When the Media come good on food sensitivities

Given my last post was a rant about media – namely Marie Claire – getting it very wrong, in this case on the subject of gluten-free skincare, and that poor articles on food sensitivity have fuelled many other stroppy posts on this blog, it seems only fair to point out that sometimes, writers get it very right too.

The last few weeks have seen really good coverage of some of the most exciting issues in food sensitivity – non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, the microbiome / bacteria, FODMAPs, and all that wheat-related jazz …. although the grumpy part of me can’t help but wish that sub-editors would really put their minds to try to think up some article titles on matters gluten-related other than ‘Against the Grain’, ‘Grain of Truth’ and ‘Gluten for Punishment’ …. How about ‘Cereal Offenders’? Been done? If not, you can have that one on me ….

Anyway. The brilliant US blogger Gluten Dude, who, I admit, earlier in the month – along with some of his followers – upset me somewhat with sceptical and dismissive comments about some incredible (at least to my mind) research into a ‘coeliac friendly’ GM wheat in Italy, came good yet again with an excellent, straightforward, but detailed interview with Dr Peter Gibson (of NCGS / FODMAPs research notoriety / fame). He teased so much good information out of his expert, which demonstrated to me the importance of top notch allergy / free from bloggers in covering stories in a manner which no conventional media outlet possibly could or would.

This from the Economist is a short and readable piece on how food industry is changing with the gluten free boom. And this story from Time on the rise of coeliac in recent history, and the role the microbiome (gut bacteria) may play, is also brief and very interesting. It also covers the latest disappointing results of research into the timing of introduction of gluten into high-risk infants and the benefits of breastfeeding. The ‘failure’ is clear to us, but perhaps in time, the community will come to realise that at least we have ruled out a potentially fruitful avenue of research, and can now perhaps concentrate on others.

From brief to (very) long, but (very) much worth your time. This piece in the New Yorker, out this week, is possibly the best essay I have ever read on the entire gluten-free phenomenon, taking in NCGS, FODMAPs, bread-making and vital wheat gluten, the probable myth of wheat-breeding being to blame for the rise in coeliac disease, the modern Western diets, the microbiome, the understated problem of self-diagnosis and so much more.

If you can’t face reading it all (I would guess it’s at least 5,000 words, probably a bit more), take this devastating extract, which I think summarises perfectly why we’re in such a mess with this:

… there is convincing and repeated evidence that dietary self-diagnoses are almost always wrong, particularly when the diagnosis extends to most of society. We still feel more comfortable relying on anecdotes and intuition than on statistics or data”

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