Food woo bites the dust

I am not a ‘fan’ of dietary sensationalism.

A can of Mountain Dew made with high fructose corn syrup once a week is not going to kill you.

Megadoses of various vitamins and minerals is not going to ‘cure’ you.

People who demonize or canonize food annoy me.

Funny enough, we have examples of both today, from ‘pop’-news (har har) sources!

Raw milk is not a panacea. Its full of bacteria that make you sick, stupid!

Raw milk causes most illnesses from dairy, study finds

CDC: Raw milk to blame for most dairy-related disease outbreaks

Yes, those are actually anti-food-woo articles in USA TODAY and CBS.

From the CDC:

The rate of outbreaks caused by unpasteurized milk (often called raw milk) and products made from it was 150 times greater than outbreaks linked to pasteurized milk, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study included 121 dairy-related disease outbreaks, which caused 4,413 illnesses, 239 hospitalizations and three deaths. In 60 percent of the outbreaks (73 outbreaks) state health officials determined raw milk products were the cause. Nearly all of the hospitalizations (200 of 239) were in those sickened in the raw milk outbreaks

Hmm. No, I think I get it! You know how back in the olden days, they used to use leeches to bleed the sickness or whatever out of you? Maybe the raw milkers think that enteric bacteria in raw milk make you poop the sickness out. Its just pooping instead of bleeding. I totally get it now.

‘Gluten-free’ is a fad, not a science.
We have a close family friend with Celiac disease. If you do have Celiac disease, gluten is most definitely a demon. If you dont have Celiac disease? ‘Gluten-free’ is just another stupid dietary fad. And while I am sure my family friend appreciates how the ‘gluten-free’ fad has gotten her more options at the grocery store, it pisses me off to hear some dingbat say “OH I CANT HAVE THAT! IM SENSITIVE TO GLUTEN! IT MAKES ME FEEL FAT AND BLOATED OMNOMNOM GLUTEN FREE CUPCAKE LOL ITS HEALTHY!!!” or assholes like Jenny McCarthy declare that a gluten-free diet cured her kid of autism.

Actually, we *know* what happens if you are allergic to gluten. YOU HAVE CELIAC DISEASE. What does going gluten-free do if you dont have Celiac Disease? Nocebo.

Gluten-free diet may be a waste of money for some, new research suggests

Weaning From Gluten May Be Pointless For Many

Gluten-free diets not always necessary, study suggests

From the second link:

They suggest that non-celiac gluten sensitivity may be a perceived sensitivity, and one caused by the nocebo effect of gluten ingestion or wheat. Nocebo effect is a negative placebo effect, as may occur when somebody takes a medication and experiences unpleasant side-effects which are unrelated to the pharmacological action of the drug. The nocebo effect is linked to the individual’s prior expectations of a side effect.

The researchers give examples of patients who strictly abstained from gluten, and believed their gluten-free diets helped reduce their symptoms. However, very few of them had ever undergone a proper diagnosis procedure.

They believe doctors should think about performing open or single-blind gluten challenge tests on those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity – at least until a valid biomarker for non-celiac gluten sensitivity is found.

I learned a new word today!

Comments

  1. #1 Jack
    February 22, 2012

    ‘I learned a new word today!’ Me too! I like it. Nocebo!

    I also didn’t realise that Celiac Disease meant one should be gluton-free either. So that’s two things learnt in one thread! :)

  2. #2 Mu
    February 22, 2012

    A friend of mine was put on a gluten-free diet by her physician, and suffered through it for two years. Until a competent physician simply stated: If you have celiac disease, and stop gluten, you get better fast and drastically. If you stop gluten and nothing changes, you don’t have celiac. My friend spent $20 at the next bakery on the way home.

  3. #3 Eff
    February 22, 2012

    I don’t see a link to the original study about gluten or any details about it. I’m undecided and curious about gluten sensitivity and would like to know more about the science behind it. It’s not surprising that people have superstitious beliefs about food, and it’s certainly not surprising that people in the science world have a knee-jerk reaction and cry woo. But what would be a nice surprise is to hear scientists acknowledge that our metabolic processes are highly complex and not yet fully understood, to have some compassion and understanding for people who are suffering, and most importantly to study these issues and present some facts!

