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Huffington Post Offers Informative Aricle on Celiac & Gluten Intolerance

Posted Jan 04 2010 12:00am

As a follow up to my last post , I wanted to pass along this article from Huffington Post , entitled Gluten: What You Don’t Know Might Kill You .  The author, Dr. Mark Hyman, offers some shocking information regarding the prevalence of Celiac and gluten intolerance in Americans, as well as the dangers associated with letting these medical conditions go undiagnosed.  Dr. Hyman gives the daunting statistic that 3 million Americans have celiac, but 99% are still undiagnosed.  Also, according to studies, 30% of people of European descent carry the gene for Celiac (HLADQ2 or HLA DQ8).  That’s a lot of people!

People with celiac are often misdiagnosed or doctors identify certain conditions that are caused by celiac in their patients, but don’t acknowledge celiac as the source of the problem.  Dr. Hyman states, “Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity masquerade as dozens and dozens of other diseases with different names.”  Many people who have been told they have IBS, osteoporosis, cancer, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or depression might also have celiac or a gluten sensitivity.  It’s definitely worth checking out the possibility of gluten intolerance, if you suffer from one or more of those conditions.

Celiac can manifest itself in many different ways, and there’s not one particular symptom too look for with gluten intolerance.  Dr. Hyman writes, “We used to think that gluten problems or celiac disease were confined to children who had diarrhea, weight loss, and failure to thrive. Now we know you can be old, fat, and constipated and still have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.”  It’s true.  People with celiac come in all shapes and sizes and it can expose itself in different ways, such as stomach issues, night sweats, fatigue and even numbness in hands and feet.

I was surprised to see that Dr. Hyman recommends the elimination diet because often, doctors oppose this method of diagnosis, and prefer the biopsy or blood test (which is not all that reliable).  I’ve always been conflicted about what the best route towards diagnosis is, but with Dr. Hyman’s statistics about the damage that gluten can do to people who just have gluten sensitivity, not full blown celiac, it seems that many people can benefit from trying the elimination/reintroduction method, as the biopsy might not provide positive results either for those without full blown celiac.

Reading this article is a sad reminder to me that there are so many people out there who are undiagnosed and suffering.  People continue spending lots of money going to doctors, when their medical problems could be solved by a change in diet.  Dr. Hyman mentions that individuals with undiagnosed celiac spend 30% more in medical expenses than those with diagnosed celiac.  I can definitely attest to the validity of that statistic from my personal experience.

While some people think that Celiac is just a hip and trendy fad, studies looking at blood samples from today and 50 years ago, actually show that incidences of “full blown celiac” are 400% more likely today.  Wow!  It looks like this ‘trend’ is not just a rise in diagnosis, but an actual rise in the disease itself.  Of course this statistic brings about many more questions regarding why the disease is more prevalent but as we try to figure out those answers, we might as well get people diagnosed and healthy.

I know it can seem overwhelming to think about cutting gluten out of your diet, but it just might solve those persistent health problems that you’ve been trying to resolve.  The gluten-free life is a great one, that is full of delicious food, energy, and health.  It’s definitely worth thinking about hopping on the gluten-free bandwagon.

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