As a child of the 70s I grew up in an era of fad diets and bad science. There has been since, at least, the 1960s a conspiracy mentality in certain circles: There was a sense that big pharma, big agriculture, big chemical, science, medicine and government generally were 'killing us' or making us less healthy or were at least ambivalent.
This mentality has lead to a combination of bad science designed to explain exactly how the conspiracy worked and fad diets/fad medicine designed to overcome the conspiracy and make us all "better". I've been delighted in the last few years, and especially in 2014, to see the conspiracy mentality overturned one peg at a time.
In quick order, before I get to gluten: An extensive study in Australia has shown that homeopathy doesn't work, more evidence has been gathered that most vitamins do nothing (or worse), organic food isn't healthier, there is no evidence that GMOs are dangerous and in many cases they could be better for you and whatever big pharma, or big agriculture, or anyone else is doing it isn't killing us, life expectancy is going up quickly.
Today, it is the gluten free movements turn to fall. About a week ago Jimmy Kimmel did a hilarious piece in which people on gluten free diets tried to explain what gluten is. Today though was more serious io9, Real Clear Science and ASAPScience all took on gluten.
Gastroenterologist Peter Gibson, who did one of the first studies saying that gluten is basically bad for everyone has essentially recanted his testimony.
From Real Clear Science:
"By extension, the study also lent credibility to the meteoric rise of the gluten-free diet. Surveys now show that 30% of Americans would like to eat less gluten, and sales of gluten-free products are estimated to hit $15 billion by 2016 -- that's a 50% jump over 2013's numbers!
But like any meticulous scientist, Gibson wasn't satisfied with his first study. His research turned up no clues to what actually might be causing subjects' adverse reactions to gluten. Moreover, there were many more variables to control! What if some hidden confounder was mucking up the results? He resolved to repeat the trial with a level of rigor lacking in most nutritional research. Subjects would be provided with every single meal for the duration of the trial. Any and all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms would be removed, including lactose (from milk products), certain preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs. And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and fecal matter would be collected. With this new study, Gibson wasn't messing around."
As ASAP science points out in the video below, not only is gluten perfectly safe for just about everyone but gluten free diets may actually be less healthy because gluten free foods tend to contain more fat and sugar.
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