  4. #4 David
    February 22, 2012

    great post. An addition: raw milk can cause listeriosis, a particularly nasty infection.

    One quibble: “People who demonize or canonize food annoy me….”

    I home canonize. Last summer I canonized some peaches, and also made jam.

  5. #5 HalfMooner
    February 22, 2012

    I’m 67, and I grew up mostly in San Diego. All through my childhood, there were stories every year or two about sick or dead babies and kids — and the Alta Dena Dairy. That outfit didn’t pasteurize their products, bragged about it, and charged a premium. They still don’t pasteurize, I believe.

    And when did Pasteur introduced his simple, life-saving process? Wiki says, April 20, 1862.

  6. #6 John C. Welch
    February 22, 2012

    3:

    Scientists and Doctors do all of that all the time. They just don’t come up with enough magical answers for people, so they get ignored.

  7. #7 Eric Lund
    February 22, 2012

    I have a taste for artisanal cheeses, and some of these cheeses (mostly European imports) are made from raw milk. But this is most definitely not health food. I’m not sure whether the cheese preparation process kills some of the bacteria (it probably doesn’t kill all of them, since some cheeses are aged to improve flavor).

    Count me as another reader who learned the term “nocebo” today.

  8. #8 ERV
    February 22, 2012

    Eff: Sorry! Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity: Sense or Sensibility?

    Eric– Some cheese made from raw milk isnt still considered ‘raw’ if it has been aged over 60 days (I guess that is how long it takes the ‘bad’ bacteria to die).

  9. #9 EvilYeti
    February 22, 2012

    Hey S. Abbie,

    Americans consume on average 50-150 pounds of sugar a year (depending on who you ask).

    So that’s a best case estimate of ~1 pound week per person “best case” or ~3 pounds worst case. My guess is the real number is somewhere in the middle.

    Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t a pound of sugar in a can of Mountain Dew. Meaning that most Americans are consuming sugar at a rate that is killing them, clearly and unambiguously. Obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer are all consequences of our collective sugar addiction.

    Have you seen this video yet? It went viral last year.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    Is Dr. Lustig being sensationalist given his claim that refined sugar is toxic? Would be curious to hear your take on this.

  10. #10 notedscholar
    February 22, 2012

    You are quite contemptful of people’s personal experiences! Do you think that people can suffer within themselves problems that science hasn’t yet discovered or classified? I don’t see why not!

    Just so you know, italics, caps, and exclamation marks won’t convince anybody of anything.

    As the late Peter Atkins has shown in his dietary studies, while a low-carb diet is the best for most people, every person is an individual, and not classifiable by canons of nutrition, like those in the DSM.

    (Um, before you say that Atkins died from his diet, please note that it wasn’t because of his diet)

    Best,
    NS

  11. #11 Bill Door
    February 22, 2012

    #3

    But what would be a nice surprise is to hear scientists acknowledge that our metabolic processes are highly complex and not yet fully understood, to have some compassion and understanding for people who are suffering, and most importantly to study these issues and present some facts!

    Try this on for size:
    ‘Scientists don’t acknowledge that our metabolic processes are highly complex and not yet fully understood. I know that our metabolic processes are highly complex and not yet fully understood because scientists tell me so.’
    Sound silly?
    Also, the most compassionate thing a scientists can do is to use his training in the service of the public good, by doing his best to determine the truth or falsity of certain ideas and communicate this to the public. Hand holding, sugar-coating and emotional thinking are not the correct activities for a public intellectual.
    But don’t worry, scientists will, of course, ‘study these issues and present some facts,’ as they’ve always done.

  12. #12 Robert S.
    February 22, 2012

    EvilYeti: “Meaning that most Americans are consuming sugar at a rate that is killing them, clearly and unambiguously.”

    [Citation needed]

  13. #13 EvilYeti
    February 22, 2012

    Watch the video.

