A patient sent me a response from an “As the Doctor” column hosted by Drs. Oz and Roizen entitled “Don’t buy into gluten phobia by cutting grains”. This response was to a reader’s question who asked: “My family consumes a lot of 100 percent whole-grain wheat products, but I've heard so much about gluten problems that I'm worried we're harming our health. Should we cut back? — Anonymous”
Part of their response was as follows: “Because gluten gets more bad press than Lindsay Lohan, gluten-free foods have become a fad. We're going against the grain and suggesting you keep doing exactly what you're doing.”
My patient was irate and I don’t blame her. She stated that: “Oz and Roizen are showing their ignorance when they did not even ask the gluten concerned person to look at a family history for autoimmune diseases before dismissing the issue. Personally, I think these men are doing a lot of damage and are missing the mark.”
She went on to state: “…the general public does not understand gluten sensitivity and the dangers involved. After reading this little sound bite over their morning coffee and a bagel, people will be less likely to be checked for gluten sensitivity. The financially strapped person will be more likely to disregard the issue since it is easy and cheap to fill up a hungry family's belly with bread than nutritious fruits and vegetables.”
In the authors’ defense they made a brief attempt to define celiac disease and how it affects the small intestine and they did include that “Some experts feel that gluten sensitivity affects far more people than the 1 percent of Americans who know they have celiac disease“. But when listing symptoms associated with a gluten intolerance that their reader should be on the lookout for, all they could come up with was the following: “itchy, blistery rash, having really awful smelling poop or even vague symptoms, like feeling unusually irritable”.
Hmmm. What about:
- Depression, anxiety
- Neurological disorders
- Headaches / Migraines
- Memory Loss
- Unexplained chronic fatigue
- Increased liver enzymes
- Iron-deficiency anemia
- Autoimmune disease
- Craving for gluten
- Diarrhea and/or constipation
- Gas, bloating, abdominal pain
- IBS, colitis
- Frequent canker sores
- Dental problems
- Psoriasis, eczema or unexplained rash
I know it’s a long list but that’s the point isn’t it? My patient was exactly right, Dr Oz and Roizen’s dismissal of gluten-free as a “fad” and “phobia” will certainly prevent many people who had been considering looking into it from doing so. And what a terrible shame that is.
Well, I’m not on Oprah but I am committed to getting the word out. Let’s overcome any negative influence this article may have had by investing some time and effort into enlightening friends, family and co-workers of the TRUTH about gluten.
Please let me know what I can do to assist.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”