Why You Probably Don’t Need to Eat a Gluten Free Diet

You’re in a dilemma.

You like bread, but on the other hand…

You’ve read about how athletes, celebrities, and average joe’s are using gluten-free diets to become faster, stronger, healthier, and more attractive.Gluten Free Diet

Everywhere you go, restaurants and grocery stores now offer gluten-free foods.

You spend a few minutes surfing online and discover a long list of reasons you absolutely must avoid gluten:

  • It’s a toxin.
  • It causes inflammation. 
  • It gives you autoimmune diseases.
  • It gives you headaches, joint pain, and brain fog.
  • It makes you fat and sick.

You’re confused. You’re wondering if your love of bread is worth the risk. You also want to know if giving up gluten is worth the trouble and expense.

This article will help you decide what the science says about whether or not you should go gluten-free. Before we start, here’s a quick primer on gluten:

What is Gluten, and Why is it In My Food?

Gluten is a combination of proteins found in most grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten traps water and air in a foam as bread rises, which gives it a chewy, soft, moist texture.

Wheat is the most common source of gluten for most people. However, gluten is also used as a filler in many processed/prepackaged foods, like ketchup and salad dressing. Unless you’ve been actively trying to avoid gluten, you’ve probably been eating it almost every day. Some people think that’s a bad idea.

Why People Think Gluten Is Bad for You

Most of the arguments against gluten can be traced back to the idea that it increases intestinal permeability or gives you a “leaky gut.”1-5 In a nutshell:

  1. Gluten enters your small intestine.
  2. The gluten molecules irritate and attack your epithelial cells (the ones on the inside of your small intestines).
  3. This irritation causes your tight junctions — the space between your intestinal cells — to widen. In some cases, gluten also directly attacks your cells.
  4. Gluten, bacteria, and undigested food particles sneak through these gaps between your cells and into your bloodstream.
  5. Once gluten and friends enter your bloodstream, your body mounts an inflammatory response.
  6. This inflammation spreads throughout your body, wreaking havoc on your health.

Theoretically, if you eat gluten on a regular basis, your gut and body stay inflamed, and you develop an increased risk of the following (just to name a few):

  • Autoimmune diseases like arthritis, M.S., autoimmune thyroid disease, etc.
  • Long-term gut damage, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies.
  • Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and other digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
  • Inflammatory bowel diseases like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Insulin and leptin resistance.
  • Weight gain.
  • Nerve damage (neuropathy) and neurological diseases like autism.
  • Osteoporosis. 
  • Cancer.
  • Brain fog and headaches.
  • Joint pain.
  • Slow recovery from workouts.
  • Heart disease.
  • Insomnia.

We won’t get into detail on every single one of these problems, because research hasn’t examined how gluten affects most of these conditions directly.

Instead, let’s look at the people who probably do need to avoid gluten — based on the best available data — and see how likely it is that you’re one of them.

The Only 3 Science-Backed Reasons for Some People to Avoid Gluten

There are three conditions where people generally need to be on a gluten-free diet:6-11

  1. Celiac disease.
  2. Wheat allergy.
  3. Gluten sensitivity.

Let’s take a quick look at each.

1. Celiac Disease

Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition where the immune system attacks the lining of the small intestine in response to gluten.12-14

This intestinal damage prevents people with celiac disease from absorbing nutrients properly. This often causes nutrient deficiencies, short stature, low bone mineral density, weight loss, skin rashes, and neurological problems.12,15

In most cases, when people with celiac disease eat gluten, they get digestive problems like bloating, diarrhea, gas, and stomach pain. However, there are also many people with celiac disease who experience skin rashes and other more bizarre symptoms. Some never have symptoms of any kind.12

If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms, there are two blood tests you can take to see if you have celiac disease:

  1. Immunoglobulin A anti-tissue tranglutaminase (IgA-tTGA).
  2. Immunoglobulin A antiendomysial antibody (EMA).

If you test positive for one of these tests, there’s a 95% probability that you have celiac disease.12,16

These tests are generally confirmed by taking a few cells from your small intestine, and seeing how you respond to a strict gluten-free diet. There are cases where eliminating gluten doesn’t completely resolve celiac disease, but it’s considered the best available treatment.

About 0.7-1.2% of the population has celiac disease.9,16-18

If you haven’t been experiencing any of the aforementioned symptoms, most evidence indicates there’s no need to get tested.19,20

If you have some of the symptoms mentioned previously, and a negative blood test, it’s highly unlikely you have celiac disease.12

Now let’s take a look at another legitimate reason to avoid wheat.

2. Wheat Allergy

Some people are allergic to gluten, or other proteins found in wheat. Their immune systems overreact and release chemicals that cause:6,21

  • Itchy dry skin.
  • Burning eyes.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sneezing.
  • Congestion.

… and all of the other normal signs of an allergic reaction.

If you think you might have wheat or gluten allergy, there are three tests you can take:6,11,21,22

  1. IgE blood testing from your doctor.
  2. A skin prick test, where a small amount of a potential allergen is injected just beneath your skin.
  3. An oral food challenge, where you consume increasingly larger amounts of potential allergens.

You should do all of these tests with your doctor — self-experimentation won’t tell you for sure if you’re allergic to wheat.

Only about 0.4-0.5% of the population is allergic to wheat and/or gluten.23,24 If you haven’t been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s unlikely you’re allergic to wheat.

If you’re allergic to wheat, you don’t necessarily have to avoid it completely. People have varying degrees of wheat allergy. Some get symptoms after any exposure, while others can tolerate small amounts.25 Find what works for you.

Now let’s talk about the last (sort of) scientific reason you may need to avoid gluten.

3. Gluten Sensitivity

You don’t have celiac disease.

You’re not allergic to gluten or wheat.

But you’re still worried gluten might be bad for you.

It’s possible you may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, aka gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance.

Here’s the basic diagnosis of gluten intolerance: feeling sick after eating gluten without having celiac disease or wheat allergy. There’s still some debate as to whether or not gluten sensitivity even exists, but most evidence indicates it does.6,7,9-11,22,26-28

There are several other key differences between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.6-11,22,26,27

People with gluten sensitivity have no gut damage, and no increase in intestinal permeability (“leaky gut”).29

This is important, because most of the theoretical arguments about why gluten is bad for you are based on the idea that it damages your gut and makes it “leaky” — even without other obvious symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. It doesn’t, even in people who feel sick after eating gluten.

People with gluten sensitivity tend to have a higher rate of other non-digestive symptoms, like headaches, brain fog, fatigue, numbness, and joint pain.6

If you aren’t suffering from any of these symptoms, you don’t have gluten sensitivity. If you are, you may still not need to avoid gluten.

Why You Probably Don’t Need to Avoid Gluten

The chances that you have any of these conditions are slim. Most evidence indicates that less than 10% of the population has celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten intolerance, and it may be less than that.9

If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms of these three conditions, there’s no sound scientific reason for you to avoid gluten. None.

Even if you think you have gluten sensitivity, it’s possible you’re wrong.

There’s no firm definition of what gluten sensitivity really is. There are no objective lab tests. This means people can self-diagnose themselves, which opens a Pandora’s box of logical fallacies.

If you’ve been experiencing unexplained headaches, tiredness, weight gain, brain fog, joint pain, and digestive problems, it’s tempting to blame it on one cause, like gluten sensitivity. (The “one true cause” fallacy). It’s more likely that your problems are caused by a number of other issues that have nothing to do with gluten, like lack of sleep or exercise, stress, excess weight, etc. (The “confusing correlation with causation” fallacy). You know, the simple stuff that’s also really hard to make yourself do.

It’s also possible that the reason so many people are interested in going gluten-free has nothing to do with feeling sick.

People do crazy stuff all of the time because they think it will make them healthier, stronger, faster or more attractive, and gluten-free diets are no different. (The “confirmation bias” fallacy).

Since gluten free diets are becoming so popular, more celebrities and athletes are also joining in, which reinforces the idea that gluten is bad for you. (The “appeal to anecdote” and “appeal to popularity” fallacies).

Do You Need to Go Gluten-Free?

Unless you have celiac disease, there’s no evidence eliminating gluten will protect you from any disease.

There is no evidence that having an allergy to wheat increases your risk of disease6 — it just makes you feel lousy.

There are probably some people who have a negative physiological reaction to gluten that isn’t explained by celiac disease or wheat allergy (gluten sensitivity). However, the number of people who think they’re gluten sensitive is probably far greater than the number that actually are.

The Bottom Line: If you don’t feel sick after eating gluten, there’s no reason to avoid it.

If there isn’t a problem, there isn’t a problem. So enjoy that bagel.

If you enjoyed this article and think it might help someone else, please share it on Twitter or Facebook.

Do you think gluten sensitivity is a problem for most people?

Do you think there are other reasons gluten is bad for you?

Do you have any other questions about gluten?

Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below.

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References

1. Osborne P. Leaky Gut Syndrome — Is Gluten at the Root? www.glutenfreesociety.org. Available at: http://www.glutenfreesociety.org/gluten-free-society-blog/leaky-gut-syndrome-is-gluten-at-the-root/. Accessed June 4, 2013.

2. Gunnars K. Why is Bread Bad For You? The Shocking Truth. authoritynutrition.com. 2013. Available at: http://authoritynutrition.com/why-is-bread-bad-for-you/. Accessed June 4, 2013.

3. Wright S. Is Gluten Bad for Non-Celiacs? Expert’s Panel Advice. scdlifestyle.com. Available at: http://scdlifestyle.com/2013/04/gluten-bad-for-non-celiacs/?fb_ref=recommendations-bar. Accessed June 4, 2013.

4. Milller S-J. LEAKY GUT VS. GLUTEN INTOLERANCE. www.livestrong.com. 2011. Available at: http://www.livestrong.com/article/551331-leaky-gut-vs-gluten-intolerance/. Accessed June 4, 2013.

5. Sisson M. Why Grains Are Unhealthy. www.marksdailyapple.com. Available at: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-grains-are-unhealthy/. Accessed June 4, 2013.

6. Sapone A, Bai JC, Ciacci C, et al. Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Med. 2012;10:13. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-10-13. Abstract: http://pmid.us/22313950 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/gaUIW

7. Di Sabatino A, Corazza GR. Nonceliac gluten sensitivity: sense or sensibility? Ann Intern Med. 2012;156(4):309–311. doi:10.1059/0003-4819-156-4-201202210-00010. Abstract: http://pmid.us/22351716 | Full Text: NA

8. Aziz I, Sanders DS. Emerging concepts: from coeliac disease to non-coeliac gluten sensitivity. Proc Nutr Soc. 2012;71(4):576–580. doi:10.1017/S002966511200081X. Abstract: http://pmid.us/22954208 | Full Text: Received from author.

