Miley Cyrus, the ultra popular nineteen year old singer and actress is the latest celebrity to fall victim to the media for being too healthy and too in-shape. And it's all because she is gluten-free and casein-free. Actually, the real reason is because many media "reporters" are vicious and misinformed. Their lack of concern for the truth and focus on sensationalism damages people like Cyrus, the gluten-free community and our society as a whole.
Here's what went down...
Photos were taken of Miley leaving a pilates studio and looking SUPER fit and healthy. The media began by raving about Miley's figure - how in-shape, fit and toned she looks. It was all "Yay Miley! We love Miley!" This was a win-win for everyone. Miley is famous, so the story sold. People got to see someone they recognize who was succeeding and looking great. Miley received warm and fuzzy publicity.
Then, on Sunday, Miley tweeted a picture on Twitter.com showing her breathing deeply from bag of Carl's Jr. food, with the caption, "I can't eat it. So I'm just gonna smell the $%&* out of it! My mouth is LITERALLY watering."
Ok, back to the story...
The media read the tweet and heard Cha-CHING!!!
Cha-CHING!!! is the sound editors and producers hear in their minds when a sensational opportunity appears - like the chance to continue a previous story by announcing a celebrity may be ANOREXIC based on a Twitter tweet and the fact that she looks great in a dress. The media proceeded to go bonkers running the "Is Miley Cyrus Anorexic??" scoop.
So, Miley responded by tweeting,"For everyone calling me anorexic, I have a gluten and lactose allergy. A gluten-free diet excludes foods containing gluten, a protein found in wheat. It's not about weight -- it's about health. Gluten is crapppp anyway!"
This undoubtedly irritated the media who hate to hear they totally missed the mark.
Miley then told a fan: "Everyone should try no gluten for a week! The change in your skin, physical and mental health is amazing. You won't go back!"
Cha-CHING!!! The media pounced on the chance to CONTINUE the story while slamming the celebrity who corrected them. The media erupted with "Miley Cyrus Is Giving BAD Medical Advice!" headlines.
Finally, the media brought in the Holy Grail of stories, "Can Miley Cyrus' gluten-free diet help you lose weight?" For those readers not in the know, weight loss + slamming a celebrity = Holy Grail of stories.
The latest media stories attributed the gluten-free diet to Miley and made sure to tell everyone out there that NO ONE should remove gluten from their diet unless a doctor diagnosed them with a gluten disorder.
To recap, Miley Cyrus was lauded for looking great, scolded for not eating junk food, vilified for telling people to try out what she has found to really help her health, and then attributed ownership of a diet so she could be bashed again when it was explained that NO, the gluten-free diet can't help you lose weight.
At this point a crucial question that must be answered.
Was the Media's Analysis Correct?
Besides reporting Miley Cyrus looked healthier and toned, the answer is a resounding NO.
Next questions. Why did the media slam Miley for telling someone to try the gluten-free diet and how did the media mess up the facts?
A) The media misunderstands the gluten-free diet,
B) The media erroneously believes doctors understand and are capable of diagnosing and treating gluten disorders, and
C) The media are too eager to tear down people, especially celebrities, who look great and seem to have their act together, for a cheap story that grabs headlines.
Let's walk through these points one at a time...
A) The Media Misunderstands the Gluten-Free Diet.
The problem begins with the way the media misunderstands the word DIET. The media equates diet with weight loss. After all, fad diets are the media's bread and butter.
In reality, your diet is simply what you eat. Whether your diet is nutritious or deficient, helps you lose weight or gain weight depends on what you eat and what you absorb.
The media consistently declares following a gluten-free diet can be bad for you and you should only follow it if you have been diagnosed with a gluten-related medical condition by a doctor. Why do they say this? Because unless a reporter is gluten-free, he or she won't have a clue what gluten-free means and unless the reporter is familiar with the dismal rate of successful diagnosis, he or she won't have a clue that the vast majority of doctors miss gluten-related disorders.
