The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What We Eat – A Review

Alan Levinovitz is an assistant professor of Religious Studies at James Madison University, Virginia.

His book, The Gluten Lie: And Other Myths About What We Eat, “takes on bestselling physicians and dietitians, exposing the myths behind how we come to believe which foods are good and which are bad—and pointing the way to a truly healthful life, free from the anxiety of what we eat.”

Whilst the book was fascinating in describing how easily it is for society to be deluded about food issues, the book adds several misconceptions of its own.

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Rheumatoid arthritis – an autoimmune condition

Autoimmune diseases are a group of sinister diseases where the immune system attacks the body that it was designed to protect.

Rheumatoid arthritis usually affects the smaller joints, such as those in the hands, feet and wrists, although larger joints such as the hips and knees can also be affected. According to the Health Direct website, the cause of rheumatoid arthritis is not known.

You may be surprised about what is known.

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The Nature of Food Allergies

Food allergies have become a major concern with parents, health practitioners and school administrators. However, the estimates of prevalence of allergies varies widely.

A commonly accepted definition is an “adverse immune response that occurs reproducibly on exposure to a given food and is distinct from other adverse responses to food, such as food intolerance, pharmacologic reactions, and toxin-mediated reactions.”

However, most people are not going to make such a fine distinction between food allergy and food intolerance. Non-celiac gluten-sensitivity (NCGS) does not cause an IgE response so with this definition it not classed as a food allergy.

Dairy, in particular, cow’s milk and gluten, wheat and grains are commonly avoided as a result of concerns about food allergies.

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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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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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Worried about whether you should be eating eggs?

The Australian Heart Foundation has the following comment regarding eggs.

Worried about whether you should be eating eggs? They’re really nutritious and it’s fine to have them regularly as part of a healthy diet. Eggs contain good quality protein, 11 vitamins and minerals, and are a source of healthy fats including omega-3 fats.
One egg has about 5 g of fat – but most of this is unsaturated, a fat that you need to be healthy. An egg contains only about 1.5 g of saturated fat and no trans fat.
As part of a healthy balanced diet you can eat up to 6 eggs each week without increasing your risk of heart disease.

However, according to the Physicians’ Health Study, doctors consuming 7 or more eggs per week had a 31% increase in all-cause mortality compared with those consuming less than 1 egg per week. With diabetic physicians, the association was much higher with the increase in mortality doubled.

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