"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."
Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 - 1860)
Here we present you with the evidence of the universal harm of gluten
Gluten: ZERO global
By this I mean a worldwide change to a gluten-free diet.
Is there really enough evidence to demand such a massive changes to everyone's diet, farming practices and food manufacturing?
Growing numbers in the medical profession have come to the conclusion that gluten is a universal toxin.
Gluten! What is the fuss all about?
Is this gluten-free idea just a craze? Is it a fad that will soon pass by? Or is it for real?
The disturbing answer is that gluten is bad for us all. You, me and everybody else should be gluten-free. Furthermore, gluten should be eliminated from the entire human food chain.
These are extraordinary statements to make. However the latest medical research supports this stance. The predictions are that in another generation, gluten will be avoided by all reputable food processing companies.
This truth is difficult for anybody to comprehend. That is because bread and other wheat products have been the foundation of our diet for thousands of years. So, to suddenly find out that our basic food is harmful is almost impossible to believe. Hence, the quote from Arthur Schopenhauer, stating that: "All truth passes through three stages. First it is ridiculed ..."
Rapid changes in understanding
Twenty years ago, hardly anyone even knew the existence of word gluten. Nowadays, most people have heard that gluten is a substance in wheat and some other grains. But most people remain unaware of the harm that gluten could be doing to them. Most people think that gluten-disease happens to someone else. This is dangerous thinking.
I am a pediatric gastroenterologist and run a busy clinic in Christchurch, New Zealand. As part of my medical training, 40 years ago, gluten and celiac disease were considered "fine print" stuff. Hardly anybody was diagnosed with a gluten problem, and in America, any thought of gluten-disease was strenuously denied by the medical community.
However, things have radically and rapidly changed. Research now shows that the intestinal damage of celiac disease occurs in at least one in 100 people and the numbers of celiac-affected people has quadrupled over the last 50 years. Moreover, increasing numbers of physicians have come to the conclusion that gluten is potentially harmful for everyone. Yes that is "everyone", including you and me.
I too have adopted a strict gluten-free diet for the last 5 years, this follows my ongoing research into the serious harmful effects of gluten. I will have ZERO gluten, lifelong.
Professor Alessio Fasano, a leading researcher in celiac disease, is asked in an interview: "Should anyone eat gluten?" He answers that no one can digest gluten and that gluten sensitivity – the gluten syndrome – affects millions and millions. He goes on: "We also now know that 18 million people have a newly discovered immune response called "gluten sensitivity." People with this condition can have up to 100 symptoms, many similar to Celiac Disease. The difference is that Gluten Sensitivity does not involve the immune system attacking the intestinal wall of the patient." http://www.tenderfoodie.com/blog/2011/12/19/interview-w-dr-alessio-fasano-part-1-should-anyone-eat-glute.html
The crucial gluten questions
These are the questions that we need answers for, before we can demand global gluten-free:
- Should we modify our bodies?
- What diseases have been linked to the eating of gluten?
- How big is the gluten burden?
- What is the evidence that shows we are all disturbed by gluten?
- Is the disease burden of gluten big enough to justify a global ban on gluten-foods?
- Is there really enough evidence to demand such a massive change to everyone's diet, farming and manufacturing industry?
- Can our Planet survive without gluten?
- Can we accept the gluten status-quo? (We say "No!")
Should we modify our bodies?
Before we launch into the reasons why gluten is so harmful to our bodies, we first must respond to the idea of "why not modify our immune systems to tolerate gluten, rather than have to avoid gluten?"
Will you modify your body ... or ... modify your food?
There are two schools of thought about celiac disease: 1) Modify the food and avoid gluten (lifelong), or 2) modify the people so that they can tolerate gluten. The default option is do nothing – just leave millions upon millions to suffer unknowingly from the deleterious effects of wheat/gluten.
Modify your body
The first approach is to use drugs and/or vaccines to modify your immune response to gluten. The idea is to force your immune system to react differently to gluten, so you will not get sick.
Prof Bob Anderson (http://www.wehi.edu.au/faculty_members/dr_bob_anderson), a celiac disease researcher in Australia, has set up "The Coeliac Research Fund" (CRF) which he says is the first organisation in the world to actively seek to solve the problem of celiac disease. He believes that to do this, it is just a matter of working out the molecular basis for celiac disease, which will then revolutionize treatment and prevention.
I understand this to mean giving us drugs and vaccines, and making alterations to our immune systems so that we are able to tolerate a potentially toxic food (that is the gluten and other wheat proteins) that without this immune-protection make us sick.
