The Gluten(free) Myth – Part 1

I haven’t blogged in a while and a whole bunch of interesting things have been happening. Some funny and some not so much.

  • I’m trying to complete a little study I’ve been doing on myself and for that I’ve been eating more gluten and sugar than ever. Eating pizza and subs and ice cream at will is harder than I thought! Oh well. I suffer so you can smile 😉
  • Folks seems to be pulling my leg plenty with the whole no gluten no sugar thing. I’m talking to you Orange Ice Candy and Sin-A-Mon! 😉
  • We, The Quad, had a think RealFood event during which Arvind & I spoke about sustainable nutrition as a whole and that inspired plenty of folks to starting eating RealFood and go gluten-free.
  • I was at Subway ordering the awesome chicken, bacon, ranch foot long (with extra jalapenos of course) and this dude, who was on his phone, walks up to me and goes “Are you Raj Ganpath? The Quad”?. Great place to meet someone, who I’m eventually going to keep away from that very place! And no I didn’t go “Yes. And why did the guy make me a footlong?! I asked him for a damn salad!”. Always fun when self-experiments go against the grain (or in this case, the opposite).
  • I’ve been working with a bunch of folks helping them get back to eating gluten. Yep, you read that right. And guess what? These folks are happier than when they went off gluten. Who’d have thunk?!
  • And finally, I’ve been experimenting (on myself and some unsuspecting guinea pigs) a way of eating that involves eating dessert (or anything you’d normally call cheat food) everyday or at least 2-4 times a week. Sounds like BS? Wait for it!

But before I get into the practical application of all this, I want to talk about gluten, gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance and gluten love.

I am, of course, not going to go into detail about what gluten is and why it is bad for you, but I am going to address the most important questions…

Will going gluten free help me?

Should I stay away from gluten forever?

If you spend a little time dicking around at pubmed you’ll see that there are reams and reams of peer reviewed published literature talking about gluten and how it is bad for you and gluten intolerance and celiac etc etc. So clearly the argument that gluten is bad for you, is valid.

But if you change some key words and look for studies that look at wheat as a health food, you’ll, again, find reams and reams of peer reviewed published literature talking about how wheat (and other grains) helped (and will help) humanity walk towards a healthier future.

Well, this is typical isn’t it? If you are half way into nutritional research, you’ll notice that pretty much anything has evidence on this side and the other. But if you go past half way, you’ll notice that some of these studies aren’t as well conducted as you think they are. And if you read the entire study, you’ll notice that most of these studies have some major holes. Funnily, this applies to both sides of any issue. Studies that say wheat is awesome and studies that say gluten kills, both have these biases and unfortunately, anyone quoting studies, consciously or subconsciously, cherry picks studies to prove their point. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not calling anyone a fraud. I’m only talking about the human tendency to find what you look for, especially in complicated matters which don’t have a black and white answer (like this issue). It is extremely easy to get carried away.

So then, what is the real deal? What studies should I rely on? What is a myth? Gluten or gluten-free? Will going gluten free help me? Should I stay away from gluten forever?

Answers to this and more in the next article. No need to comment or anything but keep your eyes peeled ‘cos this is going to be good… RealGood!

Adios!

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