Some people think that gluten free diet is good for people who are gluten sensitive. A study published in 2013, Gastroenterology journal found that gluten sensitivity may not exist at all. [Click here] to read more about the study. Therefore, only people with the very rare condition of celiac disease should avoid gluten containing foods. Gluten free food, however, can be good and healthier news for people having celiac disease.
First, here are some facts about Celiac Disease.
According to a 2012 study the prevalence of celiac disease in USA is 0.71 percent, which may be much lower than it is estimated by the so-called "health food" companies. To read more about that study [click here].
Understanding Celiac Disease: Celiac disease, also known as gluten intolerance, is an autoimmune disorder. Upon ingestion of gluten, a person’s immune system responds by attacking the lining of the small intestine and destroying villi. Villi are tiny fingerlike protrusions lining in the small intestine, which allows nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the intestine and into the bloodstream. A person becomes malnourished without healthy villi because their body cannot absorb any nutrients no matter how much food they eat.
Symptoms: The symptoms of celiac disease vary from person to person.
Infants and Young Children:
- Abdominal bloating and pain
- Chronic diarrhea
- Pale, highly odorous, or fatty stool
- Unexplained iron-deficiency anemia
- Fatigue, Depression or anxiety
- Tingling numbness in the hands and feet
- Missed menstrual periods
- Infertility or recurrent miscarriage
- Canker sores
- An itchy skin rash
Diagnosis: Early diagnosis is very critical in order to prevent complications later in life. The diagnosis of celiac disease is a 2-step process:
First: Blood Sample: a blood sample is tested for high levels of anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (tTGA) or anti-endomysium antibodies (EMA).
Second: Intestinal Biopsy:
If blood tests and symptoms suggest celiac disease then a biopsy of the small intestine is performed to check for damage to the villi.
A confirmed diagnosis is made when the blood test and the biopsy results are positive.
Following a strict gluten-free diet is the only treatment for celiac disease. This means a person will have to give up some of their favorite foods for the rest of their lives if they want to stay healthy. Complete avoidance of gluten can be very difficult to achieve since it is found in hundreds of food items and many everyday products, but with strict discipline it can be possible for them to maintain a gluten-free diet. A gluten-free diet is a must for them because even a tiny amount of gluten can damage the villi of the small intestine which can interfere with the absorption of nutrients from food.
For more information about celiac disease please refer to the following links:
So, what about people who do not have celiac disease? If one doesn't have celiac disease, there is no need to choose gluten free food. While gluten itself doesn't have any special nutritional value there are many vitamins and minerals in whole food. A gluten free diet makes it very hard to get in the recommended daily amounts of vitamins, minerals. There are many health benefits of whole grain products. To read more about whole grain foods [click here].
Posted By: Rahul Patel, PharmD candidate 2015.