9. Bizzaro N, Tozzoli R, Villalta D, et al. Cutting-edge issues in celiac disease and in gluten intolerance. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2012;42(3):279–287. doi:10.1007/s12016-010-8223-1. Abstract: http://pmid.us/21181303 | Full Text: NA

10. Pietzak M. Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity: when gluten free is not a fad. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 2012;36(1 Suppl):68S–75S. doi:10.1177/0148607111426276. Abstract: http://pmid.us/22237879 | Full Text: NA

11. Volta U, De Giorgio R. New understanding of gluten sensitivity. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012;9(5):295–299. doi:10.1038/nrgastro.2012.15. Abstract: http://pmid.us/22371218 | Full Text: Received from author.

12. Rubio-Tapia A, Hill ID, Kelly CP, Calderwood AH, Murray JA. ACG Clinical Guidelines: Diagnosis and Management of Celiac Disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2013;108(5):656–676. doi:10.1038/ajg.2013.79. Abstract: http://pmid.us23609613 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/resLr

13. Green PHR, Alaedini A, Sander HW, Brannagan TH3, Latov N, Chin RL. Mechanisms underlying celiac disease and its neurologic manifestations. Cell Mol Life Sci. 2005;62(7-8):791–799. doi:10.1007/s00018-004-4109-9. Abstract: http://pmid.us/15868404 | Full Text: NA

14. Kagnoff MF. Celiac disease: pathogenesis of a model immunogenetic disease. J Clin Invest. 2007;117(1):41–49. doi:10.1172/JCI30253. Abstract: http://pmid.us/17200705 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/QJnfd

15. Freeman HJ. Neurological disorders in adult celiac disease. Can J Gastroenterol. 2008;22(11):909–911. Abstract: http://pmid.us/19018335 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/Iezow

16. AGA Institute Medical Position Statement on the Diagnosis and Management of Celiac Disease. Gastroenterology. 2006;131(6):1977–1980. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2006.10.003. Abstract: http://pmid.us/17087935 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/h3JfE

17. Rubio-Tapia A, Ludvigsson JF, Brantner TL, Murray JA, Everhart JE. The prevalence of celiac disease in the United States. Am J Gastroenterol. 2012;107(10):1538–44– quiz 1537– 1545. doi:10.1038/ajg.2012.219. Abstract: http://pmid.us/22850429 | Full Text: NA

18. Fasano A, Berti I, Gerarduzzi T, et al. Prevalence of celiac disease in at-risk and not-at-risk groups in the United States: a large multicenter study. Arch. Intern. Med. 2003;163(3):286–292. Abstract: http://pmid.us/12578508 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/Trihf

19. Aggarwal S, Lebwohl B, Green PHR. Screening for celiac disease in average-risk and high-risk populations. Therap Adv Gastroenterol. 2012;5(1):37–47. Abstract: http://pmid.us/22282707 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/1IY7C

20. Collin P. Should adults be screened for celiac disease? What are the benefits and harms of screening? Gastroenterology. 2005;128(4 Suppl 1):S104–8. Abstract: http://pmid.us/15825117 | Full Text: NA

21. Inomata N. Wheat allergy. Curr Opin Allergy Clin Immunol. 2009;9(3):238–243. doi:10.1097/ACI.0b013e32832aa5bc. Abstract: http://pmid.us/19318930 | Full Text: NA

22. Brown AC. Gluten sensitivity: problems of an emerging condition separate from celiac disease. Expert Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2012;6(1):43–55. doi:10.1586/egh.11.79. Abstract: http://pmid.us/22149581 | Full Text: Received from author.

23. Vierk KA, Koehler KM, Fein SB, Street DA. Prevalence of self-reported food allergy in American adults and use of food labels. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2007;119(6):1504–1510. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2007.03.011. Abstract: http://pmid.us/17451802 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/Y0GwO

24. Zuidmeer L, Goldhahn K, Rona RJ, et al. The prevalence of plant food allergies: a systematic review. J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2008;121(5):1210–1218.e4. doi:10.1016/j.jaci.2008.02.019. Abstract: http://pmid.us/18378288 | Full Text: NA

25. Hischenhuber C, Crevel R, Jarry B, et al. Review article: safe amounts of gluten for patients with wheat allergy or coeliac disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2006;23(5):559–575. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2006.02768.x. Abstract: http://pmid.us/16480395 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/GCXak

26. Lundin KEA, Alaedini A. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Gastrointest Endosc Clin N Am. 2012;22(4):723–734. doi:10.1016/j.giec.2012.07.006. Abstract: http://pmid.us/23083989 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/l0x8g

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28. Biesiekierski JR, Newnham ED, Irving PM, et al. Gluten causes gastrointestinal symptoms in subjects without celiac disease: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. Am J Gastroenterol. 2011;106(3):508–14– quiz 515. doi:10.1038/ajg.2010.487. Abstract: http://pmid.us/21224837 | Full Text: NA

29. Sapone A, Lammers KM, Casolaro V, et al. Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. BMC Med. 2011;9:23. doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-23. Abstract: http://pmid.us/21392369 | Full Text: http://goo.gl/0ZmId

Comments

  1. says

    So you’re saying ditching grains won’t make me ripped with superhuman strength and speed? But, Drew Brees…

    I’ve been thinking about the pros and cons of wheat vs dairy lately, since the avoidance question comes up a lot with clients. Aside from serious conditions like Celiac, it’s simply a weighing of the good stuff you can get from the food, the negative effects (if any) you can get from the food, and whether or not you can get the good stuff somewhere else at the same effort/cost/enjoyment.

    As a personal example, I’ve been drinking kefir almost daily for a few weeks. I love the flavor and texture to the point where I look forward to it as a treat every day. It has a good balance of macros and calories for how I’m using it and I find it keeps me satisfied for quite a while. It does, however, cause just a bit of bloating/gas. Nothing terrible that would make me “that guy” at a party, so it’s a trade I’m willing to make.

    • says

      Sadly, that’s correct Matt, but you already knew that :) So much for Team Garmin Slipstream’s “Special Anti-inflammatory Diet.”

      I completely agree with you regarding the weighing of pros and cons of your diet. It’s always a balancing act. Right now, I eat an incredibly boring/bland/low reward diet of meat, fruits, tubers, and vegetables most days and then indulge in treats when I feel so inclined. I think as long as you’re consuming enough micronutrients to stay healthy, eating the right macronutrient amounts for your goals, and enjoying your diet, and feel good, everything else is essentially meaningless.

        • says

          “The Bottom Line: If you don’t feel sick after eating gluten, there’s no reason to avoid it.”

          Well, this sentence is not true because we may not feel the negative effects after eating gluten or something else unhealthy, until months or even years later. Hey, if you’re 25 and you’re eating gluten or smoking cigs, you may feel fine. But what about when you’re 45…

          The bottom line is, you are what you eat. Treat your body like a temple, and give it nutritious foods. Think of gluten as cement. It’s not food. If cement was covered with sugar and whip cream, it may even taste great, but it’s still not food! And neither is sugar or whip cream.

          • Sean says

            Can you cite the studies that show any evidence towards gluten causing health issues over decades? Im guessing not, but as people have been incredibly healthy eating gluten without listening to fad diets and lived past 100 Im pretty sure its fine. You should probably cite sources or any kind of evidence at all before making ridiculous claims

  2. says

    Great article Armi.

    I’ve heard some folks claim to be gluten sensitive because they get some of the symptoms when they eat bread, although this doesn’t seem to happen when they eat pasta.

    Did your research indicate that the form in which wheat is eaten can have an effect?

    Cheers, Tim

    • says

      Thanks Tim, and great question.

      It’s likely that these people may be responding negatively to the fructans in wheat — a form of poorly digested fiber which can also cause some bloating and gas. Bread probably contains more of this than pasta (at least whole grain bread, not sure about white). You may want to suggest your clients try some other high fructan containing foods like onions and see how they feel. Obviously it’s anecdotal, but it won’t hurt them to try. Hope that helps.

      • Carolina R. says

        Thanks for the article Armi.

        I don’t tend to have any symptoms after eating gluten, but did test positive for gluten sensitivity. My doctor ordered lab tests. Your article says there are no objective lab tests.. Can you expand a little more on that?

        • says

          Hey Carolina, By “no objective tests,” the article means that there haven’t been any widespread validation studies to show that any of the available tests reliably indicate someone is sensitive to gluten. For some people the tests might, but for others they may not. Basically, the testing just isn’t very reliable at this point.

        • says

          To further expand, it means there haven’t been any large scale validated tests to show that someone it gluten sensitive. Basically, we’re not 100% sure what we’re looking for in a test, and there’s a lot of variability in test results. In short, there’s a high chance of a false positive.

    • Michele says

      Some ppl are simply sensitive to yeast, so bread can affect ppl for different reasons beside glutens. I think yeast related issues aren’t talked about enough and yeast is in everything.

      • Lesley says

        Yes! This! I have gone through the ringer with intestinal issues the past couple of years and it’s finally been narrowed town to yeast problems/intolerance that seemed to have kicked off the whole ‘leaky gut’ thing in the first place. I definitely agree that more attention needs to be paid to systemic dandidiasis and less immediate blame on gluten. On the Elisa blood tests, my gluten ‘allergy’ was almost off the charts before treating the yeast issue, and now after avoiding a host of ‘allergenic’ foods and the yeast and taking probiotics/doing special dietary adjustments and taking supplements to get things balanced out, my latest Elisa tests showed my gluten resistance was almost at a regular normal healthy level, along with most other foods that had previously been red flags.

        It’s so hard to know what to do because everything is still so unknown and most doctors don’t take an integrative (body/mind/spirit) approach with patients, or write off the yeast theory entirely. You have to sort of be your own advocate, and then you end up on forums where everyone is trying to tell everyone else what to do and self-diagnose and it’s just a nightmare.

        I’ve been reintroducing gluten into my diet lately and haven’t noticed any problems, and two years ago I was sick nearly constantly. Our bodies are complicated and I tell people if you don’t *really* have to go gluten free, don’t torture yourself and your wallet! And if you think gluten’s the problem, get tests to make sure you don’t actually have issues with yeast.

  3. says

    I was just having this discussion with some other athletes. I hace no problems eating certain gluten-containing foods, such as oats. I think the major point is that the glutenous food we are choosing don’t consist of deep-fried donuts packaged cheese crackers.

    And so I agree fully with your points, but what about the concern regarding wheat? What are your thoughts on if that should be avoided? And what is your approach? I know in the past you’ve talked about being paleo and not eating grains. Only curious to hear how you roll as I trust your opinion.

    Thanks for such deep research and analysis man!

    • says

      Hey Chuck, great to hear from you man :)

      I actually think it’s fine to eat deep fried doughnuts and cheese crackers too, in moderation.

