Sunday 23 October 2016

Exclusive: Rosanna Davison writes on gluten criticism: 'Diet alone is never a cure all'

Rosanna Davison

Published 27/08/2015 | 10:14

Rosanna Davison pictured at the VIP Style Awards at the Marker Hotel in Dublin
Rosanna Davison pictured at the VIP Style Awards at the Marker Hotel in Dublin
Rosanna Davison
Rosanna Davison makes coconut curry with sweet potato noodles

An interview I did that was published last Saturday caused some controversy earlier this week.

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In it, I spoke about my new cookbook, which includes advice and recipes to help promote beauty and wellness.

During the conversation, I was asked whether my dietary advice had changed the way my family ate and for my opinion of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity.

I responded by saying that, in some cases, gluten can have a significant impact on people’s health – coeliac disease is tremendously debilitating, for instance.

Rosanna Davison
Rosanna Davison

I then noted that there have even been studies suggesting gluten-free diets can play a role in helping to manage other auto-immune and neurological disorders.

Read more: 'People think I'm a bit spoiled and precocious - but I'm not,' says Rosanna Davison

I mentioned these studies because they show how the lively debate around gluten continues to gather pace, not because they accurately reflect my personal beliefs.

Then, returning to the broader question of my family, I shared a story about my husband Wes.

Rosanna Davison makes coconut curry with sweet potato noodles
Rosanna Davison makes coconut curry with sweet potato noodles

Earlier this year, he began to manifest unusual symptoms, not dissimilar to those you’d associate with rheumatoid arthritis: principally morning swelling of his knuckles and knees, and severe back pain.

He visited a number of professionals – including physiotherapists and a chiropractor – but he wasn’t seeing any progress.

At that point, I had a suspicion it could be related to his diet. Gut permeability, dysbiosis and inflammation looked likely suspects.

So I designed an anti-inflammatory diet tailored to meet his nutritional needs. The results were really positive and his joint and back pain disappeared within a couple of weeks.

Wesley Quirke and Rosanna Davison
Wesley Quirke and Rosanna Davison

Unfortunately, some commentators have subsequently claimed that I believe gluten to be responsible for autism, schizophrenia and arthritis.

That is absolutely not the case.

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Diet can unquestionably play a role in helping to manage illness and Wes’s experience speaks, I think, to the role gluten can play in aggravating some health issues. However, that’s as far as anyone in my position can go.

I’m not a doctor, and I wouldn’t for a second recommend that anyone jettison the advice of their GP or consultant in an attempt to manage serious conditions – like autism or schizophrenia, for example.

People come to me for help with their diet and that’s what I am qualified to advise them on. Any radical changes to eating habits should definitely be carried out with the approval of a medical professional.

It would be irresponsible for someone in my position, or anyone for that matter, to suggest otherwise.

We live in world that’s becoming increasingly aware of the role good food can play in promoting better health and well-being.


For a nutritional therapist such as myself, it’s been great to see this becoming mainstream, as supermarkets and restaurants are now crammed with healthy options to experiment with.

People have more choice and information at their disposal than ever before. Diet matters and I’ve seen first-hand the positive effects small changes to eating habits have had on the lives of my clients, friends and family.

While I encourage people to take an active role in managing their health, it’s important that diet alone is never been seen as a cure-all, particularly for serious medical conditions.

At its best, it should be used to complement treatment recommended by medical professionals.


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