Saturday, December 10, 2016

The baby with three biological parents

A baby boy with genetic infor mation from
three parents has been born with the help
of a controversial new in vitro fertilization
technique. The procedure, called mitochondrial
transfer, was created to prevent
women with genetic mutations from
passing along devastating diseases to
their children. The first beneficiaries were
a Jordanian couple who had lost two
previous children and four pregnancies
to Leigh syndrome, a fatal disorder that
affects the developing nervous system. To
enable them to have a healthy baby, New
York–based fertility specialist Dr. John
Zhang took the nucleus from one of
the woman’s eggs and inserted it into a
healthy donor’s egg that had had its own
nucleus removed. The resulting egg contains
the donor’s mitochondria but genetic
information from the mother that will
determine traits like eye and hair color; it
was then fertilized with sperm from the
father. About 99.9 percent of the embryo’s
DNA came from his mother and father,
with a tiny percentage from the donor
mitochondria. The boy, now 6 months
old, is healthy, but his birth has sparked
criticism, since three-parent embryo techniques
are banned in the U.S. because of
fears they might lead to genetic abnormalities.
Zhang performed the procedure
in Mexico, and tells New Scientist he was
justified in what he did. “To save lives is
the ethical thing to do,” he said.

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Silicon Valley to study AI ethics

Tech giants are teaming up to work out the
ethics of artificial intelligence, said Sean Captain
in FastCompany.com. Amazon, Google,
Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft have formed
a nonprofit called the Partnership on AI “to
keep a collective eye on how AI is developed
and used.” The partnership will fund and
conduct research with academics, user group
advocates, and industry experts, with topics
including ethics, fairness, and privacy. Aside
from addressing fears of “futuristic killer
robots,” the partnership will study proble ms
with AI that could already have real-world
effects, such as hiring software that develops
an inadvertent bias against women or ethnic
groups, because it makes decisions based on
the attributes of current employees and so ends
up recommending “only white men.”

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Meerkat gets a mulligan

“The company that turned live streaming
into a sensation last year is ready to introduce
its next act,” said Casey Newton in
TheVerge.com. Meerkat, which caused a
splash at South by Southwest in 2015 before
being eclipsed by Facebook Live and Twitterowned
Periscope, has a new app for group
video chatting, called Houseparty. The app
has quietly attracted roughly 1 million users
on Android and iOS, most of them young
people, after launching under a pseudonym
not tied to the Meerkat name. Houseparty
“encourages users to have frequent, candid
conversations.” Friends and family are notified
when you are live, “or as the company
now says, ‘in the house.’” Up to seven people
can join the chat. Now, the question “is that
same one that dogged Meerkat: Can it last?”

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Google translations get smarter

“Google’s new translation software is almost
as good as human translators,” said Tom Simonite
in TechnologyReview.com. The search
giant is replacing its existing translation system
with a new one built around “deep learning,”
which uses math functions based loosely on
studies of the brain. To test its new software,
which has already been rolled out for translations
from Chinese to English, Google asked
fluent speakers to rank its translation results
for random Wikipedia entries and news articles
against work by human translators.
For English to Spanish, Google’s new system
scored 5.43 out of 6 on average, compared to
the 5.55 average score for human translations.
Google’s new system scored even closer to
human translators for French to English.

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BlackBerry exits the phone market