    I know its long but its a complex subject and isn’t something can be summarized in a few lines.

  14. #14 onekind
    February 22, 2012

    Wait a second… the thing that’s blowing my mind in that USA Today article is that 39% of outbreaks came from pasteurised milk!

  15. #15 Tristan
    February 22, 2012

    While I regularly eat bread, I’m still not quite willing to give gluten the all clear. Yes, it’s quite clear that it only causes serious problems in people who develop immune responses to it (and not just in the gut – look up ichthyosis herpetiformis and gluten ataxia to see what happens when unlucky individuals develop similar responses in the skin and brain).

    But the underlying etiology is interesting. The reason it causes these reactions is that it happens to be a very good substrate for a class of enzymes called the transglutaminases. A very simplistic description of these guys is that they glue proteins together. In people with particular “unlucky” major histocompatibility complex genotypes, it is the Frankenproteins made from gluten stuck to various self proteins that their immune system recognises – which is why, unlike with other autoimmune diseases, celiac symptoms go away once you stop eating wheat.

    But – and this is a big but – people who don’t develop celiac don’t avoid it because they don’t form these same Frankenproteins – they avoid it because their immune system doesn’t recognise them as foreign. The enzymes involved are part of everyone’s normal biological processes, and it’s pretty clear that more or less everyone forms gluten conjugates to proteins in the lining of the gut – and gluten peptides seem surprisingly adept at migrating across the gut wall.

    The transglutaminases are ubiquitous in the body and involved in all sorts of cellular processes. Therefore, even in people who aren’t predisposed to celiac, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if it was found that gluten was able to subtly mess with the normal operation of particular transglutaminase-dependent pathways. Time (and data) will tell.

  16. #16 nsib
    February 22, 2012

    Is Dr. Lustig being sensationalist given his claim that refined sugar is toxic? Would be curious to hear your take on this.

    Why yes he is. *Anything* is toxic if administered in a sufficient dose.

  17. #17 Robert S.
    February 22, 2012

    EvilYeti: That video is straight out of UCSF’s department of woo (acupuncture, guided imagery, Ayurveda, and “traditional” chinese medicine). Can you find something from a more reputable source?

  18. #18 William Wallace
    February 23, 2012

    A snort of cocaine once a week isn’t going to kill you either. I don’t know anybody who drinks mountain dew that only drinks a can a week.

  19. #19 Ethan Siegel
    February 23, 2012

    “Nocebo” is priceless.

    So the claims that there’s a “spectrum” of gluten disorders has no scientific basis, and either you’ve got (super sucky) Celiac Disease or nothing at all?

    (start rant) Don’t people have enough real problems in their lives that they have better things to do than go around making up fake ones for themselves? (end rant)

  20. #20 Justicar
    February 23, 2012

    A snort of cocaine once a week isn’t going to kill you either. I don’t know anybody who drinks mountain dew that only drinks a can a week.

    Unfortunately for your quack ideas, we have people who die as a consequence of other people snorting cocaine. So, not only can it kill one on the first try, but it can even kill people who didn’t take it. Mountain Dew? Well, one of the worst rumors about it is that it’ll make your doodle shrivel up. No one has died in anything like your pathetic, stupid example.

    .5/10

    Try harder.

  21. #21 Tristan
    February 23, 2012

    Ethan@19: I think that’s a bit harsh. This is an active area of research (tangentially related to my own) and the jury is very much still out. To explain why, I’ll have to go back a few steps. Bear me out.

    First, what happens in celiac disease is actually very similar to what happens in organ rejection after transplant, and comes down to how the immune system distinguishes “self” from “non-self”. It doesn’t do that by looking at whole proteins. Instead, it breaks them down into bits, or peptides, and fishes particular bits for perusal. The things that do the fishing out and displaying are cell surface receptors called the human leucocyte antigens (or HLAs), and there’s a whole host of different ones of which everyone has their own subset. Each one has a range of peptides that it will bind and display, but in any one person there’s a whole host of bits that won’t bind to any of their HLAs – these are basically invisible to the immune system.

