Gluten sounds totally disgusting. It is not so far off from, like, “moisten” or “ooze” or “smegma.” So it is no surprise that it chafes, no matter whether you think it does terrible things to your insides (despite not having been diagnosed with celiac disease) or you think that anyone who has a self-assessed gluten problem is a terrible asshole in direct to proportion to how loudly that person proclaims their gluten sensitivity (despite not having been diagnosed with celiac disease).
In this week’s New Yorker, Michael Specter does not attempt to resolve this country’s ongoing gluten crisis so much as survey its hazardous, craggy territory, but the vague evidence that has amassed into nearly corporeal little piles about the relationship between humans and the protein found in the cereal grain that supplies twenty percent of the world’s calories points in a few, complicated directions:
1) The rate of celiac disease — in which gluten triggers a definite immune reaction — is definitely going up, for totally mysterious, probably environmental reasons
2) There is some interesting (and HIGHLY PRELIMINARY) evidence that what some people who suffer from some form of genuine chronic gastrointestinal distress — and who think that eliminating gluten eases their symptoms — are actually having issues with is a bundle of complex carbohydrates called FODMAPs, which are found in foods ranging from apples to milk to garlic (meaning it’s extremely difficult to cut out of your life with a slogan: “I can’t eat foods FODMAPs, it causes gastrointestinal distress” doesn’t sound as tidy “I don’t eat GLUTEN, which is in carbs, because it’s poisoning our brain”)
3) Most of the one-third of adults self-diagnosing that they — and especially, their children — have some form of what has come to be known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity are charlatans and should be stoned, by which I mean fed into a stone mill used to grind wheat into flour
4) Even though industrial bakers have been adding increasing amounts of gluten to dough in order to make it heartier, and this might make it a little bit true that all this gluten is causing some amount of mild discomfort in some people, maybe (because the amount of gluten in wheat itself has definitely not changed over the course of the last hundred years, despite what the anti-GMO latchers-on would like to say about it) but, by the way, most of the gluten-free products are filled with garbage to make up for the lack of gluten, so they might give you diabetes eventually
5) Michael Specter once added this extra gluten, in the form of vital wheat, to his home-baked bread, but does not any longer
So, unless you have celiac disease, eat the heirloom wheat bread with a healthy pat of butter from a grass-fed cow. Unless, of course, you have a dairy allergy, which is definitely a real and true thing.