The newsLINK Group - Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance

Editorial Library Category: Health Topics: Celiac Disease – Gluten Intolerance Title: Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance Author: newsLINK Staff Synopsis: Even if celiac disease has been ruled out as a diagnosis, that doesn’t mean gluten isn’t causing digestive problems. Researchers have estimated that 18 million people in the U.S. have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Editorial: Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance 4064 South Highland Drive, Millcreek, Utah 84124 │ │ (v) 801.676.9722 │ (tf) 855.747.4003 │ (f) 801.742.5803 Editorial Library | © The newsLINK Group LLC 1 Do you know which genetic autoimmune disease is the most common one in the entire world? It isn’t Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, lupus, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, or rheumatoid arthritis. It’s celiac disease. Experts haven’t known that for very long. Until 2003, doctors thought it was actually a rare disorder. They don’t think so today. Although only one percent of the world’s population is estimated to have celiac disease, that needs to be put into perspective: one percent of more than 7.2 billion people (the number as of August 2014) means that more than 72.4 million people have it today. It is estimated that more than three million of them live in the U.S., but only 150,000 have been diagnosed. The total U.S. healthcare cost for untreated celiacs has been estimated at $14.5 billion to $34.8 billion. Worse, the damage from eating gluten is cumulative. The longer it goes without treatment, the more serious the consequences are, yet diagnosis is often an 11-year-long process after symptoms begin. If a child has it, that child will visit an average of eight different pediatricians before diagnosis. That is probably because celiac disease has more than 300 different associated disorders, complications, signs and symptoms. Another complication is that many people are asymptomatic. Although one person out of 133 suffers from celiac disease, therefore, only one in 4,700 has actually been diagnosed. Even if celiac disease has been ruled out as a diagnosis, that doesn’t mean gluten isn’t causing digestive problems. Researchers have estimated that 18 million people in the U.S. have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Add the numbers together, and 21 million people have a good reason to be careful about gluten in their diets. Unfortunately, though, avoiding gluten is not an easy task. Gluten can be found in barley, rye, common oats, and wheat. If you think about the typical holiday meal, you can see immediately that the holidays are particularly difficult: consider mashed potatoes, stuffing, sauces and soups thickened with flour, rolls, and tempting selections of cookies, pies, and cakes. Even salad dressings, seasonings, and soy sauce sometimes have gluten as one of the ingredients. What’s the smart thing to do? Talk to your doctor about being tested for it. Celiac disease is genetic, so if someone in your family has it, it’s particularly important that you be screened even if you don’t have symptoms. Your doctor can do a celiac panel blood test and biopsy the small intestine. In a more symptom-based approach, your doctor can put you on a gluten-free diet and determine whether your symptoms go into remission. Why not just go gluten free without spending the money on a doctor? If so many people are at risk for celiac disease or gluten intolerance, and if gluten is supposed to be unhealthy for so many people, shouldn’t everybody just eliminate it from their diets as a precautionary measure? That’s not a good idea, for several reasons: If you cut gluten out of your diet, but you actually do have celiac disease, your doctor will have a harder time figuring that out. Gluten makes food nicer to eat. It binds foods together, and it makes them thicker and more flavorful. Cut out everything that has gluten in it and you will have a more difficult time getting enough to eat every day. Processed gluten-free food usually has more fat and sugar in it than regular food. That’s because food manufacturers have to do something to make gluten- free food taste good, or you won’t buy it or eat it. But increasing fat and sugar isn’t a good idea, either. You may have found a gluten-free brownie you love, but it’s doubtful that it has the nutrients you need. People who eat a gluten-free diet often don’t get enough B vitamins, fiber, or iron. And that’s a problem. Processed foods just aren’t great for you, even when they don’t have gluten in them.