Do you know someone who has decided to go on a gluten free diet? Do you get discomfort when eating pasta or bread?
Gluten is a protein found in cereals such as: wheat, rye, barley, malt, oat and triticale. For most people, the protein goes in and out without being digested and without causing any symptoms. About 20% of people are symptomatic after having just one of these due to intolerance to gluten, called non-celiac-gluten-intolerance, or due to Celiac disease. A gluten intolerance is not dangerous, and avoiding foods with these ingredients is usually sufficient enough to feel better.
Celiac disease is an auto immune disease that attacks the small intestines. It is the most frequent genetic disorder in Europe and North America. About 10% of diagnosed patients were tested because of a family member being diagnosed with Celiac disease. Approximately 300 000 Canadians suffer from celiac disease, however as many as 9 out of 10 people have not been diagnosed yet. The disease can occur at any age group, and is not gender specific. Celiac is more frequent in people with juvenile diabetes, thyroid disorder and trisomy.
Recent studies have indicated that a gluten sensitivity is becoming increasingly common and more and more people are being diagnosed with Celiac disease on a daily basis.
Some of the symptoms of Celiac disease are
-Weight loss or overweight
-Unexplained neurological disorders
Anyone diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome should be investigated further for Celiac disease. If results are negative, they would still benefit from a gluten free diet to alleviate symptoms. Also, patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes or dermatitis herpetiformis should be tested for Celiac.
It is very important that no one stops eating gluten before having a clear diagnosis from a physician. By lowering your gluten intake before conducting any tests, it could falsify the results of blood tests and gastroscopies. The Celiac association recommends that before testing, the person should be eating a minimum of 4 portions of gluten per day for 3 months.
If not, the test could show a negative result.
The problem with the new ‘fashion’ of going gluten free, is that if you reduce the amount of gluten you are eating, you will most likely reduce any symptoms you may be experiencing. Gluten is found in a lot of things that are unexpected such as spices and chocolate. If you have Celiac disease and continue to expose yourself to a low gluten diet, the antibodies will destroy your insides without any warnings. The possible complications of a non diagnosed Celiac patient are as follows;
It has been shown that the disease often manifests itself after a surgery, an infection or a pregnancy, but can occur at any age with no triggers.
The only medication for Celiac disease is a complete gluten free diet for life.
If you feel you might be having symptoms related to gluten intake, contact your doctor before making any decision or changing your diet.
Julie Brisebois, LPN