Over recent years, avoiding gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye, has become increasingly popular among Americans. Many people on the gluten-free diet have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten that can affect the entire body, in particular the small intestine, causing serious health problems. A study is suggesting that people who are at risk for celiac disease (because they are related to a celiac patient) should undergo antibody testing and that those with positive results, showing antibodies which are specific to the disease, can benefit from a gluten-free diet.
Celiac disease (CD) has a wide range of symptoms including headaches, chronic fatigue, and gastrointestinal issues such as diarrhea, although some celiacs have been known to not exhibit any symptoms. Untreated, celiac disease can lead to severe complications such as infertility, liver disease, and certain cancers. While an estimated 1% of Americans have celiac disease, it’s supposed by experts that an even greater percentage of Americans are sensitive to gluten, meaning blood tests can confirm certain anti-gluten antibodies, while intestinal damage doesn’t exist.
In the study, headed by Dr. Katri Kaukinen of the gastroenterology department at Tampere University Hospital and School of Medicine in Finland, 3,031 healthy people who were related to a celiac patient but exhibited no symptoms were administered antibody blood tests. 40 of these people with positive results, who had anti-gluten antibodies, which are found in people with celiac disease, were divided randomly into two groups—a group of people told to switch to a gluten-free diet and a group supposed to maintain their regular gluten-containing diet.
The results? Those who went on the gluten-free diet experienced improved health, including gastrointestinal health. When the study was over, 85 percent of the participants opted to maintain a gluten-free diet. The researchers concluded that screening for at-risk individuals should be stepped up.
The gluten-free diet may also help aging baby boomers with age-related health problems and diseases, many of which can be tied to gluten sensitivity and can be alleviated on the gluten-free diet, such as depression, obesity and weight gain, skin disorders, dibromyalgia, memory loss, diabetes, thyroid problems, arthtritis, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and osteoporosis.
In fact, the gluten-free diet may be an optimum diet for humans. According Drs. Vikki and Richard Petersen, D.C., C.C.N. in The Gluten Effect, grains are fairly new to our diets in the history of humankind and have been shown to be negatively affecting our health.
If you’re at risk for celiac disease but not showing symptoms, it’s recommended that you should get screened as soon as possible. Even if you aren’t at risk for CD, switching to a gluten-free diet under the supervision of a qualified medical practitioner may be a responsible choice.
From our home to yours, Tina Turbin.