is a blessing.  5 years ago I had to travel many miles to obtain the flours and our needed gf food.  Yes, the prices are extremely high and taxed many members of our Celiac support group's wallets.  The gf craze began and my daughter is thrilled to find so many more options for her and restaurants and at the grocery store.   With big manufacturers (Pillsbury for one) start coming out with gf items, the price has come down and will continue to do so.  I say horrah gf craze!   

The author's stastics are a bit dated.  Yes, 1 in 133 was what we hear when she was diagnosed 5 years ago.  That statistic will most likely be alot higher now that doctors are testing more frequenty.  What once was diagnosed "irritable bowel" most are finding out it is Celiac disease.  5 years ago I had to demand they test her, and her pediatrician was grateful to have receive an education (Celiac doesn't always have the same symptoms).  

I believe many non-celiac's following the gf craze are probably not educated on what they should avoid. .  What it should be called is a no processed food diet.  GF processed food can have many more calories that their non-gf counterparts.  To become healthier - eat zero of any processed gf foods.  Stick to meats and veggies and skip the gf pasta.  Yes, a bit like a carb free diet?  Yes, and I think we all agree if we stay away from processed junk (and that included modified grains) we will all be a bit healthier. 

JennyK
JennyK

I know many people who went gf only to discover that their psorasis, bowel issues, headaches, joint pain, bloating, etc. went away.  It might be a 'fad' but perhaps what is really happening is the overeating of gluten filled foods is ending.  Are we really meant to eat an excess amount of gluten filled foods?

My doctor at UCSF says his studies show that 1 in 60 should be eating gf and he recommends anyone carrying the gene to go gf.  He told me I was celiac even though my blood panels showed otherwise.  If I just have a crumb of gluten I react with horrible stomach pain.  Personally I am so glad that it is a diet fad because it offers those of us required to be gf so many additional food options. 

One point the writer misses entirely is that with most families where celiac disease is present, the entire family goes gluten free to prevent contamination, etc.  So while only 1 in 133 may have celiac, if you add their families there hare many going gf.


colibriverde
colibriverde

Most people on a gluten free diet do not have celiac disease.  You're telling me you feel better- so what? Thousands of people each year also say they have been cured by going to the shrine at Lourdes, France and praying.  A gluten-free diet is not only more expensive, it is often less nutritious. In gluten-free baked goods such as bread, snacks, and desserts, the ingredients used to replace the wheat are less nutritious than wheat.  Most people are better off just eating less processed foods, but what they do instead is replace the muffins, cakes, cookies, and bread with gluten-free muffin, cakes, cookies, and bread.

Lindzey
Lindzey

Everyone who is commenting trying to defend people who ACTUALLY CANNOT eat gluten need to take a chill pill and realize the actual point of the article... 

The author is not saying that gluten-free diets are just another fad diet and that any person who says they are gluten-free is lying about actually being gluten-intolerant. The article states that '"...NPD Group finds that America is cutting gluten out of its diet...Just under one-third of 1,000 respondents agreed with the statement: “I’m trying to cut back/avoid Gluten in my diet”' THE POINT BEING that those numbers do not add up to the proposed number of people in the U.S. who suffer from Celiac Disease and actually need to follow a gluten-free diet. 

Therefore, the author proposes a THEORY that many people simply eat a gluten-free diet because they have taken notice of the rise of the gluten-free products and are naturally curious to try it, and as an added benefit, eating less gluten has caused them to feel "better," which whether it's actually due to eating less gluten or not remains to be seen. NO WHERE DOES IT STATE THAT ANYONE WHO EATS GLUTEN-FREE FOODS IS NOT AN ACTUAL CELIAC.

THE WHOLE POINT OF THE ARTICLE is just to comment on the fact that more and more manufacturers are trying to produce gluten-free products, but unknown to most people, this is very expensive and therefore gluten-free products are more expensive than their gluten counterparts. 