      Regarding wheat — it depends on the individual. If you’re severely cutting calories, then I think it’s a good idea to stick to extremely filling and high nutrient foods, which wheat is not. On the other hand, it can still be eaten in moderation, even in most extreme circumstances.

      Unless you have celiac disease, wheat allergy, or gluten intolerance, there’s no reason to avoid wheat at all costs. Like pretty much every other food, it can be consumed in moderation. I don’t think it’s a great staple for the same reasons mentioned in the previous paragraph, but there’s no reason to avoid it like poison.

      I was into the paleo diet for a little while, but I never really took it that seriously. I always kept drinking diet soda, eating yogurt, and a few other non-paleo items. My diet still closely resembles what you might call paleo for the most part (lots of fruits and vegetables, meat, tubers) but I also eat dairy, and sometimes grains and other junk food in moderation. It’s more about macronutrients, and the 80/20 rule.

    • Mom of a Celiac says

      Actually, just to clarify, oats do not contain gluten. The issue with oats is that they are often grown NEXT TO gluten-containing crops, like barley. They can become contaminated that way.

      :)

      • Fiddledee says

        How can you spread an amino acid or protein? I understand pollen grains, but proteins tend to stick inside the cells. Also, most oats are cut and processed before getting them to the supermarket shelf. Maybe you mean wheat allergy, which is not the same as celiac.

  4. Mitch Fletcher says

    Bravo – a sensible analysis of the real research on gluten consumption. The whole anti-gluten movement has been a classic example of an availability cascade. Few people have stopped to look at what the literature says before climbing on the bandwagon.

    I commend you for parting ways with your less rigorous former associate, David Asprey. He really needs to start working on something called ‘Upgraded Science.’

    • says

      Hey Mitch, thanks so much for the comment. I’m thrilled you liked it. I think you’re right about the availability cascade. I admit to falling into that camp for a while as well, without good reason to support my decision. Live and learn.

      Thanks also regarding my decision about BulletproofExec. I don’t think he even needs to go so far as “Upgraded Science.” Just accepting simple reality would be enough.

      - Armi

  5. Andrew says

    Wow what a change of stance Armi… Anyway always interesting reading / listening to what you have to say. Life is a learning experience and we are all constantly learning. Good luck in the rest of your journey.

    • says

      Thanks Andrew, glad you liked it. I was definitely convinced for a while that gluten was basically poison. Given that I rarely eat bread or other grains anyway (not that there’s anything wrong with them in moderation, I still eat them on occasion) I never had a real incentive to justify my avoidance of gluten. After a few attempts at making gluten free baked goods, that totally sucked, I decided to look at the matter a little closer. I also wasn’t comfortable practicing something that didn’t have good scientific evidence. As you said, it’s a learning process.

  6. Mark says

    “The Bottom Line: If you don’t feel sick after eating gluten, there’s no reason to avoid it.

    If there isn’t a problem, there isn’t a problem. So enjoy that bagel.”

    Same could be said for margarine, which most people wouldn’t recommend us consume. Just because you don’t see immediate issues, does not mean something isn’t occurring… thoughts?

    Note: I still consume gluten, but try to limit it.

    • says

      I would agree that just because you don’t see immediate issues, that doesn’t necessarily prove there’s a problem. However, there’s no evidence that long-term consumption of gluten leads to any health issues. There is some evidence that a high consumption of polyunsaturated fats and hydrogenated fats may lead to some negative health consequences.

      Margarine is a good comparison for several reasons:

      1. Margarine and other hydrogenated fats are fairly easy to avoid. Gluten on the other hand is extremely hard for most people to avoid. From a cost:benefit ratio, there’s a high cost of avoiding gluten, and little evidence of benefit.

      2. Margarine is also probably fine in moderation. There’s still not a lot of very well controlled data showing trans fats are as harmful as they’re made out to be.

      3. There’s really no benefit from consuming margarine. It doesn’t taste as good as butter or other fats, it’s not particular high in micronutrients, and it may come with some negative health consequences. Gluten on the other hand is found in some healthier foods, it’s expensive to go gluten-free, it makes baked goods taste weird, and it’s far more limiting to avoid gluten.

      I think your decision to limit gluten is fine if it doesn’t restrict you too much. I also hope it’s clear that I don’t think there’s any need to consume grains or that you’ll be any less healthy without them. It’s just that for most people, consuming them in moderation won’t do any harm.

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment,

      - Armi

  7. smokes says

    I also agree.. i still limit my intake of ‘pasta/bread’ at home/school, but still eating a slice of pizza once a month when you’re in a company of other people just enjoying yourselves, won’t kill you, nor damage your gut or health.

    • says

      Thanks for your comment Smokes.

      I think your decision to limit refined carbs like bread and pasta is still smart. It’s all about context. Having a little every now and then won’t do most people any harm. It’s extremes and excess that’s the problem.

  8. Jenny says

    I was diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance 4 months ago after having had problems for more than a year, swollen stomache, pain e.t.c. I find it super hard to stay away from Gluten because of everywhere its “hidden”. sauces, some meat even (like sausages). spices e.t.c. In my case I can really feel and notice when Ive had gluten, even just a littlebit. Doctor told me that if Im strict for 6 months minimum then sometimes it can dissapear. lets see…

    • says

      Hey Jenny, it sounds like you probably belong to the third group — as you said, you may be gluten sensitive. I hope you feel better, and please keep my updated on your progress. What tips do you have to help others avoid gluten or make going gluten-free less of a pain, if they choose to do so?

  9. Tally says

    For me, the main reason is that it makes me hungry and gives me terrible sugar cravings.
    After eating bread or other wheat, I get ravenous a couple of hours afterwards and the effect lasts for a couple of days. I go round the house like a junkie in withdrawal.

    When I don’t have any, it’s amazing how little I can eat and not be hungry. Not feeling hungry is good, hence for me, wheat is bad…

    • says

      Hey Tally, thanks for your comment.

      If you feel hungry after eating wheat and it makes it hard for you to maintain your weight, then feel free to avoid it. That’s your choice.

      However, before you assign the blame to wheat or gluten, consider these questions:

      1. Besides personal experience, what scientific evidence do you have that wheat stimulates appetite?

      2. How do you know it’s the wheat that makes you hungry? Could it be that avoiding bread gives you more dietary structure, and when you break that structure, it’s hard to stick to your diet and make smarter food choices?

      I’m not saying this to be contrary, I just want to help you be as flexible as possible and see all possible options. It may be that your hunger issues aren’t caused by wheat. If that’s the case, you may have more success looking elsewhere for solutions.

      Hope that helps,

      - Armi

  10. Nat says

    Hi Armi,

    I like your evidence-based approach, but bear in mind that the absence of evidence for a particular effect does not equal evidence of absence. The clinically significant harmful effects of wheat might only become evident after 10, 20 or even 40 years of regular intake. I think it is unlikely the world will ever see a 20 year controlled study on the effects of wheat (I am sure you are aware of the issues of dietary research) – so don’t hold your breath. There is value in the numerous case reports of improved health outcomes after eliminating wheat – I’d be interested to hear your opinion on Dr. William Davis’ “Wheat Belly”.

    Your statement “if there isn’t a problem, there isn’t a problem, so enjoy that bagel” sounds a little naive and almost intentionally provocative… ?? many people smoke a packet of cigarettes a day and feel great, so your advice would be to enjoy it?

    Finding the balance between pragmatism (trouble, cost, taste, social pressures) and “evidence based” is difficult, but given the current crisis in public health (obesity/diabetes/cardiovascular disease), I would encourage you to be more prudent in your wording.

    -Nat

    • says

      Hi Nat, thanks for the thoughtful and straightforward comment.

      You’re right that the absence of evidence does not mean an idea isn’t valid, but the burden of proof is always on the person making the new claim. There is robust evidence that people can thrive on diets high in wheat, yet very little that it’s harmful in moderate amounts.

      The clinically significant harmful effects of wheat might only become evident after 10, 20 or even 40 years of regular intake.

      You could also say the same thing about pretty much any other aspect of life.

      There aren’t any 20-year controlled trials on strength training either, but that doesn’t mean it has some negative effect in the long-term. Thus far, no studies have offered convincing evidence that grains or gluten are harmful in moderate amounts in otherwise healthy people in the short or long-term. There is not even a trend in the data (when looking at insignificant effects) that that’s the case, nor is there any strong indirect evidence that it’s true.

      There is value in the numerous case reports of improved health outcomes after eliminating wheat – I’d be interested to hear your opinion on Dr. William Davis’ “Wheat Belly”.

      Value? Yes. Strong evidence? No. Anecdotes are still anecdotes — not good data. I like Dr. Davis. His heart is in the right place, and I can see why lowering the carb intake of his patients (most of whom have heart disease and are overweight or obese) could improve their health markers. However, I find his claims that wheat is more problematic than other carbs to be inaccurate, as are his claims that carbs in general, and grains, should be avoided by otherwise healthy people. Here’s a good critique of his book.

      Your statement “if there isn’t a problem, there isn’t a problem, so enjoy that bagel” sounds a little naive and almost intentionally provocative… ?? many people smoke a packet of cigarettes a day and feel great, so your advice would be to enjoy it?

      Nat, that’s a straw man argument. I don’t believe the “if there isn’t a problem there isn’t a problem” mantra applies to everything, nor did I say otherwise. In this case there’s no evidence that otherwise healthy people need to avoid gluten or grains if they feel fine. Even if they do feel poorly, there’s still a large chance the effects are not from gluten, wheat, or grains.

      As a side note, if I didn’t have to pay for a smoker’s health insurance (which I do, since the U.S. has partially centralized healthcare), and they only smoked in their own homes so I didn’t have to breath it in, and they knew the negative consequences of their actions and decided to smoke anyway, then yes — I would tell them to enjoy it while they can.

      It was not a naive statement, but it was meant to be provocative. I’m tired of people telling everyone that gluten is a dangerous toxin with no supporting evidence.

      Given there’s no good evidence that the current rates of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease have anything to do with gluten in particular, how would you have me change the wording?

      - Armi

      • Nat says

        Hi Armi,

        thank you for your reply.

        I think we agree that there is very little robust evidence for most dietary recommendations. However, most people will believe that fast food and sugar are bad for your health, and will try to avoid them, even without reading any research on it.

        Wheat products have the reputation of being healthy for you, i.e. promoting health. Many people will specifically choose whole wheat products to improve their health.

        There is a difference between a definite negative effect on health, a possible negative effect, a possible non-significant effect on health and a possible or definite positive effect.

        Your wording depends on your audience. If you believe your audience consists of people who are in optimal health (like yourself?): not overweight, perfect insulin sensitivity, perfect energy levels throughout the day, perfect mental wellbeing and cognitive function and who are just looking to improve their triathlon times, then yes, wheat may have a possible non-significant effect on health for them. By all means, have that bagel and see how you feel.