“It’s the end of an era,” said Brett Molina and
Jon Swartz in USA Today. BlackBerry, the
Canadian technology company that helped
usher in the mobile age with its eponymous
smartphone, has stopped manufacturing
its own devices, pivoting instead to focus
on business software. It’s the end of a long
downward slide for BlackBerry’s hardware
business, which at its peak in 2009 claimed
more than 50 percent of the U.S. smartphone
market. Today, BlackBerry’s market share sits
at less than 1 percent, its steep decline almost
perfectly mirroring the rise of iPhone and Android
devices. “Like tech pioneers before it,
BlackBerry was left behind.”
It wasn’t long ago that the BlackBerry was the “ultimate business
gadget,” said Nic Fildes in the Financial Times. The first
BlackBerry, which debuted in 1999, wasn’t a smartphone,
but a handheld device that let users send messages and emails
on the go. It took its name from the tiny keys on its built-in
QWERTY keyboard, which felt like “the pockmarks on the skin
of berry fruit,” at least according to marketing consultants. The
BlackBerry “caught fire,” and soon more features were added,
including a thumb-wheel for scrolling and the ability to make
calls. By the 2000s, legions of “Crackberry” addicts wondered
how they’d ever gotten along without it; devoted fans included
the likes of President Barack Obama and Kim Kardashian West.
“BlackBerry’s woes were in many ways a
product of its rapid and improbable success,”
said Jacquie McNish in The Wall Street
Journal. As the company, formerly known as
Research In Motion, struggled to keep up with
booming demand for the BlackBerry, especially
from the business community, it didn’t notice
that it was in danger of being surpassed by its
bigger Silicon Valley competitors. When the
iPhone debuted in 2007, BlackBerry executives
initially dismissed it as “nonsensical,” not
believing that cellular networks could deliver
the videos, photos, and other internet content
Apple was promising. That same year, Google
made its Android operating system free to handset makers, clearing
the way for the likes of Samsung “to siphon away BlackBerry
customers with lower-cost phones.”
BlackBerry’s popularity definitely made it complacent, said Vlad
Savov in TheVerge.com. While Google and Apple were transforming
the mobile industry, BlackBerry contented itself with
making minor tweaks, wrongly believing that “people would
wait for its superior product or would put up with limitations,
because, well, it’s BlackBerry.” Apple is guilty of the same kind
of hubris now, but it sells close to double the number of phones
that BlackBerry did at its zenith. Still, Blackberry’s sorry predicament
proves that even businesses at the top of the market can be
rapidly overtaken by “sprightlier newcomers.”

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INSTALLING WINDOWS 10



Woodley’s eccentric family

Shailene Woodley is a hippie to the core, said Natalie Evans-Harding
in Net-a-Porter.com’s The Edit. The young actress likes to gather her
own springwater from the mountains every month, eats ants and
other insects, and makes her own medicines. She inherited her
outlook from her mom and dad, who had a highly unconventional
approach to parenting. “My family is super f---ed up in many ways,
but they are my everything,” says the Divergent star. Her dad, a
psychologist, and her mom, a counselor, had a revolving-door policy
at home for their clients. So, teenage runaways or families fleeing
domestic violence would regularly stay over at the Woodleys’
house, or even go on vacation with them. “I came home to things
that weren’t great,” Woodley says. She often found her folks’ parenting
style infuriating. When she fought with her brother, they
were made to hug it out for hours on the front lawn in front of
their neighbors. “The whole time you’re just seething, but if you
let go you have to stay there for an extra hour. That was the kind
of reverse, manipulative psychology my parents were into!” Today,
she’s grateful for her parents’ insistence that she always think of
how other people feel first. But at the time? “Oh, I hated it.”

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Surviving the Brussels bombing

Nidhi Chaphekar’s face is famous—for all the wrong reasons, said
Vidhi Doshi in The Guardian (U.K.). In March, the 41-year-old
Indian cabin-crew manager was in Zaventem airport in Brussels
when a suicide bomber blew himself up. Chaphekar was blown
across the room, her clothes were partly torn off by the blast,
her shoe melted onto her foot, and her face was covered in dust
and blood. A man picked her up and put her on a chair—which
is where she was sitting, stunned, when a photographer took her
picture. Chaphekar spent the next 22 days in a medically induced
coma, while surgeons removed shards of metal fro m all over her
body and grafted skin onto her burned hands and face. When she
woke up, her image had gone viral. “So many pictures were taken
on that day, but somehow only mine was circulated, as it showed
everything—the circumstances, the panic, the trauma.” At first,
Chaphekar was upset. “This picture should have been blurred,
cropped. Some media people put it on the front page. I was worried
somebody would say [to my children]: ‘Look at your mum,
don’t you feel ashamed?’” But people had the opposite response.
“Everybody said: ‘Your mum is so brave. She’s like a tigress.’”

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Grant’s love of the spotlight

Hugh Grant has always been an attention seeker,
said Lynn Hirschberg in W magazine. At his
all-boys school in London, Grant relished playing
the girls’ parts in all the school productions.
“I wore charming little frocks. In The Sound of
Music, I was a von Trapp daughter in a white
dress with a blue satin sash, and my line was
‘I’m Brigitta. I’m 12, and all I want is a good
time.’ I got a laugh. And I was so delighted, I
laughed, too. Sadly, that’s a problem I still have—on stage, I laugh
hysterically at how funny I am.” Grant continued acting at Oxford
University, and when a local director asked him to star in a movie,
the floppy-haired Brit didn’t hesitate. “He told me I’d get to kiss
Victoria Studd, this hot girl at Oxford. So I said OK.” He achieved
Hollywood stardom soon after with Four Weddings and a Funeral,
but decided to stay in London. “I don’t hate L.A., but I’m nervous
about becoming one of those people who has a ferocious interest
in how films did at the box office and, you know, would want
to meet for egg-white omelets in the morning. After a few weeks
of living there, I realized I was going native. I remember being
tempted to not actually phone people myself but have my assistant
say, ‘Hi, I’ve got Hugh Grant for you.’ At that point, you know
you’ve got to get out.”