Another way to say it is because gluten-free products are becoming more readily available to the public TO ACCOMMODATE THOSE WHO ACTUALLY CANNOT EAT GLUTEN (more gluten-free menus, and products on shelves advertised as GF) people (yes, even those who can eat gluten) are taking more notice of it, trying it, and talking about it, therefore it looks like it is just a "trend" or a "fad" of the whole eating healthy mantra. 

I would liken it to when manufacturers started using sugar replacements, such as Splenda, in foods. So you started to see "Sweetened with Splenda" more and more on products and people naturally notice and then go ooh "sugar free! must be good for me because sugar is bad! I'll try it!" (And a fyi, Splenda wasn't approved and introduced to Americans until 1999.)

So stop arguing and complaining that no one cares about people who are gluten-free because that's not the case. And if you're truly unhappy about something THEN ACTUALLY DO SOMETHING TO CHANGE IT instead of posting on threads that aren't going to accomplish anything other than making yourself feel important. 



GFreeSweetie
GFreeSweetie

Wow. I can't believe you're calling the gluten-free lifestyle a fad, and likening it to other "trendy" diets that avoid ingredients like sugar and fat. So many people ACTUALLY CANNOT EAT GLUTEN. Your comparison really doesn't work.

DesElms
DesElms

@GFreeSweetie  wrote: So many people ACTUALLY CANNOT EAT GLUTEN.

MY RESPONSE:  Bull! Almost no one can't eat gluten. Read the studies; the statistics. From as few as 0.02% to no more than 1% of all humans on earth actually have celiac disease; and *ONLY* those who have celiac disease can't eat gluten. For the entire rest of the world which doesn't have celiac disease, the gluten-free "lifestyle" is, in fact, a fad; unnecessary; ridiculous.  

Even if those studies are 100% wrong, then, fine: from 0.04% to no more than 2% of all humans on the earth actually have cliac disease and so can't eat gluten. One's odds of having it are still worse than winning the lottery.

Unless you have celiac disease, @GFreeSweetie, then you have been sucked-in -- verily duped -- by a non-sensical (except, of course, for those who actually *HAVE* celiac disease) gluten-free marketing campaign designed to both separate such as you from your money, and cause such as you to come into places like this an embarrass yourselves defending unnecessary gluten-free "lifestyles."

Wake-up. You've been scammed; and now you're also scamming. Stop it.


__________________________________
Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com

Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.


DingoGirl
DingoGirl

I nearly died from advanced Celiac Disease. You all, presenting this subject so cavalierly, makes my now-calm stomach churn. Gluten has become the most difficult-to-digest polypeptide chain that exists, thanks to modification of wheat and other grains. Wondering who funded your article. American doctors, driven by money, throw drugs at everything - treating symptoms and not causes. We as a nation eat JUNK like no other country on earth - outlandish portions loaded w MSG, sugar, articial colors, flavors, fats, and chemicals....and we look to doctors to treat the increasing diseases these NON-foods are causing. SICKENING. Hateful and irresponsible article....hoping that one among you figures out that your "irritable bowel" or "scoriatic arthritis" or "chronic excema" (treated by useless steroids and creams) or infertility or migraines or.....a myriad of other things.....are caused by gluten......meanwhile color me livid.

DesElms
DesElms

@DingoGirl, no, they're caused by gluten *ONLY* in those who have celiac disease.  Don't play fast and loose with the facts. If you have celiac disease, then you are one of the only 0.02% (that's two one-hundredths of one percent) to no more than 1% of all the humans on earth who actually have it; and, if so, then, yes, you need to be on a gluten-free diet. Most people, clearly, do not. And so none of what you described is even capable of being manifested in any of them.

The article does not say that such as you don't need to be on gluten-free diets. The article could not be more clear, and so I'm wondering if celiac disease also keeps people from comprehending simple Time Magazine articles. It clearly states that while those who really and truly *DO* have celiac disease really and truly *DO* need to be on a gluten-free diet; absolutely no one else does. No one. Ann all their, or your, wishing otherwise won't change that.

