Sucker s diet # 2,188: Avoid gluten! Especially if you don t know what it is.

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ACSH gives a big shoutout to Julia Llewellyn Smith, for her brilliant commentary in The Guardian on the latest (and certainly not last) diet fad du jour gluten free (fill in the blank).

Ms. Smith, who sounds exactly like an ACSH staffer, takes no prisoners in her scathing look at the overwhelmingly silly trend to rid the planet of a protein called gluten, found in wheat products and some other related grains such as barley and rye. Gluten could easily read cyanide to the average reader who doesn t understand what this is really all about marketing.

She says, Gluten-free food, not so long ago a niche product for hippies and those with coeliac disease, is the sustenance of the moment. Socialite Nicole Richie rapped about chillin in my crib makin gluten-free spaghetti. Gwyneth Paltrow [a world-class health and dietary know-nothing and frequent ACSH target] has put her children on a no-gluten diet.

But it gets worse. Much worse.

Novak Djokovic, who attributes his gluten-free regime to transforming his tennis, now has his dog following it (though Andy Murray who beat him in this year s Wimbledon final says the same diet made him lose strength.)

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom weighs in: Every time I think I ve seen it all I m wrong. I guess if you spread a few rumors around, get some celebrities on board, and engage in some creative marketing, you can probably sell just about anything. Especially if your product is free of whatever the scare industry is demonizing at the moment BPA, aspartame, GM foods and you name it.

What this is really about, of course, is money. Smith says, While once gluten-free products were available only in the dusty corners of health-food shops, today 80 per cent of all such products are sold in supermarkets. According to the Food Standards Agency, the British gluten-free market is worth £238 million annually and grew by more than 15 per cent last year. In the US, it s worth around $2.6 billion.

Dr. Bloom, thinking out of the box as usual, came up with a few similarly useful ideas. I think there could be a great market for a wide variety of free products: Plutonium-free Pop Tarts, Campbell s tomato soup Now without hair!, or sulfuric acid-free eye drops. There are fortunes to be made here.

Dr. Bloom was unavailable for further comments. He was last seen rushing to the patent office.