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The Gluten-Free Health Hoax

BEGIN TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Anyway, doing yesterday's Morning Update, it was about a bunch of hoaxes and phony things that are spread around, such as global warming. I went off script at the very end of it, and I mentioned that this gluten business is also a bit of a hoax. I thought by now I would have heard from radical meal people, from radical food people, from the militant foodies. They're all over the place out there, these people that tell you what you should and shouldn't eat.

I wanted to share with you the story that made me give that little ad-lib at the end of the program. It was from the UK Daily Mail: "The Gluten-Free Con -- It's the stars' favorite food fad. But costly wheat-free products just make most people FATTER -- with no health benefits at all." I'll tell you where I first became aware of this. Well, how. I'm trying to decide how to tell this. Okay, it was a Super Bowl party or Masters final round party or some other special occation.

I invite a bunch of people over -- and at these occasions, I lay out a sports bar spread buffet menu in a couple of different spots in the house. I started noticing that people would say, "Well, I need some gluten-free stuff." Why? "Well, I -- I -- I can't eat it. I mean, I'll die if eat wheat and gluten. I can't eat it! I'll get very sick and my face will swell up and I'll make every other guest sick and I might die."

So, without questioning it, I went around and procured all this gluten-free chicken-wing batter and chicken-strip batter and did all this stuff. I had never heard of this gluten, and I wasn't disputing it. I was trying to be a good host. All this time I thought it was a legitimate thing like a peanut allergy or whatever, and now I see this story in the UK Daily Mail about gluten-free being a con. So I read the story. Here it is: "There's one celebrity craze that seems to be taking over the world.

"Whippet-thin stars including Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and Miley Cyrus all talk about their healthy 'wheat-free' lifestyles. With their enviable figures, it's no wonder thousands of women are following their lead. But giving up bread, pizza, pasta and cakes, which all contain gluten -- a gluey protein found in wheat, barley and rye -- is not as easy as they make it seem, especially when you don't have a personal chef to whip you up tasty alternatives.

"So over the past few years, the food industry, seeing a burgeoning gap in the market, have filled it with an ever-expanding range of 'free from' [gluten] products. Walk into any supermarket and you'll find at least one aisle stacked with gluten-free foods -- everything from fusilli pasta to fruity flapjacks. Even sausages, usually bulked out with breadcrumbs, can be bought by people wanting to avoid gluten. Of course, for people with coeliac disease, who are physically intolerant to products..."

(interruption) Celiac?

Well, okay. Celiac. Here it's c-o-e-l-i-a-c. It's pronounced "cel-i-ac"?

(interruption)

Really? Okay. Pardon me, I never heard of it. I heard of "celiac," but I've never seen the word. "Coeliac" is what it looks like to me. "Of course, for people with coeliac disease, who are physically intolerant to products containing wheat, 'free from' options make life a lot easier. But coeliacs can't be the only people buying them. According to the Food Standards Agency," the UK version of the FDA, "only an estimated 1% of the population is classified as coeliacs -- yet this market is growing by 15% every year and is worth £238 million annually.

"So what's the truth behind the [gluten-free] boom? The authors of a recent paper in the British Medical Journal suggest that the surge in gluten-free living has come about because its products are not only sought by coeliacs," but now by the fashionable. "'Obviously, you can do that without avoiding gluten. Selling this myth that gluten is as addictive as heroin or that it’s this terrible poison simply treats people like idiots.'" But that's how I began to hear about it.

Someone said, "Yeah, it's a poison! I can't eat it! I can't have it. I can't. It's poison. It's addictive and so forth, and fattening." Okay. So we ran around and we started to make gluten-free stuff. Out of 30 people, we'd have one who showed up or two that demanded gluten-free, and it started to get a little bigger. I said, "What the hell?" I didn't think anything of it 'cause I take people at their word. Then all of a sudden I run into this story. It's another little health hoax going on for a lot of people -- excluding you celiacs of course (or "coeliacs," as it looks like here).

"What's more, as a coeliac, Ian says," this is a guy in the story, "'I find it strange that people might be following guidelines for a disease they don't have. The prevalence of food intolerances among the general public is criminally over-estimated.'" So now we've got celiacs out there who are offended that other people who are not celiacs are taking up the gluten-free food supply. So we've got an all-out battle taking place in the UK over this stuff, all because Victoria Spice Girl happens to not like it, or Gwyneth Paltrow or whoever. (sigh)

Now, if Jason Collins is gluten-free, that will be another thing.

