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.” 1
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.
Gluten and wheat is a serious health problem for a small percentage of people, but for the rest (approximately 92% – 95%) avoiding wheat and gluten has detrimental consequences.
Levinovitz quotes Dr Peter Gibson of Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) who claims FODMAP items are a much greater problem. 2
FODMAP is an acronym for Fermentable Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides And Polyols. FODMAP items includes foods such as onion, garlic, beans, bananas, artichoke, wheat, lactose (milk sugar), fruit sugar found in many fruit with high concentrations in apples, pears, pineapples, high-fructose corn syrup, honey and molasses as well as sugar alcohols (polyols) such as sorbitol, mannitol, xylitol and maltitol.
Items allowed on the FODMAP diet include potential problem foods such as hard cheeses (which apparently also includes brie and camembert), butter, meat, poultry, seafood, coconut milk and eggs. These foods have a detrimental impact on our intestinal microflora.
Beneficial foods such mushrooms, fruits, legumes (peas and beans) and cabbage family (broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower) are avoided on a FODMAP diet. A high-carbohydrate, low-fat diet is most beneficial to our intestinal microflora and the FODMAP diet, rather than solving our intestinal microflora issues, intensifies it.
Levinovitz contends that that medical profession’s issues with fats and saturated fats fall into the same misguided category of undeservedly maligned foods. He quotes Aseem Malhotra as an authority. Malhotra is not a credible source of information.
I have written about Malhotra’s shortcomings at The Pioppi Diet.
Levinovitz assertion is that “everything in moderation” is the dietary answer without offering any evidence why this is true and contends that “fake cheese is his one food taboo” – which is understandable.
As Oscar Wilde wrote,
Moderation is a fatal thing. 3
The method of citing references is clumsy and does not easily allow for fact checking.
Moderation is a Fatal Thing
Seventh-day Adventists and Health – Moderation does not work
Taiwanese Buddhist Study – Moderation does not work
What is the problem with wheat and gluten?
The nature of food allergies
Eggs and the benefits of choline
- Levinovitz, A. (2015) The Gluten Lie and other myths about what you eat. Nero.
- Gibson, P. R. & Shepherd, S. J. (2010) Evidence-based dietary management of functional gastrointestinal symptoms: The FODMAP approach. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology. 25 (2), 252–258.
- Wilde, O. (1893) A Woman of No Importance.