Hamilton Columnist Mocks The Gluten-Free

A Hamilton newspaper columnist is being criticized for insensitive comments he made in a December 30th, 2017 Hamilton Spectator column.

In an article entitled “2017: Silliness about bitcoin, gluten and identity” Paul Benedett writes:

Gluten-free: What I can say scientifically about gluten-free is, “Oh for God’s sake, have a slice of bread!” Once a word only nutritionists knew, gluten has become the toxic waste of food. If gluten killed people, Italy would be populated by two celiacs and a dog. Calm down. Eat some pizza.

CCA President Anne Wraggett submitted the following response:

To the editor,

I would like to respond to Paul Benedetti’s insensitive comments about gluten and celiac disease. While I’m all for having a little fun and not sweating the small stuff, I am one of over 35,000 Canadians diagnosed with celiac disease. It is actually an autoimmune disorder whereby the intestinal lining is destroyed by gluten, a substance found in wheat, rye and barley. The body turns on itself and the resulting damage hinders the absorption of the nutrients required to remain healthy.

Peer-reviewed scientific research has shown that roughly 1% of the population has celiac disease – so over 350,000 Canadians – but over 90% remain undiagnosed or are misdiagnosed. This is because the symptoms are so varying, and can include gastrointestinal issues, anemia, migraines, neurological issues, chronic fatigue, extremely itchy rashes, and more.

Untreated celiac disease can lead to malnutrition, osteoporosis, and some particularly lethal cancers of the gut. Sad to say, gluten does kill people. Many of us can look back in our family histories and recognize those who died from complications of celiac disease before it was discovered after World War II that treatment with a gluten-free diet could restore health.

Would Mr. Benedetti also mock people with lupus? With type 1 diabetes? With thyroid disease? If not, he should extend the same courtesy to those with celiac disease.

Anne Wraggett
President, CCA Board of Directors

About David Fowler

David Fowler is an online marketing consultant specializing in AdWords PPC, SEO, and website updates. He is the webmaster of Kelowna Celiac and was co-chair of the Kelowna 2012 CCA National Conference in Kelowna.