I am totally opposed to such an interventionist research program. This research is centered on the idea of creating commercially successful new pharmacology products. Many patents have already been applied for. Vaccines are already in the early testing phases. The pharmo-commerce machine is already being created.
Should we give drugs and vaccines to smokers? This is like saying that smokers should be given drugs and vaccines to allow then to continue smoking, rather than making it easy for them to quit. And it would be easy to quit smoking if we lived on a tobacco-free planet.
One of the CRF researchers, Dr Jason Tye-Din, wrote in the Coeliac Link magazine (2011): "As to why people with coeliac disease get symptoms is not well understood ... we believe that certain chemicals are released by the body after eating gluten, and these can lead to adverse symptoms."
This is such a vague comment to base the drive to create a vaccine. It is my hypothesis that the main pathway for gluten-harm is through the neurologic pathways.
Or ... modify your food
The other approach is to modify your food. This is the current and only way that people with celiac disease have been able to manage their gluten-sensitivity. This has been the standard approach for the last 60 years.
This has meant eliminating every speck of gluten from our diets, and replacing it with other (more) nourishing foods. The gluten-grains of wheat, rye and barley have to be completely avoided. However, our big problem is that of cross-contamination. In this food-processing-world, wheat and wheat derivative are either purposefully added to foods, or it creeps in by accident. Consequently, this makes it difficult to completely eliminate gluten from our lives.
Thus, if all foods and food-manufacturing activity could be transformed into being gluten-free, the problem would be solved.
Over the last decade, there has been exponential increases in the availability of excellent gluten-free products. It has never been easier to adopt a gluten-free diet. But the cross-contamination problem remains unsolved, and is likely to be getting bigger.
What diseases have been linked to the eating of gluten?
If gluten were only affecting a handful of people, then so what! This issue would not be important.
But if gluten is found to affect the entire population, then gluten needs to be eradicated from the human-food-chain. So the argument for "Gluten: ZERO Global" rests on the calculation of size and degree of gluten/wheat harm to the world population.
The Gluten Syndrome
As stated previously, the gluten-illness-problem is a much bigger problem than just celiac disease. A few years ago I described what is called "The Gluten Syndrome" http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/58338 . This documents the wide range of sickness in children triggered by adverse gluten reactions. At that time, the calculations indicated that about 10% of children currently suffered symptoms from gluten. However, this estimate was on the conservative side, and now looks more likely to be around 20%. Many other gluten-researchers agree with this figure, whilst others say the problem is even bigger. More research is needed to come to a final figure. Gluten sensitivity was an unknown entity 20 years ago, and now it is recognized as a leading cause of sickness and morbidity (see next section for more details).
Gluten is an important trigger of "Auto Immune Disease". There are over 100 different types of autoimmune disease, such as: Ulcerative Colitis, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis and Diabetes. Celiac disease is also classified as an autoimmune disease.
Estimates are that one in four (25%) of the population suffers from one or more auto-immune diseases. However, what proportion of this illness is caused by gluten is not yet known. Although currently it is difficult to quantify the amount of autoimmune disease that is triggered by gluten - the potential prevention of such debilitating diseases is a strong argument to eliminate gluten before you develop any of these disorders. Because once they strike, it is usually too late to get any benefit by going gluten-free.
The Chicago University website says, "any individual who has a related autoimmune disorder, regardless of celiac symptoms, should be tested for celiac disease and if negative the test should be repeated on a periodic basis."
This has been evaluated in detail by Fasano (2006, Systemic Autoimmune Disorders in Celiac Disease: Celiac Disease Comorbidity with Other Autoimmune Diseases. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2006;22(6):674-679). He states:
"the co-morbidity between celiac disease and other autoimmune disorders has been clearly established. Celiac disease is an immune-mediated disorder clinically characterized by a multitude of symptoms and complications". He goes on to suggest that autoimmune disease is more than molecular mimicry. It is likely that the continuous stimulation by non-self antigens (environmental triggers) appears necessary to perpetuate the process.
The ingestion of gluten is of course is one such "continuous stimulation by non-self antigens".
Brain, Nerve and Mental Illness
Frighteningly, evidence is rapidly accumulating that shows gluten can severely affect our brains, nerves and minds. The links between gluten-and-the-brain has been extensively reviewed in Dr Rodney Fords book "Full of it! The shocking truth about gluten" - http://www.drrodneyford.com/shop/e-books/eclinic-guide.html?page=shop.product_details&flypage=flypage.tpl&product_id=30&category_id=6
Disturbingly, many neurological diseases are associated with gluten sensitivity. Also, schizophrenia, and other mental health illness have been shown to be associated with gluten (The gluten connection: The association between schizophrenia and celiac disease. Acta Psychiatr. Scand 2006;113:82-90. Full Text: http://www.bmlab.no/filestore/Forskningsartikler/KalaydijanAEetal.TheglutenconnectionschizophreniaandCD.ActaPsycScand2006.pdf ). In addition, many gluten-symptoms are caused by gluten damaging the autonomic nervous system: "The gluten syndrome: A neurological disease" (www.medical-hypotheses.com...).
