1 out of every 3 people – up to 40% of the population – may be gluten sensitive.
Chances are, you are at risk. In fact, you may already be affected without realizing it.
Only a fraction of those effected will ever have full blown Celiac Disease. Others have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and their health can be seriously impacted. [Just to be clear, for this conversation Gluten Sensitivity is the broader term refering to both Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.]
If you are sensitive to gluten, a serious amount of damage may occur in your body long before there are visible symptoms. This damage won’t necessarily be limited to your digestive system. Some of it may not be reversible. The insidious nature of gluten is that the damage often occurs silently and goes unrecognized for a very long time.
So before you reach for that next piece of bread, please listen up. Here is some important information about Gluten Sensitivity and your own potential susceptibility.
Research has shown:
- As many as 30% – 40% of all Americans may be gluten sensitive.
- 50% of high risk populations (as defined in #7 below) may be gluten sensitive.
- 1 in 225 have a severe form of gluten sensitivity causing the intestinal disease called Celiac Sprue or Celiac Disease. Most physicians still think that Celiac Disease is rare, but this is simply not the case.
Could that 1 in 3 people be you?
More Important Facts about Gluten Sensitivity
1. Conventionally trained physicians only recognize Celiac Disease, the most serious form of Gluten Sensitivity. And Celiac Disease is only diagnosed after there is serious damage to the small intestine. Therefore, your primary care physician or gastroenterologist will be of little or no help to you whatsoever if you have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.
2. 10 – 25% of North Americans (28 – 70 million people) have elevated anti-gliadin antibodies in a blood sample, but don’t exhibit visible damage in the small intestine. Translation: Anti-gliadin anti-bodies are an indicator of gluten sensitivity. These people had a blood test taken and also underwent a small bowel biopsy to check for Celiac Disease.
Despite the elevated anti-gliadin antibodies, these people are routinely told by their doctors that they don’t have Celiac Disease and that they can continue eating gluten. But now research shows that a portion of these people had Latent Celiac Disease. They went on to develop active Celiac Disease because they followed their physician’s advice and continued to eat gluten.
3. Many people who test positive for anti-gliadin antibodies will never test positive for Celiac Disease, but they still may have Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and develop an array of health problems.
4. The absence of anti-gliadin antibodies in the blood does not indicate an absence of Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease, especially in the early stages or mild forms of the disease.
5. The genes that appear to be associated with gluten sensitivity (all DQ genes except DQ 4,4) are common and occur in 60 – 70 % of the population.
6. A small bowel biopsy can rule out Celiac Disease (although sometimes it is wrong), but not necessarily Gluten Sensitivity.
7. According to researcher Dr. Kenneth Fine, M. D., certain populations are at greater risk for developing gluten sensitivity. Gluten Sensitivity may occur in 1 out of every 2 people with these conditions:
- Microscopic colitis
- Relatives of gluten-sensitive individuals
- Gluten-sensitive individuals 1 year after treatment
- Chronic diarrhea of unknown origin
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Inflammatory bowel disease
- Gastroesophageal reflux disease
- Hepatitis C
- Autoimmune liver disease
- Other causes of chronic liver disease
- Dermatitis herpetiformis
- Diabetes mellitus, type 1
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjogren’s syndrome
- Autoimmune thyroid disease
- Any autoimmune syndrome
- Chronic Fatigue
- Iron deficiency
- Short stature in children
- Down’s syndrome
- Mothers of kids with neural tube defects
- Female infertility
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Cerebellar ataxia
- Seizure disorders
- Psychiatric disorders
8. The connection between Celiac Disease and neurological disorders is well accepted. Evidence is now accumulating that neurological and neuromuscular disease may also be associated with Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. It may even occur alone without the manifestations of intestinal symptoms.
Some of the common symptoms of gluten sensitivity include fatigue, depression, joint aches, bone pain, abdominal and bowel complaints (gas, bloating, cramping, pain, irritable bowel, diarrhea), neurological complaints, headaches, and others. But remember, damage can be silently occurring for years without any symptoms at all.
I hope this research makes you stand up and take notice. There is a serious epidemic of Gluten Sensitivity taking place and you or your family may be effected. The good news is that there is a way to screen for Gluten Sensitivity
Screening for Gluten Sensitivity
I’m passionate about this topic because I have suffered from the effects of undiagnosed Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity.
At the time, I was experiencing intense neuropathy symptoms and digestive complaints. My blood work for Celiac Disease was negative, but an intestinal biopsy showed a mild form of Microscopic Colitis. My online research uncovered a link between Microscopic Colitis and Gluten Sensitivity. Following the clues, I discovered EnteroLab, which specializes in alternative testing for Gluten Sensitivity.
“EnteroLab is a registered and fully accredited clinical laboratory specializing in the analysis of intestinal specimens for food sensitivities (reactions by the immune system to common proteins in the diet) that cause a variety of symptoms and diseases. One particular area of our focus relates to intestinal conditions caused by immune reactivity to a protein called gluten which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and oats. Recent research in our laboratory indicates that immune sensitivity to gluten is exceedingly common, present in 30-40% of all Americans. Although these reactions can cause malnutrition, growth failure in children, osteoporosis, many autoimmune diseases (including colitis, diabetes, arthritis, and many others), most of the affected individuals are unaware they have it because there have been no sensitive tests capable of diagnosis.”
Granted, this is alternative testing and you don’t need a doctor’s prescription to obtain it. Your conventional doctor might not be receptive to alternative testing. I was fortunate to meet a large number of people online who have done this testing, removed gluten from their diet, and experienced clear improvements. Results speak to me.
In my case, the EnteroLab stool testing revealed Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. In addition, the genetic testing I requested revealed a dual set of DQ1 genes, which, according to Fine’s research, indicate a greater risk for gluten neurological and skin disorders in addition to overall gluten sensitivity.
A gluten-free diet wasn’t a magic wand for me, however, it did improve my symptoms dramatically, and some symptoms resolved fully. Three years later, a standard blood test also indicated elevated anti-gliadin anti-bodies for the first time, confirming, to some extent, the results of the alternative testing.
This is not a commercial for Enterolab and it’s not an affiliate link by any means. Enterolab is the only lab I’m aware of that does stool testing for the whole spectrum of gluten sensitivity rather than Celiac Disease alone. If you know of others, I would love to hear about them.
The main point is that you or someone you know may be gluten sensitive and have no clue about it.
Your digestive distress may not seem so bad. But then your health may start slipping downhill gradually. You may never associate your health problems with eating wheat and other gluten-containing grains, which are ubiquitous in our culture. Or you may have an autoimmune disease, but no one ever told you about the connection between gluten sensitivity and autoimmune diseases. A gluten-free diet may not make your autoimmune disease go away, but it might greatly improve some of your symptoms.
Given recent research indicating that 1 in 3 people may be gluten sensitive, doesn’t it make sense to screen for gluten sensitivity? It could save you and your children from significant health troubles.
Do you eat wheat and other gluten-containing grains everyday? Are you aware of the potential dangers of eating gluten containing foods?
Note: I’m not a doctor and this article is not intended as medical advice. I’m only reporting research and my own experience.
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