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Gluten-free is a big fad! It will soon be replaced by some other diet craze!
Those who call it a fad simply don’t understand what’s going on. This isn’t a chain reaction of people enthusiastically conforming to some fleeting behavioral change. It’s more of a trend based on the mounting realization that wheat is causing more damage to our human bodies than was previously understood.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about how the growing awareness of celiac and non-celiac gluten-intolerance might be actually only be the beginning of a seismic shift away from eating wheat. It was only six years ago that even the most experienced and knowledgeable medical professionals (Peter Green, M.D. included), refused to recommend a gluten-free diet to suffering patients who failed to test positive for celiac on an endocospy. But celiac support groups and many of us who closely interacted with those in the community and their families saw something much different. Mothers who came to my classes might point to “only” one child with celiac, but as we discussed common symptoms, they would, with a budding comprehension, admit to a variety of other symptoms in the family: grandma had died of stomach cancer, aunt has thyroid disease and arthritis, sister has Crohn’s disease, brother has headaches and allergies, older sister has “fuzzy” brain, a cousin has autism. Perhaps those of us diagnosed with celiac are actually the lucky ones because it forced us to stop eating something that is really a danger to all of our bodies – wheat.
Several years ago, I began to research the rise of tobacco consumption, cigarette smoking and lung cancer because I thought it might provide a useful frame of reference for the huge increase in consumption of wheat and the rise of gluten-intolerance. I tracked the rise of cigarette smoking and lung cancer and then, I tracked the eventual realization of the harm it was doing (through published medical studies) and the subsequent push to curtail tobacco use (which the tobacco industry is still trying to fight). I won’t go into every detail here, but suffice it to say that it took more than fifty years for the nudging understanding of the unhealthy effects of cigarette smoke to take hold and grow into smoking bans and warning labels. Interestingly, even the United States military has gone from giving cigarettes to soldiers in their war-time rations during the 1900’s, to considering a tobacco-free military now. (1)
A very brief time line of the push to curtail smoking:
1930: Statistical correlation between cancer and smoking, Cologne, Germany
1938: Dr. Raymond Pearl (Johns Hopkins University) reports smokers do not live as long as non-smokers
1944: American Cancer Society warns of possible ill effects of smoking
1950: Journal of American Medical Association publishes Morton Levin’s study definitively linking smoking to lung cancer
1952: Reader’s Digest publishes “Cancer by the Carton” detailing dangers of smoking
1964: Surgeon General’s Advisory Committee on Smoking and Health reports causal relationship between cigarette smoking and lung cancer
1965: Congress passes Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act requiring surgeon general’s warning on all cigarette packaging
1971: All broadcast advertising of cigarettes banned
1990: Smoking banned on all interstate buses and domestic airline flights lasting six hours or less
1994: First of 22 state lawsuits filed against tobacco companies to recoup millions of dollars from to pay for smokers’ medical bills
1995: FDA begins to regulate tobacco advertising and sales
2002: CDC estimates smoking health and productivity costs reach $150 billion a year
2006: Surgeon General releases The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke. Report says secondhand smoke in any form at any level is harmful to health.
2010: Surgeon General releases 30th Surgeon General’s report on tobacco entitled, How Tobacco Smoke Causes Disease: The Biology and Behavioral Basis for Smoking-Attributable Disease.
2011: FDA reveals new graphic warning labels set to appear on cigarette packs starting in 2012
How soon will it be before we start to see warning labels on packages of Poppin’ Fresh Dough and Oreos?
SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING:
Eating Wheat Can Cause Serious Risks to Your Health
I think it is only a matter of time, and a matter of how much money the lobbyists throw at Congress to keep the warnings at bay. In the mean time, I intend to keep watch.
(1) Report Urges Timeline for Tobacco-free Military, Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service, Washington, July 10, 2009, http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=55085