    What the immune system is primed to look out for is any peptide that gets displayed that isn’t also displayed in a specialised organ whose role is to display only self peptides. When that happens, the immune cells go “invader! Do not want!” and mount an attack.

    So what happens in organ rejection isn’t primarily an immune attack on proteins in the organ that are different to the host – they could in fact be 100% identical to those in the host, and if the organ has a different set of HLAs, they’ll still be attacked. Why? because those HLAs are displaying different bits of those proteins – bits that would normally be invisible.

    Enter gluten. It has a small fragment in it called gliadin, which is the real culprit in celiac disease. After a slight modification that occurs in the gut, it binds extremely tightly to one particular HLA haplotype, known as DQ2. It’s also a very good substrate for transglutaminases (which make the aforementioned modification, converting a glutamine to a glutamic acid in a process known as deamidation) – and that’s where the trouble starts. See, as well as the deamidation site it has a number of other transglutaminase sites that lie outside the binding region for DQ2. When transglutaminase sticks it via those sites to self proteins, well, then you have a real problem: bits of the proteins that wouldn’t normally bind the HLAs are suddenly stuck to a little tag that does – and so, just like in organ rejection, you get an immune response mounted. Only this immune response goes away when the gliadin does.

    So that’s the very simplified version of how celiac works. But what about people who don’t get celiac? They don’t avoid celiac due to not making gliadin conjugates – they avoid getting celiac by not having the HLA haplotype that binds gliadin

    As far as we know, everyone who eats wheat ends up with gliadin-conjugated proteins. To understand what effects this could have, we have to understand what it is the transglutaminases normally do – and that, unfortunately, is still a pretty fuzzy area. What we do know is that they’re involved in a lot of different things, from simply introducing crosslinks to reinforce the extracellular matrix, to playing substantial (but undefined) roles in growth factor signalling.

    And how could gluten/gliadin screw them up? Well, just keep in mind that every time a gluten fragment gets stuck to a local protein, it binds there at the expense of whatever was supposed to be there. The result could be anything from local reductions in the strength of the extracellular matrix, to disruption of key signalling events. Actually, it’s one of those situations where a grab-bag of vague symptoms might actually make sense.

    But hey, like I said: active research area. Lots more to learn, but gluten ain’t off the hook yet.

  22. #22 scramton
    February 23, 2012

    Even though norovirus is running rampant I have avoided getting it by not eating carbs! Seriously though excellent point that people with celiac disease can be cured by no gluten, my buddy has it and he has discovered that they make gluten free beer.

  23. #23 Ethan Siegel
    February 23, 2012

    Tristan,

    Thanks for the additional information about the science behind celiac disease. There were some things in there that I did not know; I appreciate the information.

    It is one of the areas that, for my new job, I’ve been trying to sort out what is reliable information on the topic vs. what is someone trying to promote a gluten-free diet / gluten-free lifestyle to a subset of people that have no problems tolerating gluten. And because I have a hard time (so does everyone, apparently) deciding where to draw the line as to “is non-celiac gluten sensitivity real?”, it gets messy.

    I’ll keep my ear to the ground; thanks.

  24. #24 ERV
    February 23, 2012

    Ethan– There *might* be something to ‘spectrum gluten sensitivity’, but currently, there is no science backing up those claims. Meanwhile, there is a TON of ‘online information’ about ‘gluten sensitivity’ from The Usual Suspects of Woo.

    There is *no* diagnostic test for ‘spectrum gluten sensitivity’, so anyone saying they have such a sensitivity is not doing that from a science-based-medicine approach.

    Outside of a large, organized cohort of people who think they are ‘gluten sensitive’ (which even if it came up negative, would be received by cries of ‘Well they werent REALLY gluten sensitive! *I* am REALLY gluten sensitive! see response to numerous CFS studies that dont turn out the way patients would like), individual physicians who have patients who are concerned about ‘gluten sensitivity’ could run their own ‘study’– give patients a ‘gluten drink’ that doesnt contain gluten or a ‘gluten drink’ that does contain gluten and see what they do.

