I wonder if it occurred to the editors of the Wall Street Journal that this juxtaposition of articles was odd:
Exhibit A: People May Not Know They’re Obese Unless a Doctor Tells Them. Apparently, it never even occurred to 37% of fat people surveyed that they were, in fact, fat, until their doctor actually sat them down and said, "Look, buddy, you're fat."
Exhibit B: However, the mere sight of the word "skinny" on a Diet Pepsi can is enough to send Americans to the hospital with an eating disorder.
“It is exactly that kind of thinking that has truly caused the increase in people feeling bad about themselves,” says Grefe.
I have really mixed feelings about American food neuroses. Take Whole Foods, for example. I'm simultaneously so attracted and so repelled. The place is the biggest shrine to pagan crop-worshipping hippie-dipple Gaia-is-our-mother intolerable woo-woo sucker-born-every-minute food neurosis nonsense I have ever seen, but the food is totally great. I also really love those "good for you" fonts they use on the earth-tone, corrugated cardboard label of the organic pomegranate ginger ale bottles. But I don't want ginger ale that opens my heart chakra, which is sealed like Fort Knox, by the way. It ain't opening for no ginger ale and it certainly ain't opening for some crackpot cruelty-free gluten-free raw-fed acai-berry bars, even if they are darned tasty. Which they are.
See what I mean about confused?
Oh, and by the way, this "Gluten free" business? It is nonsense. It is nonsense. I have this on very good authority from my stepfather, Martin L. Greene, MD, Distinguished Clinician of the American Gastroenterological Association. This is his speciality. No one knows more about this than he does. I asked him about this---anything to it?--and this is what he wrote back:
Celiac children were well known to physicians in the first half of the 20th century. It was not until World War II in Europe that the disease was really given a scientific basis. A Dutch pediatrician realized that the celiac children improved during the last two years of WW II in Holland, and then relapsed after the war. He figured out that the disease could have been improved from the absence of wheat during the war, when the children lived on potatoes and whatever else could be obtained. When the Allies reintroduced wheat to Europe after 1945, the children got sick again.
Since then science has unraveled some of the complex chemistry of proteins in grains, and the offending proteins in gluten, from wheat, rye and barley have been identified. Oats were also implicated, but now have been cleared for celiac patients.
When celiac patients are exposed to these proteins, the mucosa of their intestinal tracts has an intense inflammatory reaction, with loss of the lining and surface area of the upper gut, and with it a loss of ability to absorb nutrients. Celiac patients can be very ill, or just mildly so, and some have minimal reactions that only express themselves in later life in obscure ways, such as osteoporosis from long term Vit D malabsorption, or anemia from long term iron malabsorption.
Celiac patients also can have other autoimmune disorders, including an increased incidence of diabetes, irritable bowel symptoms, colitis, etc etc. And many of these disorders have protean and very common symptoms.
Thus it has become "fashionable" for many health-related practitioners to tell their patients or associates that perhaps their symptoms of gas, diarrhea, dyspepsia, thin bones, anemia, etc etc could perhaps be due to gluten sensitivity and that they should try a gluten free diet. The usual story is anecdotal, i.e., they say that the heard of someone who had similar symptoms and got better when they went on a gluten free diet. Most often, the persons involved have not had tests for celiac, which are readily available, and even if they have had them and results are negative, they are encouraged to try the diet.
And of course, industry has responded with "gluten free" products to sell to those persons who trust the internet or their next door neighbor more than their trained physician.
Now a gastroenterologist, scientifically trained, would NEVER tell a person to try a gluten free diet without some very scientific reason to do so. The diet is not simple, and gluten is everywhere in our diets, and it is a very big and complex thing to go on such a diet. But it has indeed become very fashionable for dilettantes, naturopaths, next door neighbors, etc etc to recommend a gluten free diet for whatever may ail you at any point in time. It drives the professionals like myself a bit crazy.
So there are now all those people out there who consider themselves as "gluten sensitive" when the really have no evidence of celiac disease and have no way of scientifically distinguishing themselves from anyone else, except that they say the feel better when they don't eat gluten. And most of them are not on anything resembling a true gluten free diet. We all know the placebo effect, where about 35-40% of persons put on sugar pills get better for whatever problem is being studied, compared with 80% of persons who get better when put on an effective drug in a double-blind controlled trial.
You see what I mean? You're being scammed. You don't need gluten-free food. You probably would do better with a priest or a psychotherapist, really. But it sure is nice to shop at Whole Foods, because everything looks so healthy and appealing and it tastes so good.
And I love the free samples.
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