Gluten free is not a fad

Letter published in the Guardian Weekly 1-7 August 2014:

Your lightweight article (TGW 18/07 p34) would have been more useful if it distinguished between coeliac disease, diagnosable by a simple blood test, and gluten intolerance, scientifically diagnosable by an elimination diet and challenge. The latter is best done with a supportive and experienced dietitian since there are pitfalls, the most common of which is to fail to eliminate the bread preservative (calcium propionate E282) and synthetic antioxidants (eg BHT E320) from the challenges since these can also affect people and are ubiquitous in UK and USA breads. These additives are uncommon in, for instance, Italy, France and Spain. Naturally-occurring fructans can also be a problem for some.

We have many experiences in our 10,000 member Food Intolerance Network of people who avoided wheat and gluten for years before realising it was, for instance, the bread preservative to which they were reacting.
My personal view, from 15 years in wheat research, is that it may have been the introduction of the semi-dwarfing characteristics by Borlaug of the 1950s Green Revolution that has contributed to the undoubted increase in gluten intolerance, but of course millions did not die of starvation because of this conventional plant breeding cross.

Dr Howard Dengate, Australia

Original articles:  12 July 2014
Backlash has begun against gluten-free dieters - Ellen McCarthy 8 July 2014  Ellen McCarthy 8 July 2014

More information:

Irritable bowel factsheet

Introduction to food intolerance