Please, also, stop spreading mere folklore as medical fact, like you did in your final sentence. That kind of disingenuousness colors *ME* livid!


_________________________________

Gregg L. DesElms
Napa, California USA
gregg at greggdeselms dot com

Veritas nihil veretur nisi abscondi.
Veritas nimium altercando amittitur.


pgolgi
pgolgi

@DesElms @DingoGirl  


@DesElms @DingoGirl  


The Celiac disease frequency is actually something close 1 in 130 in the United States and 1 in a 100 in the UK. This is solid research results which is widely accepted. And this is only the flat out, obvious manifestation of gluten intolerance seen in the intestine. 


It does not include the people who are feeling symptoms from gluten, but don't have a proven intestinal damage in endoscopy and microscopy. This does not however, exclude them being affected by gluten in how they feel. 

But if I want to use a clear cut medical argument, one proof for this, is other widely accepted gluten related diseases such as neurological diseases, skin diseases have been associated with gluten consumption in a way similar to celiac disease.


And if you believe that medicine is crude like that, than sorry to dissapoint you. Medicine is going far beyond nowadays, and research is constantly finding out new things. It is not all so clear cut how you would want to see other people. Your statements are just showing how closed minded you are. 


So now why are you here? if you believe so firmly that gluten does not affect you, why tell other people that what they have felt about their bodies is wrong. Don't you think that's arrogant on your part? It is actually more, it is mean.



SE15
SE15

Did Monsanto pay Martha to write this article?

patriot4evermore
patriot4evermore

Luckily, I am one of those who can eat gluten filled foods with no consequence.  I do think the next forbidden, every disease known to man causing, food fad is just around the corner, and gluten will not be such a bad thing after all, except to the relatively few who are ACTUALLY sensitive to it.  Perhaps everything in moderation is the key to eating healthier.

ssimpson
ssimpson

I am surprised that the focus of the article is on the cost of gluten free food when it could be on the cost of gluten on America.  Time Magazine has the resources to find out for all of us what the stats are on what percent ADD, ADHD, Strokes, Seizures, Migraines, IBS, Depression, Anxiety, and so on are caused by gluten intolerance.  Most of those people don't find out their symptoms are due to Gluten Intolerance until they are in their late 20s and 30s and some late into the 50s and 60s or 70s.  How much does that cost America in health care?  What are we paying in insurance premiums because people are eating gluten and they don't know they are intolerant to it?  Do you know there is a genetic test that everyone can take and it will tell you if you are gluten intolerant?  What if we all took that gluten genetic test as a kid - maybe as part of your newborn checkup - how much would that save the nation? How much heartache and pain would we be able to save people?

I am 38 and just learned I am Gluten Intolerant about 6 weeks ago.  I am a possible Celiac but still going through a lot of testing.  I can tell you that Gluten was the cause of epilepsy starting in my mid 20s, depression starting in my early 30s and severe anxiety in my mid 30s.  I thought I was going crazy until I stumbled upon this on my own and eliminated it from my diet.  My neurologist didn't believe me - said he didn't see a connection between seizures and gluten.  Now I am seizure, depression, anxiety free.  I am healing my stomach with a functional doctor and I am extremely sensitive to Gluten to the point that I need an epi-pen because I have gone into shock when I have come into contact with it.  

I hope your next article is a little more responsible and looks at the real issues instead of what you wrote here. 

JonathonWallen
JonathonWallen

Yeah, this is how we handle an obvious medical crisis:  claim it's just a diet fad.  About 3 years ago I started visiting a doctor who referred me to a specialist for various problems I was having, including severe heartburn, sharp pains, stomach cramps, etc.  Eventually it was figured out that I was gluten intolerant.  I know several people that around my same age that have also recently been told the same thing by their doctors, eliminating gluten in the diet gets the person feeling healthy again.  WTF is really going on!?