So there is ample evidence that gluten can be a troublemaker in the brain both with and without celiac disease. This is now called gluten-sensitivity. Hadjivassiliou (1999) first put it like this: "It remains controversial whether gluten-sensitivity (a state of heightened immunologic responsiveness to ingested gluten) without intestinal involvement should be considered the cause of cerebella degeneration in ataxia of otherwise unknown cause." However, his research over the last decade had made this an established fact (http://www.thelancet.com/journals/laneur/article/PIIS1474-4422(09)70290-X/abstract).
Many others agree, for instance, Hernandez-Lahoz (2011, Rev Neurol. 2011 Sep 1;53(5):287-300. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21796607) wrote a paper "Neurological disorders associated with gluten sensitivity". He concludes: "Gluten sensitivity is a systemic autoimmune disease. Neurological manifestations of gluten sensitivity, with or without enteropathy, are also frequent, their pathogenesis including an immunological attack on the central and peripheral nervous tissue accompanied by neurodegenerative changes.
The clinical manifestations are varied, but the most common syndromes are cerebellar ataxia and peripheral neuropathy. The early detection of cases of gluten sensitivity with neurological manifestations and subsequent treatment with the gluten-free diet could provide remarkable benefits to the patients."
As for the autoimmune disorders, once your nervous system is damaged by gluten, it can be too late to get any relief by going gluten-free. So the only prevention is to eliminate gluten from your diet before you get diseased.
[Note: GreenMedInfo.com has found over 180 disease linkages with wheat in the biomedical literature, all the abstracts of which can be viewed on their page on the subject: http://www.greeenmedinfo.com/toxic-ingredient/wheat]
The Health Burden of Gluten
"There is none so blind as those who will not see" Jeremiah Chapter 5: verse 211
How much illness can be attributed to gluten? Well the answer to this depends on how hard you look for it. You will not be able to answer this question if you are not looking for all the evidence of gluten-harm. It requires an active strategy to diagnose the wide-ranging gluten-associated diseases.
Most Gluten-Harm not Recognized
Currently, most health professional still deny the concept of gluten-harm but without evidence. Celiac disease diagnosis remains locked in a time-warp.
Most gluten-harm is not recognized because most people who are unwell are still eating gluten-based foods. And, to make a gluten-related diagnosis, it requires doing blood tests and/or trialing a strict gluten-free diet, for at least a few months (and maybe for years). Without purposely doing this, you cannot know if you have a gluten-related disease.
There are three big questions to answer:
- What is the evidence that links the eating of gluten to getting sick?
- What is the proportion of our Earth inhabitants that gets sick from gluten?
- What is the level of gluten-harm that would warrant changing the way that the world eats? ... by abandoning gluten grains.
Without compelling answers to these questions, we cannot declare a worldwide-war on gluten.
Throughout the medical world, the more gluten-illness has been looked for, the more it has been found. It is only over the last decade that the search has started in earnest. Predictions are that over a third of the population is already significantly affected by gluten ... and the speculation is that the remainder is at risk both from gluten and other detrimental properties of wheat.
Wheat is consumed world-wide, not because of its health and nutrition qualities, but through tradition and convenience. Wheat is a happenstance grain.
The Gluten Curse
For thousands of years nobody had any idea that gluten-grains could be a cause of illness. For centuries, wheat-gluten had been prepared in Asian cuisine and valued by bakers, without any concept of gluten-harm. Wheat has been a valued crop for ten thousand years, and bread has become one of our staple foods.
60 Years of Gluten-Harm Knowledge
This trust in the healthy nature of wheat was first challenged 60 years ago. It is now an established fact that gluten does make some people sick. This fact (that gluten causes classical celiac disease) was first muted by Prof W Dickie, published in 1953 (http://www.cfmedicine.com/history/topics/coeliac%20disease.htm).
Fifty years ago, celiac disease was thought to be a very rare disease, afflicting 1:5000 people. However, recent epidemiology research has found that about 1:50-100 people are afflicted with celiac disease (that is between 1-2% of the population). In the USA, the famous number of 1:133 of the population affected by celiac disease was presented by Fasano in 2003 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12578508?dopt=Abstract). Since then they and other research groups have noted the steady increase in the prevalence of celiac disease.