The science is in: Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head.

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The science is in: Unless You Have Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity is Probably Just in Your Head.

By now, you’ve probably heard of gluten-free diets. They’re a necessity for the estimated 2 million Americans with celiac disease. For them, eating gluten can trigger an immune response in their small intestines, damaging the organ’s villi that help absorb nutrients. Excluding the protein from their diets saves celiac disease sufferers from intense bouts of intestinal discomfort and other symptoms.

But for many other Americans, eliminating gluten probably does little to ease their symptoms.


Bread made from wheat contains the protein gluten.

That finding comes from a new study led by Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Australia. Gibson is the same researcher who published a paper in 2011 that reported gluten sensitivity in non-celiac patients. The results of that paper didn’t sit well with him, so he designed a more rigorous study involving 37 patients who didn’t have celiac disease but reported feeling better when on a gluten-free diet.

Ross Pomeroy, writing at Real Clear Science:

Subjects would be provided with every single meal for the duration of the trial. Any and all potential dietary triggers for gastrointestinal symptoms would be removed, including lactose (from milk products), certain preservatives like benzoates, propionate, sulfites, and nitrites, and fermentable, poorly absorbed short-chain carbohydrates, also known as FODMAPs. And last, but not least, nine days worth of urine and fecal matter would be collected. […]

They were first fed a diet low in FODMAPs for two weeks (baseline), then were given one of three diets for a week with either 16 grams per day of added gluten (high-gluten), 2 grams of gluten and 14 grams of whey protein isolate (low-gluten), or 16 grams of whey protein isolate (placebo). Each subject shuffled through every single diet so that they could serve as their own controls, and none ever knew what specific diet he or she was eating. After the main experiment, a second was conducted to ensure that the whey protein placebo was suitable. In this one, 22 of the original subjects shuffled through three different diets — 16 grams of added gluten, 16 grams of added whey protein isolate, or the baseline diet — for three days each.

After the subjects moved off the baseline diet and onto one of the treatment diets, they reported more intestinal pain, bloating, gas, and nausea, regardless of whether the treatment diet was high-gluten, low-gluten, or placebo.

The placebo results were what really stood out to Gibson—patients who received the same diet in the baseline and treatment phases still reported a worsening of symptoms. Gibson says this is a nocebo effect—in other words, it was all in their heads.

So what’s causing these symptoms? Gibson and his co-authors Jessica Biesiekierski and Jane Muir think FODMAPs are a leading candidate. Gluten-free diets seem to help people who report gluten sensitivity because those foods often happen to be free of FODMAPs, the researchers report. Though FODMAP may be an ominous sounding acronym, compounds in the group are found in many everyday foods, nearly all of which are unprocessed and include apples, asparagus, artichokes, milk, pistachios, pears, and lentils.



Nigeria (with 70% living in poverty) Unveils Largest Jesus Statue in Africa.

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Nigeria (with 70% living in poverty) Unveils Largest Jesus Statue in Africa. 

The largest statue of Jesus in Africa was unveiled on Friday in the country of Nigeria, with hundreds of spectators present.

According to Christian Today, the statue is nearly 30 feet tall and weighs 40 tons. It has been named “Jesus de Greatest.”

It was commissioned by a local businessman named Obinna Onunoha who had previously funded the building of St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Abajah, Nigeria. The statue was erected on the grounds of St. Aloysius.

When asked why he commissioned the statue Onunoha stated, “Asking why I constructed this statue is like asking how do I came to this world, I am a Christian and a Catholic and Jesus statue represents my faith. I believe we are here on earth for different purposes and each person moves with his/her instincts, and I was motivated to do this to build up the faith of this community.”

The population of Nigeria is almost evenly split between Christians and Muslims. The terrorist attacks of Muslim extremist group Boko Haram have caused unrest, especially in the northern region of the country.

Onunoha believes that the Jesus statue will bring tourists to the church to see the statue.

Bishop Augustine Tochukwu Okwuoma of St. Aloysius said the statue will be a “great symbol of Christian faith.”


One Year Later – Honoring Charlie Hebdo, and all who challenge society with a pen.

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On the anniversary of the attack on Charlie Hebdo we must defend the right to blaspheme.

The names of the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo’s office which occurred a year ago today, are at the beginning of a long and bloody list of people who faced violence in 2015 for supposedly blasphemous speech.

Similarly-motivated attacks were not uncommon.

