At lunchtime today I was listening to the tail end of You and Yours, a UK consumer progamme; they were talking about how the NHS is withdrawing a ‘low cost’ programme of prescribing (paying for, in essence) ‘gluten-free goods. I felt compelled to send them a short email as a result; here’s what I wrote:
I caught the tail end of today’s programme where you were talking about the NHS withdrawing funding of gluten-free foods in parts of the UK, and I heard the mother who was complaining about the cost of gluten free foods for her coeliac daughter. I felt sorry for her, but at the same time hoped it would give her the impetus to look at real foods rather than the faux food (fodder) peddled by ‘gluten free’ manufacturers.
Here are a few points:
Life doesn’t revolve around bread and pasta; there are fantastic foods around. If we really want ‘bread’ and ‘dough’, delicious, filling and nutritious alternatives can be made without using any grains at all.
The very, very cheap cost of bread in mainland UK and elsewhere should be giving a clue as to its nutritional value.
The cost to the NHS of prescribing ‘gluten free’ products is much larger than they think because a) gluten is found in other grains, just not the same form, causing internal inflammation; b) these products, made from processed grains and high carbohydrate roots like white potatoes and tapioca, all cause blood sugar levels to shoot up (by more than eating table sugar does!); this means the person who eats these products regularly is at much greater risk of diabetes, obesity and other inflammatory diseases than someone who bases their meals around real food. This in turn leads to a greater cost to the NHS.
I would say the NHS is doing people a favour by stopping funding this trade, even if it’s for the wrong reasons, and we should be thanking, not castigating, them!
The programme link is here.