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH:  Okay.  I looked it up.  The word celiac is a diphthong.  A diphthong is where you pronounce the second letter, so in this case it's c-o-e-l-i-a-c.  Celiac, forget the O.  And that's called a diphthong.  I guess I may be a gluten for punishment. 

BREAK TRANSCRIPT

RUSH: Here's Mike in St. Paul, Minnesota. Hi. It's great to have you on the program. Hello.

CALLER: Hello, Rush. How are you?

RUSH: Very good, sir. Thank you very much.

CALLER: Very good. So I just wanted to follow up on your comment about the gluten-free food market. Uh, you kind of limited it by saying that it was only for people with Celiac Sprue Disease, and my wife actually has that disease. But I'm also aware of gluten-free products because I myself am wheat free! There was a very popular book that has been on the market for a couple years now, and after following the advice of the author, um, I've been looking for gluten-free options when I'm eating and purchasing food.

RUSH: Do you feel better avoiding gluten?

CALLER: Absolutely.

RUSH: You do?

CALLER: I do. Absolutely. I think the biggest benefit that I see is that I'm not as hungry as I used to be. You know, I used to eat a big breakfast, a couple bowls of cereal. I'd go to work and by 11 o'clock I'd be dying for lunch.

RUSH: Wait a minute. What kind of cereal are you having that's gluten-free?

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CALLER: This is like healthy cereal or purportedly to be healthy cereal. So, you know, Special K with strawberries. You know, the whole grain food is what is being promoted.

RUSH: Special K is gluten-free?

CALLER: No, it's not. No, that's what I was eating, so I stopped eating that.

RUSH: Oh, I thought you said you were eating Special K. You're not eating Special K?

CALLER: No, no, no! I am not eating any wheat! I'm avoiding wheat!

RUSH: Well, so, what's the cereal?

CALLER: No. Instead of having cereal in the morning I have an omelet.

RUSH: Oh, instead of cereal. I'm sorry. I thought you said something else.

CALLER: Yes.

RUSH: Okay.

CALLER: So, anyway, I've been doing this since December, and I probably have lost over 20 pounds, and I'm doing the same amount of exercising as I was doing before.

RUSH: Yeah?

CALLER: It really seemed to level off my appetite quite a bit, and, you know, clothes are starting to fit better, and things are progressing.

RUSH: Doesn't that feel great when clothes start to feel better?

CALLER: Absolutely.

RUSH: I mean, it does. When you fasten the waist on the slacks and it's not a tight grip, it's great. I know that feeling well. I've experience it a number of times.

CALLER: Yeah. Yeah. So, anyway, I just wanted to throw that in there, because it's not just the celiac people that are looking for gluten-free options.

RUSH: Oh, I know. That was the point of the story, that the celiacs are one thing but it's become now a health fad. The point of the story is it's like anything else. The story is in the UK Daily Mail, and points out that people for the longest time didn't eat eggs because of cholesterol. Turns out they're very good for you. The point of this story was that if you're going gluten-free, you may be encountering health problems, and it was blaming celebrities for this. (interruption) When did what? (interruption)

Oh, it became cool last week. I saw something on eggs. The egg has been one of the most maligned foods out there that you can possibly imagine. The whole dairy industry was under assault for a while as high cholesterol and all that. But this story said that gluten is addictive. It's like heroin and it makes you hungry. You always want more. They cite pizza as an example. "You can't just eat one slice because the gluten in there like an addictive poison! It just makes you overeat and overeat and overeat until you're full and you burst," and so forth.

Anyway, if you're enjoying it, I have no problem whatsoever. I'm totally hands off. You can eat whatever you want. My problem begins is when you gluten-free people become an army and start demanding nobody else eat it. When you become like the militant vegetarians and start dictating. When you become Science in the Public Interest and start banning coconut oil from popcorn, you are gonna lose me.

I find that see food activists -- and Bloomberg is one, the mayor of New York. You know, if he wants to run around and eat and drink the way he does, fine, but he's trying to force everybody in that city to follow his dictates on this. It's none of his business. But he claims it is because his way will save the city money. How long is it gonna be before we hear a slogan, "Live wheat-free or die"? Live wheat free or die! 

END TRANSCRIPT

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