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This is a question that I frequently get and that many parents of infants struggle with: Is it important for infants to eat gluten, ie bread and hot cereal, early in life?
Even today the official guidelines encourage parents to introduce foods with wheat early to reduce the risk of gluten intolerance. This is what the Swedish guidelines for infants include:
If the infant is given small amounts of gluten while still nursing, the risk that the child will be gluten intolerant is reduced. At no later than six months, and no earlier than four months, you should start giving the infant some gluten-containing foods… For example, you can let the infant have a bite of white bread or crackers or a small spoon of hot cereal or wheat-based formula a couple of times a week… After six months gradually increase the amount.
This assertive advice is unfortunately based only on uncertain statistics from questionnaire studies, i.e. observational studies. Such statistics prove nothing. The guideline-issuing authorities have a troublesome ability to sound certain without enough supporting evidence.
So is the advice above good or bad? Nobody knew before, but now this has finally been tested seriously.
The other week two critical studies were published in the New England Journal of Medicine – the world’s most respected medical science journal. For the first time studies were designed to test whether the advice works. Continue Reading →
Several people have alerted me to the latest episode of the popular American comedy series South Park. This is a satire of the strong gluten free trend in the US and it ends in pure LCHF. Fun to watch!
You can watch the episode for free above – but be advised that it contains some “coarse language” etc.
I received an email from Megan, 24, in Melbourne, Australia. She’s got a fantastic story about what happened when she stopped eating what people said was healthy:
What should you not serve at an obesity conference? A large basket of bread.
Here’s what the bread basket at our table looked like when lunch was finished. It looked about the same at the other tables. Too bad if that trailer load of bread was just thrown away afterwards…
Today’s wheat is not the same wheat that your grandmother ate when she was young. Not even close.
Today’s wheat is greatly genetically modified to grow faster and provide a higher yield of wheat per acre. More food to the starving poor was a blessing, but could there be disadvantages with the modern super wheat?
Could it be bad for our health? Could it, for example, lead to severe digestive issues for many people?
Cardiologist William Davis argued this in his best selling book Wheat Belly. Davis got criticized for exaggerating the scientific support for his theories – which he did. But a lack of good evidence doesn’t mean that a theory must be incorrect.
Do you get depressed from eating the wrong foods? A recent study from Harvard School of Public Health makes this claim:
- The Huffington Post: Inflammation-Linked Diet Associated With Depression in Women
- Harvard School of Public Health: Inflammatory dietary pattern linked to depression among women
As always, this is uncertain and preliminary science that doesn’t prove anything. It’s only statistical correlation from a questionnaire. The relatively small increase in risk may be due to almost anything.
A bad diet (including bread, sugar and margarine) might increase the risk of depression and other brain disorders, but we can’t prove this with a questionnaire-based study.
Italy has lost its taste for pasta, the Wall Street Journal reports. Pasta sales dropped by a whopping 23% in the past decade. The main explanation is said to be that a growing number of people see pasta as a fattening food:
This is not right. As I’ve mentioned before, Julian Bakery has been selling some very obviously fake low-carb bread:
One woman with diabetes got so upset about this blood-sugar-raising bread that she payed for an independent analysis. The result? The nutrition info was not even close, Julian Bakery’s “low-carb” bread contained loads of carbohydrates. A whopping 17 times more than the label implied!
This woman even started a not-for-profit website to spread the truth about the carb content of Julian Bakery’s bread and other low-carb scams.
The result? Julian Bakery is suing her for “defamation and slander”! She was reportedly just served court papers. As she does not have money for an attorney she will have to use free legal aid – a problem that Julian Bakery hardly has.
It’s only slander if it isn’t true. It seems like Julian Bakery is trying to silence a prominent critic of their low-carb scams.
Time for justice
I think these dishonest people deserve some internet justice. If you agree then give them a well-deserved review on Google and the results will show up every time someone googles their name. Their grade is already less-than-stellar at 2.5 stars out of 5, due to assorted customer complaints, but that’s too high I think.
Julian Bakery on Yelp (2/5 rating at the moment)
PS: I recommend this hilarious video (watched almost 500 000 times) about the problem with Julian Bakery’s new high-gluten low-carb bread (their new “low-carb” bread after they were forced to stop selling their earlier version). In addition to that problem there’s of course a gluten problem with the gluten.
Update: Discussion with the person behind Julian Bakery in the comments below.
A growing number of Swedes, including adults, are affected by gluten intolerance. Only a third of individuals with symptoms are diagnosed. And the symptoms may be vague, such as fatigue, GI issues, skin problems and difficulty conceiving.
DN: Gluten Makes a Growing Number of Swedes Sick (Google translated from Swedish)
Why is the number of people affected increasing? Nobody knows for sure. But one reason may be that we’re consuming too much wheat flour, which contains gluten.
In some instances bread may contain even more gluten. For example gluten-rich so called “low-carb bread”, which I strongly discourage consuming. Here’s what a researcher in the area has to say to Swedish paper, DN, about bread with more gluten added:
- This is a terrible thing to do in a country where the problem with gluten is so widespread. I think that we’ll look back at this in a few decades saying “Oh my God, they were insane”, she says.
The uniquely Swedish habit of giving infants grain-based formula may certainly be a major culprit. There are children who drink gluten and nutrient-poor rapidly-digested starch dissolved in water, many times daily. The grain-formula is grossly overrated healthwise. Fortunately my daughter has never needed any.
The most effective way to avoid gluten symptoms is to eat less gluten. Or even better, none at all.
What do you think is behind the ongoing major increase in gluten symptoms? Continue Reading →
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