We’re not in the business of calling anyone liars.
And when it comes to the claim, “Sorry… I can’t eat gluten,” people aren’t lying necessarily.
Rather, one in six who cut gluten out of their diets, are – according to science – rather misguided.
Australian researchers have found that just 16 per cent of people who believe they are sensitive to gluten, actually experience negative effects when they eat it.
In a blind study published last week, researchers gathered individuals who self-reported a gluten sensitivity, and when given wheat or a placebo, the overwhelming majority could not tell the difference.
Of course, this does not at all apply to the one in 70 Australians who live with Coeliac disease, a serious autoimmune disorder which primarily effects the small intestines, and can cause substantial damage to the bowel.
Some sufferers experience symptoms so severe, they can end up in hospital.
But many people are under the impression (thanks to extensive, and mostly bogus, health advice) that gluten makes them feel unwell.
And this might not be entirely in their head. People who believe they have a gluten intolerance might actually be responding to other proteins in particular foods, like barley, rye or oats.
POST CONTINUES BELOW: Not everyone is as gluten free as they say they are…
Bread also has a tendency to make us feel full more quickly, so some researchers suggest that we’re responding to over-indulgence rather than a sensitivity.
The other possibility is that they suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, which causes many of the same symptoms as Coeliac disease.
The University of Newcastle researchers advised that if you have self-diagnosed yourself with a gluten intolerance, go to the doctor, because your symptoms could be indicative of something else entirely.
In light of their findings, the question becomes: Is it really that bad to give up gluten anyway? If it makes you feel better, then what’s the problem?
But the research is clear that adhering to a (non-essential) gluten free diet can have an adverse effect on your overall health.
People who eat gluten free are more likely to be deficient in key nutrients like folate and vitamin B. Further, gluten free alternatives are often times higher in oil and fat. The glycaemic load of these foods is also increased, which long term can put one at risk of diabetes.
On top of poor health outcomes, gluten free products on average cost five to six times more than their equivalents.
But in the end – what someone puts in their mouth is their choice.
And the more people who think they’re gluten intolerant, the more cake for you.
You can listen to the full episode of Mamamia Out Loud, here.