The Myth of Big, Bad Gluten

As many as one in three Americans tries to avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten-free menus, gluten-free labels and gluten-free guests at summer dinners have proliferated.

Some of the anti-glutenists argue that we haven’t eaten wheat for long enough to adapt to it as a species. Agriculture began just 12,000 years ago, not enough time for our bodies, which evolved over millions of years, primarily in Africa, to adjust. According to this theory, we’re intrinsically hunter-gatherers, not bread-eaters. If exposed to gluten, some of us will develop celiac disease or gluten intolerance, or we’ll simply feel lousy.

Most of these assertions, however, are contradicted by significant evidence, and distract us from our actual problem: an immune system that has become overly sensitive.

Sugar: The Bitter Global Cost

by Karen E. Watson

Last March, the World Health Organization issued new guidelines for added sugar in-take, which, soon, will be reflected on food labels worldwide.

Before the end of this year, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) will issue new guidance to Americans on how much sugar we should be consuming daily as part of a healthy diet. As a reflection of those new guidelines, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will mandate that within 2 years, the nutrition facts label on packaged goods carry a percentage daily value (%DV) for total added sugar enclosed in the package. The proposed rule is that added sugar should not “exceed 10 percent” of total calories. The FDA-mandated labeling will reflect that recommendation and try to make the guidelines easier for Americans to understand.

NYT: What is a Healthy Diet?

A Healthy Diet’s Main Ingredients? Best Guesses


First doctor: “This morning for breakfast he requested something called ‘wheat germ, organic honey and tiger’s milk.’”
Second doctor: “Oh, yes. Those are the charmed substances that some years ago were thought to contain life-preserving properties.”
Fans of Woody Allen may recognize that snippet of dialogue from his 1973 comedy, “Sleeper.” The main character, a health-food store owner somehow frozen in 1973, has been thawed out 200 years later. He awakens to a world he can barely fathom, down to the kinds of food now said to constitute a sound diet. Everything that nutrition specialists once said was good for you, or really bad, turned out to be wrong.
First doctor: “You mean there was no deep fat? No steak or cream pies or hot fudge?”
Second doctor: “Those were thought to be unhealthy — precisely the opposite of what we now know to be true.”

Moviegoers laughed. They recognized how they were whipsawed by contradictory expert pronouncements about what they should or should not eat to stay healthy. On this score, not much has changed. How many times have Americans read about a study damning this or that food, only to then hear the revisionist opposite? Avoid eggs, we were told; they clog your arteries. Wait, we then heard, eggs have nutritional value. Coffee can give you cancer. Hold on, coffee can improve brain function. Butter is terrible. Well, not really. Again and again, yesterday’s verity becomes today’s punch line.