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A medieval Islamic city in Ethiopia

Ethiopia is a predominantly Christian
country, but in its far east lies a city
that was long the principal stronghold
of Islam in East Africa. Closed to
non-believers for centuries, Harar is
like a vision from The Arabian Nights,
says Fiona Dunlop in The Independent
– a perfectly preserved, “spaghettilike”
maze of alleyways lined with
colourfully painted houses and
mosques, and ringed by medieval
walls. A historically important trading
hub, the city lies in cool, fertile country
famed for its high-quality coffee and,
increasingly, its khat. Most local men
chew this stimulant leaf and, together
with the excellent local beer, it makes
for a laid-back atmosphere at odds
with the city’s pious reputation.
The first Westerner to visit was the explorer Sir Richard
Burton, who entered in disguise in 1855 but soon left in disgust
at the city’s poverty and “laxity of morals”. More than two
decades later, it found a European admirer in the French poet
Arthur Rimbaud. Having arrived as
a coffee trader in 1880, he stayed for
ten years, graduating to arms dealing.
An old merchant’s mansion now
houses a Rimbaud museum: its
treasures include a letter from the
poet, complaining he hasn’t been paid
for 900 guns he supplied to Emperor
Menelik II. The streets beyond have
changed little since those days, with
sprawling markets where women in
vibrant dresses (differing according to
their tribe – Oromo, Argobba, Somali)
barter over fabrics and spices. In
one alley, tailors bend over antique
treadle sewing machines; their
whirring lending the street its
onomatopoeic name, “Girgir”.
However, the city’s most curious sight unfolds nightly just
beyond its walls, where hyenas gather to feed on scraps that local
men offer them by hand – a tradition whose origins are a mystery.
Journeys by Design (01273-623790, www.journeysbydesign.com)
has a 7-night tour taking in Harar, from £2,400pp excl. flights.

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Friday, December 9, 2016

on the wine trail in Sicily

Sicily is a “huge, complicated island”,
says Stephen Bayley in The Independent.
And one visit is not nearly enough to do
it justice. Everything is more “deeply
etched” here than mainland Italy: “the
wines are stronger, the volcanoes more
active, the dolci more sweet, the despair
more profound”. This is an island
largely defined by the many outsiders
that have colonised it – Romans,
Normans, Byzantines and more – and
left behind “a culture as rich as ricottastuffed
cannoli”. Giuseppe de
Lampedusa wrote of “the violence of
the landscape, the cruelty of the climate
and the continuous tensions in
everything”. His book, The Leopard,
should be compulsory reading for anyone planning a visit.
In Palermo, Villa Tasca is one of Sicily’s great houses, evolved
“through layers of architectural accretion into a magnificent
palazzo”. Its gardens are “swarmingly exotic”, filled with dense
palms and “the largest ficus in Sicily”. Its interiors are a study in
“Baroque splendour and spectacular, melancholic grandeur”. The
house is owned by the winemaking
Tasca family, and it’s possible to rent a
room here with butler service, making
it “the most exuberantly grand and
glorious b&b imaginable”. About two
hours’ drive along a potholed road lies
the family’s Regaleali winery. It’s rustic
and isolated, with a cookery school and
rooms to rent in the big house. “The
remoteness here is tangible, the silence
ineffable and the romance intense.”
Wine pilgrims meet in the evenings for
an aperitivo, then “eat robustly in a
solemn dining room”.
Over to the west, off the coast near
Trapani, the Tascas are extending their
reach to Mozia, where a development
is planned. This “strange little island sits in a tranquil lagoon
called Stagnone, lined with windmills and salt pans”. Settled
by the Phoenicians around 800BC, it remains scattered with
“shards of classical pottery” as yet undisturbed by archaeologists.
Villa Tasca (www.villatasca.com) has a range of suites. Contact
info@villatasca.com for information.

