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Is Gluten Intolerance a Thing?

Is Gluten Intolerance a Thing?

Have you ever wondered if there is any scientific evidence to confirm that gluten is the root of all stomach evils?

Why did we go from relying on wheat for thousands of years as a reliable source of food to viewing it as poison when we start to suffer stomach disorders?

The GF History

In 2011 a cardiologist called William Davis suggested that a protein found in wheat caused an inflammatory response in the gut of all humans. The protein was a result of alterations to wheat over the years to make it more resistant to disease and easier   He wrote a book Wheat Belly which became a bestseller despite there being no scientific evidence behind it. The Gluten Free diet industy is now worth millions and a lot of people are getting very rich!

The Debunking

Less than 1% of the human population has coeliac disease which is a true gluten allergy.  Those who have it will tell you it’s no picnic, literally!  Gluten intolerance outside of Coeliac disease is mostly self-diagnosed and not rooted in biology.  It is also completely understandable that many of us are led to believe that it is necessary to eliminate all things wheat related (although gluten is in hundreds of foods that don’t contain wheat) as this is a thriving industry….just saying!  The available data shows that many people initially identified as  being non coeliac gluten sensitive are actually only sensitive to misinformation.  I was on that list!

The Placebo Effect

Once we accept that despite everything we read or hear about, there are studies confirming that “there is no evidence that the gluten free diet benefits gastrointestinal stress, immune response or athletic performance.”  It is worth remembering that almost everyone pushing the benefits of this diet are making money from it.

Once you take gluten out of your diet you also reduce your intake of iron and fibre, both of which are essential for good health.  Coeliac sufferers will know about this and address the imbalance they have to endure. Everyone else is left in the dark because it would not be good press to advertise this fact.

Onto the placebo effect.  Many of us will be able to confirm that we felt or feel better after switching to a GF diet and that we told many others about it.  Research into this has established that it had little to do with the removal of gluten and a lot to do with a significant placebo effect.  This alongside healthier choices, more fruit and vegetables etc. can keep us away from wonderful fresh baked bread forever, which is tragic.


I have to admit that before I got stuck into this research I thought FODMAP was a sort of map of foods that you had to avoid!  When you stop laughing get your head around the true meaning ‘fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccarides and polyols.’  Luckily we don’t have to rember that, just know they are difficult to digest short-chain sugars all associated with GI (gastrointestinal) distress and none of them are in gluten.  The point is that when we switch to a GF diet we automatically restrict our intake of FODMAP foods which can cause all the symptoms that IBS is so well known for.

Why do I care about this?

I avoided wheat myself for many years with no understanding as to why, just that it felt necessary to relieve my symptoms.

When you hear something often enough you believe it to be true.

Five years later I changed my work-life balance completely and was miraculously cured. Turned out I was only intolerant to being over-worked!

There are so many people who I know deny themselves the joy of gluten on unfounded grounds.  There is simply no good reason to eliminate it from our diets and the fibre found in gluten dense foods is actually good for our health.  My sister is a coeliac sufferer and I see the struggle she has to eat a healthy well balanced diet.  Consider looking into a low FODMAP diet to get an understanding as to how it helps us as individuals work out what foods we really should be eliminating, if any.  As you now know from my experience, it may be nothing to do with your diet and everything to do with your lifestyle.

There are many references to this blog which I am happy to share if you would like more information on this topic.

About the Author

I have been involved in fitness all my life but never been hugely competitive. Entering the world of fitness instructor, personal trainer and nutrition advisor, I leant how simple it is to stay in shape without becoming a gym fanatic or elite athlete. I am neither, by the way!

So after 17 years of managing the swimming school and taking rowing classes at Newton Abbot Leisure Centre, I decided it was time to do something that would give me a different type of job satisfaction. Offering a service that directly influences someone’s wellbeing, seemed a good choice.

So, I studied the mechanics of exercise versus body shape and began to understand why so many people who have exercise routines that sometimes seem excessive, never see the changes they are hoping for. This led me to I set up Tessfit which tackles this conundrum. It is a real mix and match offering between nutrition and weight management advice, fitness classes and personal training. A combination which is proving to be highly successful for everyone involved.

I now work from home and run my classes and indoor Personal Training sessions at Venture Fitness in Newton Abbot. It is a great balance and not only do I love my work, I also get to spend more time with my family which is invaluable.​.

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