Hadrewsky
Hadrewsky

Also I must say.... Genetically modifying Wheat so that it grows faster in poorer soil with more nutrition is not some evil damn conspiracy.


I thing GM crops should be tested for 5-10 years before being allowed on the market but genetically modifying our food supply will give us the chance to improve upon nature in ways that may keep us fed for another 200 years. Genetic Tech is part of your future.

Cynthia1968
Cynthia1968

I have been having medical problems for a while, including trouble losing weight and my doctor couldn't find the source. After we both read "Wheat Belly" by Dr. William Davis, she suggested that I get away from genetically modified wheat and see how I felt. After 10 days, I feel wonderful. I do not eat gluten free processed foods and packaged foods, but have started a whole food diet of mainly fruits and vegetables with meat and a small amount of dairy. After over two weeks, I attempted to eat 1/2 a slice of pizza as I was out with nothing else available. I was ill within 15 minutes. Stomach cramps, gas, diarrhea, I felt awful. Never again will I eat wheat. I have also cut out corn and soy as they are becoming genetically modified as well. If we aren't going to make sure our foods are safe to eat, I'm not going to eat them. Stick to organic and you will see a big difference!

mase
mase

The damaging effect is not on the cost, gluten free diet is just a new marketing device to sell a product.  The damaging effect is on the health of people who intentionally avoid a health source of carbohydrates(wheat), vitamin b12 and fiber.  What products are a large source of fiber and ironically those individuals will be in the long run most likely doing their stomach more harm.  It's not logical that somehow what products magically changed and now cause systemic health problems for a huge portion of the population.   


Only about 300,000 Americans are effected by Celiac's disease and if you think you have it, you can simply ask your doctor to order a blood test. If you purposefully avoid wheat products your just damaging your health and wasting your money.  The way people consider health is absolutely absurd, they will avoid eating a healthy diet, exercise little, practice poor health hygiene and complain about energy, spend excessive amount of money on "vitamin c energy mixes" which in no way is it scientifically possible that vitamin c boosts your energy, worry about being exposed to environmental toxins but indulge themselves with alcohol, tobacco and purchase vitamins with 100 times the rda limit and questionable herbs.   If you have health problems, form a health diet, learn to make meals, do strength exercises/cardiovascular exercise 3-5 times a week, reduce sources of stress and if you have brain fog or sleeping issues, than get a sleep study along with common blood test and testing for nutritional deficiencies.  Your just harming your health in the long run by avoiding wheat, self-diagnosing yourself with a rare autoimmune disease and appearing foolish.

Npulley
Npulley

For anyone concerned about nutrients in the gluten free diet, research Amaranth and other grains...again, it all goes back to whether or not you are relying on processed gluten free foods

Npulley
Npulley

For anyone concerned about nutrients in the gluten free diet, research Amaranth and other grains...again, it all goes back to whether or not you are relying on processed gluten free foods. Processed=less nutrient dense, whether its a loaf of "%100 whole wheat" bread or a bag of gluten free cookie mix...in other words, that loaf of bread sucks but so does tapioca and cornstarch in nutrient value. The difference for celiacs is that they can't get nutritional value from anything if they are eating any grain that has gluten in it! People who eat processed foods are not getting those nutrients anyways, which is where part of the problem comes in for the average person. The other part is that wheat is not the most easily digested or nutrient dense grain, especially not the processed variety. That is the other part of the problem. I understand AoK's point but it frustrates me to no end when the warning is there but the options are not stated.

