I was recently sent a copy of a newly released book by Professor David Sanders called Gluten Attack: Is gluten waging war on our health? And if so what can we do about it?
I was very intrigued by this book and confess I was a little sceptical. As a diagnosed coeliac, I avoid gluten myself, but I know many others choose to avoid gluten and I’m not always sure if it’s necessary. Following a gluten free diet is difficult at times, so part of me thinks anyone who chooses to avoid it is a little bit crazy, but I also wondered if gluten was really as bad for non-coeliacs as it seems some think it is.
Professor David Sanders has been working in this area for many years, with both coeliacs and those who appear to have gluten sensitivity. The first chapter in the book discusses coeliac disease, but the book then goes on to explore gluten sensitivity (or coeliac ‘lite’) and non coeliac gluten sensitivity. I confess in the past I’ve been very sceptical about these areas, and do find it can muddy the waters a little in terms of what coeliac disease is and what it means to follow a gluten free diet (having reflected on this, I think my view was due to my frustration when I experience the issue in some eating establishments where they say ‘oh but it’s fine for other gluten free customers’). The book made me realise how lucky I am really – to have a confirmed diagnosis is a luxury many don’t have.
The book goes on to explore many related issues such as neurological effects, skin effects, irritable bowel syndrome, and infertility. Here’s an overview of the chapters:
The chapters vary in length; some areas do not yet have many medical studies. Some are areas I’m more interested in than others, but I’m sure other readers will have different interests, so I was pleased to see a broad variety. I found it very useful to have a summary of the medical studies presented, as well as David’s opinion on some of the things that need more investigation. One thing I did struggle a little with the OK was knowing who it is targeted at – some of the medical concepts were explained in great detail whilst others were glossed over. I also found it an unusual mix between formal reporting of medical studies, mixed with personal experiences and an informal conversational style of writing. By the end I decided I quite like this approach actually, but it was very unusual and not what I’m used to reading so I found it a little strange.
One thing I wasn’t keen on was the inclusion of recipes. I’m not sure why they were included as they seemed like a way to bulk out the book. There are many gluten free cookery books and recipes if you’re looking for that, and the recipes were not from the author, so to me they felt out of place. This is particularly the case considering one of the main messages from the book was to not exclude gluten from your diet until you’ve been to your doctor – to then provide gluten free recipes seemed a little odd to me. I guess they’re potentially useful to those of us who have been diagnosed with coeliac disease or have been advised to avoid gluten, but I don’t think anyone would buy this book looking for recipes.
Overall however, I really enjoyed reading the book and definitely learned more about what medical research has found so far, and what is still to be explored. I’d definitely recommend it for coeliacs interested in learning a bit more about the condition, though most of the book focuses on the tricky issue of non-coeliac sensitivity so I suspect it may be of interest in particular to those who are experiencing issues they suspect may be diet-related.
As I’ve finished reading my copy, I’d like to pass it on to someone else who would like to read it. If you’re interested in receiving my copy of the book, please enter the Rafflecopter draw which you can find on the Gluten Free Joeyanne Facebook page.
The draw will close on 31st October. Good luck!