    And as to your question– Yes, some people dont have anything else better to do. But I wouldnt say its just with manufactured ‘illnesses’– thats just a kind of manufactured drama, which comes in many forms.

  25. #25 Poodle Stomper
    February 23, 2012

    Actually, we *know* what happens if you are allergic to gluten. YOU HAVE CELIAC DISEASE. What does going gluten-free do if you dont have Celiac Disease? Nocebo.

    Actually, that would still be placebo. If you go gluten-free and don’t have any disorder related to it and simply think you feel better, it’s placebo.

    If on the other hand you still don’t have a gluten-related disease and eat gluten then feel like you are less healthy, that’s nocebo. Nocebo is a negative result, placebo is positive. =P

  26. #26 Ethan Siegel
    February 23, 2012

    ERV @24,

    I wish I had a cut and dry way of dealing with these difficult and controversial topics like Fibromyalgia/CFS, gluten sensitivity, etc. I’m certainly no one to tell people who are living in pain, discomfort, etc., that it’s all in their head, or that they’re just “medical marvels,” but it’s very hard to know how to properly inform people at this stage in the game.

    On the one hand, the placebo effect (in its various manifestations) are really interesting, pain is incredibly subjective, and many things do appear to be psychosomatic. On the other hand, “sensitivity” seems to be a catch-all word for “we can’t find anything wrong with you, so we’re just going to call it this.” Adrenal sensitivity is one that comes to mind, but I digress.

    It’s so hard to find voices that present what’s known, what’s not (yet) known, what’s known to not be it, and what the scams are. Thanks for taking the time to elaborate a bit more on gluten disorders for me.

  27. #27 MarkH
    February 23, 2012

    There actually is a test for gluten sensitivity but it’s unfortunately nonspecific and should be followed up by endoscopic biopsy if there is serious concern for celiac disease. Blunting of villi is pathognomonic. Celiac disease is probably still underdiagnosed compared to other countries like Italy or France where they seem to have been aware of it longer. A researcher here at UMD tested the general population for antibody and followed up with endoscopic biopsy. About 2-3% were antibody positive with about 0.8% with subsequent biopsy-proven disease. Certainly if someone has symptoms it wouldn’t be unreasonable to test for antibody and, if positive, empirically try the diet. But it will only be a fraction of a fraction of folks that will benefit from a diet that’s a real pain in the ass.

  28. #28 techskeptic
    February 23, 2012

    Outside of a large, organized cohort of people who think they are ‘gluten sensitive’ (which even if it came up negative, would be received by cries of ‘Well they werent REALLY gluten sensitive! *I* am REALLY gluten sensitive! see response to numerous CFS studies that dont turn out the way patients would like)

    This is exactly like those other people with nothing better to do than claim that hey EMI senstivity and are afraid of wi-fi hotspots and cell phones.

  29. #29 EvilYeti
    February 23, 2012

    RobertS: the University of California, San Francisco is one the premier scientific medical research facilities in the world.

    Dr. Lustig is a world renowned expert in the field of neuroendocrinology and childhood obesity.

    Here are some of his published articles:

    http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=Robert+H.+Lustig

    No ‘woo’ here.

  30. #30 William Wallace
    February 23, 2012

    So, not only can it kill one on the first try, but it can even kill people who didn’t take it.

    Okay, I’ll bite. Please explain.

  31. #31 EvilYeti
    February 23, 2012

    To the ‘dose makes the poison’ people.

    You are actually making the same point Dr. Lustig is. Fructose packaged with fiber (as it occurs naturally), is not a problem.

    It’s when its extracted, refined and concentrated that it becomes and issue. Our physiology simply did not evolve on a diet of refined sugar and such is ill-equipped to handle it. Hence the toxic side effects.

  32. #32 Subverted
    February 23, 2012

    Some problems I have with your post… Where to begin… well, Ill just go in the order they appeared.