Npulley
Npulley

For anyone concerned about nutrients in the gluten free diet, research Amaranth and other grains...again, it all goes back to whether or not you are relying on processed gluten free foods. Processed=less nutrient dense, whether its a loaf of "%100 whole wheat" bread or a bag of gluten free cookie mix...in other words, that loaf of bread sucks but so does tapioca and cornstarch in nutrient value. The difference for celiacs is that they can't get nutritional value from anything if they are eating any grain that has gluten in it! And people who eat processed foods are not getting those nutrients anyways! I understand AoK's point but it frustrates me to no end when the warning is there but the options are not stated...give them a starting point for their research

Npulley
Npulley

For anyone concerned about nutrients in the gluten free diet, research Amaranth and other grains...again, it all goes back to whether or not you are relying on processed gluten free foods or not. Processed=less nutrient dense, whether its a loaf of "%100 whole wheat" bread or a bag of gluten free cookie mix...in other words, that loaf of bread sucks but so does tapioca and cornstarch in nutrient value. The difference for celiacs is that they can't get nutritional value from anything if they are eating any grain that has gluten in it! And people who eat processed foods are not getting those nutrients anyways! I understand AoK's point but it frustrates me to no end when the warning is there but nothing on the solution (maybe due to a vested interest?)

TamaraAnderson
TamaraAnderson

You have no idea what you are talking about. Stick to your day job. If this is your day job, maybe you need to find another one.

bangtang
bangtang

This article pointed to gluten free wheat product that have expensive cost. I think it's right for people who love bread this diet is expensive. Although you can get it pretty cheap with non wheat food  like rice, plenty of fruits and veggies. IMO, this article just pointing to people who just blatantly cut all their gluten food product but did not understand about the whole nutrition fact, and didn't add non processed food to their diet. It will be great if this article providing another statement such a you can go gluten free with cheap cost by avoiding bread, pasta, pizza, and change them to cheaper veggies & fruit or egg.

alzy
alzy

ridiculous article. when there are 20k+ pieces of anecdotal evidence, well, that's something that can't be ignored. unless you have a vested interest in wheat sales.  i got a virus 4 years ago, and hadn't felt normal since. exhausted, brain fog, achy and vertigo. for 4 freaking years.

i cut out some foods that actually helped with the vertigo (caffeine, nuts, chocolate and cinnamon), but i still wasn't back to my old self.  2 months ago i decided to give removing gluten a whirl, thinking maybe my stomach wasn't digesting vitamins properly or something due to my advanced age of 40 something. i really had no clue, but had run out of ideas.  oh, and i've tried with all my heart, plenty of other things that should've had a placebo effect - i.e. low carb, vegetarian, enzymes, vitamins, working out more.  the only thing that made an actual difference was reflexology, although the benefits would last only a day or 2. 

ANYWAY within 1 week, i felt better. within 2 weeks, i'd describe it as shockingly good.  i'm still shocked by how i feel.  i'm more coherent at work, can zip thru the ny times crossword puzzle much easier (tho that could be a coincidence, the last 3 were pretty easy), i no longer want to go to sleep the moment i get home from work,  all aches gone.  it no longer hurts for me to walk when i first wake up (i was never that disturbed by that, just interesting that it no longer happens)  the change is unbelievable and i am so grateful that there is something that i can do, to get my health back. why would the author dis that in such a way? sure some people will jump on any diet fad for attention, but there are more than 2 sides to the story of gluten. if you do your research, which i have because i was confused by how much better i felt, you'll see that there is plenty o' scientific proof of the connection between gluten and your nervous system.

i would recommend it to anyone who has the health issues that i did. there is no way you would harm yourself if you cut out gluten for 2 weeks, just to see what happens! and then decide if its worth it to you.

