Daily bread — Can any human body handle gluten? | Dr. Rodney Ford | TEDxTauranga


Translator: Sarah Braun
Reviewer: Denise RQ Risk. Did you know
that every day you eat your bread, you are taking a risk? Risk is a strange association
to give with this grain of wheat. But in wheat,
half of the protein is gluten. Gluten. This is my model of gluten. I stole it from the toy box in my clinic. (Laughter) Gluten is a very interesting molecule. We didn’t know that it was
so harmful – until now. When I was a baby,
my mum and dad had no idea that gluten might harm me,
or them, or anyone in our family. This was 1950, when I was
a baby, at the same time that Professor Wilhelm Dickie was
looking after his patients in Holland. He noticed and he heard from
the mothers of his patients that wheat probably was
causing these children harm. He was the first person
in the world to establish that gluten was the cause
of what he said is celiac disease. Celiac disease is a condition
where the gluten damages your bowel. When I was in medical school, celiac disease was one paragraph
in a 2,000-page book. Now, whole books are written about it. This is me at 10. I reckon my mum
did a good job nourishing me despite her lack of knowledge about gluten and any other of the fun
intricacies of micronutrients. They were very proud of me,
a couple of decades later, when I got my MD
a doctorate in Food Allergy because I had been very interested
in how foods can make you sick. This is the classical picture
of a celiac child. You can see his big tummy, his thin arms and legs. He feels miserable. He’s in pain most days, he’s not growing. He’s got diarrhea,
he’s probably got reflux. He’s stunted. No one knew what to do with him until Professor Dickie showed
it was gluten that was the problem. In 1960, there was the development
of what’s called the small bowel biopsy where you could put a tube
right down into the intestines, snag a piece of tissue,
pull it up and have a look and see. That tissue was damaged
by celiac disease, it was called villous atrophy. Celiac disease became
a gastrointestinal illness. Of course, if you’ve got gut troubles,
and you’re eating the food that’s causing the trouble,
then it must be a gut problem. So the gastroenterologists
hijacked the disease. I’d like to introduce you
to another child. This is Elizabeth. She’s given me her permission
to show her in the bath. She wasn’t expecting to have this photo
shown in Tauranga today. But I didn’t meet Elizabeth in the bath,
I met her when she was 6. She came to my clinic,
not in a ballet tutu. But looking like this, thin, miserable,
she was in abdominal pain, she was refluxing, not growing,
her mother was desperate. Desperate to find an answer for the child. Because she was nourishing her child
just like my mother was nourishing me, but now she wasn’t growing. I was in a quandary
because I was a junior consultant at Christchurch Hospital running
my gastroenterology clinic. But Elizabeth had already been
seen by two other professors. They had both declared
she had celiac disease, had both done the fishing test,
putting the tube down the stomach, pulling out a piece of tissue,
and it was negative. They declared
she did not have celiac disease. But Elizabeth was lucky. She came to my clinic and I had
an interest in Food Allergy. The second reason she was
lucky is because of this. The hospital I was at
put a brand new test in called the anti gliaden antibody test. This was brand new
and I had the opportunity to do this, I had already done this
in England, in another clinic. And the beauty about this;
gluten, when you eat it, doesn’t get digested. It can get through into your blood
and the immune system hates it. It’s the enemy. It makes antibody against it, and the antibody’s job is
to click onto gluten and get rid of it. We measured this antibody in Elizabeth,
and the level was very high indeed. So I went to my colleagues and said,
“Look, I know what’s wrong with Elizabeth, after all this time
she doesn’t have celiac disease. Gluten is making her sick, I’ve got
to put her on a gluten-free diet.” Yep, that’s what they said, nothing. (Laughter) They weren’t astonished, they said, “Rodney, only children with celiac disease
were on a gluten-free diet.” But I went back to Elizabeth’s mum,
and we had a chat. That month, the next
month, the next month, and after 9 months of chatting I had the courage to put her
on a gluten-free diet. She came back to my clinic
the month after that and said, “Dr. Ford, it’s a miracle. She’s got better.” I wrote in the notes, “At last,
we are getting somewhere.” This is Elizabeth at 8. This is Elizabeth at 10. She’s nowhere like the child
we saw earlier on with celiac disease. I thought she must have a gluten illness
which isn’t celiac disease. I thought, going back in my clinic,
how many other children had this problem, and I hadn’t picked up on it,
even if I was a food allergist. So I began to do the tests. On every child that came to my clinic. I presented these beautiful children
who had negative endoscopy tests, had positive antibodies to gluten,
to a medical conference. It was met with skepticism. I thought, there aren’t enough children. So I did 100 children next with endoscopy and blood tests. I presented this to
a North American meeting called NETSCAN. There was skepticism. I thought, there’s not enough children. (Laughter) I now presented,
