Unless you have Celiac’s disease, gluten free foods aren’t actually better for you. They’re certainly more expensive, but they don’t provide any additional nutritional value or calorie cutting benefits. It’s the mix of proteins that you might find in wheat, barley, and rye, and gluten is used to help dough to rise. Over time, gluten grows and inflates as it ferments. It makes breads soft and delicious. I have had gluten free breads, and there’s a lady in my area who makes gluten free breads and pizza crust for local businesses. She is amazing. The problem is it’s not that easy.
So why would anyone who doesn’t actually have Celiac’s disease want to eat gluten free? You spend more money, it generally doesn’t taste great, and there are no real benefits for you! It’s definitely a fad popular among some celebrities such as Chelsea Clinton, Miley Cyrus, and even Oprah Winfrey. Technically, Oprah has been on every fad diet there is, and while we love her, I wouldn’t take her diet recommendations too seriously.
Keep in mind, even if you have serious digestive and other problems, Celiac’s disease is extremely rare. Only a small number of people actually suffer from it, and the symptoms look a lot like virtually every other digestive disorder out there! Diagnosis of many digestive disorders is trial and error. I should know. I’ve been diagnosed with almost every one of them at one point in time, and the medications they’ve tried have basically done nothing. I’m starting to think they just like screwing with me.
How does Celiac disease work? People who have it lack a gluten bond with intestinal proteins, and it seems to be hereditary. White blood cells attack it, like they would with an allergy, and it can cause stomach pain, diarrhea, skin problems, iron deficiencies, and other potentially serious problems. Over time, it can permanently break down certain parts of the body.
Generally, Celiac disease can be diagnosed with a blood test. However, if you have already gone on a gluten free diet, it will not be able to detect it.
Doctors used to define this as “koelia”. They couldn’t see why well fed children were still malnourished. In fact, it wasn’t actually diagnosed til World War II. What torture it must have been for children up until that time. A Dutch pediatrician at that time saw a grain shortage that had a dramatic effect on this problem in children. In fact, it went from a whopping 35% to 0 in no time.
Today, that rate is actually more like 1% around the world. That’s about 3 million Americans. You can imagine how many people that would be around the world. People who suffer from this disease typically spend about 10 years not knowing what the problem is and often being diagnosed or tested for other digestive disorders.
There are some who also have a gluten allergy. Some suspect that this is what many children with autism have, and it can lead some to have eating problems later in life. If it’s a wheat allergy, it tends to cause hives, anaphylaxis, sneezing, and wheezing, and it can be called “baker’s asthma”. This is believed to also be rare. It’s nothing compared for example to nut allergies.
There is a third possible issue, and this is debatable. If you’ve taken one of those tests that is supposed to pick up on “intolerance” or “sensitivity”, you never know if it’s actually a problem. On the other hand, it could be like lactose intolerance, which can be extremely painful. It’s not an autoimmune disorder or an allergy. The biggest issue is that there is no test to diagnose this. Sufferers may experience bowel changes, mental fogginess, and other issues, mostly digestive. Most diagnosis is self diagnosis or they go through “natural doctors.” Some may believe that they have issues that they actually don’t. In fact, 2/3 of people who think that they have this intolerance actually don’t according to researchers.
Many who talk about it can’t even agree on what the symptoms are. Some range more towards symptoms associated with Celiac disease while others focus on more minor symptoms. In essence, patients have simply convinced themselves of an idea that may or may not be true.