        I view dietary recommendations from a public health point of view, and believe that the status of wheat should be changed from a “definitely beneficial” to a “possibly negative”. And for people who are not in optimal health (most of us), a wheat free trial may be useful and should at least be considered if not recommended. Dr. Davis’ audience is

        The impression that your post left me with, was that YOU feel fine when you eat wheat and YOU are tired of going through the hassle of avoiding wheat.

        Re smoking: the difference lies in the reputation of smoking (“they knew the negative consequences of their actions and decided to smoke anyway”) versus the reputation of wheat. It took many years before the scientific community came to the conclusion that smoking is harmful, and even longer before major efforts were undertaken to make the public aware of this. And people still smoke.

        Given imperfect evidence, we still need to make general recommendations (and if you write a blog, you have some degree of responsibility), and I think that the harm done by avoiding wheat when one could possibly tolerate it, is less than the possible harm done by consuming wheat when one can’t. On a public health level, avoiding wheat will be less harmful than consuming wheat.

        -Nat

        • says

          Your wording depends on your audience. If you believe your audience consists of people who are in optimal health (like yourself?): not overweight, perfect insulin sensitivity, perfect energy levels throughout the day, perfect mental wellbeing and cognitive function and who are just looking to improve their triathlon times, then yes, wheat may have a possible non-significant effect on health for them. By all means, have that bagel and see how you feel.

          The article was for anyone who is considering a wheat free diet. This includes people with poor insulin sensitivity, overweight, etc. The article said nothing of endurance training or triathlon performance. If you have evidence that wheat decreases insulin sensitivity or contributes to poor health, then please share it.

          I view dietary recommendations from a public health point of view, and believe that the status of wheat should be changed from a “definitely beneficial” to a “possibly negative”.

          I think it should be changed to “if it fits your macros.” I also agree that the idea that everyone should be eating a ton of carbs, in any form, is ludacris. I also think that most blanket statements about diet with no regard to context are going to be misleading and inaccurate. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that everyone should be eating a ton of grains. I’m saying that if they fit your macronutrient goals, there’s no evidence that consuming gluten containing products is going to decrease your health.

          And for people who are not in optimal health (most of us), a wheat free trial may be useful and should at least be considered if not recommended.

          Why?

          The impression that your post left me with, was that YOU feel fine when you eat wheat and YOU are tired of going through the hassle of avoiding wheat.

          I never talked about whether or not I personally had a problem avoiding wheat — I left my personal anecdotes out of this discussion. Gluten containing products are generally more expensive, and it is more of a hassle to avoid them. Given that there’s no strong evidence to justify this trouble and expense, the research doesn’t support the recommendation to go on a gluten-free diet unless you have one of the three conditions listed in this article.

          Re smoking: the difference lies in the reputation of smoking (“they knew the negative consequences of their actions and decided to smoke anyway”) versus the reputation of wheat. It took many years before the scientific community came to the conclusion that smoking is harmful, and even longer before major efforts were undertaken to make the public aware of this. And people still smoke.

          How does this prove wheat is potentially dangerous to human health?

          Given imperfect evidence, we still need to make general recommendations (and if you write a blog, you have some degree of responsibility), and I think that the harm done by avoiding wheat when one could possibly tolerate it, is less than the possible harm done by consuming wheat when one can’t. On a public health level, avoiding wheat will be less harmful than consuming wheat.

          Do you have any evidence that wheat is harmful? Because there’s a significant body of evidence showing positive health effects from consuming whole grain products. Granted, I don’t think this means everyone should eat grains or that grains are an essential part of the human diet, but it certainly doesn’t indicate they’re harmful. At this point, the burden of proof is on the anti-grain proponents to prove wheat is harmful.

          • LBsulli says

            Back to the OP –
            The clinically significant harmful effects of wheat might only become evident after 10, 20 or even 40 years of regular intake. I think it is unlikely the world will ever see a 20 year controlled study on the effects of wheat (I am sure you are aware of the issues of dietary research) – so don’t hold your breath.

            What about looking at the long term health of a specific group of people well known to consume gluten – Italians. I’m pretty sure their lifespans are significant, and probably on par with Americans. Yes, this is a stereotype, but I’m also pretty sure that pasta is a stable in their culture. Lets study their bodies and inflammation levels.

      • Nat says

        “within at least 24 hours”

        Within 24 hours? or at least 24 hours? could you specify which effects?

        Reference, please?

        • says

          Hey Nat, that’s a good point you bring up. Frankly there’s not a lot of evidence for these effects happening within 24 hours. It’s more of an arbitrary cut-off that researchers sometimes throw around. Sometimes they also recommend up to around 72 hours. It’s going to vary from person to person, so probably around 24-72 hours, but again, there’s not a lot of evidence for a specific time frame. This review gives a good overview of identifying Gluten Sensitivity, but is pretty vague with time frames as well. In general, it states that symptoms of gluten sensitivity usually arise around “hours to days after gluten
          exposure.”

  11. Allison says

    Hi there,

    I just wanted to say that as a diagnoised Celiac for 8 months now it is so refreshing to see an article address the ‘fad’ of going gluten free. I mean, don’t get me wrong, for us Celiacs it is actually a good thing because more and more restaurants are becoming accomodating to our dietary needs, however, I strongly believe that unless you absolutely have to go gluten free for medical reasons, do not cut gluten from your diet (besides, like you said it is in absolutely everything – things you wouldn’t even think…like table pepper, lip glosses, sauces, seasonings, soups, broths…etc.). Although, people with sentivities need to be so careful at restaurants, question the server how their food is prepared and what spices are used. Sometimes menus are ‘gluten friendly’ not ‘gluten FREE’ and you can run into problems, for example, if they have wings or fries on the gluten free/friendly menu, but they say they use their fryer to fry everything from nuggets to onion wings…those fries or wings are no longer gluten free if they go in the same fryer due to cross containation. Due to the ease of cross contamination, I will say this, being a Celiac sure has changed my diet, I no longer can go down the street and pick up a sandwich or burger, the convience of convience foods is gone for me, so it has forced me to make everything from scratch, from baking to spices and sauces and eat healthier overall. Now if people do want to go gluten free, I would suggest do so in moderation as people have mentioned, just limit your intake, because trust me going completely gluten free isn’t as easy as you think and I think a lot of people would be shocked and overwhelmed to find out in how many places gluten hides.

    Now, I do have a quick question for you, and I also do plan on asking my GI specialist when I go for more blood work in a couple months but, in our home, when I cook dinners a lot of the time it is completely gluten free, however, I try to get something with gluten in there seperately for my husband, whether it is bread, or cooking two seperate pastas. I do this because I worry that if he eliminates gluten completely by following my restricted diet then he could develop an intolerance down the road which I wouldn’t wish on anyone – could this happen?

    Thank you again for your article, I hope a lot of people can learn from it and also learn more about what Celiac Disease really is, if anyone has any questions at all please feel free to ask! And if you have any of the symptoms get checked out! I waited 4 years before getting the blood work and biopsy done, because I didn’t think there was any way I could be Celiac, and as a result I am now severly anemic and have many other vitamin deficiencies due to the damage in my intestines, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY :).

    • says

      Hey Allison, thanks for commenting. Regarding your question, there’s not much evidence that your husband would develop an intolerance to gluten if he doesn’t eat it for a while. I wouldn’t worry about it. Please let me know if you have any more questions.

      • Becky says

        I am curious about something along the same lines… I have PCOS, a hormone imbalance disorder. Many people with it address told to go gluten free and feel an improvement in symptoms. But it seems only to be an improvement in digestion, especially seen through an elimination trial. I just wonder if the reason they get bloating, gas, stomach upset etc. after reintroducing it is more from the increase in fiber after having eliminated it for a time. Would the body not need time to adapt to a food that it is no longer used to processing? Any thoughts?

  12. Whitney says

    Hopefully this question hasn’t already been asked as I haven’t had a chance to read through all the comments yet. As a recovering anorexia patient, I’ve been struggling with the issue of gluten for quite awhile. I have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and one of my doctors highly suggests that I eliminate gluten entirely, as there has been much research connecting it to autoimmune disease. I have tested positive for the celiac gene, but was gluten free at the time of blood testing so antibodies were negative. I do not have any direct gastrointestinal symptoms when I include gluten in my diet, which is not to say it could not be affecting my thyroid function or causing other inflammatory problems in my body. I have noticed I gain weight (I am at a healthy weight) and seem to retain fluid when I include gluten in my diet, but what you said in a response above about perhaps increased dietary structure when gluten free did resonate with me.
    It’s hard to know through the trial and error process of recovery which variable may be responsible for which symptom. It would be great if, after almost 20 years of starvation, I could eat my healthy, balanced diet, and not be afraid to include gluten occasionally. But what I’ve read about the Hashimoto’s connection scares me.
    If you have any thoughts on this matter if love to hear your feedback.

    • says

      Hey Whitney, I’m very sorry you’ve had to deal with anorexia. I’ve been through that as well, and it’s a rough road.

      There is some indirect evidence that gluten may be connected to Hashimoto’s. However, it’s still indirect, and there isn’t a clear answer at this point. I would get a second opinion from another doctor and ask them to explain exactly what evidence indicates it may be a problem. Let me know what you decide and how you feel.

  13. Tara says

    I have had an interesting experience regarding gluten-free. I have severe arthritis from multiple surgeries and injuries playing sports in my teens and 20′s. It was discovered that my boyfriend is Gluten Intolerant and symptoms he has been living with his whole life and doctors had been trying to treat disappeared. The majority of his symptoms were intestinal however his eye and nose allergies have also cleared up however those weren’t as debilitating as the intestinal issues.

    I started doing a mostly gluten free diet because of his restrictions but would eat gluten when I was out and wouldn’t be very strict about it. My doctor recommended that since I was 3/4 of the way there that I give it a try and completely cut it out because I take Rx antiinflammatories every day for my arthritis. I also exercise (swim) and do a water class for arthritis so I am in pretty decent shape.

    I went completely gluten free about 7 months ago. I have realized quite a difference in my chronic pain. I had also started getting acupuncture and never really attributed the more manageable pain to any one thing in particular until I was convinced it has something to do with gluten this past weekend. There have been a few times when I have fever and joint pain during these last months. The joint pain is severe. This weekend, I made pancakes out of a new corn flour that on further research I realized had gluten in it. My gluten detector is my boyfriend because he feels symptoms of exposure almost immediately as gas and bloating. I didn’t think anything of it and ate the leftover pancakes the next day (because they were so good). That was yesterday and I could barely get out of bed or move my right leg, where I have severe arthritis in my IS joint. It hurt to lay in bed and move my body. My boyfriend pointed out a few other times when this happened to me (although this seemed to be the worst) and they seemed to correlate with traveling and less concern to my diet (because I didn’t really think that I had specific reasons for doing the gluten free.)

