While much of the 2016 presidential election is focused on the things that come out of the mouth of Donald Trump, occasionally his fellow Republican front runner Ted Cruz says something strange enough to garner national attention. On Tuesday, Ted Cruz implied that Celiac disease, an allergy to foods containing gluten, was a fake disease. He likened the government’s efforts to provide soldiers with gluten-free options to needless political correctness.
According to CNN, he gave a speech aboard the USS Yorktown in South Carolina in which he promised to strengthen the military by cutting out pointless initiatives that waste time and money. Among his oath to abandon “political correctness” and “social experiments,” Ted Cruz also assured the troops that he’d no longer bother to provide gluten-free MREs (Meals Ready to Eat).
“That’s why the last thing any commander should need to worry about is the grades he is getting from some plush-bottomed Pentagon bureaucrat for political correctness or social experiments — or providing gluten-free MREs.”
The Huffington Posts interpreted Ted Cruz’s statements to mean he considers Celiac disease a liberal conspiracy, much like the candidate considers climate change not to be science but “religion.” In both cases, there is a significant amount of scientific evidence to suggest Ted Cruz is wrong.
The Celiac Disease Foundation claims that as many as one in every 100 people across the world suffer from Celiac disease, despite the fact that many go undiagnosed. This would include a significant number of soldiers in the United States military that Cruz is so keen on expanding.
“If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine,” says the official definition by the Mayo Clinic website. “Over time, this reaction produces inflammation that damages the small intestine’s lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption).”
There is no cure for Celiac disease, but it can be easily managed by avoiding foods that contain gluten, like many who live with the condition do every day. But if Ted Cruz has his way, hundreds of soldiers with Celiac disease (diagnosed or otherwise) could experience intestinal damage, which means “nutrients cannot be absorbed properly into the body.”
The comments made by Ted Cruz may seem like an off-the-cuff dismissal of what he considers to be fake science, but it was disturbing enough to the Celiac disease advocacy group Beyond Celiac to warrant an official statement by CEO Alice Bast.
“Senator Cruz’s remarks equating the need for gluten-free food options with ‘political correctness or social experiments’ propagate misinformation about celiac disease that is both harmful and disparaging to the celiac disease community… When people in positions of power disregard celiac disease, they simultaneously disregard the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have been diagnosed and the millions who are estimated to have the disease but have not been diagnosed.”
Bast also encourages Ted Cruz to have more empathy for people suffering from Celiac disease and encourages him to learn more about the science behind the condition.
Ted Cruz finished his speech by stressing the importance of putting the United States military first.
“It is time for America to once again prioritize a strong, advanced, and robust military,” said Ted Cruz.
What do you think about the comments made by Ted Cruz? Was he wrong to suggest that Celiac disease doesn’t exist? Do you know somebody who suffers from a gluten allergy?
For another story about Ted Cruz being accused of making false statements, read about the CNN anchor who called out Ted Cruz for a “b.s. statement” regarding the campaign of Ben Carson.
(Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)