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Where to find… pitstop hotels in France

Le Champ des Oiseaux, in Troyes, about
100 miles southeast of Paris, is on the route
south to Provence. Dating back to the
Middle Ages, it has 14 pretty and serene
rooms, and the “welcoming” restaurant
showcases local produce (from g185 a
night; www.champdesoiseaux.com).

Domaine de la Trolière, a b&b halfway
between the ferry ports and Languedoc, has
been in the same family for two centuries.
Expect a “delicious” dinner and lots of cats
(from g53 a night; www.sawdays.co.uk).
Château de Saint Paterne in Normandy is
an ideal spot for food lovers heading to the
Dordogne. Sumptuous meals are served in
a candelabra-filled room, and the bedrooms
are “beautifully decorated” (from g145 a
night; www.chateau-saintpaterne.com).

Le Saint James, just outside Bordeaux,
offers “divine”, Michelin-starred food.
Designed by French architect Jean Nouvel,
its minimalist rooms have great views (from
g195 a night; www.saintjames-bouliac.com).

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how to use sunscreen

● You need a sunscreen that protects you
from UVA rays (which can cause cell
damage and premature skin ageing) and
UVB rays (responsible for sunburn and skin
damage). Look out for brands that say
“broad spectrum” on the label.
● Use a minimum of factor 30 on your
body, whatever your skin type. If you can
bear it, use factor 50 on your face.
● Apply the sunscreen in large quantities –
probably much larger than you’ve used
previously. If you’re using a lotion, apply a
tablespoon’s worth to your face, and a
ping-pong ball-sized dollop to your body.
● You should expect to get through at least
a bottle – of lotion or spray – in the course
of a week-long holiday.
● After your first application of the day,
wait half an hour before going into the sun.
Make sure you reapply every two hours.
● Sunscreen will go off if it’s left lying
around in the sun. Keep it in the shade,
below 25°C.
SOURCE: THE SUNDAY TIMES

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The dangers of office life

Sitting still at a desk all day is so harmful
to health that office workers need to take
an hour of daily exercise to undo the
damage, scientists have warned. For a
Lancet-published study, researchers looked
at data on a million adults, mainly aged
over 45, who’d been tracked for up to 18
years. They found that among the office
workers, those who had exercised for an
hour or more per day had a mortality rate
of 6.2%, whereas the rate for those who
managed less than five minutes per day
was 9.9%. Watching three hours of
television a day was also associated with
increased risk of death in all groups except
the most active. The researchers said any
kind of exercise could count towards the
daily hour; even several brisk walks would
“achieve the benefit”. Steven Ward,
executive editor of pressure group
ukactive, told The Daily Telegraph: “This
report is showing that inactivity kills.
When we realised this about smoking we
tackled it – we need to do the same about
our office culture.”

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How to avoid mosquito bites

If you are heading for the sun on your
holidays, you might consider taking a live
chicken. Scientists in Ethiopia have shown
that sleeping in a room with a chicken
reduces the likelihood of being bitten by
mosquitoes. For the trial – designed to test
whether chicken odours could help prevent
malaria – the researchers arranged for
volunteers to sleep either with live chickens
in cages hung near their beds, or in normal
conditions. Mosquito traps were placed in
the rooms and, sure enough, the traps in
the poultry-containing rooms yielded many
fewer insects. The scientists believe that
mosquitoes – which are known not to bite
chickens – see the birds as potential
predators and keep away. The researchers
now hope to develop a chicken-based
repellent that humans can’t smell.

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Reversing the menopause

Scientists in Greece claim to have devised a
means of reversing menopause in most
women, restoring their fertility. The
process involves injecting platelet-rich
plasma (PRP), a kind of enriched blood
normally used to help damaged tissue
recover, into women’s ovaries. In an
ongoing trial, 30 women who had not had
a period for at least five months were
injected with PRP. Two-thirds have since
started ovulating and having periods,
including one who underwent the
menopause five years ago, at the age of 40.
According to Konstantinos Sfakianoudis, a
gynaecologist at the Genesis Athens
fertility clinic, the technique offers
menopausal women the hope of still being
able to get pregnant “using their own
genetic material” – something that could
be of particular value to the 1% of women
who experience early menopause, before
the age of 40. However, the study is small,
and has not been peer reviewed; the
technique would in any case need more
testing; and some scientists have expressed
concern that if it did prove successful, it
would raise difficult questions about what
the upper age limit for mothers should be.