    A quick google search last night on gluten exposure and fever turned up a host of personal stories and academic literature on the inflammatory process associated with gluten. I had thought I was so up on this condition but I had no idea that it could have been part of what has been helping me so much with my chronic arthritis and joint pain. I am now sold on a diet without gluten as this weekend was a good experiment for me. Also, a quick survey of academic literature this morning confirms my experience. There are a lot of conditions linked to inflammatory processes in our bodies so if people, especially athletes and those that train hard or suffer from chronic inflammatory conditions feel better without gluten, these things should be considered valid experiences. The scientific inquiry needs to catch up.

    As far as my diet is concerned, avoiding gluten is not that difficult. It has steered me away from fast food and prepared food and more towards fresh and whole food choices and preparing my own food. That on it’s own has been a health benefit for me.

    • Mel says

      I am glad to find this article and totally agree that not everyone needs to go gluten free. For most of us, it is probably more of a question of balancing your diet and listening to your body.

      It was suggested to me that I go gluten free to alleviate my issues with GERD. My journey is a bit different than others and as I went gluten free, my GERD skyrocketed. The good: the gluten free diet revealed a whole host of foods that I had no idea were triggering my GERD. Now, I can avoid them! The bad: I had to have nasty GERD episodes!

      I try to follow more of an anti-inflammatory diet, limiting grains and switching them up but not entirely limiting wheat. Since I have done that, I have felt great!

      I think we need to all realize our bodies are all different and we need to find the path that is correct for our body.

  14. Angela says

    What would you say if I do not have celiac or a wheat allergy or even gluten sensitivity but
    I DO have the following symptoms:
    -Autoimmune disease (fibromyalgia)
    -nutrient deficiencies (dangerously low vitamin D deficiency)
    -Diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and other digestive issues
    -Weight gain.
    -Brain fog and headaches.
    -Joint pain.
    -Slow recovery from workouts.
    -Insomnia
    -So much inflammation all over my body I look swollen, especially hands and feet

    Believe me, the last thing I want to do is to give up gluten. I’m an Italian cook!
    I just wanted to share this and get your thoughts…
    Thanks so much.

  15. David A. says

    This article doesn’t really address how accurate the statement: “reducing gluten intake will better your overall health and by how much” I’ve read a few articles saying that if you go gluten free there are several health benefits. With that said, even if gluten doesn’t make you sick, isn’t that a logical reason to go gluten free? I’m a 17 y/o athlete and the sports industry is very competitive. So as athletes, we are constantly looking for ways to better our overall performance even if its just by a small percentage. A split second faster, or an extra second of energy can be the difference between success and failure.

    I’m interested on your thoughts?

    • says

      Hi David, there’s no data on how reducing gluten might influence your health (assuming you don’t have one of the three conditions listed in this article), so we have no way to list a quantifiable degree of improvement.

      What articles are you referring to? Did they have references? Did you check them?

      I’m also a highly competitive athlete, and have been since I was about four, and I’m eighteen now. I can relate, but at this point there’s no evidence that gluten will impair your performance if you’re otherwise healthy.

      • Bryan says

        I find it hard to believe this statement. (there’s no data on how reducing gluten might influence your health (assuming you don’t have one of the three conditions listed in this article) I think a more accurate statement . “If you are otherwise healthy, eating a small to moderate amount of gluten will not affect your health”. It seems to make sense that one could conclude that a diet with a lot of gluten would run low on nutrients and create some potential health issues because of this. I haven’t been reading a lot of research lately but when I was I remember seeing a fair amount of data showing negative effects of low nutrient food.

        • says

          Hey Brian, thanks for commenting. There is no strong data showing that reducing gluten in your diet has a significant impact on your health — if you don’t have gluten intolerance, gluten allergy, or celiac disease. Would you post the references you mentioned?

          There is lots of data showing that eating a low-nutrient diet can be unhealthy, but that’s not the same as saying you need to avoid gluten.

          • Bryan says

            Hi Armi – The logic is as follows: Higher Gluten in diet as percent of calories = Lower Nutrients in Diet = Not good for human health. Do you follow that logic? I think it is a good idea to avoid gluten and other low nutrient foods for that reason. That is what I think it is good to recommend everyone eat a lower gluten diet and not make the claim: “If you aren’t experiencing any symptoms of these three conditions, there’s no sound scientific reason for you to avoid gluten. None.”

          • says

            Bryan, I get what you’re saying, but for many people that’s going to be an unnecessary restriction. I think it’s much more helpful to explain to people the pros and cons of different foods, noting that refined grains tend to be less nutrient dense and satiating, and then let them make an informed decision.

            Telling people that foods high in gluten are low in nutrients could also be a little misleading. For instance, coconut oil is also pretty low in nutrients, yet it’s also fine in moderation. here’s also little evidence that consuming some foods, including those that contain gluten, will dilute the nutrient density of your diet enough to cause any health problems or impede weight loss.

            I’m not saying you’re intentionally trying to mislead people, but I think it’s more accurate to tell them gluten is fine in moderation for most people, which it is. Then you can elaborate on other factors that affect human health and body composition, like satiety and nutrient density.

  16. Alexandra says

    The problem with this article is that the reason for the “fad” may be that more people are troubled by gluten than those you listed. I have been diagnosed with Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, for which there is no treatment. In my situation, one is desperate to try anything, and waiting for the scientific proof is not an option, given my potential prognosis. I went gluten-free about a year ago and am stunned at how much better I feel. It seems to me that you are doing a disservice to those of us who are seeking reasonable ways to help themselves.

    • says

      Alexandra, I’m very sorry to hear you have MS. However, there’s no way to no for sure that eliminating gluten is what made you feel better. It could still have been a placebo effect. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, and if I were in your situation I’d be tempted to try anything too, but we can’t say for sure. I hope you continue to feel better, and I’m certainly not arguing that you need to eat gluten.

  17. says

    Can I simply say what a reduction to search out somebody who really is aware of what theyre speaking about on the internet. You positively know how one can convey a difficulty to gentle and make it important. Extra folks must learn this and perceive this facet of the story. I cant imagine youre no more standard since you positively have the gift.

  18. Nick says

    This excellent article comes back to my motto on everything in life “if it works for you”. If you go gluten free and see changes, continue doing it, it works. If there’s nothing happening, then there’s nothing happening.

    The main point people should focus isn’t eating gluten free, it’s eating close to nature. Less process food. Gluten has always been in grains. It’s not news. But with the many transformation and over dosage of sugar derivative in our food, people have become intolerant on many levels. More and more people are actually intolerant to soya. Yet, it doesn’t make the news, even the health underground news. Why? Soy is everywhere…

    I still remember when I was in elementary school, you had one or two person with an allergy and it was like “wow, what is that?!?” from us who didn’t knew how you could be allergic to peanut butter. Nowadays, it’s the other way around. When people will realize how much crap they eat with the whole process food industry because they don’t have the time to cook (yeah right) and stop using a 99% germ free soap 24/7, maybe the immune system that was meant to WORK and not stay protected from germs, will get stronger.

    We live in a world upside down. Honestly, gluten is the least of my worries. I do not trust .gov sites but I’m not going head first into health nuts websites either. My 2 cents ;)

  19. says

    Can I simply say what a aid to seek out somebody who truly is aware of what theyre speaking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know how one can carry a problem to mild and make it important. Extra individuals have to learn this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant consider youre no more widespread since you undoubtedly have the gift.

  20. says

    To help answer Allison’s question…. No, your husband can not develop gluten sensitivity by not having any gluten. In fact, he is better off eating gluten-free like you even when he shows no symptoms. It is also possible for someone to be gluten sensitive and still be symtom-free. They have to be tested for gluten sensitivity to be sure.

    The article is correct that those people with celiac, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity needs to avoid gluten. While the remainder of the population can get away with eating some gluten some of the time as long as they are symptom-free and have been tested to be non gluten sensitive, it is still a good idea for everyone to avoid gluten whenever it is convenient to do so. This is because wheat gluten is a protein that is indigestible by 100% of the population and it triggers zonulin releases for everyone which increase intestinal permeability (leaky gut). [reference] The more gluten you eat over the lifetime, the higher your risk of developing gluten sensitivity. People develop gluten sensitivity due to the amount of lifetime exposure to gluten in combinations to other factor such as genetics, amount of antibotics taken as a child, stress level, etc. For some people, that line is crossed at age 3 when they become gluten sensitive. For other people, they may not become gluten sensitive until age 85. And for others, never. But most get diagnosied as gluten sensitivite during mid-age.

  21. sarah says

    Hi,

    I really hope you can offer an answer as I am stumped as to why this is, but my subject heading is self explanatory.

    My friend is CD and everytime she cooks a meal, bakes etc. I have noticed that my stomach actually aches for a while, this starts about an hour after I have eaten and usually lasts a couple of hours, the pain is low down and more of a sharp ache than a dull ache.

    My question I guess is can GF food affect people who are not CD?

    I look forward to a response

    Regards

    Sarah Dodd

    • says

      Hey Sarah,

      It really depends on what’s in the food. A lot of gluten free items use things like beans and some obscure grains that you might not be used to. Other than that it’s hard to say.

      Let me know if you have any more questions, or if you figure this one out.

  22. says

    Thank you thank you thank you, for clearing up this issue. I’m so SICK of people, (ok, overweight women), claiming “gluten allergies”, “gluten intolerance”, etc. It’s a load of crap, and NOT recognized by the legitimate medical field. Yes, there is celiac disease. Actually, less than ONE percent of the population is affected by it. However, this latest “gluten free” fad, has cheapened the seriousness for a gluten free diet, for those who actually suffer from this disease.

    • coytle says

      Gluten causes me severe symptoms but ive never had it checked out. First thing is severe intestinal cramping and diarrhea, then heartburn and rashes and facial swelling. Headaches, fatigue, nausea joint pain etc… im glad people have been using it as a fad. It is embarrassing to order gluten free at a restaurant and have the waitress roll her eyes at you because she assumes you are doing it for a fad but now I have more food options readily available because of the fad.

    • says

      There is some data indirectly linking Hashimoto’s to gluten, but at this point it’s still far from conclusive. That’s definitely something to work on with your doctor.

  23. Dan says

    Only, wheat, rye and barley, have gluten, everything else does not. Celiac is genetic, its origins look like it first appeared in Finland then spread to Scandinavia and out to wherever the Vikings went. In most cases having the genetic marker will not make you have Celiac. The blood tests don’t even detect it if you are not gluten sensitive at the time of the test. In the early 1980’s Bio-engineering started to change our food supply, and that continues to this day. The wheat, rye, and barley currently produced in the United States have a greatly increased amount of gluten, as compared with the rest of human history. Countries that do not allow genetically modified food are not experiencing the gluten sensitivity phenomenon. Preservatives in food are also a problem for some people. As our food becomes more and more processed, (farther away from what we have developed as a species to digest well), we have more problems.
    I think buying fresh or fresh frozen food and preparing it ourselves is the most practical solution .