AoK
AoK

Hello everyone; I am sorry to hear about your health problems, but I wish to clear a few things from the air in this EXTREMELY LONG POST, sorry:

1.  No wheat is Genetically Modified and for sale in this country or any part of the world: SIMPLY, the Euro Zone, Japan, China, and Brazil will refuse to buy ANY (even organic) wheat from the United States if GM wheat is allowed on the market. This is about half the wheat grown in the U.S. So, outside market forces are stopping the production of GM wheat grains. Only a few test fields are grown waiting for the time they may be considered acceptable

2.  Wheat, rye, barley and so many whole grains are full of essential nutrients (too many to list on a package) that are necessary for the diet MOST IMPORTANTLY a variety of proteins, amino acids, and enzymes all needed to properly digest food you eat. Without some of these taken into the body from food eaten, your organs must produce more and many years ahead will cause your organs to cease to function and you will be much worse off than you are now: LOOK UP CAUSES OF PANCREATIS especially in regards to Protease production. YOU MUST REPLACE THESE EXTREMEMLY IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS or your current benefits of GLUTEN-FREE will be negligible. These essential nutrients (not to mention an abundance of minerals), are in high abundance and superior variety to most foods available.

3.  The reason most of you may be feeling better is because you are replacing the weight of formerly consumed carbohydrates with more fruits and vegetables than you have ever eaten. EXCELLENT! That is what we are supposed to do, anyway: eat more fruits and vegetables.

4.  High fiber foods (most especially grains whether it is a gluten grain or not) OXIDIZE the cells more than other foods. So, reducing your grain intake will reduce cellular stress and make your joints feel better and may reduce your headaches. However, reducing your grains will reduce your very important enzyme, protein and amino acid intake. EAT MORE ANTI-OXIDANT rich foods to counteract the oxidation effect.

5.  Tokyo University Hospital and (I believe it was) a Boston medical school have been studying the effects of sourdough fermentation on rye flour for intake by people diagnosed with CELIAC disease (a definite problem). The results have been pretty good, but still waiting to confirm. FERMENTATION of your gluten grains causes a breakdown in the glutenin and gliadenin and makes it easier for the body to digest the gluten grains. PROCESSED BY LARGE FACILITIES for BREAD MANUFACTURE requires speed in getting the food to you cheaply. FIND A REAL ARTISAN bread maker (not factory artisan bread) or make your own with long fermentation processing and see what happens: YOUR BREAD WILL BE LOWER IN SUGAR, YEAST, NATURAL CARBS, ETC.... and WILL BE MORE DIGESTIBLE with NUTRIENTS MORE READILY AVAILABLE AND ABSORBABLE BY YOUR BODY.

6.  MOST BREAD YOU FIND IN A SUPERMAKET has been made with wheat that has been SO HYBRIDIZED (not GMO) that it has a high gluten percentage to give it a super high rise even though it has so much water in it. FIND or MAKE your own bread using all purpose flour unbleached or a mix of cake flour and bread flour. With a little practice, you can make bread with the WHEAT WE STILL GROW THAT IS LIKE WHEAT USED TO BE.

In all, MODERATION and the old fashioned way of eating: fermentation, balance in food intake and a lot more vegetables and fruits are the key  unless you have CELIAC DISEASE.

Don't rely on the Wheat Belly book and do long term damage to your organs. Research for your own health's sake.

By the way, I thought you should know that I am an artisan bread baker with a very small home business.I have experienced a rash of cuts in income since the gluten-free craze has hit. Thus I have done tons of research. If you cut out your gluten grains, you need to be sure you research how to get hat nutrition back into your system. FOR EXAMPLE:

DID YOU KNOW that whole grain corn (which has no gluten protein) is pretty much poor in nutrition if you do not soak it in CAL (lye like solution) then clean it. Look up PELAGRA. Research how the pioneers and American Indians (my ancestry is Blackfeet) used to treat corn before using it. When you see tortilla chips with "Lime" in them the manufacturer is using the citrus lime not "lime" (calcium oxide) also known as slake or cal which are necessary to make the nutrients available for your body.

PLEASE, PLEASE RESEARCH. Your health, long term, is on the line (and your mental health as you miss all the really nice stuff you used to enjoy and as you see your wallet get slimmer and slimmer). Don't let a book or two or three make you hurt yourself in the long run.

