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WBB: Give Harvard Health a piece of your mind!

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Posted: 3/16/2013 12:00:00 PM
Edited: 4/30/2022 12:12:04 PM (2)

Originally posted by Dr. Davis on 2013-03-16
on the Wheat Belly Blog, sourced from and currently found at: Infinite Health Blog.
PCM forum Index of WB Blog articles.

Note that this blog post was 9 years old when mirrored on the Inner Circle, so the exhortation is now superannuated. Further, Harvard updated the linked letter in 2022, and the quoted 2013 letter is no longer available. The new page does admit:
For people who do have nonceliac gluten sensitivity, it may be effective to eat a reduced-gluten diet. The majority of people with nonceliac gluten sensitivity don’t need to follow a strict diet, nor worry about hidden gluten.
Well, give them another 9 years, or wait until they recruit new sponsors, whichever comes first.

Give Harvard Health a piece of your mind!

Harvard Health Publications of the Harvard Medical School just published this bit of conventional tripe, written by Holly Strawbridge, Executive Editor of the Harvard Heart Letter:

Going gluten-free just because? Here’s what you need to know

Some choice quotes:

” . . . lately it’s become hip to go gluten-free. Based on little or no evidence other than testimonials in the media, people have been switching to gluten-free diets to lose weight, boost energy, treat autism, or generally feel healthier.”

“If you’re determined to go gluten-free, it’s important to know that it can set you up for some nutritional deficiencies.”

And the closing comments:

“There’s one more thing you might consider doing: keep your dietary choice to yourself. The more than 300,000-plus people in this country with celiac disease have to follow a gluten-free diet, because the tiniest taste of gluten will trigger debilitating gastrointestinal discomfort. It’s time consuming, expensive, and restrictive. ‘It’s a gigantic burden for those who have to follow it,’ says Dr. Leffler.”

Clearly, the amount of research Ms. Strawbridge conducted to write this article likely went no further than a nutrition textbook. “Keep your dietary choice to yourself?” What the heck does that mean? Perhaps Ms. Strawbridge is working to protect those nice grants her institution receives from the likes of Nabisco, Kraft, and General Mills. (By the way, there are 3 million people in the U.S. with celiac, not 300,000–she’s off by only 90%!)

Here is the comment I posted in response:

This article misses many of the essential points that are driving the tidal wave of wheat-rejection. Let me make a few of the most important points:

1) Gluten is just one protein in wheat. There are over 10,000 others.

2) The gliadin protein of wheat exerts opioid effects on the human brain that, via the tetra- and pentapeptide digestates of gliadin, stimulate calorie consumption: 400 more calories per day, every day. The effect is blocked by naloxone/naltrexone, opiate-blocking drugs. (An FDA application is currently pending for such an application of naltrexone.)

3) The gliadin protein has been demonstrated (Fasano et al) to induce increased small intestinal permeability, permitting entry of polypeptide antigens into the bloodstream/lymph, suspected to be the first step in generating autoimmunity. (A serum test for the zonulin protein will be commercially available near-future. Dr. Fasano tells me.)

4) Wheat germ agglutinin, a direct intestinal toxin in animal models, exerts disruptive effects on gastric, small intestinal, and colonic mucosa.

5) Unique forms of alpha amylase inhibitors are suspected to be among the factors responsible for the explosive increase in childhood allergies and asthma.

This all comes to a head in our time because agribusiness and agricultural geneticists have been busy changing the genetics of wheat, e.g., chemical mutagenesis (the purposeful induction of mutations using sodium azide) to create imazamox-resistant wheat (“Clearfield,” patents held by BASF, the world’s largest chemical manufacturer), now grown on nearly 1 million acres in the U.S. The quadrupling of celiac disease, for instance, is largely explained by the enrichment of the Glia-alpha 9 gene in modern wheat, virtually absent from the wheat of 1960. This is just ONE of the thousands of changes introduced into the genome of modern wheat in the cause of increased yield-per acre.

To argue that wheat products are necessary for B vitamins and fiber and to ignore all the other issues that now surround modern wheat is, well, ignorant.

Unfortunately, the readership of this Harvard publication and the patients of physicians like Dr. Leffler will be deprived of real insights into this phenomenon of agribusiness-altered wheat. To call this a ‘fad” is like calling avoidance of glyphosate-resistant and Bt toxin-inoculated corn (both products of genetic modification) a fad—it is obviously not; it is a rejection of the worrisome genetic changes introduced into crops to suit the agenda of agribusiness, while ignoring the health effects on the consumers who eat these products.

People like Ms. Strawbridge help perpetuate the ignorance that prevails among healthcare providers. We should not let her get away with such nonsense—Don’t hold back: Go to their site and post a comment. Let them know what you really think!

D.D. Infinite Health icon