    • Elizabeth Conley says

      I don’t think that any GMO wheat has been approved for cultivation and sale. It is my understanding that any modifications to wheat are conventional in nature.

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m not always keen on GMO grains. The nature of the new GMO corn bothered me, so I switched my family to a non-gmo brand of corn grown in Canada and packaged for markets in India. It is the same price as American corn meal, but it tastes awesome. It’s so good that I’ve been able to reduct the sugar in their corn bread by 30 %, and they haven’t noticed. American corn meal has tasted faintly bitter for a while now. I’m surprised people still buy it.

      Anyhow, I don’t think the problem is GMOs. Mind you, I could be wrong, but I’m thinking that it may be simply that Americans eat too much wheat. Perhaps we didn’t always eat quite so much until recently. Perhaps those of us destined to develop difficulties with wheat are only effected gradually. I’m pretty confident that not everyone is having problems, only some people, and those people only gradually.

  24. coytle says

    I accidentally ate gluten last night. My intestines are killing me! I get nearly instant diarrhea when I eat it, I also get, facial swelling, rashes, heartburn/indigestion, headaches, general fatigue and joint swelling. This intestinal pain is worse than ive ever had though… I think im one of those people who should avoid it. I cant get tested without insurance for celiac though unless id like to go into debt. My mother has the same issues and was diagnosed with ibs and fibromyalgia which I think are caused from gluten.

    • MSquel says

      I have that question too, see my post below. I wanted to know if evidence of eating GF definitely makes you feel better (in x amount of time), is that evidence supporting celiac? Also your negative result after eating gluten, is that evidence in support of that? You cannot diagnose yourself though. You are right to avoid those item and it is getting easier now because of fad diets.

  25. says

    I choose to booze it up as much as being the future guy, but residing in a location and social location wherever all outings revolve about liquor, acquired me steadily getting Pai You Guo http://www.paiyouweightloss.com. Firstly of June I went for 15 Days with out any booze (which could be almost nothing for many, but was hard for me, on account of boozy social gatherings) and firstly i felt Incredible and had considerably a lot more strength, and second, the dimensions basically begun going down following keeping while in the identical location not make a difference the amount I worked out. I am now wanting to remain as alcoholic beverages cost-free as possible.

  26. MSquel says

    Hi I just wanted to comment that I’m being checked for celiac right now and I flunked the blood test. But the biopsy came back negative. My doc says there are lots of false negatives and she saw the damage to my gut mucosa when I had my esophagoduodenoscopy. So she told me I need to start eating GF but I have no diagnosis for celiac… yet. Surprise, surprise, about 5 days later, almost instantly between lunch and 4,p.m. I felt better, less moody, foggy, able to express myself more clearly, less bloat up high, better stools

    (1) COULD FEELING BETTER BE EVIDENCE OF PLACEBO EFFECT?
    (2) Or just the opposite. has anyone done any studies that people who “give up” gluten actually feel better than they did (and I’m not talking about Gwyneth frigging Paltrow, either).

    I want to take “feeling better” as evidence or support that I have celiac disease pending my 2nd opinion. However, maybe “feeling better” is what you get when you cut out gluten regardless of illness.

    ONE LAST THING:

    I have nightmares of messing up eating GF. I have had two, one was that I absentmindedly ate a donut, and about a day later, that I ate a salad with croutons. Talk about anxiety over having to eat GF… you fad dieters and other dietary tinkerers shouldn’t need that kind of stress.

  27. Whitney T says

    Thanks for the breakdown. It is much easier to refer people to this site than battle with the pros and cons of why I don’t eat gluten containing products. I always find it interesting that people get so hung up on what others are consuming or not consuming instead of focusing on their own health and nutrition. Great read and I am glad I found your site! Cheers.

  28. says

    Thank you Armi,
    A rational discussion on yet another ‘Fad Diet’. My daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease at the age of 19. She was often unwell and lacking energy for a long time prior to the diagnosis. The change in diet has greatly increased her vitality and outlook to life, despite the hankering for KFC. I feel that the only true aspect to the fad diet to remain gluten free is that it all but eliminates processed foods. This is where the bulk of dietary mistakes are made, from inflated sugars to poor portion control, reducing packaged foods and supplementing them with whole foods, like raw fruits and veg will increase satisfaction and greatly improve the calorie intake thus providing a great ‘Dietary’ benefit.
    Taking on a health craze for the the logical benefits of only a part of the diet plan, then eliminating other foods. This only makes the diet extreme, seems to me like throwing out the baby with the bath water. Moderation and careful planning is the key to a successful diet, living with a diet restriction is an unfortunate necessity to achieve the best quality of life for those suffering with them.
    Keep up the good work Armi.

  29. cat says

    Before my gallbladder came out 4 years ago I always had problems with belching and D&C….but I was able to eat anything, until one day, I had the gallbladder attack. I felt like someone was punching me up under my right breast bone, the pain brought me to my knees.

    So off I go and within a week, it was removed. I thought life would be good again.

    However , I was wrong. I was not able to eat much of anything anymore.
    Animals fats, out of the question. If I did try to eat anything like that, I was on my knees with pain and D…. No sweets, especially chocolate.
    So the doctors decided, I now had IBS after being scoped and prodded numerous times. So in other words, they had no idea what was wrong.
    I just hooked up with a naturopath doctor and she did this panel and I was very surprised what came back. Things that were suppose to be hurting me, didn’t. The things she said I was fine with, I couldn’t begin to eat them…. I felt like I was in Bazzoro World….

    I have stayed away from wheat now for 3 weeks, no dairy and I have to tell you, if anything, I feel worse.
    In this 3 week period I have developed a constant burning in the vaginal area, never had that prior to this.

    I am seeing this doctor again tomorrow and will suggest a urine work-up done.
    I find it very had to believe half of what this blood work up said. I do not have Celiac, that was one of the tests done…

    I’m ready to go back to traditional medicine at this stage.

  30. says

    So I went gluten free several months ago because of severe migraine headaches and positive antibodies, hoping to eliminate headaches and fight the inflammation in my body which was causing joint issues, severe ear infections, etc.
    I also suffer from GERD and other intestinal issues I won’t go into. Not really signs of celiac, just IBS.
    Going without gluten did nothing for my head and joint pain. I agreed with the hype. I must be crazy. So after about 7 weeks, I broke down and ate a bowl of pasta. What I did NOT expect was extreme intestinal pain, flu-like symptoms, nausea, bloating and this overall feeling I ate Thanksgiving dinner, twice. I honestly couldn’t put my finger on what would make me so sick, then it hit me…wow, gluten you sneaky little bugger.
    I have fooled myself several times: I go for a while without eating gluten but it happens EVERY time I eat a piece of bread or anything with pasta in it. Traces don’t seem to bother me, but a big bowl of gluten with meat sauce or a gluten pb&j give me definite pain as stated above. Huge difference in the way I feel.
    I didn’t read what it could do or how a person COULD feel if they went without it and started eating it again, not knowing if they have a gluten sensitivity.
    I would say, yes, my body hates gluten and I should not be eating it.

  31. Sharon says

    Really??? you think it is ok to drink soda??? and fried doughnuts are ok??
    I think I’ll pass on your opinion after reading these foods are ok.
    Most doctors do not help find the root cause of an issue, they just want to mask the symptoms with drugs from their pharm friends who provide kick backs and lots of freebees. Some of us have been terribly ill and doctors literally laugh at us, put us on anti-depressants, or do nothing at all except charge us an exorbatant amount for absouletly nothing! That leaves us to find our own cures and treatments.
    If Gluten free, sugar free, and/or dairy free diets are helping people be ‘normal’ productive citizens who are pain free and can lead a happy healthy life then why bash them? Everyone is different so you nor the doctors have any idea how many people will be helped by changing their diets. Why? Because most doctors are not taught to heal, they are only taught to treat the symptoms.

  32. Elizabeth Conley says

    6 days ago I woke up feeling unusually well. Since I’ve felt badly for decades, I thought back over the previous 24 hours carefully. What was different. To my amazement, I realized I had eaten no wheat products.

    That was odd. Seriously, I always eat homemade multi grain bread, pasta, crackers and occasionally even cookies or cake. It was an unusual day, because due to an unusual set of coincidences, I had eaten no wheat. I REALLY liked the way I felt. I had slept well, I felt alert, my stomach didn’t churn, I had no gas or bloating, my feet and hands were not swollen, my joints didn’t hurt, my shoes felt one size too big, and my head was clear of its usual dull ache. I definitely wanted to feel that good again, so I ate no wheat that day either.

    The following day was even better. The next day was better still. I got a head cold, and still felt better than I’d felt in decades. I was so happy, even with the constant sneezing and runny nose from my cold. It was great. I wanted to do more, I wanted to walk further. I was happy all day, each day.

    It’s day seven without wheat. I just checked my blood pressure today. My DIASTOLIC pressure has dropped ten points in 7 days. For the first time in 18 years my diastolic blood pressure is well within the healthy zone. My systolic pressure is still a bit high, but that was attributable to the Sudaphed I was taking. I can’t wait to measure my blood pressure next week, when I no longer need the sudaphed for my stuffy nose.

    I don’t care why I feel so good when I don’t eat wheat. I don’t care why my blood pressure is down in the healthy range for the first time in nearly 2 decades. I just know that I won’t be eating wheat products any more. Why would I? I’m pain free. I have energy. I can think more clearly than I ever have. I would have to be crazy to deliberately return to being sick and miserable 24/7.

    Today I made home made pasta for my family, as I regularly do. I poured my sauce over half a baked potato. I knew the pasta I made for them tasted much better than my baked potato, but I was not tempted to go back to consuming wheat. I have baked bread for them every day this week as well. Tomorrow I will bake them cookies. The changes I have made for myself are not for my entire household. There is no indication they need to change.

    If you don’t feel good, then you should have a hard look at your diet, your activities and your environment. Change something. See how that works for you.

    Over the past year I’ve given up MSG and Aspartame. The benefit to giving up Aspartame is that I immediately ceased to experience urge incontinence. I also got considerable relief from daily migraines, and a gradual disappearance of neuralgia symptoms. The benefit to giving up MSG was negligible. That was basically a failed experiment, but I gave it a try anyway, because I knew I wasn’t feeling as well as I should.

    It’s simple common sense to work at feeling better when you’re suffering every day. If you’re experiencing real pain and misery each and every day of your life, don’t wait for someone to tell you it’s medically and politically correct to change your diet, activities or environment. Make a logical change and see how it effects you. If you continue to analyze your circumstances and make the logical adjustments, there’s every chance that you will eventually find a way to become well again.