    And while I am sure my family friend appreciates how the ‘gluten-free’ fad has gotten her more options at the grocery store

    Actually, I too am just as hateful and fed up by the gluten-free idiots as you… but for a different reason. The advent of the gluten-free fad lead to “gluten free” appearing on a LOT of labels, it also lead to a lot of misrepresentation as to what is gluten-free and what is not. This makes my life significantly more frustrating and challenging. It has also lead to the FDA attempting to regulate what is labeled gluten free…and failing miserably by determining (by way of ignoring their own safety assessment stating 1ppm-0.4ppm as the level of concern) that up to 20ppm of gluten in a food is an acceptable level. That kind of contamination will have me sick for days, as I have had happen often due to careless family members. Anyway, I am glad you are upset over this too but instead of picking on a very real issue like the FDA’s insanity…you decided to pick on non-celiac people w/ gluten troubles. What gives?

    And that brings me to my next point…

    Actually, we *know* what happens if you are allergic to gluten. YOU HAVE CELIAC DISEASE.

    WRONG. If you are allergic to gluten you likely have a wheat/rye/barley allergy which is a different beast from Celiac Disease which is an auto-immune disorder that involves physical damage to the villi lining the intestine. Please learn to differentiate an auto-immune disorder triggered by a substance from an allergic reaction…its a pretty major difference. Did you even read the wiki article you linked to? It makes this point in the introduction.

    Disclosures: I have Celiac disease(HLA-DQ2 homozygous) and neurologic symptoms related to gluten.

  33. #33 Tristan
    February 23, 2012

    Disclosures: I have Celiac disease(HLA-DQ2 homozygous) and neurologic symptoms related to gluten.

    I’m very sorry to hear that. Seriously – the neurological angle is easily the most scary of the gluten-triggered autoimmunities.

    That said… each of the reported locations of gluten autoimmunities are places where there’s a lot of transglutaminase activity: in the gut, in the brain (there are brain-specific transglutaminases, but nobody’s entirely sure what (or at least all of what) they do yet) and in the skin (where they drive epidermal differentiation and crosslink the cornified envelope).

    Another location where lots of transglutaminase activity is very well established is in the testes and prostate (they’re the enzymes that cause semen to coagulate, and they play a role in the maturation of sperm cells). An autoimmune reaction there would be fairly disastrous – but as far as I know it hasn’t been subjected to any formal study.

  34. #34 Robert S.
    February 24, 2012

    EvilYeti: I’ll grant you that UCSF is one of the premiere medical research universities. Why does that provide any backing to the video. The department that produced the video also does “Integrative” Oncology. Please point to some research showing that Dr. Lustig is correct, not that he is popular, or works at UCSF.

    The first reference in the video (that I could make out) is wrong. And the conclusion Dr. Lustig is not even wrong. “(So) Any hypothesis that attempts to explain the obesity epidemic must explain this as well”. Lustig is shooting for a grand unified theory of obesity. That’s great and all, but remember that the vast majority of grand unifying theories are wrong or worse.

    the correct ref, by the way is Obesity (2006) 14, 1107–1112; doi: 10.1038/oby.2006.126 rather than Kim et al, Obesity 15:1107, 2006. The paper showed that among one practice, over 22 years, among children covered by an HMO, the rate of being overweight (not obese) went up about 4 percent.

    So after seeing this video produced by the department of woo, the first readable reference being wrong, and wrongly interpreted once I found the correct article, I ask. Would you please find another reference?

  35. #35 EvilYeti
    February 24, 2012

    RobertS: Dr. Lustig is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics and not directly affiliated with the Osher center.

    http://chc.ucsf.edu/coast/faculty_lustig.htm

    So your first observation/declaration/slur re: Dr. Lustig is wrong.

    If you are looking for references, why don’t you start reading here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Obesity_in_america

    Probably a little beyond your reading level; but why not give it a shot?

