Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Gluten-Free, Whether You Need It or Not

Eat no wheat.
That is the core, draconian commandment of a gluten-free diet, a prohibition that excises wide swaths of American cuisine — cupcakes, pizza, bread and macaroni and cheese, to name a few things.
For the approximately one-in-a-hundred Americans who have a serious condition called celiac disease, that is an indisputably wise medical directive.

Now medical experts largely agree that there is a condition related to gluten other than celiac. In 2011 a panel of celiac experts convened in Oslo and settled on a medical term for this malady: non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Nonetheless, Dr. Guandalini agrees that some people who do not have celiac receive a genuine health boost from a gluten-free diet. He just cannot say how many.
As with most nutrition controversies, most everyone agrees on the underlying facts. Wheat entered the human diet only about 10,000 years ago, with the advent of agriculture.
“For the previous 250,000 years, man had evolved without having this very strange protein in his gut,” Dr. Guandalini said. “And as a result, this is a really strange, different protein which the human intestine cannot fully digest. Many people did not adapt to these great environmental changes, so some adverse effects related to gluten ingestion developed around that time.”

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