    You can bet that I’m not going to start eating wheat again just because I don’t know why abstaining has improved my health. You can be doubly sure that I’m not going to start eating wheat again just because I can’t prove to anyone else that abstaining has improved my health.

    This isn’t about anyone but me. I feel much, much better, and I’m not going back to feeling miserable every day, all day.

    Would you?

    Further, If you were feeling miserable day in and day out, wouldn’t you be willing to try an unconventional solution, at least for a day or two?

  33. Heather says

    Thanks for another informative article. I have been considering going gluten free, as I thought I might be gluten intolerant due to having unpleasant digestive symptoms from pasta. However, reading this article has made me realise that a) bread is worse and b) if I’m concerned about a food allergy I should pop to the doc. If the test is negative, worry no further!

    As a scientist I really appreciate your evidence-based approach. It’s so good, when we are surrounded by so many fad diets to have a rational voice.

  34. Kay says

    I have been gluten free for 3 years now, but still finding myself with the same symptoms I thought gluten was giving me. I am now believing that being gluten free is no longer helping my problems. Upon now figuring this out, I have decided that I should go back on gluten and see how it goes, but I was wondering how long it would take my body to adjust back to having gluten again? Will I be sick for a while, while going back on gluten? If so, for how long? This is the first article that I have found to be very helpful, thank you. I would really appreciate it if you could reply ASAP. Thank you!

    • says

      Hey Kay, good question. It’s great you’re willing to be so skeptical about your ideas too!

      If gluten isn’t causing problems, you probably won’t have any problems adding it back to your diet. Sometimes if people eat more fiber they get a little gas, but most of the time they’re fine. I would try it with a little bit of a gluten containing food you enjoy and pace yourself.

      Let me know if I can help in any other way.

      • Kay says

        Thank you for your help, I really appreciate it! I’ve been debating this for a while now and I believe that I have let my anxiety get the best of me when bringing this topic up, I believe that is what has been holding me back from giving it a try. This article has really helped me make my decision. Again thank you for your help!

        • says

          Hey Kay, always glad to help. Writing this article actually helped qualm my anxiety too, so I’m thrilled you benefited too. Let me know if you ever have any other questions.

          - Armi

  35. Andrew says

    I’m somewhat doubtful this was placebo effect, as I was sure it would not work. After my last boxing match I had my nose severely beaten in. Nothing structural, but the inflammation was driving me crazy. After listening to a Joe Rogan podcast I decided to give Gluten Free a go. Within days I could breath through my nose, and my neck was so much better. After a few weeks, I thought I’d be fine and starting eaten Gluten again, and felt noticeably worse (particularly post meals). It could be possible I just deal with carbs poorly, given I was a child hood fatty, but I honestly feel better without Gluten.

    • says

      Hey Andrew, interesting story. That’s cool you’re a boxer too.

      It’s certainly possible that you don’t feel good eating gluten, or some of the other compounds in similar foods. There’s not much evidence it causes inflammation, but either way I’m glad you feel better. Thanks for the comment.

  36. TravisRetriever says

    “If you test positive for one of these tests, there’s a 95% probability that you have celiac disease.12,16…

    …About 0.7-1.2% of the population has celiac disease.9,16-18″

    Actually the probability is technically less than that, given the general prior probability in the second half the quote. Shane explains it better than I can in these videos on Bayesian inference: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dy_LRK2Pkig
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr5Z-6ub_2k
    Good article, otherwise. :)

  37. Molly says

    Hi Armi,
    I am a paediatric oncologist and amateur marathon runner from Australia, and I would like to thank you for the most thorough, respectful, reasoned, sensible, evidence-based article on this emotive subject I’ve read on the internet. Your responses to comments are an absolute delight to read- it’s as if you are troll-resistant and, gasp, actually interested in engaging with your subject matter and audience! I am now going to go back and read all your archives for fun. Cheers!

    • says

      Hey Molly, you completely made my day. Thank you so, so much. I’m glad I could help, and please let me know if there’s ever anything I can do to help you with anything else, or if I can answer any of your questions.

      Thanks again, and hope to see you around.

      - Armi

  38. Dawn says

    Maybe you would be surprised by the research in the book by Dr. Susan Blum entitled “The Immune System Recovery Plan”. Her research and treatment indicates that anyone with ANY kind of autoimmune disease should avoid eating gluten, as well as other dietary challenges/restrictions.

    • says

      Hey Dawn, I’m always interested in a new perspective. Do you know which studies she talks about in the book to support that idea? I’d love to take a look. Thanks for the comment.

      - Armi

  39. karen says

    The truth for me is I do feel better with less grains and no gluten. I am not diagnosed by any doc with gluten issues but I do have a painful chronic illness started when I was 25, was not overweight. I always had a bloated belly after eating growing up and through elimation diets I found wheat dairy brown rice and corn to be the offenders. I can eat white rice and gluten free oats but all other grains and beans give me major bloating and contribute to my chronic pain. So it may only be 10% but woe to that 10% finding out after the chronic issues start.. Its very hard if I would have known growing up I could have prevented illness.

    • says

      Hey Karen, thanks for the comment. It’s certainly possible that you’re one of the people who doesn’t tolerate grains as well. There still isn’t much evidence as to whether or not you could have prevented that issue, so don’t get too down. Sometimes people can tolerate it later after a while, too.

    • Angele Do says

      Wow, this sounds a lot like one of my many health issues. It’s somewhere between the acid reflux and the IBS. I eat and my stomach swells to the point of looking 6 months pregnant (at least that many). I experience debilitating pain from many things that occur in my abdomen after that point. Like rolling on the floor screaming kind of pain. It was suggested that I go gluten free because of that. So far in the last month of no gluten or sugar and I limited my dairy 6-7 months ago, the bloating has finally died down. I noticed that I can only really eat certain cheeses and butter in terms of dairy. I wrote my own question at the bottom of this page though.

  40. Heather says

    I’m curious if you’ve attempted eliminating gluten from your diet personally. I have and I can personally say that the benefits of eating gluten free far outweigh all of the negative health effects that gluten causes. You should seriously consider reviewing the online course: https://www.udemy.com/transition-to-living-gluten-free-easily/ and eliminate gluten from your diet for 30 days. Please report back with your results! I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

    • says

      Hey Heather, thanks for the suggestion. I did eliminate gluten from my diet for almost 3 years, and noticed no difference. I’m glad you feel better though.

  41. Courtney says

    I got blood work about a year and half ago because I was experiencing extreme brain fog and fatigue. My Dr. discovered my thyroid was sluggish and recommended an Alkaline Diet. Well, I did my own research and discovered gluten does not do well for the thyroid…so I eliminated it. My energy has gone way up and I no longer experience brain fog except when I overload on carbohydrates (who doesn’t?). I feel like my digestion has improved some and I don’t feel as bloated at all. If I happen to be at a wedding or once in a blue moon (like, once every 3 months) I might eat a piece of cake and it does not affect me immediately sometimes…so weird. I mean, I get tired but that’s pretty normal after something heavy or sugary. I’m pretty sure gluten was the culprit here as far as my thyroid goes, and my energy has improved a lot since eliminating it but every now and then if I consume it and I don’t get a reaction it makes me wonder if I am sensitive or not. Or, whether it really helped my thyroid or not. Any thoughts? Anyone else eliminate gluten for their thyroid? Thankfully I’m going to get blood work done again soon but sometimes I get tired of the gluten free thing even if I’ve already done it for a while….

    • says

      Hey Courtney, great observations.

      There’s little evidence the Alkaline Diet is good for much of anything, but there is a small amount of research showing people with Hashiomoto’s Thyroiditis might benefit from eliminating, or at least limiting, gluten.

      The evidence is very preliminary at this point, but there’s enough to suggest a small benefit. I would talk to your doctor about this and see what they think. If you aren’t happy with the answer, you can always get a second opinion.

      Gluten free definitely gets annoying, so I understand why you’re frustrated.

  42. Dan says

    Good article Armi, you present some good analysis and look at the pro’s and con’s but I’m not too fond of the headline. At least you threw in the “probably” suggesting it at least merits some consideration. As someone with a non-celiac autoimmune condition triggered by gluten and other grains It frustrates me to see so much media coverage in the vein of “if you don’t have Celiac disease you don’t need to worry about Gluten, and less than 1% of US population is clinically diagnosed with Celiac”

    Less than 1% of US population has lung cancer too, So I don’t need to worry about smoking unless I have lung cancer? Bring on the Marlboro’s!

    • Armi Legge says

      Thanks Dan, I’m glad you got something out of it. I’ve become more sympathetic to the idea that people with autoimmune conditions may need to avoid gluten, so you may be right.

      I think the title is fair though. There is good evidence that smoking contributes to lung cancer. There isn’t good evidence that gluten causes health problems for most people. I don’t think that’s a fair comparison.

  43. says

    Hey Armi,

    Thanks a ton for the information. I really appreciate the service you provide to your readers, and your depth of knowledge in the subjects you discuss!

    I agree that gluten is often falsely blamed for a lot of health issues, but I think there could be more to the story. Gluten may not be as broadly damaging as everybody thinks, but many people still feel better after removing wheat from their diet. I think to problem may actually be free glutamate, and not gluten, that could be the problem.

    This is all anecdotal, but Dr. Katherine Reid makes a strong case for free glutamate and its impact on human health. Have you seen her TedX talk?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iL4SD5f2toQ

    Free glutamate is VERY high in both cooked wheat and dairy, so maybe there’s a connection.

    Once again – this is all anecdotal, but I thought it might be something you’d like to look into. Thanks again for everything!

    Best,
    Rob

  44. Angele Do says

    My grandmother had Celiac’s disease. I have been diagnosed with bipolar, IBS, Acid Reflux (where I throw up, I don’t have heart burn) and hypothyroidism. I was tested for Celiac’s disease but the test was negative. My doctor told me that I could still be having a strong reaction to gluten (especially since it runs in the family) and that the test for Celiac’s disease isn’t fully accurate. I went gluten free, then grain free and all types of sugar free except a spoonful or two of honey once every two weeks. I was (and always have been) a carbohydrate junkie. I have always been skinny, I’ve never weighed more than 125lbs at 5’6″. The two times I accidentally ingested gluten over the last month, my face became itchy. I’ve noticed that without the carbs and sugar I sleep better, have more energy, and my bipolar feels almost non-existent. I can’t afford the diet I am on, and I am starting to panic. Should I eat something with heavy gluten and risk an allergic reaction to find out if I really am allergic. I ate the stuff for 30 years (as I am 30 now). I have a friend with Celiac that is convinced that I have some type of allergy to the stuff. My blood test said I was not, but the IBS, Acid Reflux, Bipolar and over-all health have been better. I also had the itchy face experience, twice. Do you have any advice as to how I should proceed?