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Talking to the honeyguides

Instances of “mutualism” – collaboration
between humans and wild animals – are
rare. But one famous example is that of the
greater honeyguide, a bird native to
sub-Saharan Africa, which leads humans
to bees’ nests. The humans open the nest
(not something the bird could safely do),
and take the honey, leaving the wax for the
honeyguide to eat. In most areas, the bird
finds the nest, uses a unique call to attract
human helpers and then guides its helpers
to the nest, by flitting from tree to tree,
there to await its reward. However, a
Cambridge University team has discovered
that among the Yao people in the Niassa
National Reserve in Mozambique, the
system works in reverse. Yao hunters leave
their village to seek honey – and summon
their avian friends to help them, using a
“brrrrr-hm” call passed down through the
generations. To check that the birds were
reacting to the hunting call, and not just
being alerted to the presence of humans,
biologist Dr Claire Spottiswoode asked the
hunters to play a range of calls, and
monitored their effectiveness. She found
that when they used the honey-hunt call, it
doubled the hunters’ chances of being
guided by a bird, and more than tripled the
chances of finding a nest. In other words, it
seems the birds understand the call to be a
request for help, and respond accordingly.

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Why Southern rail is such a basket case

Ben Chu
The Independent

If politicians really want to improve the UK’s poor productivity,
says Ben Chu, they should start by restructuring the firms that run
its communications infrastructure. Take broadband. Mine, for
example, has been on the blink for two months. It’s not the fault
of Sky, my broadband provider: it’s because BT, whose subsidiary
BT Openreach owns the phone line to my house (and most of the
UK’s ducts and cables), can’t be bothered to fix it. Why would it?
Why improve its record of underinvestment when to do so would
benefit its rivals in broadband services, the more profitable side to
its business? The obvious answer would be to hive off Openreach,
making it a separate company. But the regulator Ofcom has so far
nixed that plan. It’s a similar story with trains: “the basket case”
that is Southern rail is owned by GTR, which in turn is owned by
Govia, which is part-owned by a French transport group that may
never have heard of Southern. Here, too, the lines of accountability
between consumer and provider are all tangled up. We’ll
never get the good trains and internet links so vital to business
productivity if we don’t first sort out the companies that run them.

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The rage against gluten

Increasing numbers of people blame foods containing gluten for everything from asthma to dementia, and are now going gluten-free

