Dr. Doni shares the most important information from the 2013 International Celiac Disease Symposium in Chicago.
■ It is estimated that one in 133 people have Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition triggered by gluten (the protein in wheat, barley, rye and spelt).
Unlike most autoimmune conditions, in the case of Celiac, researchers and medical practitioners alike agree that the treatment is a dietary change – avoid gluten 100%. When people with Celiac avoid gluten, in most cases, their symptoms completely resolve.
■ The issue is that most people who have Celiac don’t know that they have Celiac. One might think that a person would know, considering that Celiac causes digestive issues, fatigue, anemia, bone loss, headaches, and is associated with dysfunction throughout the body, including diabetes – but the fact is that only a small number of people who have Celiac disease know that is the cause of their health issues, nor that avoiding gluten would completely change their life.
■ One of the reasons that people don’t know that they Celiac is because (and there is research to prove this) practitioners are not thinking of it and don’t test for it regularly. That’s because most practitioners think of Celiac as a digestive disorder, when in fact, it is associated with symptoms anywhere in the body including anxiety, insomnia and Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and often without ever causing diarrhea.
■ Another reason is that the “gold standard” for diagnosis has been an invasive procedure – an intestinal biopsy – and even with a biopsy, the abnormal tissue is often missed.
Some researchers say it is possible to diagnose Celiac without a biopsy – based on symptoms, immune system markers that indicate celiac disease, autoantibodies, genes that 95% of people with Celiac have (HLA-DQ2 and 8), and a positive response to a gluten-free diet. These tests are available through Quest and LabCorp, as well as specialty labs.
Still most Celiac specialists still feel that a biopsy is the only way to confirm the diagnosis and that only people who have a confirmed biopsy should avoid gluten.
■ Researchers are also (finally) acknowledging other forms of gluten and wheat intolerance – until recently (2011) there was not an official name for non-Celiac gluten sensitivities. Now it is becoming clear in the research that people react to gluten without it becoming a Celiac autoimmune condition – and IgG/A to gluten is one way to discover it.
Non-Celiac gluten reactions can cause major health issues including symptoms of IBS, bloating, stomach pain and/or bowel changes. It doesn’t end there—Non-Celiac gluten reactions have also been associated with everything from headaches and migraines, to pelvic issues, PMS, recurrent infections, and neurological conditions, including anxiety and depression.
Overall, the main message I would like to share is…
If you or someone you know is experiencing a health issue anywhere in the body that is not improving with other approaches, then it is definitely time to consider gluten as a potential trigger, whether in the form of Celiac autoimmunity or other gluten/wheat sensitivities.
Please let me know if you are concerned about gluten—I’m happy to help you figure out if it plays a role in your health issues. Schedule a time for us to meet here.
To read more about gluten, check out these posts:
DR. DONI WILSON is a Doctor of Naturopathic Medicine, natural health expert, nutritionist, and midwife specializing in gluten sensitivity, intestinal permeability, adrenal stress, and insulin resistance. She helps women, men, and children overcome their most perplexing health challenges and achieve their wellness goals. She does this by crafting individualized strategies that address the whole body and the underlying causes of health issues. She is the creator of The Hamptons Cleanse and author of The Stress Remedy: Master Your Body’s Synergy & Optimize Your Health. Find out how stress of all types affects your body at TheStressRemedy.com, and sign up for Dr. Doni’s Weekly Wellness Wisdom e-newsletter for tips to empower you and your path to wellness!