Wednesday, May 28, 2014

it is all in your head

A few people have been asking me my thoughts on the new search study out of Australia. (And subsequent articles with inflammatory titles.) All of my responses have started with an audible sigh.

Bacteria existed before we had microscopes to see them. Just because we don't have a western medical test to "prove" someone has a disease/intolerance doesn't negate the illness, nor should it prevent her from trying an elimination diet. The media has offered a bizarre double-edge sword where people are simultaneously painted as irresponsible for not taking charge of their own health and belittled for trying alternative, non-western pharmaceutical options.

I am fine with a million more news stories clearly explaining that a gluten-free diet is not an effective tool for weight-loss. It is great if we continue to highlight that a gluten-free diet can cause nutritional deficiencies. But let's also include the fact that most of the processed gluten-containing foods are fortified with additional vitamins and minerals because they too are highly-processed and if you ate them all the ding-dang time you would have nutritional deficiencies. The difference is, instead of promoting the eating of more vegetables, food companies have added these essential vitamins and minerals into foods that normally don't contain them (or contain very little, or did contain them but where processed out).

I am also a big fan of more research; a lone study of 37 people in Australia does not conclusive make. So let's keep funding research, let's keep talking about alternatives to non-celiac gluten sensitivity/intolerance, but let's also keep these conversations grounded in the fact that there is a lot more we don't know.

When I joined's message boards back in ye ole 2007, shampoo and face wash was a hot topic. Some people were noticing skin and digestive reactions when using products containing gluten. Others chimed in that there was no research proving one could react to gluten if it isn't ingested through the mouth and that clearly these people were: hypochondriacs, liars, attention seekers, aka "it was all in their head". This cutting hatred and dismissal of people who were in pain, or just seeking information, was part of the reason I departed. I don't see the point in negating people's experience, especially if we don't understand it. And now there are a bunch of gluten-free body-care products and growing awareness that if you slather things on your face it is pretty likely you are going to get some on your lips and in your mouth.

I think what is the most interesting out of this week of everyone-becoming-an-internet-expert-on-who-should-and-shouldn't-eat-gluten is the fact that people are breezing by the fact that the Australian study posited that people were having reactions/issue to other things: FODMAPS. So if by eliminating gluten are eliminating what is causing you discomfort/symptoms/reactions... isn't that a good thing? If a gluten-free or better yet an elimination diet is the key or gateway to figuring out what is wrong and feeling better, isn't that the goal?

So yes, more research, but until then let's be more support of those who are trying to get well and stay well rather than drawing more lines in the sand.

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