Gluten-Free: Disease, Diet, or Something In Between?
Iíve been reading quite a few articles lately about the new visibility of the gluten-free lifestyle.† There are those who criticize it as just another diet trend Ė like the low-fat craze in the 90ís, or the obsession with Atkins in the early 2000ís.† On the other end of the spectrum, there are those who point to celiac disease, which is certainly proof that living gluten-free is not just a fad.† But what about those in between?
There certainly seems to be a contingent of the American population that is going gluten-free to emulate celebrities or because marketers have convinced them itís the latest, greatest way to get a toned body.† But I worked briefly in a gluten-free bakery, and the stories I heard from those suffering from celiac disease were really amazing.† People whose lives had been completely turned around but cutting out gluten.† They felt better, returned to a healthy body weight, had more energy, in short, they could live a healthy life again.† For them, cutting out gluten was a biological necessity.
But there is a large group of people who are gluten intolerant but do not have celiac disease.† As Karen Ansel explains in the current issue of O Magazine, many people suffer from, ďa condition called nonceliac gluten sensitivity, which causes CD-like symptoms without the autoimmune component.Ē The fact that nonceliac gluten sensitivity has been largely overlooked represents a larger problem in the mainstream American approach to understanding the body.
A friend of mine is gluten intolerant, and she has explained to me that many doctors, because she didnít have celiac, assumed that there was nothing wrong.† That gluten had no negative impact on her body at all, and that her own understanding of what was going on in her body was wrong.† If you canít see it and easily diagnose it, itís not there.† To be sure, we desperately need medical science, and it has done so many truly amazing things to advance public health.† But itís not the end-all.† We need to remember how to trust ourselves and our intuitive knowledge of our bodies.† If we can do this, not only will we understand the validity of gluten sensitivities, we will also give ourselves the foundation to eat in a way that is both healthy and satisfying, and we will deeply internalize the philosophical grounding for the movement to promote organic food.
Doctors, drug companies, and food corporations Ė though initially intending to make positive contributions to the world Ė sometimes engage in practices that make us distrust ourselves and silence our inner wisdom.† So itís up to us to acknowledge and trust in what we know to be beneficial and true for ourselves.