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Doctors Once Thought Bananas Cured Celiac Disease

Celiac disease was a mysterious and frequently fatal ailment throughout much of the 20th century. Gluten was not initially thought to be the culprit. As a result, there were a few interesting wrong turns. One of these was the banana diet. 

As reported by NPR, Dr. Sidney Haas developed a banana-based diet to treat celiac disease in 1924. It was obviously effective in removing the gluten from the diet, but had a number of drawbacks. Fortunately, our understanding of celiac disease and nutrition has advanced a great deal in the last century. 

Gluten is a protein made up of glutenin and gliadin molecules, which in the presence of water form an elastic bond. Gluten can be found in grains other than wheat, including rye, barley, oats and spelt. Gluten can also hide in processed foods under a variety of names, including but not limited to malts, starches, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), texturized vegetable protein (TVP) and natural flavoring. 

Wheat is one of the most widely grown crops in the Western world. But the wheat of today is vastly different from the wheat our ancestors grew and ate, and these differences help explain the rise in gluten intolerance. If you do a search of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, you will find that gluten-containing grains have been linked to dozens of adverse health effects and adverse modes of toxicity.

The treatment for celiac disease and gluten intolerance is a gluten-free diet, which means abstaining from any food that contains gluten. In August 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a standard for gluten-free labeling. According to the rule, in order for a food to bear the label "gluten-free" it must be naturally gluten-free and any gluten-containing grains must have been refined in such a way to remove the gluten. The final product may not contain more than 20 parts per million (ppm) of gluten.
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