An Open Letter From Your Old Best Friend, Gluten

Photo: Thibaut Marquis

Why does everyone hate me? I used to be the best thing for you. When you went out into wee-hours of the morning and needed a helping hand, I was that heavenly slice of pizza. When you were struggling to get out of bed after a late night, I was the bagel that cured your hangover. I was the perfect dipping tool for your guac. I was the beer that held your hand at all sporting events. It’s been 10,000 years. How have we gotten here my dear friends? And why did we break up?

Some say that I have been harmful to about three million of you. And I will take ownership of that. But, for only hurting roughly one percent of the population, I have gotten a horrible rap. My sentiments go out to the true suffers from celiac disease. I cause you major digestive problems and distress. However, there are many of you with a non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) that think I am a devil. To all those 20 million of you — I want to win you back.

Why do you listen to these so called academics, who hide behind computer screens, which you have never met? When all these years I have been there in your hand, on your plate and in your mouth for centuries.

I’m aware of the traitors. I know your best friend, neurologist and gluten-free headman, David Perlmutter. He told you that I am, “one of the greatest and most under-recognized health threats.” But darling, this simply isn’t true. I have some prolific scientists on my side. Won’t you believe the facts? I am one of the better ones…there are far worse proteins on Earth.

See, you may think that I’m the asshole — the one causing you all these joint pains, intestinal problems, mood difficulties and depression. But you cannot rely on your self-diagnosis. Peter H.R. Green, the Director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, agrees: “This largely self-diagnosed disease…is getting out of hand. We are seeing more and more cases of orthorexia nervosa.”

To simplify, you are convinced that removing me from your life will improve your health.

This probably has to do with Peter Gibson, professor of gastroenterology at Monash University and head of the gastro unit at Alfred Hospital in Melbourne. He led a study that has made millions of you think I’m a hazardous material. While Gibson’s study did create the results you were looking for, they were soon after nullified. You cannot interpret data from such a small study, he even said it himself. So, he went back a second time.

Girl gets caught throwing elbows at gluten @bridgethelene #girlswithgluten

A photo posted by Girls with Gluten (@girlswithgluten) on

Through this study, the results ruled out gluten being the prolific culprit, and found fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols, aka, FODMAPS were the cause of the symptoms present in the first study. There were no biological markers that gluten caused any of these digestive responses. FODMAPS are characterized as a group of carbohydrates that pull water into the intestinal tract, causing many of the symptoms you say I create: abdominal pain, bloating, and diarrhea. Some common foods that are part of the FODMAPS family are apples, mangos, watermelon, ice cream, milk, garlic and onions…these are fruits and dairy, not gluten!

In my post break-up heartache, I called MSG, a fellow foodie friend who has been through a similar situation. She went through decades of vilification. Many of her lovers, such as Chinese food restaurants, have abandoned her. It was people like you who profiled her as one to cause headaches and tiredness. Yet, there is no scientific evidence that MSG causes any of these symptoms. Truly, there is no chemical difference between the glutamate ions in our bodies and the monosodium glutamate (MSG) we eat. I feel for her. It seems like your dietary/relationship issues have come to a forefront.

So here I am, begging my once loyal loved ones to dig deep inside your heart and remember who I was to you. You used to be glutenous for gluten. We have had decades of pleasure together. The world’s obsession over fad diets and weight loss has thrown me under the bus. Food companies are gaining 15 billion dollars in profit by blacklisting my name, yet it is all based on hype and desire. The results aren’t true. I miss you. Come back.

Love Always,