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Gluten Craze Says More About Our Psychology than Physiology

What's the Latest?

One in three Americans are reportedly considering reducing the amount of gluten in their diet, gluten being an enzyme found in wheat, which has been a staple of the human diet for many thousands of years. Several high-profile cases--such as Novak Djokovic crediting much of his late tennis success to eliminating gluten from his diet--have contributed to the popular belief that something so reliable for so long is perhaps the main contributing cause of a nation's struggle against obesity, indigestion, headaches, joint pain, and fatigue. 

What's the Big Idea?

For a small group of people with an autoimmune disorder called coeliac disease, the aversion to gluten is absolutely necessary. Even for them, however, there are trade offs. Coeliac sufferers receive nutrition counseling about how to live healthily on a gluten-free diet, finding alternate sources for fiber and other key nutrients. For better or worse, the gluten-free diet is likely a fad, based on certain false assumptions--like the belief that what is natural is necessarily better--that seem rooted in our psychology. We are also attracted to celebrity endorsements like Djokovic's and are prone to magical thinking (believing that all our woes come from one identifiable source). 

Read more at New Scientist

Photo credit: Shutterstock

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