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‘Deadpool 2’ saves the world from the non-threat of gluten

Who is the REAL villain here?

Wade Wilson is the hero we all deserve AND need. Who else could katana-slice through cynical grocery marketing to deliver unfettered truth to beleaguered consumers?

Sorry I’m late. I was rounding up all the gluten in the world and launching it into space where it can’t not hurt us ever again.

God bless you, Deadpool 2. Unless there really is something to this “wheat sensitivity” after all ….

The Wheat

There are people who are allergic to wheat. Shortly after eating some, they’ll develop swelling, itching, rashes and can even have diarrhea and difficulty breathing. It’s pretty easy to spot, then, but affects less than 1% of the population.

Celiac disease is only a little more common but can be a lot more debilitating. Celiac isn’t an allergy, but a different kind of immune response specifically to gluten, a group of proteins found in grains. Through prolonged exposure, the lining of the small intestine is damaged, impeding the absorption of nutrients and potentially leading to anemia, loss of bone density and cognitive impairment.

The Chaff

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a little dicier. Symptoms aren’t as acute or well-defined, presenting much longer after ingestion and encompassing plenty of common irritations, like fatigue, gas, bloating, headache and general mental “fogginess” — things so common, you’ll probably start feeling them now just by thinking about them.

Which isn’t to say, necessarily, that NCGS doesn’t exist. But vague diagnoses like that (and other things, like fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome) should always be considered carefully. In 2015, a repeat of a 2011 study that showed evidence for NCGS — done by one of the same authors — failed to reproduce those results. A 2016 Columbia study made waves for claiming to identify a biological basis for NCGS, but a meta-analysis from last year, examining 11 total studies together, found very few people actually exhibited the reported symptoms under controlled conditions.


Which means, if nothing else, all that “gluten-free” labeling is scary overkill. Great for the small percentage of people with celiac disease (and maybe NCGS), but useless for everyone else. Fear pushes product, though, and all that marketing has convinced somewhere around 30% of us that we should reduce ALL reduce the amount of gluten in our diets.

Okay, what’s the harm in that? Plenty, if you’re missing out on key nutrients by avoiding whole grain products. Or worse, shifting to foods with higher sugar and saturated fat contents, the overconsumption of which is dangerous for EVERYONE. So even for people without advanced healing factors, gluten is usually nothing to worry about — fourth wall-breaking fad diets be damned.

For more on the history of NCGS research, check out this comprehensive post from Science-Based Medicine. Bread is not dead!


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