Gluten-Free Letter to the Editor

The Durango Herald published my letter to the editor in yesterday's Sunday paper. Hurrah! Let's use our voices to share the benefits of healthy eating!

Avoid glutens for a healthy, satisfying life

Thank you for publishing many 2011 articles that support gluten-free living. As a person with celiac disease and a mother of two young celiac boys, I feel fortunate that Durango has many wise and passionate naturopaths, doctors, support groups, bakeries and health food stores that make healthy, gluten-free living easier.

It is unfortunate, though, that the Herald has published many articles that inaccurately describe gluten-free diets and effects of gluten: On March 9, “Gluten-free has gone big time,” said “gluten is not inherently bad to eat ... it can be a challenge to eat a nutritionally sound diet without gluten.” On Oct. 11, a story mentions gluten-free eating is a “faddish thing ... gluten has been associated with a host of diseases over the last few decades, but it may be tied to only one – celiac disease.” a Dec. 27 article says “only a tiny fraction of Americans suffer sensitivities to this wheat protein.”

There are many studies linking gluten with related digestive, immunological and neurological health issues. Some reputable sites that clearly contain this information are:, and

In those one in 133 with celiac disease, gluten causes an autoimmune reaction and an increase in autoimmune disease. Only half of gluten-sensitive or intolerant people display the traditional symptoms of a “bad gut.” In the others, gluten intolerance and sensitivity can manifest as chronic illnesses.

For the 12 percent of us who are gluten-sensitive, gluten is an inflammatory food. Inflammation (and subsequent malabsorption) has been linked to most chronic illnesses: heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, diabetes, MS, epilepsy, asthma, ADD/ADHD, lupus, arthritis, depression and others.

Gluten-free eating is not just a fad. It’s here to stay for many of us.

As you ponder New Year’s resolutions, consider eating gluten-free for a while. You may be surprised how your digestion, energy, allergies, arthritis, and/or moods improve in only a few days.

Eat more local, organic and whole foods. Eat intelligently to reduce inflammation by reducing flours and sugars. Recognize what foods cause your body harm, and do your best to avoid them for a healthy, satisfying life.

Cindy Atchison