What is the Problem with Wheat and Gluten?

Gluten-free foods is a huge industry. It is estimated that approximately 2% of the US population, that has not been diagnosed with celiac disease, is consuming a gluten-free diet.

The CSIRO reports that, “ as many as 1 in 10 Australian adults, or approximately 1.8 million people, were currently avoiding or limiting their consumption of wheat-based products. Women were more likely to be avoiding wheat than men. The survey also revealed that over half (53%) of those who were avoiding wheat were also avoiding dairy-based foods.”

There is an increasing awareness of the importance of gut flora and its role in health.

People who embark on glute-free diets frequently have significantly impaired health outcomes due to changes in gut bacteria.

At one clinic in Rome, only 30% of people suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) were sensitive to gluten.

At another climic, in Maryland USA, only 6% of those suffering from IBS were affected by gluten.

It is apparent that digestive problems are much more complicated than they first appear.

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Eggs and the Benefits of Choline

According to the Australian Eggs website, "choline is used by the body for metabolic processes such as liver function, normal brain development, nerve function and muscle movement. It’s particularly important during pregnancy to support foetal brain development."

Egg consumption has consistently been shown to be associated with an increase in prostate cancer, so what is the story?.

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What are the Nutritional Benefits of Eggs?

The nutritional benefits of eggs is highlight in the Australian Eggs’ OK Everyday campaign. Just how accurate is the assertion that “eggs aren’t just delicious, they’re incredibly nutritious. There’s a good reason eggs are often referred to as nature’s multivitamin – they’re one of the healthiest foods you can eat”.

Let’s examine some of the claims that are being made.

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Misconceptions of Denis Stewart

Denis Stewart is a herbalist from the Hunter Valley (NSW, Australia). He is an associate professor at University of Newcastle since 2002. He founded the Southern Cross Herbal School in the late 1970s.

He presents a weekly radio show on 2NUR FM, a Newcastle-based radio station, on health topics.

I am concerned about some of his material. I posted Denis a (real) letter and sent an email without receiving a response. I also sent an email to 2NUR FM listing some concerns.

Below is a list of some of the concerns that have not been addressed.

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Eggs are Not OK

Australians’ usual egg consumption is a document prepared by researchers at the CSIRO. The CSIRO is the premier Australian government-funded research organisation.

The conclusion of this document states:

Eggs provide a low cost, convenient source of protein and other key nutrients. Our results [from the Healthy Diet Score survey] suggest their inclusion in the diet is associated with a higher diet quality, in particular higher consumption vegetables and lower consumption of discretionary foods.

This document is a marketing document. It needs a lot of imagination to make such a conclusion from the CSIRO’s published research papers. This conclusion also contradicts a number of other studies that show consuming eggs is detrimental.

I sent an email on 28th October 2017 to the lead author of this document, Dr Gilly Hendrie. Hendrie is also the lead author of a number of journal articles relating to the Healthy Diet Index. A copy of this email can be found at CSIRO Healthy Diet Score and Egg Consumption in Australia

The response will be published when it is received.

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CSIRO Healthy Diet Score and Egg Consumption in Australia

In May 2015, the CSIRO (Australia) Healthy Diet Score survey was launched. This survey describes Australian’s self-reported diets and their compliance with the Australian Dietary Guidelines. As at June 2016, more than 85,000 people have responded.

This survey was used to justify the “Eggs are OK every day” campaign. This is despite the fact that the only measurable health outcome was weight status and despite the fact that there is only a fair correlation between two different self-reported dietary surveys that were performed a week apart.

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CSIRO Low-Carb Diet

The CSIRO Low-Carb Diet and CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet were developed in Australia by the CSIRO.

The CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet plan "is higher in protein, and lower in high Glycemic Index carbohydrates which supports weight loss, especially fat mass whilst helping with appetite control".

The CSIRO Low Carb Diet is "lower in carbohydrate and higher in healthy fats which may improve blood glucose control and possibly a reduction in need for diabetes medication".

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The Pioppi Diet

The Pioppi Diet is a book by the London cardiologist Aseem Malhotra and Donal O’Neill, an Irish film-maker.

Pioppi is a small village on the Tyrrhenian Sea which is located on the west coast of Italy. It is approximately 150 km (90 miles) south of Naples. Ancel and Margaret Keys resided here for over 25 years. Martii Karvonen of Finland and Jerimiah Stamler of the USA are other well-known medical researchers who resided in the village.

Malhotra is a keen high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet advocate and is desperately trying (unsuccessfully) to merge this opinion into a distorted view of the Mediterranean diet.

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Best Diet to Lose Weight – And it is Not Low-Carb

The National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) was established in 1994. It is the largest study into long-term weight loss programs. The principal researchers are Rena Wing (Brown Medical School, Rhode Island) and James Hill (University of Colorado). There are now over 10,000 participants enrolled in the study.

To be eligible to enrol in the study participants must be at least 18 years have lost at least 13.6 kg (30 lbs) of weight and kept it off for at least one year.

According to the researchers “almost nobody is on a low-carbohydrate diet” and they have looked “very hard to locate them. We can't find more than a handful of people who follow the Atkins program in the registry".

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