It seems half the people I know are going gluten-free. Gluten is the new sugar, no, the new lactose — something you can claim a vague “sensitivity” to and give up, thereafter proclaiming you never felt better. While I know that celiac disease is real and that people actually suffer from it, I’m a little dubious about many of my newly gluten-free friends’ health claims. But I have a prejudice. When I was in fourth grade, the teacher asked us to speculate on what is meant when bread is called “the staff of life.”
I raised my hand. “That you’ll die without it?” The teacher chuckled and called on someone else, but I stand by my contention. Life without bread not only lacks a staff, but a point.
Alan was a health reporter for a time, and brought his deep skepticism to the job. It’s his contention that 99 percent of all self-diagnosed food allergies and sensitivities are b.s., that for every person who goes into anaphylactic shock after eating peanuts or shellfish, there are 99 who claim “allergies” that basically boil down to being a picky eater. If ice cream makes you fart, that does not mean you’re lactose intolerant. (Bloody diarrhea is another matter, and yes, you’re welcome for that observation. I suppose there’s a middle ground where you’re confined to your room until you stop smelling like a dairy that’s been abandoned during a heat wave, but everything’s a spectrum.)
But this gluten thing is sweepin’ the nation. Just a brief scan of the celiac disease entry on Wikipedia makes it sound nearly crippling, and no one in my circle who’s given up gluten can really claim to have had it, but may I digress and gross you out some more? From the wiki:
The diarrhoea characteristic of coeliac disease is pale, voluminous and malodorous.
That’s as opposed to the scant, sweet-smelling diarrhea, I guess. Ha ha.
Crunchy Rod, between posts on economic catastrophe, the Benedict Option and the usual mania, posted a while back that his house has given up gluten and casein (milk protein) and they’re all feeling better. (I only wish this was reflected in his writing.) The post attracted the usual comments, wherein some people claimed that making one change in their diet led to clearer thinking, retraction of an autism diagnosis, etc.
Speaking as one who has always had a cast-iron stomach, who can eat virtually anything with no ill effects whatsoever, who has never even experienced heartburn, whose sum total of bad dietary outcomes boils down to “no matter how good it sounds at 2 a.m., White Castles at closing time are almost never worth the morning-after misery,” it is perhaps hard for me to empathize. If one doesn’t have celiac disease, how can cutting one food from one’s diet make that big a change? Maybe if you replace it with something healthier, more complex carbs or whole grains, I can see it. Otherwise, I’m still skeptical. I note how many people are diagnosed with these conditions by “alternative” doctors, and trash the AMA all you want, but I used to sit next to an alt-medicine crackpot at work, and I formed my own opinions, particularly about iridology.
The U.S. is a far more diverse place than it was when I was a kid. Different ethnicities bring different genes into the mix. I’ve heard it said that Asians can actually smell white people, that we reek like aged Cheddar to noses that don’t mess with milk past the breast-feeding stage. So I won’t rule it out. But can anyone tell me what a mixed-bag-of-European-genes person like me has to gain from giving up her twice-weekly loaf of rustic Italian bread?
The question to the crowd today: Gluten — threat or menace?
One of the trainers at my gym is trying to sell two Final Four tickets. Great seats (he says), all three games, $2,000. Yesterday it was $2,500. I don’t know what this means — the price reduction, that is — but I hear through the grapevine that there are still seats available. Everyone blames The Economy, but if you’re in the market, yo, I can hook you up.
Jeff TMMO posted this to Facebook, and as of five minutes ago, so had two others, so heads up for the hey-martha story of the week and probably the month. The headline alone is a classic: Police charge man with OVI after he crashed motorized bar stool. And there’s a picture!
Brian mentioned Google’s invasion of privacy a few days ago. A too-perfect story along those lines, that we won’t bother to check out further.
Hey, John Rich: Screw you, too. Love, Detroit.
Off to the gym. Times like these require all my strength.