“Don’t eat that. You’ll kill yourself!”

Don’t eat that! You’ll kill yourself!!
Or
The Gluten Blog

Food scares are not a new thing. People have been demonizing one food or another for as long as there have been picky eaters on this planet (and that’s not a shot at my girlfriend). And opportunistic people have taken advantage of hearsay and testimonial, often without the benefit of facts or science, to make a lot of money at the expense of people who just want to feel better about what they put in their bodies.
What?
Give us some examples of what you are talking about, Bob?
O.K. Glad you asked;
Margarine was first commercially produced in the USA in 1875. It was quickly labeled (libeled) as an unnatural and fraudulent substance and came under the hostile attention of the US butter lobby (it just makes me laugh to write “U.S. Butter lobby”). Legislation was enacted to prevent margarine being visually mistaken for butter. It was colored bright pink in some states, and white in many others. The State of Missouri actually passed laws forbidding the manufacture, sale, and even the possession of margarine with intention to sell.
In 1989 a lobby group persuaded the media that a pesticide used on apples (Alar) was carcinogenic and killing our children. The media blitz was huge and soon that pesticide was removed from the market. But real research showed that, in fact, one would have to drink 13,000 litres of apple juice a day to increase the risk of cancer.
Canada is still suffering from our first and only case of ” Mad Cow Disease.” Since it was discovered, one case was also found in the U.S. Experts at the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis found the risk of contracting vCJD (Mad Cow Disease) from tainted beef is “as close to zero as you can get”. According to the USDA’s Food Safety Inspection Service, clinical studies show there is virtually zero risk of getting vCJD.
Soy is a popular food for vegans and people who are trying to find an alternative source for protein aside from dairy and meat. A rumor has been making its way around for several years now. It essentially claims that eating soy can greatly raise your estrogen levels and decrease your testosterone. I had a co-worker warn me against using soy protein in my post workout smoothies. However, despite the claims that have been floating around for a while now, there is no real evidence to back any of them up. There is one case where an older man with multiple health issues was found to have a few noticeable effects, but he was drinking three entire quarts of soy a day. The bottom line  is that no reasonable consumption of soy is likely to have any serious or lasting effect on male hormone levels.

Which brings me to one of the latest issues,
Gluten.
Let’s start with a definition, shall we? Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye, barley and various other grains. Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods. Slightly less than one percent of people have a condition called Celiac disease, which causes digestive pain when they consume gluten. When you throw in other gluten-related disorders, like wheat allergies and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is more or less a self-diagnosed condition, the prevalence of people with gluten issues goes up to about 5 percent of the population. But that still doesn’t account for the massive popularity of eating gluten-free, especially given that Americans are actually eating about half as much wheat as they did in 1870. A public perception has been created by personal testimonials and social media (like this blog, I know, I know..)  persuading large numbers of people that gluten is effectively a poison. As a result, sales of gluten-free products are estimated to exceed $8 billion by 2020 .
That’s great for celiac sufferers — especially kids — who now have far more choice in what they eat than they did just five years ago. Yet there’s not much evidence that gluten is harmful to anyone outside of that tiny percentage of the population who are actually allergic to it. A recent study of the nutritional contents of gluten-free foods showed they provided no additional health benefits over their gluten-packed equivalents yet cost about twice as much. Daniel Leffler, the director of clinical research at the Celiac Center in Boston, told Harvard Health: “People who are sensitive to gluten may feel better, but a larger portion will derive no significant benefit from the practice. They’ll simply waste their money, because these products are expensive.”  Studies on whether there is anything to the non-celiac intolerance of gluten have been done, and the results show that as of yet there is no evidence that gluten is bad for anyone who doesn’t have the disease.
Am I saying that your intolerance of gluten is all in your head? Nope, research could eventually find a reason why gluten affects people who don’t suffer from Celiac. If it makes you feel better, go ahead and eat gluten free. When I need to feel better I eat Graeter’s Black Raspberry chocolate chip ice cream. And I’ll swear to you I feel better immediately. And there’s about as much science behind my choice as there is yours. So you probably won’t find me in the gluten-free section of your local grocery store. I’ll be in the dairy isle…
…looking for the pink margarine.
Talk later,
Bob

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