  36. #36 fnxtr
    February 24, 2012

    There are rumblings about making some sugars controlled substances in Canada. I am not kidding: http://montreal.openfile.ca/blog/curator-blog/curated-news/2012/should-consumption-sugar-be-controlled

  37. #37 fnxtr
    February 24, 2012

    Oh. heh-heh. read before linking, fnxtr. That’s you guys, too. :-0

  38. #38 Robert S.
    February 24, 2012

    EvilYeti:Dr. Lustig did not produce, nor distribute the video as far as I am aware. Unless the good doctor transforms under the light of the full moon to become the Osher center. If that is the case, you’ve got me, there was a slur against Dr. Lustig. Of course, it also means Dr Lustig has much, much larger problems. If you thought my showing that the reference was wrong was a slur, well I don’t really know how to respond to that. Finally “not even wrong” refers to the way the claim presented, if taken on face value, seems to invalidate the message of the lecture up to that point.

    You said “most Americans are consuming sugar at a rate that is killing them, clearly and unambiguously”. Was that mild hyperbole? (if so *shrug*, fine I can drop this as there is nothing new to learn) If you believe that to be the case, can you please find a reference other than that single, hour and a half long video. I am honestly interested in this and while I would be surprised I would be glad to have learned something.

  39. #39 EvilYeti
    February 25, 2012

    RobertS; Dr. Lustig produced the video, which was presented by UCTV/the Osher Center and distributed by Google via YouTube.

    Please get you facts straight as I am growing tired of correcting you.

    My comment was directed towards the observation that most Americans are at this point overweight due primarily to over-consumption of refined sugar products. The mild hyperbole, if you want to call it that, is I should have said “adult Americans” as that statistic is only true for the 20 and older crowd. I think for the under crowd 20 the percentage is closer to 40%.

    Anyways, here is the citation:

    http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/overwt.htm

    Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are obese: 33.9% (2007-2008)

    Percent of adults age 20 years and over who are overweight (and not obese): 34.4% (2007-2008)

    Now combine that with the observation that Americans consume on average over 50 pounds of refined sugar per year.

    And as to your slur against integrative medicine, what we are finding is that when treating crazy people (like CFS patients for example), we get better results when we integrate conventional medicine with their personal belief system. This is simply a managed version of the placebo effect.

  40. #40 Robert S.
    February 26, 2012

    You claim “most Americans are at this point overweight due primarily to over-consumption of refined sugar products”.

    I am neither contesting that Americans are more overweight and obese than they have been in the past, or that overweight and obese people make up the majority of the population. I don’t contest that Americans consume 50 pounds of sugar or about 150 kcal per day.

    People eat lots of refined sugar, people are fat. People eat lots of fat, people are fat. People eat lots of salt, people are fat. People eat in larger portion sizes, people are fat. I can go on ad nauseam. Please show me why it is refined sugar, in particular, that is the primary cause.

    You get all upset that I think integrative medicine is a sham, then call CFS patients crazy? Please go fuck yourself sideways with the rusty implement of your choosing.

  41. #41 harold
    February 26, 2012

    The “no gluten” craze is mildly annoying. As far as I can tell, it was started because some tennis player (who was probably developing or had a history of undiagnosed) celiac sprue, went on a no gluten diet and won a major tournament.

    Of course, there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to eat gluten if they don’t want to. Although grain products containing gluten are widely popular, even in very poor societies, substitutes like rice are available.

    There could be a spectrum of gluten sensitivity, but that is usually not how hypersensitivity reactions work. Celiac sprue is very symptomatic but responds rapidly to dietary treatment. However, some other forms of mild sensitivity could hypothetically exist. But it doesn’t make much sense to spend precious research dollars that could be better spent addressing more serious diseases on this topic. If you personally don’t want to eat gluten, don’t. It was perfectly possible to avoid gluten even before the trend became popular. It is very easy now.

    It is truly silly to refer to refined sugars as “toxins”. They do not fit that category at all.

    It is also silly to deny that refined carbohydrates, especially refined sugars, are potentially dangerous to the long term health of some Americans, to the extent of having a definitive effect on public health. Overconsumption of refined carbohydrates is a serious risk factor for obesity and dental caries. There is very good evidence that increased per capita consumption of refined carbohydrates is a major contributor to the current obesity problem.

    Mountain Dew has no known acute toxic effects, despite its freakishly high concentrations of sugar and caffeine, and its bizarre glowing yellowish-green coloration.

