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Is Our Food Killing Us? A Murder Mystery about Gluten, GMOs, and our Food Supply (Part I)

Written By: A. Coffin

If we were to write a book, a murder mystery of sorts, this one would have it all, and have one of those exciting multi-color covers. After all, death by food is an intriguing method of murder.

This is a story about how gluten affects our lives, about how GMOs influence our lives, and about how 'organic' may not mean what you think it means at all. It’s a story of large villains and small heroes around the world, a story of conspiracy, and redemption. There will be politics, corporations, and money involved, of course. Love is always a factor. It might even be a call to action of sorts, and if you skip to the very the last line of this particular book, it may well say to "buy locally, act globally, and eat carefully." Prepare to jump into the shadowy world of gluten, GMO’s and our food supply.

Chapter 1 – In Which Our Heroine Starts Her Quest

I’m not a doctor. (I don’t even play one on TV). I wasn’t looking for a 'cause.' I began researching gluten, GMOs, organic foods, natural foods, and the like, because the love of my life (LOML) had a problem, and I wanted to solve it.

LOML was extremely ill, and doctors didn’t seem to be helping. He had developed food allergies in his twenties, but nothing really severe. (He attributed it to drinking too much beer in his twenties).

As time went on, something seemed to be making him tremendously unwell. By 2013, it had reached an incredible point, where he was hospitalized for a week. Enter more doctors of every stripe, and they absolutely did the best they could…and found nothing. They poked and prodded and tested, and found nothing. It left us frustrated and no better off than before the weeklong hospital stay. Since that time, he has been in and out of the hospital several times, with the same result, or the lack there of.

Having gone the doctor route, I decided to research on my own, and found the possibility of a gluten allergy, or maybe even celiac disease. The doctors then tested for celiac, and the test came back negative. What the heck?

Celiac and Gluten 'Intolerance' Become Possible Suspects

With celiac disease, your body can’t tolerate gluten in any form, and your body’s autoimmune system can be damaged, as it more or less attacks itself.

But you can be gluten 'intolerant' without having celiac. The word 'intolerant' is in quotations, as this really doesn’t describe the situation. The definition of being 'intolerant' is simply not liking something, such as being intolerant of rap music.

With gluten intolerance, it means that if you eat it, your body can’t take it, can’t process it, can’t have it at all, in any form, and you will likely be wracked with pain. With celiac and gluten intolerance, most of the symptoms are the same, but the body’s immune system can be permanently damaged by celiac disease. To make it more confusing, gluten intolerance isn’t even the same as a wheat allergy.

But the symptoms of both celiac and gluten intolerance are debilitating:

  • Diarrhea and/or constipation
  • Severe abdominal pain
  • Heartburn
  • Bloating
  • Fatigue
  • Brain ‘fog’
  • Anemia
  • Joint pain
  • Rashes
  • Depression and/or anxiety
  • Headaches and migraines

These are some of the more common symptoms. There are more than one hundred possible symptoms of gluten intolerance/celiac disease.

Perhaps those symptoms don’t even sound that bad. But while the evidence isn’t complete, there are studies that link gluten intolerance or celiac disease with other diseases:

  • ADD
  • ADHD
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Autism
  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Epilepsy

In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 diseases associated with gluten. It’s frequently misdiagnosed as one of these other diseases. Experts advise that it’s something to search for if you have any chronic disease.

There is no 'cure' or medication for celiac or gluten intolerance.

The Victim in our Story

How many of us have celiac disease, or gluten intolerance? It’s an interesting question. Estimates given by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness put the numbers for celiac disease at 3 million people. For non-celiac gluten intolerance, they put the number is around 18 million, six times that for celiac.

However, researchers are just beginning to understand non-celiac gluten intolerance. New information is also showing that 83%- 99% of the people who are celiac or gluten intolerant don’t even know it. They just know that they feel horrible, and they are frequently misdiagnosed with other diseases. New estimates suggest that as many of 1/3 of all Americans may be affected by gluten.

Here’s one more set of statistics. A recent large study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that people with diagnosed, undiagnosed, and "latent" celiac disease or gluten sensitivity had a higher risk of death, mostly from heart disease and cancer.

Based on the study, performed from 1996 through 2008, there was a:

39 percent increased risk of death in those with celiac disease, 72 percent increased risk in those with gut inflammation related to gluten, and 35 percent increased risk in those with gluten sensitivity but no celiac disease.

What this tells us is that there is a murderer in our midst, which many of us don’t even know about. It’s a bit more serious than just not 'liking' gluten.

Be sure to catch Part II of this 'Murder Mystery' where we begin an 'artist sketch' of the culprit.


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