    • Angele Do says

      Well, I didn’t hear back and I was serious about wanting advice. So I decided I would guess and check. I have cut out gluten for 5 weeks, and today I ate a flour tortilla. I think I was fine for a while, but I’m starting to feel really sick. I have that feverish feeling I get before I throw up and I feel like I’m about to lose my food. I ate at Chipotle which is my go to restaurant because I NEVER get sick from there. For my I believe my Dr. and that the test is not always conclusive and I probably am still allergic to gluten, even though I tested negative.

      • Armi Legge says

        Hey Angele, sorry about the delay in responding.

        It’s possible that you are gluten intolerant, but it’s impossible to say with complete certainty. It’s also possible the effects are due to a placebo effect. There isn’t much evidence gluten contributes to bipolar, but just about any food could probably cause some people acid reflux.

        From what you told me, I think it’s more likely gluten isn’t the problem. It’s also very easy to believe that when you have friends who think that’s the case (I’ve been there, too). As for what’s causing your health problems, I can’t say. It could be a number of things like stress, another food, etc.

  45. GMC3MOM says

    In the last year, I saw one of those TV Doctor shows & they were addressing gluten issues. I have a diagnosed autoimmune disorder & many people with the condition praise gluten free diets. So, of course this episode caught my attention.

    The “experts” concluded that the issue has more to do with the wheat that we eat being different than the wheat we ate years ago. They presume that the issue really isn’t gluten b/c they feel that those who have sensitivities or allergies could have eaten gluten a long time ago without any problems. But due to the changes in wheat (due to gmo, fertilizers, etc) & the way we process it from harvesting, to production of flour and even in factory baked breads using a quick rise process… that it has affected the current gluten & that is what we have a problem with. It’s a different gluten today, than it was 50+ years ago.

    What are your thoughts on this?

    And if that was the case, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that if someone got organic wheat processed already, or milled their own organic wheat berries… making bread according to the “old way”… they should in theory be able to eat the gluten bread without a problem? As well as any other product they could make with that flour?

    • Angele Do says

      I heard recently that even organic wheat isn’t wheat from long ago. The wheat from long ago doesn’t exist on our planet anymore. They have cross bread wheat to create wheat with more gluten in it, and they have done this for so long, that the old wheat is extinct. Even non-gmo wheat has been altered just by cross-breeding.

    • Armi Legge says

      Thanks for the comment. As of yet, there’s zero scientific evidence that the gluten from “old grains” are more or less tolerable than the gluten in modern wheat. There’s also no evidence that organic vs non-organic wheat makes a difference.

  46. Sharon Anne says

    I live with severe gluten-sensitivitytoo. For 20 years, it was thought I had Fibromialgia, but then 6 years ago I began to experience stroke-like symptoms and major neurological disturbances… from numbness and tingling to drop foot and trouble with my gate n walking and balance. Memory problems, speech problems, along with major, major migraines – and just the full gamut!!! I have a girlfriend that’s a nurse, and has a son that has Celiac disease, she would drop off articles on Gluten Intolerance and the global neurological damage it can cause, but I was DENIAL for years, because I’d be scoped and blood tested for Celiac already and my collective DOCTORS said I was not Celiac. So I kept on eating and enjoying my gluten laden goodies for 6 long years, until I was in so much pain, I could no longer walk. Oh I also have the auto-Immune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis, which is closely associated to gluten intolerance. Anyway, I finally listened to my friend (out of desperation) and first stopped eating the obvious foods made with gluten, i.e.: Pasta breads, cakes, desserts, pies doughnuts, pizza – you know. I lost 15 lbs in 3 months. My pan was reduced by 50%. Then I learned to read food labels and found wheat was in soy sauce, oatmeal was grown or processed cross-contaminated with wheat, imitation crab has gluten, nearly every canned soup on the market, even ketchup isn’t safe – restaurants are mine fields w/ gluten. Anyway, I lost another 15 lbs in 3 more months (and I was slim to start with, plus I was also n even less pain.) Finally, if I only knew what I knew after 6 months of being Gluten Free, I might have avoided decades of chronic pain and might have not developed RA in the FIRST PLACE, and definitely not all the neurological problems over the last 6 years! Plus saved $$$ of dollars on medical bills on doctors who only believed in Celiac Disease and were oblivious to Gluten Sensitivity. My GP is completely on board with my being Gluten Sensitive NOW, but only because I’m better, but it was just a FAD a LIFESTYLE as he and everyone thinks in the comments here do now, until it happens to YOU or someone close to YOU.After all… Who knew Gluten could possible be dangerous? I know I didn’t! I just now would like for EVERYONE have a better, healthier and happier adult life than I was able to have, all because of not knowing the Dangers of Gluten Sensitivity! P.S. I’ve since learned those severe neurological symptoms,are called Gluten Ataxia attacking the cerebellum SERIOUS STUFF!

    • Armi Legge says

      Hey Sharon, thanks for the comment. It sounds like you may have a negative reaction to gluten, although it’s still hard to say that for sure. It could still be something else. The most important thing is that you’re feeling better, and I’m thrilled to hear it. I just don’t want everyone to feel like they need to give up gluten, as there’s little evidence it’s harmful to most people.

    • Nancy says

      Several years ago, I was having joint pain. Someone mentioned to me that it might have to do with a wheat allergy. I stopped eating wheat and no more joint pain. Amazing difference! My older sister is on full disability with RA and I believe it is also linked to a wheat intolerance but she hasn’t gone off of wheat or been tested. Just something good to know. I can tell a night and day difference in my joint pain when I have accidentally ingested wheat. That is all the testing I need.

      • Armi Legge says

        Hey Nancy, I’m glad you feel better. There’s no reason you need to eat wheat, but I do urge you to consider it *might* not be the cause. It’s good to consider other possibilities too.

  47. says

    So you’re saying that even if you have a wheat allergy, or a gluten intolerance, unless you have celiac you don’t really need a gluten free diet? Have you actually talked to allergists about this? Do you realize there are other conditions besides celiac that respond well to removing gluten? I have eosinophilic esophagitis, and gluten is one of the 6 (really 8) allergens we have to remove to improve our condition. There are also people who have an anaphylactic reaction to wheat — don’t either of these groups count?

    • Armi Legge says

      Hey Jennifer, thanks for the comment. As I said in the article, if you have wheat allergy or gluten intolerance, then it probably is a good idea to avoid wheat. I just cautioned that both of those conditions are still hard to diagnose and many people probably think that have them, when they really don’t. That may not be the case with you, and if you feel better avoiding gluten, then great.

      And yes, I also corresponded with several researchers in writing this article.

  48. Sarah says

    Hi
    Interesting article 6 weeks ago I was diagnosed with rosacea, red cheeks forehead and chin,itchy and dry patches. I already was eating very good and was shocked when the derm told me not to eat pasteurized dairy or wheat. She scoffed at my soaked steel cut oat eating and told me to think paleo. My skin did improve but I am still eating a bagel, a burger bun and a few pancakes weekly. I might opt for buckwheat pancake mix but that is it I am not going to start buying gluten free processed foods. I started researching grains and discover oats are high in phytic acid making them hard to digest.

    • Armi Legge says

      Hey Sarah, glad to hear you’re feeling better. It sounds like you’re taking a balanced approach and only being as restrictive as necessary, which is awesome. I actually love buckwheat pancakes even though I handle gluten without any problems, I highly recommend trying them.

  49. labornvain says

    Your a liar. All anyone has to do to verify that wheat and gluten are toxins is just stop eating them for a few weeks, and then have a big bowl of Kashi’s whole grain cereal. Or whole grain bread for a couple of days.

    Then see how you feel.

    “But…but…but, that’s just cause your body lost its tolerance”, said the “nutritionist”.

    Exactly! But why would anyone want to eat a food your body has to develop a tolerance for.

    Don’t be fooled by anyone on the internet or TV. Just try it your self.

    • julie says

      Have you ever seen a vegetarian return to eating meat? Do you know how sick they feel? By your standards, nobody at all, ever, anywhere should eat meat!

      Weak mind, weak argument, calling people idiots, liars? Puh-leeze!

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  51. Laurie says

    I have been advised by my dermatologist that my acne is caused by both gluten and milk. I was told that rye bread was ok and yogurt was ok. This left me a little confused. Perhaps they were trying to advise against refined flour but ‘gluten’ gets thrown around so much these days that it is mistaken for the same thing?

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  53. says

    Some dogs and cats can actually develop an allergy to fleas.
    He states that because an infant’s skin is thinner than an adult’s
    and can take up to one year for it to thicken enough to efficiently protect a baby from bacteria,
    they are much more susceptible to rashes and breakouts.
    Mild acne usually causes only blackheads and whiteheads.
    In later life there may also be dental problems and in some cases neurological
    disorders too, such as muscle spasms, reduced vision and seizures.
    Allergies can be extremely difficult to pin-point because your pup is
    probably eating lots of different things
    and neither you nor your Vet will be able to point
    out which one is causing the reaction at first glance.

    Although there are four main types of rosacea,
    only one typically affects the face and has an acne-like list of symptoms: Papulopustular Rosacea.

    This include fat cells which would ordinarily give
    your cocker spaniel a beautiful shiny coat, but when they are in excess, the coat
    then becomes greasy – there will be scaling off of excess
    skin (flaking) as well as a foul smell coming from the coat (I met a cocker that had that
    problem and you could clearly smell it on her fur).
    It is caused when the body doesn’t produce enough fatty cells that form the
    skin’s protective barrier. These foods contain dietary fiber which washes down harmful toxins inside
    our body. Please CLICK HERE NOW to read about and quickly get the solution. Eczema- Eczema is a condition that affects roughly 10-15%
    percent of children. Diaper Rash- Diaper rash is a fairly common condition in babies between 4 and 15 months of age.

    This type of infection can cause severe itching, a dry,
    cracked appearance (especially in the prepuce of men who are
    uncut), and a white or yellow discharge. Smoothing on a cream that contains essential nutrients like vitamins A, C and E, as well
    as natural, plant-based emollients like Shea butter, can leave the male organ skin soft, smooth and touchable and may even restore sensation that has
    dulled over years of rough handling. Our body system is made up of a big proportion of water
    for various uses. If dry skin or oily , talk to your doctor about your skin condition and learn how best to clean and protect your skin. Other types of rosacea, like
    Erythematotelangiectatic Rosacea, is far less troublesome
    and usually just causes either redness or dryness.

    An organic keratosis pilaris treatment which makes use
    of easy home remedies has remained an effective treatment for
    the chicken skin disorder. Seborrhea is caused by an over-production of skin cells.

    Fortunately, however, the recent development of scars can be successfully removed the plastic
    programming, skin grafting and laser therapy.

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