the next year, a 1,000 children that have come through my clinic. 80% had got better on a gluten-free
diet, none with celiac disease. This is the answer. “Dr. Ford, the only children who warrant
a gluten-free diet are celiacs.” (Laughter) Double-blind randomized
controlled trials, these kids got better. They were sick before. We were just changing their food,
we weren’t giving them a drug, we’re taking them off drugs,
what else do you need? I thought I know the problem,
it doesn’t have a name. (Laughter) So I coined the term
‘the Gluten Syndrome’. I sent books all over the world,
said, “Look at this!” and was met with skepticism. We did more research, and it turned out
that other people in the world were similarly irritated like me. They had shown that gluten
affects the nerves. I came up with the idea
that most of the symptoms from gluten were actually nerve damage. And then, other people began writing books
and last year, these three books came out. “Toxic Staple”, “Wheat Belly”,
and “Grain Brain”, all showing that wheat
and gluten harm everybody. Then, to cap it off, Professor Fasano,
showed in his book, “Gluten-Related Disorders”, that around 10% of people in North America were suffering from
a gluten-related disorder. Fasano, he’s not just an also-ran,
he runs and is director of the Celiac Disease Research Center
in Boston, Massachusetts. This book isn’t written just by him,
but by 15 other coworkers internationally. I was overjoyed that these people
were coming to the gluten-free party. But it’s a lot worse than this. Most of the people in this room
are not on a gluten-free diet. I know from Sheldon that 40 people
requested gluten-free food. It’s hidden in the right hand back. (Laughter) I went there and there was
no food left, it’s hard to get there. Next TEDxTauranga, they’re going
to have all gluten-free food except for a gluten corner. (Laughter) (Applause) Because nobody can digest this stuff. Catherine Tilley got celiac disease whilst was working in a bakery,
in a big flour mill, and she did some research showing
that nobody can digest gluten. Gluten can not be
pulled apart in your body. Most proteins can be easily pulled apart
in their individual component amino acids, and reform in your body
as human protein. We just poop this out,
nobody can digest it. A waste of chewing. (Laughter) The next thing that Alessio Fasano showed
is that everybody who eats gluten gets an inflammatory reaction
in their gut due to zonulin which is a chemical, a substance
that makes your gut leaky, everybody in this room. A professor in Spain wrote this article and classed gluten as an anti-nutrient, that it’s worse than eating food,
it’s a negative effect eating this. She showed that there are other proteins
in wheat that are equally as harmful. Gluten is just one of the many
toxic molecules in wheat. Worst of all,
Marius Hadjivassiliou has shown that gluten, the gluten antibody,
the gluten complex, other proteins and other antibody
reactions to gluten all affect your brain. That gluten is predominantly
a brain disease. The problem is that if you get
the brain damage from gluten you may not recover. It’s been shown that gluten
can trigger autoimmune disease, other food intolerances,
many, many illnesses, and probably everybody is best off gluten. You don’t know what you’re eating
when you eat a loaf of bread. It’s been advertised
at a dollar a loaf today. (Laughter) That’s a gluten nightmare. (Laughter) What are you going to do
for your children? What are you going to do for yourselves? My mum and dad are dead now. I think that they were gluten intolerant,
my mum was thin, she had thyroid disease, she had a bit of arthritis,
she fatigued, she had Alzheimer’s. Dad had arthritis, dad had
eczema, he was a bit cranky. (Laughter) And he developed late-onset dementia. What about me? I’ve decided to be gluten zero, that’s the term I’ve developed
over the last 10 years, I’m not going to risk this. I got an email yesterday
from Keith, a friend of mine, he’s a Professor of Agriculture. He said. “Rodney,
you know we’ve talked about gluten. Well, when you were talking to me, I thought that gluten was
for other people who were gluten free. Not now, I’ve been gluten free
for the last year, I’ve lost my arthritis for 20 years, I’ve lost my gut problems
which I’ve had for 20 years, gluten free is for me.” What about you? Are you willing to risk it? Do you smoke? Are you willing to risk
the damage of smoking? Do you drive a car? Yes. You wear a seatbelt and you have
airbags, you take the risk precautions. Are you risking eating wheat,
are you risking giving it to your family? I had a talk to an acquaintance up here,
he’s a celiac, his parents are celiacs, he’s got celiacs in his family
and they are the problem, family. The relatives don’t like to come
because it’s awkward, it’s embarrassing going
to the restaurant asking for gluten free. The chefs don’t like it,
the wait staff don’t like it. We’re an irritation. But in 10 years hence, the majority of people in New Zealand
won’t be taking the risk, they will not accept gluten;
we are going to have a gluten-free nation just as we’re going to have
a smoke-free nation. I advise you: do not take the risk. (Applause)

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