We’re a Glutton for Gluten-Free
While gluten is a serious concern for an estimated 1 in 133 Americans, or about 1% of the population, with Celiac disease, those numbers are not sufficient to support the over $3 billion (perhaps as high as $10 billion) and growing gluten-free food industry. Rather, a small, 2011 study which concluded that gluten-containing diets can cause gastrointestinal distress in people without celiac disease became the impetus for the industry’s dramatic growth. However, the same researcher who conducted the 2011 performed a much larger and intensive follow up in 2014 wherein he overturned his 2011 conclusions.
Gluten is considered, anecdotally, by some the culprit, or at least an abettor, to a variety of ailments ranging from autoimmune diseases to brain disorders to just general ill health. Removing gluten, some argue, also anecdotally, can even help with autism, epilepsy and schizophrenia. As the articles below note, the precise cause and affect of gluten remains a ripe subject matter for additional study. The only clarity available at this point, aside from the critical need of Celiac disease sufferers to avoid gluten, is our continued willingness to seek one shot solutions to complex problems. At present, Gluten’s an elaborate scapegoat on which we can pile on our personal traumas and hope for the best.