Reporters have little time to put together stories. Today they report on the gluten-free diet. Tomorrow they will report on pet diapers. They have no vested interest in understanding what gluten-free means or how it affects people. So, they regurgitate the common refrain they read on other news vehicles or take bits from what medical professionals tell them without digging deep enough to find the truth.
Tell me if you heard any of these before:
- "Only people who are medically diagnosed by a doctor should follow a gluten free diet."
- "Following a gluten-free diet without a medical diagnosis can be dangerous because the gluten-free diet is low in necessary nutrients.
- "Many gluten-free foods contain more sugar, higher fat contents and less fiber." (This is my personal favorite.)
- The gluten-free diet will not help you lose weight.
Newsflash! Millions of people in areas like Southeast Asia and Southern India do not have access to wheat, barley, rye or oats. Therefore, they follow a gluten-free diet...without a medical diagnosis.
So, what kinds of foods are gluten-free? Meats, cheeses, fruits, legumes, nuts, eggs, fish, seafood, rice, corn, vegetables - basically your natural, healthy, nutritious, non-processed foods. No one needs a prescription to eat gluten-free foods. In fact, people eat them every day. No one needs a prescription to avoid foods containing wheat, barley, rye or oats.
The gluten-free diet can be dangerous? The gluten-free diet simply removes gluten (wheat, barley, rye, oats) from the diet. It isn't magic and it doesn't remove anything you absolutely need to survive. What are you missing? How about "breads" made from bleached wheat flour and "fortified" with synthetic vitamins that have enough preservatives and stabilizers pumped into them to allow them to last 13 days so the manufacturer can get them to the wholesaler, to the retailers and finally to customers who want their "bread" to last a week in the cupboard. The truth is REAL wheat bread lasts one day until it gets stale...just like gluten-free breads. The media RARELY differentiates between types of gluten-free diets to explain that eating a diet consisting of mainly PROCESSED gluten-free foods (cookies, muffins, cakes and such) can be dangerous and lead to poor nutrition, but eating a nutritious, balanced gluten-free diet is good for you. The media blames the gluten-free diet, not the public's ignorance when it comes to foods, cooking and nutrition. Almost NONE of us are taught how to put together a balanced, nutritious diet and that should be the REAL headline.
The media less frequently mentions the REAL reasons you want a medical diagnosis. First, you want a diagnosis because gluten may be causing malabsorption and nutrient deficiencies and a doctor should be in the loop to make sure you receive optimum treatment, including access to a gluten-free savvy dietitian to help you create a nutritious diet to meet your individual needs. Just as important, a doctor will also take you seriously if you have a diagnosis. Finally, if you have celiac disease, but do not realize it because you were never diagnosed, try the gluten-free diet for awhile, but fall off the wagon down the road and start eating gluten again, your outward symptoms may change but your health will be impacted. Think osteoporosis, heart disease, mental disorders and cancers.
And what about weight loss? If gluten is causing your weight gain through inflammation, fluid retention, malabsorption or nutrient deficiencies, then removing the gluten will help you LOSE WEIGHT. Even better, if inflammation from gluten is causing your weight gain, when you remove the gluten you will quickly lose the "fluffy" look in your face, arms and midsection that is impossible to lose through exercise.
B) The Media Believes Doctors Understand and Diagnose Gluten Disorders
The real danger may be NOT following a gluten-free diet. Sad to say, the chances of receiving a proper medical diagnosis for a gluten-related disorder are slim. Celiac disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people, but only about 5% get diagnosed. Reaching that point usually requires years of dogged persistence by the patient, visiting multiple doctors, most of whom never hear of gluten sensitivity and do not understand the nuances of celiac disease.
The patient must be "lucky" enough that if his or her doctor recognizes symptoms or agrees to test after the patient has insisted, that he or she is sick enough to produce enough antibodies to come up positive on a blood test that is inaccurate and not the pass/fail type of test that most doctors think it is.