Four secular bloggers were slaughtered with machetes in Bangladesh because of their writing; a woman wrongly accused of blasphemy was beaten to death, run over with a car, and set on fire by a crowd in Afghanistan; gunmen targeted events critical of Islam in Denmark and Texas.

Even more alarming is the prevalence of violence against blasphemers perpetrated not by vigilantes, but by governments. A 2012 study found that almost a quarter of the world’s countries maintain blasphemy laws. These laws—often deployed to silence critics of government as well as religion—are dangerous even when they’re not enforced. Their very existence inspires self-censorship from people who rightly fear violent consequences for expressing themselves freely. Unfortunately, such laws have been used to do much more than simply chill speech.

Only days after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Saudi Arabia—a leading country on a United Nations human rights panel—began the flogging punishments of blogger Raif Badawi for “insulting Islam.” The lashings have been halted, but could begin again at any time, and Badawi remains in prison. Saudi Arabia also sentenced another man to death for ripping up a Koran and hitting it with a shoe, and arrested an Indian man for ‘liking’ a post with “blasphemous content” on social media.

In Pakistan, two men were given the death sentence for blasphemy, and more were arrested for the same crime.

Nigeria sentenced Muslim cleric Aminu Abdul Nyass and eight of his devotees to death for—you guessed it—blasphemy.

Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait considered or passed laws strengthening their ability to punish speech that insults the sensitivities of gods and their adherents.

Poland, upheld its blasphemy law in October, reaffirming that it would punish “whoever offends religious feelings of other people by publicly insulting an object of religious cult.”

Last January, the world witnessed numerous declarations of unwavering support for the principles of freedom of speech. But as we look back at how religious dissent was suppressed in the past year, those words ring empty. Dissidents around the world are still being violently silenced simply because their mere words about the divine depart from the views of the majority. That’s not a state of affairs we should find tolerable. The right to voice opposition to other people’s gods is as important as their right to express belief in them.

The best way to honor the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack is to renew our condemnations of threats to freedom of expression, whether those threats strike close to home or far away, and to call on leaders to stand firm against violent censorship, whatever its form.


Freedom of speech fails in India after 800+ social media pages are blocked to protect “religious sensibility”

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Freedom of speech fails in India after 800+ social media pages are blocked to protect “religious sensibility” in 2015. 

The number of social media pages blocked by the government for carrying objectionable content rose to 844 till November 2015, the Parliament has been informed.

Out of the total, the government blocked 492 web pages under Section 69A of Information Technology Act, 2000 based on recommendation of a committee set up in this regard, compared to 10 blocked in 2014, telecom minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said in a written reply in the Lok Sabha.

Under Section 69A of IT Act, the government has power to block any information in any computer resource in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, national security, friendly relations with foreign states or for maintaining law and order.

“A total of 136, 13 and 10 and 492 URLs of social media websites were blocked in 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015, respectively under Section 69A through the Committee constituted under the rules therein,” Prasad said.

The social media links that were blocked on court orders stood at 352.

“Further, a total of 533, 432 and 352 URLs of social media websites were blocked in compliance with the directions of the competent courts of India in 2013, 2014 and 2015, till November 30, 2015,” Prasad said.

The minister said that the government does not separately maintain data on web pages blocked for anti-religious content.

He said that in 2014, a total of 4,192 cases were reported under Section 66A of IT Act which had provision of jail term for sending offensive messages online, but the section is no longer valid since Supreme Court annulled it in March 2015.

As per data of 2014 shared by Prasad, 2,423 persons were arrested, out of which 1,125 were charge-sheeted and 42 were convicted under Section 66A of IT Act.


Homeopathy could be banned from UK’s Public Health System.

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Homeopathy could be banned from UK’s Public Health System.

Doctors could be banned from prescribing homeopathy on the NHS under a consultation set to be launched by the Government.

Ministers say they will consult next year on whether the controversial practice should remain as an option for GPs.

Homeopathy is a “treatment” based on the use of highly diluted substances, which practitioners claim can cause the body to heal itself.

The bulk of scientific opinion however considers homeopathy to be a pseudoscience with no grounding in fact.

“With rising health demands, we have a duty to make sure we spend NHS funds on the most effective treatments,” George Freeman, the Minister for Life Sciences, told the BBC.

“We are currently considering whether or not homeopathic products should continue to be available through NHS prescriptions. We expect to consult on proposals in due course.”

The ban would see the practice added to “Schedule 1”, a blacklist of drugs GPs are not allowed to prescribe.

