Going gluten-free is all the rage these days. It’s the diet of choice for Hollywood starlets and health nuts alike; supermarket aisles are packed full of products touting their lack of the stretchy protein. But for a lot of people, the gluten-free lifestyle may do more harm than good.
Among thoughtful and informed medical providers and public alike, there is an ongoing transition toward recognizing adverse health effects from grains as being common and normal rather than rare and abnormal. Not all medical providers, of course, support this change in perspective and some are downright hostile toward it. Likewise, a segment of the public seems to be irritated by the gluten free trend and consider it just a silly fad.
Yet, if medicine is to be science based, no credible medical provider can dismiss the possibility that a large proportion of the U.S. (and possibly world) population may be sensitive to certain molecules present in most grains. Similarly, those that belittle the gluten free movement as a fad might, in fact, be an unknowing victim of grain sensitivity.
Celiac disease may have been described by the ancient physician Aretaeus of Cappadocia in the first century CE. It was not until the 1940′s, however, that the Dutch physician Willem Karel Dicke connected the disease to wheat as a result of the Dutch famine of 1944, in which wheat was scarce and those suffering from the disease seemed to dramatically improve. Since that time, modern medicine has narrowly defined the disease as an autoimmune disease resulting from the ingestion of gliadin, a component of wheat gluten. (more…)