As common at they are, gluten allergies and elimination diets are still, many times, viewed as fringe alternative health practices and often don't receive the mainstream validation they deserve. When some estimates show that nearly 1 in 30 people suffer at the hands of gluten, one would think the intolerance to this protein would finally gain more acceptance in mainstream medicine and media. One man, doctor and author Mark Hyman, is working to do just that.
Hyman, an M.D. in the field of functional medicine, pioneers techniques that aide the chronically-ill in improving their health and quality of life by determining the underlying causes of illness and treating according to those causes, as opposed to much mainstream medicine that focuses on treatments that champion subsistence and reliance on a medication. Doctor Hyman is a blogger for The Huffington Post and in a recent article, cites gluten allergies and Celiac Disease (even latent Celiac) as the cause for many ailments and conditions never previously associated with the grain protein.
The doctor poses a great question: "If you eat cheeseburgers or French fries all the time or drink six sodas a day, you likely know you are shortening your life. But eating a nice dark, crunchy slice of whole wheat bread--how could that be bad for you?" His question sheds light on our modern food paradigm and its associated problems: our understanding of health must start transcending macronutrition, which focuses mainly on the fat and caloric value of food. Instead, we must start placing an emphasis on food allergies and the subsequent adverse reactions they cause. Our modern food supply is saturated with common allergens (nearly all processed foods contain allergens), and they can be triggers for poor health and chronic conditions.
In his article, Gluten: What You Don't Know Might Kill You Dr. Hyman acknowledges a variety of health ailments linked to the protein: osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. There are also many psychiatric conditions and neurological diseases associated, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage), and autism.
Because so many people seem to be afflicted by at least one ailment from this impressive list, it goes without saying that eliminating gluten could potentially improve the health and quality of life for so many people. It also must be said that because Celiac Disease or a gluten intolerance does not require treatment via pharmaceuticals, it will likely not be recognized by many mainstream doctors who are trained to treat disease by means of a pill.