A friend called me the other day to ask if she should give up gluten. I asked her to describe the symptoms that led her to believe she should do so. From her symptoms or lack thereof, it did not appear that she was suffering from anything severe and most probably not from anything that could have been caused by gluten. World over, scores of people give up gluten or want to give up gluten. Often, they have been led to believe they should do so by practitioners of the art, nutritionists or others. Gluten, it seems, has become the easy route to ask people to follow your advice.
Accepted science says that only those suffering from Celiac’s disease should worry about gluten. Globally, most countries have less than 1% of the population who suffer from this disease. The only region with higher than average numbers is Western Africa with about 5-6%. People who have Celiac’s disease complain of bloating, nausea and abdominal discomfort. These symptoms could readily occur for a wide variety of causes. You would be forgiven for mistakenly believing that you had the disease when all you had was indigestion caused by poor eating habits. This confusion opens up the possibility for all kinds of advisors qualified or otherwise to claim that you might be gluten intolerant.The truth might be completely different.
In case you still believe you are intolerant, scientists have now invented wheat without gluten. Genetically modified, the grain had it alpha gliadins sliced to remove the gluten from it. The new form of wheat is a blessing for those who are genuinely intolerant. Before this, gluten-free wheat was being made from rice or potato, which did not have nearly the same taste of a freshly baked brioche on a Sunday morning. Remember, this is only for those with Celiacs. For the rest of us, more likely than not, you are entirely okay eating wheat once in a while.