THE JURY is still out on those with celiac disease eating fermented (sourdough) rye, but the results are looking promising. LACTOSE INTOLERANCE is held in check with probiotics, maybe GLUTEN INTOLERANCE can be held in check with a similar thing in the future.

LASTLY, REMEMBER that what is needed to properly digest gluten is found in the grain that has gluten: the problem is being able to release those enzymes. If your body is lacking in those digestive enzymes (like lactase missing in those who are lactose intolerant), then you may experience gluten intolerance. FERMENTING the gluten grain will release the enzymes in the grain to digest it for you and will add more digestive enzymes into your body to digest other foods more efficiently. IF YOU ARE SERIOUSLY GLUTEN INTOLERANT, PLEASE HAVE A DOCTOR CHECK YOUR PANCREAS and YOUR ENZYME LEVELS.

Thank you for getting this far in this informational post. I am truly sorry for those of you who have celiac disease and I am concerned for those of you who have dropped gluten containing grains for health reasons. I do make gluten free products, too, but the quality is inferior and the cost is so much higher, I wish people would research more before going off the gluten grains.

AK

robnmaryanne
robnmaryanne

I've gone 'wheat free' due to the "Wheatbelly" book by William Davis, MD, by following my doctor's advice.  While cost is an issue, making from scratch rather than purchasing ready made can ameliorate that.  What we know as wheat today is not the wheat we had in the 1980's.  The result is a parallel growth in obesity and diabetes rates.  If you think glutin free is expensive, it does not compare to the medical costs of what it can bring about.


RobMassopust
RobMassopust

Someone recently asked me at www.glutensolutions.com about why gluten free products are so expensive? I agreed with them but added that it is not that gluten free foods are that much more expensive it is the fact that wheat based products are artificially less expensive and that the wheat based economy is geared to make wheat growing and distribution as cheap as possible. Guess what that cheap wheat is ruining your health. All wheat is a far cry from its original form and that what we have as a truly food commodity is selected for its hardiness and growing capabilities. Any remnants of healthy is selected out. Look at the issue of the book " Wheat Belly and you'll see its not just us celiacs that are driving this growth. Wheat is truly bad for most people.

awawego
awawego

First of all the author has no clue what she is talking about, she is more concerned about the cost than anything else.

The wheat we are eating today is radically different than what our ancestors ate, today it is so genetically modified our bodies are reacting badly to it. Those people that have removed this, now poison, from their diet have seen enormous positive changes to their health. Diabetics are controlling their blood sugar better, bad cholesterol levels are dropping, and in many cases symptoms of MS are disappearing, to name just a few.

The FDA under pressure from Monsanto and others has recently backed down on a mandatory GM food label requirement as well. Now most consumers are eating this poison without their knowledge. It's all about the money.

Do your own research and learn the truth if you have the courage to do so.

MaryMiller2
MaryMiller2

After reading this article and many of the comments I can't help but wonder if some of the health benefits some are experienceing are a combination of going gluten free as well as eating less or no GMO's.  Seems that the diet changes are eliminating both.  A couple of years ago I was almost at 100% organic in diet, then I seriously hurt my back and couldn't stand long enough to prepare food.  Prior to the back injury I was feeling great on the organic healthy diet.  Then I went backwards and even though I tried to stay with healthy food it was very difficult and I admit I started eating processed food etc. because it was something I could easily prepare or stop to eat.  On the organic diet I was NEVER sick, not a cold, not a joint pain, no allergy attacks, no flu, nothing.  On the unhealthy diet I was sick all of the time.  Pnemonnia twice .  Now I am convinced that it is the diet.  The biggest thing about the gluten diet that I am reading in the comments though that concerns me is the soy and corn.  Both are known to be most common for GMO's.  Any info about this appreciated.

RandomPerson
RandomPerson

Scince I went gluten free from my celiac, I have had more energy andnstrength. Many people go gluten free to support a loved one who has celiac. I don't think we are wasting money, buisnesses can gain money by selling gluen free products. The selection is great for me because I have celiac.