Homeopathy is not currently available on the NHS in all areas of the country, but there are several NHS homeopathic hospitals. Some GP practices also offer homeopathic treatment.

A 2010 House of Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy said that homeopathic remedies perform no better than placebos, and that the principles on which homeopathy is based are “scientifically implausible”.

This is also the view of the Chief Medical Officer, Professor Dame Sally Davies.

The NHS website says: “There is no good-quality evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment for any health condition.”

Homeopathy is usually practised privately and homeopathic remedies are available from pharmacies. The price for an initial consultation with a homeopath can vary from around £20 to £80. Homeopathic tablets or other products usually cost around £4 to £10.

The total NHS spend on the practice, including GPs and homeopathic hospitals, is relatively small: around £4m.

There is no legal regulation of homeopathic practitioners in the UK. This means that anyone can practise as a homeopath, even if they have no qualifications or experience.


Exposing the hypocrisy of “moral superiority” and rampant child abuse in many Muslim countries.

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Exposing the hypocrisy of “moral superiority” and rampant child abuse in many Muslim countries.

Some Muslims are fond of condemning western morality – alcoholism, nudity, premarital sex and homosexuality often being cited as examples. But Muslims do not have a monopoly on morality. In the west, child marriages and sex with children are illegal. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many Muslim countries.

The love of young boys is not a phenomenon restricted to Afghanistan; homosexual pederasty is common in neighbouring Pakistan, too. In my view, repression of sexuality and extreme gender apartheid is to blame.

And in the Middle East, it’s young girls who are considered desirable and men are able to satisfy their lusts legally through child marriages. In Yemen, more than a quarter of girls are married before the age of 15. Cases of girls dying during childbirth are not unusual, and recently, one 12-year-old child bride even died from internal bleeding following sexual intercourse. In another case, a 12-year-old girl was married to an 80-year-old man in Saudi Arabia.

So why is the practice of child marriage sanctioned in Muslim countries? Unfortunately, ultra-conservative religious authorities justify this old tribal custom by citing the prophet Muhammad’s marriage to Aisha. They allege Aisha was nine years old when the prophet married her. But they focus conveniently on selected Islamic texts to support their opinions, while ignoring vast number of other texts and historical information, which suggests Aisha was much older,putting her age of marriage at 19. Child marriage is against Islam as the Qur’an is clear that intellectual maturity is the basis for deciding age of marriage, and not puberty, as suggested by these clerics.

Whatever one’s view on the prophet’s marriage, no faith can claim moral superiority since child marriages have been practised in various cultures and societies across the world at one time or another. In modern times, though, marrying children is no longer acceptable and no excuse should be used to justify this.

I find the false adherence to Islamic principles and the “holier than thou” attitude of some Muslim societies similar to the blatant hypocrisy and double standards of 19th-century Victorian Britain, where the outward appearance of dignity and prudishness camouflaged an extreme prevalence of sexual and moral depravity behind closed doors. In those days, too, there were many men willing to pay to have sex with children – until a plethora of social movements arose that resulted in changes in laws and attitudes in society.

A similar shift in social attitudes is also required in traditional Muslim societies. Having boy sex slaves or child brides should not be seen as badges of honour. Instead, Muslims need to do more to attach shame to such practices; otherwise, acceptance of this behaviour will make them complicit in the sexual exploitation of children. I fail to understand why Muslims are so vocal on abuses by the west in Abu Ghraib, Guantánamo, Iraq and Afghanistan, but display moral blindness when it comes to children? It’s about time this silence was broken, so these violations of innocence can be stopped.

A too-passive attitude in dealing with child abuse has rubbed off on Muslim communities in Britain, too. I have heard many stories at first hand of child sexual abuse and rape, which show that the issue is not being addressed at all. Those who have had the courage to speak out have been met with reactions of denial and shame. Such attitudes mean that children will continue to suffer in silence. Sexual abuse of children happens in all communities, as has been revealed by the recent Catholic church scandal. At least, they have finally started to take action. Muslim communities should learn from this and also start being more open, instead of continuing to sweeping the issue under the carpet.

I am finding that more and more Muslims feel it is their duty to criticise others for actions they consider sinful – quoting the following popular saying of Muhammad to justify their interference:

“If you see something wrong, you should correct it with your hand and if you are unable to, then speak out against it and if you cannot do that, then feel that it is wrong in your heart.”

I wonder how, then, Muslims can remain silent when it comes to the sexual abuse of children?