Dear Dr. Daniel, I am on GFCF (gluten free, casein free) diet. Because of this I have to eat gluten-free products and many of those contain soy. There’s not a whole lot of other options. Since I must eat soy, how do I go about choosing the healthier options. Which brands do you recommend? — Jeannie
Dear Jeannie, “Must” eat soy? Are you a Japanese beetle or soybean aphid? I don’t think so as your name’s Jeannie and you wrote me a letter. I recommend real foods, whole foods and slow foods, with only a little old-fashioned fermented soy products such as miso, natto and tempeh on the menu. However, if you’ve been focusing on “food products” rather than “food,” I expect it must sometimes seem that you “have to eat soy.” After all, it’s in most packaged and processed items as well as many of the special gluten-free products. If you think you must eat soy because you are a vegetarian, I’d advise you read the Introductory Tour for Vegetarians on this website. It covers both personal and planetary health issues. GFCF diets are very helpful for many people, but they only avoid the problem. To really heal your gut and attain radiant good health include bone broth, cultured vegetables, coconut oil, and a high-Vitamin-A-and-D brand of cod liver oil in your diet. I have helped some clients with supplement regimens, but I truly believe that real foods, including high-quality animal products — is best
Another reason to avoid soy pertains directly to the gluten issue. Soy is on a lot of people’s GFCF diets, but there’s some evidence that healing never occurs if soy is in the picture. A 1999 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology, for example, showed that some adults with celiac disease experienced diarrhea, headache, nausea and flatulence even on a gluten-free diet whenever they ate a tiny amount of soy. And a 1980 study published in Clinical Gastroenterology looked at 98 infants and children with multiple gastrointestinal allergies and revealed that 62 percent had both soy and milk allergies and 35 percent both soy and gluten.
Dear Kaayla, Every time I turn around there’s more gluten-free products. Seems like every shelf at Whole Foods Market is plastered with a “gluten free” signs. Can you tell me what’s going on? I smell marketing hype. Reminds me of how they once pushed soy, soy, soy. But could there be a real need? Should I go gluten-free myself as a precaution? — Trudy
Dear Trudy, Marketing hype is right! The market for gluten-free foods and beverages is booming, with a compound annual growth rate of 28 percent from 2004 to 2008,. By 2012 the market is expected to reach about $2.6 billion in sales. Retail sales have already hit $1.6 billion, according to a market research report published by Packaged Facts entitled “The Gluten-Free Food and Beverage Market: Trends and Developments Worldwide, 2nd Edition.”
In 2008, more than 225 marketers introduced new gluten-free products into the United State . Enjoy Life Foods, an upstart company catering to this niche market, was named to the Inc 500 List of the fastest growing, privately held businesses in the U.S. It was one of only 13 companies in the Food & Beverage category to make the list and showed a three year revenue growth of 850 percent.
At this point, about 40 percent of gluten-free products are sold in health and natural food stores, such as GNC, Whole Foods and Wild Oats. About 20 percent of sales occur through specialty food websites or catalogues. Conventional supermarkets hold just a 14 percent share of sales.
Clearly, hype’s driving this trend, but also genuine need. Medical problems associated with gluten intolerance are legion, and include autism, multiple sclerosis, ADD/ADHD, allergies , osteoporosis, repetitive strain or stress injury, irritable bowel, colitis and other digestive system disorders. However, it’s celiac disease that has catalyzed and is driving the gluten-free food and beverage market. Although three million Americans (or one percent of the population) have been officially diagnosed with celiac disease, many experts believe that 97 percent of celiac sufferers remain undiagnosed. And many more may be affected by a subclinical gluten sensitivity. Worse, the number of known sufferers will most likely increase ten fold around the world during the next few years. No wonder this market is booming with double digit growth.
According to Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts, “Evidence shows that the patients that comprise the celiac community are not willing to be passive sufferers. Their passion to live a full life without gluten must be considered one of the most powerful driving forces in the market. . . . Although these products are largely bought by celiac sufferers, very often the entire family of a celiac will switch to gluten-free products primarily to avoid buying different versions of the same goods, but also as a preventative step– as celiac disease is known to be hereditary.”
Dear Dr. Kaayla: I really appreciate your insights on soy. I’m not sure if I first learned this from you or not, but I wouldn’t have been paying attention except for you: When I eat soy, I’m gluten-intolerant. When I don’t eat soy, I’m not. I wouldn’t ever ask you to imagine just how much cutting out the tofu and natto and edamame (still eat 3-4 oz of minimally processed soy a month) on days I plan to eat wheat products has improved my digestive health. I thank you and my friends thank you, too. – Robert
Dear Robert, Thanks so much for sharing. I hope your reference to eating “minimally processed soy” means fermented products like miso paste, natto and tempeh. Raw or undercooked soybeans are extremely high in antinutrients and toxins. Re wheat products, make sure they’ve been properly soaked and prepared , and even then keep them to a minimum. Not good to become a “bread-atarian.” Finally, don’t forget the bone broth, coconut oil, cultured vegetables and other WAPF dietary staples. They are the keys to gut healing and health.