And what about the person who has undiagnosed non-celiac gluten sensitivity? Although it may affect up to 10% of the population, or over 30 million in the United States, most doctors never even heard of it.
Since symptoms of gluten disorders commonly appear as gastrointestinal or neurological issues, a common misdiagnosis is stress. The next step is psychosomatic, or "it's in your head." Unfortunately, that is a label that sticks and can be used to explain away many conditions. Years may pass and health may worsen dramatically before the correct diagnosis is made, if it ever is.
C) The Media Tears Down People for Cheap Sensational Stories
The Golden Rule of modern media is the story must by SENSATIONAL. That is, it must attract and hold the public's attention so the magazine, TV station or newspaper's salespeople can sell more advertisements. It matters less whether the story is substantiated by ALL the facts and it obviously doesn't matter if a celebrity, a real person, is hurt in the process.
It is unprofessional and it is wrong. And here is a newsflash for the media - PEOPLE WANT THE TRUTH. Give them REAL news and they will buy your magazines, watch your news channel and listen to your radio program.
Focusing on sensationalism and being too lazy to research the truth doesn't help those of us, including Miley Cyrus, who follow a gluten-free diet to be healthy and it certainly doesn't help the millions of undiagnosed people who are relying on misinformed medical professionals who are reading the news and growing in their belief that patients who suggest to them they think they have a gluten disorder are delusional. (Don't think so? Ask an intern at a local hospital what they call people who think they have a gluten disorder. "Gluten maniacs" was the last one I heard.)
So What is REALLY Going on Here?
People, including celebrities, are growing sicker and sicker. They are told to ignore information that can help them, such as the growing evidence that removing gluten from the diet is helping people recover their health. They are bombarded by pharmaceutical advertisements that tell them they have diseases when actually they are suffering from symptoms due to an underlying cause, such as a nutrient deficiency. They are then instructed to ask their doctors for medications to treat these symptoms, which in most cases should be treated by identifying and correcting the cause of the underlying nutrient deficiencies.
Doctors have so little training in nutrition that they are unwittingly practicing "supervised neglect" by diagnosing and managing symptoms instead of the underlying causes. Many are TRYING, but are simply not equipped with the information they need to do their jobs. Bad physicians ignore patients when they try to give them information. The worst ones make fun of them. None of them need to worry about a lawsuit because the standard of care is NOT to diagnose celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. (Sounds cynical, but it's true.)
In fact, no one who is a primary diagnostician (doctor, nurse, nurse practitioner) receives the training necessary to identify nutrient deficiencies.
The media is reporting the WRONG stories and missing the REAL scoop. Millions of people are sick, costing billions of dollars per year in wasted healthcare expenditures on ineffective medical procedures and drugs. The saddest cost is the loss of human potential.
The TRUTH is that a food ingredient, namely gluten, is causing epidemic level illness and the INEXPENSIVE physician education that should be performed is not being implemented. No organization or governmental agency that has enough resources is concerned. No organization that wants to do it has the resources it needs. All the national gluten-free nonprofit organizations are run by a handful of people with small budgets.
Why? There is ZERO profit in treating people with dietary intervention. Healthy patients don't go to the doctor or take medications for years or decades. Healthy patients don't need surgery or medical devices. Healthy patients don't need therapists.
For these reasons, the medical industry, national media and population are failing.
It is terribly FRUSTRATING to those of us who follow a gluten-free diet for our health, to hear the media consistently praise an ineffective medical establishment, ignore documented research and viciously attack people who are RIGHT and trying to help others!
Fortunately, the internet allows us to spread the TRUTH and even helps celebrities fight back against their attackers. It gives us all a forum to voice our opinion and present information - unedited and uncensored by the media.
So keep tweeting, Miley.
Gluten Free Works and the entire gluten-free tribe has your back.
And to you the reader, let's help people get well, look good and stay healthy by spreading the TRUTH about the gluten-free diet through Facebook, Twitter and e-mail so our friends, family, doctors and media have the information they need to help all of us, celebrities and non-celebrities alike.