  42. #42 EvilYeti
    February 26, 2012

    The “50 pounds a year” average is from the sugar industry. The “150 pounds a year” is from the government.

    And either way, that’s the average. Meaning half the country is consuming more than that, leading to the 60% overweight numbers.

    There are a couple reasons I’m blaming sugar. The simple answer is that its both empty calories (your body doesn’t need refined sugar) and easy to over-consume int its liquid form. It’s easy to consume over a 1,000 excess calories in a day drinking soda or sweetened fruit juices.

    The more complex answer is ‘insulin resistance’, which is described in the video you refuse to watch. Here is a shorter summary which you are going to refuse to read, I’ll assume:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Insulin_resistance#Diet

    And yes, CFS is just misdiagnosed mental illness. That you and others choose to stigmatize mental illness and deny those that suffer from it effective treatment is a disgrace. You (collectively) should be ashamed of yourselves.

  43. #43 Rich
    February 27, 2012

    OMFG you just made my day.

    GF is Coeliac. Nothing makes us rage more than idiot yuppies who “don’t eat gluten because its healthier”. Well nothing except chefs who don’t seem to realise what gluten is and tell us things are ok to eat when they are not.

    On the flip side these idiots HAVE helped to reduce the often hefty price tag on GF items so there is a silver lining there.

  44. #44 Prometheus
    February 28, 2012

    Gluten is a light weight long shelf life easily packaged easily transported food with a 78% protein rating.

    Unfortunately, first world demand drives third world availability.

    Yuppies staring into their navels making up sensitivities as a way to be more interesting in fact has the potential to kill people.

    Raw milk is insane. The only raw milk cheese that kills and or sickens people with frequency is queso fresco. If properly made (not in a garage in Mexicali) queso fresco is boiled salted and acidified.

    Raw goats milk is even more insane because goats eat everything including snails.

  45. #45 Liisa
    February 28, 2012

    I don’t know what the science has to say but I got the blood test done and it said I’m not celiac. However, gluten in larger doses causes barely controllable diarrhoea and severe stomach cramps. I suspect that it’s not related to immunity but rather some digestive issue as I can happily have a slice of bread or a cookie and nothing happens, while if I have a plate of pasta, woe upon me.

    Whatever it is, I’m not a great fan of indigestion so I stick to low gluten diet. Which is basically a gluten free diet with an occasional treat thrown in and without worries about cross contamination.

    I also agree that GF diet is pretty annoying. Not as such, there are excellent GF foods and those who like to cook may happily explore but it’s highly inconvenient. One can’t just go and buy a sandwich if they feel hungry or grab anything that’s served somewhere and I’ve noticed how much it influenced my social life although, as I mentioned, I can have a bit of gluten so I don’t need to worry about cross contamination, if nothing else, or to offend a host by not getting a single bite because I can’t be sure that a bit of something landed on the sliced carrots. But just for the heck of it? No, thanks.

  46. #46 John
    April 23, 2012

    MSN and CBS are your proof that non-Celiac gluten intolerance doesn’t exist? This is as close to “science” as McCarthy herself!

    There’s at least one comprehensive, long-term study that proves increased incidence of all-cause mortality in patients tested negative by biopsy, but positive for antibodies (by definition, only biopsy can diagnose “Celiac,” the end-game of a progressive condition)

    http://www.wjgnet.com/1007-9327/ejournals/1.pdf#page=155

    How about some double-blind, placebo controlled studies? Of course!

    http://www.nature.com/ajg/journal/v106/n3/full/ajg2010487a.html

    And one that really fascinates me: Novel (non-Celiac) Immune Response to Gluten in Schizophrenic Patients

    http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0920996409003855

    Why stop there? The DQA1*05 allele has been implicated in non-Celiac gluten sensitivity:

    Occurrence of Nonceliac Gluten Sensitivity in Patients with Allergic Disease

    http://content.karger.com/ProdukteDB/produkte.asp?Doi=321196

    Just some uh.. food for thought.