How many people shun gluten?
Millions. A YouGov poll last year found
that one in ten UK households have at
least one supposedly gluten-intolerant
member, and that 60% of adults have
bought gluten-free products. According
to a US survey by the Consumer Reports
National Research Centre, a third of
Americans are trying to cut it out of their
diets. They have been encouraged in this
by two bestselling science books: Wheat
Belly by cardiologist Dr William Davis;
and Grain Brain by neurologist Dr David
Perlmutter. Both hold gluten responsible
for obesity, inflammation and a host of
other chronic health conditions. The
word has also been spread by a number
of celebrity gluten avoiders – the likes of
Victoria Beckham, Gwyneth Paltrow and
Lady Gaga. Novak Djokovic attributes
his dominance of world tennis in part to going gluten-free.
And are all these millions catered for?
They certainly are. Since the turn of the century, gluten-free has
gone from being an obscure niche to a multimillion-pound
enterprise. Supermarkets now stock a vast range of gluten-free
products, from gluten-free curry and gluten-free chicken nuggets
to gluten-free Easter eggs. In America, you can get gluten-free
vacations, wedding receptions and communion wafers. In 2014
The Wall Street Journal reported a rise in US sales of products
carrying the gluten-free label from $11.5bn in 2010 to $23bn.
But what exactly is gluten?
It’s the spongy complex of proteins, found in wheat, barley and
rye, that gives elasticity to dough and enables it to rise. When flour
is moistened and kneaded into dough, two proteins, gliadin and
glutenin, join together to form an elastic, microscopic latticework
that traps the carbon dioxide produced when yeast ferments,
causing dough to inflate. Baking hardens the gluten, which helps
the finished product keep its shape. Wheat – and thus gluten – is
ubiquitous in the Western diet, and not just in bread, pasta and
cakes; it’s a hidden ingredient in thousands of processed products
such as ice cream, soy sauce and dressings. Yet in evolutionary
terms, wheat is fairly new: it became
a large part of the human diet only
with the advent of agriculture about
10-12,000 years ago.
And why does that matter?
“For the previous 250,000 years, man
had evolved without having this very
strange protein in his gut,” explains
Dr Stefano Guandalini, expert in
digestive disease at the University of
Chicago. Humans simply don’t have
the enzymes to break down gluten, so
some peptides (partially digested bits
of the protein) remain in the intestine.
For most of us, this is insignificant:
they are simply eliminated. But for a
small minority, it causes coeliac
disease: the peptides cross the
intestinal barrier, triggering the
immune system. White blood cells go
on the attack, damaging the intestinal
wall. This results in stomach pain,
diarrhoea, bloating, fatigue, weight
loss and sometimes destruction of the
small intestine. Coeliac disease is a
serious autoimmune condition which
requires the elimination of all wheat, for
life. But many others today believe they
are allergic, or sensitive, to gluten, and
that giving it up improves their health.
Are people right to avoid it?
In most cases, no. Coeliac disease is rare,
affecting about 1% of people in
developed nations. A small number of
others may suffer from allergies or
sensitivities. But the vast majority do not
react badly to gluten – otherwise wheat
would never have become a leading food
source. You could get healthier on a
gluten-free diet because it might increase
your intake of fruit and veg, and reduce
consumption of refined carbohydrates
such as white bread, pizza and puddings.
But such a diet isn’t good for you per se. In fact, if you eat only
gluten-free products, you may be short of vitamins, nutrients and
fibre; they tend to be heavily processed, and can be loaded with
fat and sugar. Tesco’s Free From gluten-free brown bread has
twice as much fat as the normal alternative (and is much dearer).
So why do people like such diets?
Diet fads and phobias have a long history. Many symptoms
blamed on gluten – bloating, fatigue, “brain fog” and lack of
“wellbeing” – have, in the past, been blamed on fat, yeast and
monosodium glutamate. As the New Scientist puts it, we are
prone to “magical thinking” when it comes to diet. And we like
to “copy high-status individuals” like Djokovic. Besides,
psychological factors affect outcomes: the placebo effect and its
opposite, the nocebo effect (where an inert substance has a
damaging effect on a patient’s health) are known to be powerful.
So the benefits of going gluten-free are largely bogus?
The current epidemic of self-diagnosed gluten intolerance is based
on very little evidence. But there are complicating factors. Coeliac
disease is definitely on the rise: US tests show that it has grown
from around 0.2% of the population in the early 1950s to 1%
today. And a high proportion of sufferers are undiagnosed: in the
UK, tests have shown that one in 100
people have the disease, but only one
in 800 is diagnosed (it requires a
blood test and an endoscopy).
Besides, there are also other forms of
wheat allergy and sensitivity.
What are those?
There’s a rare wheat allergy, sometimes
called baker’s asthma, which
causes itching and sneezing. More
controversially, there is “non-coeliac
gluten sensitivity” or NCGS. Sufferers
have coeliac-like symptoms which
resolve themselves when they cut out
gluten. (But it’s not well understood,
very rare, and some scientists
question whether it exists at all.)
Finally, the NHS suggests that those
who suffer from bloating after eating
bread should avoid basic supermarket
loaves, made using fast-acting yeast
and added enzymes. These can cause
gas and indigestion, for reasons that
are nothing to do with gluten.

The rise of “clean eating”
The most recent incarnation of the anti-gluten
philosophy is the trend for “clean eating”. Its standardbearers
in Britain are young, attractive food bloggers
and cookbook authors such as Madeleine Shaw, Ella
Woodward, Tess Ward and the Hemsley sisters. They
encourage people to eat raw, natural foods and to
reduce – or eliminate – ingredients such as sugar,
dairy, wheat and, of course, gluten. Instead of wheat,
they sing the praises of courgetti (courgette spaghetti),
cauliflower rice and other exotic grain alternatives.
While people certainly benefit from eating less refined,
sugary food, questions have been raised about clean
eating. It is based on an irrational fear of gluten (which
Shaw calls “sandpaper for the gut”). Catherine Collins,
principal dietitian at St George’s Hospital, London,
worries that “clean eating plans” are “extremely lowcalorie
and lack important nutrients key for young
women such as iron, calcium and dietary protein”.
There is no such thing as “clean” or “dirty” food,
except in the obvious sense, and such ideas can be
dangerous. Since the 1990s, a condition dubbed
“orthorexia nervosa” has been identified, which
causes sufferers to progressively withdraw food types
– gluten, sugar, dairy – that they see as “wrong”.


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