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Should you stop eating gluten right now?

Gluten

Photo: The Kitchn

 

As far as reputations go, gluten’s has gone from bad to worse.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the first scientific evidence showing that eating gluten—a protein found in certain grains, particularly wheat—can set off “a distinct reaction” in the intestines and immune systems of people. The findings weren’t about people with full-blown, auto-immune celiac disease—they were about folks with a mere sensitivity.

And that number, according to Susan Blum, M.D., the director of the Blum Center for Health in Rye, New York, is approximately one in 20 Americans.

Part of the problem, explains Frank Lipman, M.D., a functional medicine expert, is that there’s a higher gluten content in modern wheat, which makes gluten sensitivity more prevalent than it once was. (He can’t say exactly if that’s just in the U.S., though he does add that many of his patients go to Europe and “eat tons of bread” and don’t have the same reaction.)

Whatever the global prevalence, that reaction he speaks of is bad, including everything from chronic fatigue, aches and pains, and gastrointestinal problems to what Dr. Lipman describes as a “general vague feeling of un-wellness.” In the long-term, he says, gluten can lead to host of diseases including rheumatoid arthritis and lupus, as well as depression and osteoporosis—”the list goes on and on.”

So what should you do if you suspect you have a problem? Dr. Blum suggests going to a trained physician who can supervise you in eliminating gluten from your diet to assess whether or not it’s at the root of your issue.

And Dr. Lipman adds that those very gluten-free trials are what add to the buzz around the dangers of gluten. “So many people are eliminating gluten for a few weeks and noticing the difference,” he says. “People feel better and they tell their friends.” —Catherine Pearson

More Reading
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12 Comments | ADD YOURS

  1. March 30th, 2011 at 12:02 pm

    What is functional medicine?

  2. March 30th, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I recently (like within the last month or so) switched to a vegetarian diet and am making seitan as we speak. I’ve never had “wheat meat” before, but now I will definitely take note of how I feel after we have it for dinner tomorrow!

  3. March 31st, 2011 at 7:48 am

    [...] Situation – Why you may want to cut gluten out of your diet right now for good. (Well + Good [...]

  4. March 31st, 2011 at 11:25 am

    I cut out grains entirely a few months ago and have to say that it feels pretty good!

  5. April 14th, 2011 at 8:55 pm

    A few years ago I had an allergy test that found I was allergic to wheat. Soon after, I found out several people in my family have celiac disease. I have tried a gluten-free diet countless times and never really stuck to it. Gluten is in SO much stuff, even things you wouldn’t expect. It’s so hard to be satisfied with a GF diet. Nevertheless, I’ve recently started a strict gluten-free diet. Now, while I am glad a lot more people are being educated about gluten, it annoys me that is often seems sensationalized. I wish more focus would be put on the downside of the diet, and the fact that it may not actually solve everyone’s problems. Not to say everyone thinks it will. But, again, it seems sensationalized.

  6. December 16th, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    [...] Eats) Today we’re thrilled to share a healthy holiday recipe from Easy Eats, a gorgeous gluten-free food and lifestyle magazine that we’re obsessed with, wheat-be-damned.This cheesecake drizzled [...]

  7. August 14th, 2012 at 12:07 pm

    [...] a celiac diagnosis. We’re thinking this is likely the result of the growing popularity of wheat-is-evil arguments, including those from physicians like Frank Lipman and William Davis.  —Allison Becker AKPC_IDS [...]

  8. August 14th, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    [...] a celiac diagnosis. We’re thinking this is likely the result of the growing popularity of wheat-is-evil arguments, including those from physicians like Frank Lipman and William Davis.  —Allison [...]

  9. September 4th, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    My brother has been dealing with stomach problems for the past 2 years, and he’s been diagnosed with everything to IBS to Krohns disease. He’s been on a myriad of different medications and diets and nothing seemed to work. I finally convinced him to see a naturopathic specialist who diagnosed him with gluten intolerance.

    Since my brother has given up gluten he has lost over 40 pounds and has had no stomach problems at all!

    Gluten is poison!

    Thanks for the post.

  10. October 19th, 2012 at 6:32 am

    [...] (Black Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers, Brown Rice-Stuffed Cabbage). And yes, they briefly address the gluten question (without really getting into it) before sending you off to cook.   The Tastes of Ayurveda [...]

  11. November 7th, 2012 at 6:32 am

    [...] a place for whole wheat in a healthy diet, physicians like Mark Hyman, William Davis, and Frank Lipman caution against what they call [...]

  12. November 9th, 2012 at 12:02 pm

    [...] a place for whole wheat in a healthy diet, physicians like Mark Hyman, William Davis, and Frank Lipman caution against what they call [...]

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