As this blog is written (May, 2014) , it is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Celiac Disease, just in case you're not familiar with it, occurs in about 1% of the U.S. population, but that's only those who have been diagnosed. Almost 20% of those with celiac have not been diagnosed.Â
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder caused by the body not being able to digest wheat proteins (barley and rye and cross-contaminated foods as well). As a result of celiac disease, the protective lining of the small intestine becomes compromised, potentially leading to 'leaky gut' and a plethora of other symptoms. Â
But the millions of people who have gone gluten free ... are they gluten free because they had a proper diagnosis, or, is it because they have been convinced by the media, celebrity diet gurus, health blogs, alternative wellness practitioners, etc., that all their misery is because of gluten, one of the main proteins of wheat, barley and rye?
An Australian study, published in Nutrition in Clinical Practice, concluded that many people who are gluten free and think they are non Celiac gluten sensitive (NCGS), may not have been accurately tested to prove that they are indeed sensitive.Â
More on the results from the study in a moment....
But, we on the Miracle Noodle Team believe that even if it's psychosomatic, if you feel better not eating gluten, stay on the gluten free bandwagon. While it's true that some people can probably eat all the gluten they want without any ill effects, most gluten products are processed and heavy with grains, two types of foods that usually promote inflammation in the diet.Â
So even if someone tells you, "Oh, it's all in your head; don't listen to those New Age hippies, nothing's wrong with you; you can eat some gluten here and there, don't be a radical gluten prohibitionist," you can reply to them, "Yes, you're right, it is all in my head...after I eat something with gluten, I do feel spacey, and not as clear-headed as when I eat a meal that doesn't have gluten. Whether it's mental or not, I don't care...I feel better without gluten in my diet."
So what does the study say about those who claim gluten sensitivity even though they haven't been clinically tested for celiac disease?
"Nonceliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), occurring in patients without celiac disease yet whose gastrointestinal symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet (GFD), is largely a self-reported diagnosis and would appear to be very common. The aims of this study were to characterize patients who believe they have NCGS.
"Of 248 respondents, 147 completed the survey. Mean age was 43.5 years, and 130 were women. Seventy-two percent did not meet the description of NCGS due to inadequate exclusion of celiac disease (62%), uncontrolled symptoms despite gluten restriction (24%), and not following a GFD (27%), alone or in combination. The GFD was self-initiated in 44% of respondents; in other respondents it was prescribed by alternative health professionals (21%), dietitians (19%), and general practitioners (16%).Â
No celiac investigations had been performed in 15% of respondents. Of 75 respondents who had duodenal biopsies, 29% had no or inadequate gluten intake at the time of endoscopy. Inadequate celiac investigation was common if the GFD was initiated by self (69%), alternative health professionals (70%), general practitioners (46%), or dietitians (43%). In 40 respondents who fulfilled the criteria for NCGS, their knowledge of and adherence to the GFD were excellent, and 65% identified other food intolerances.Â
The study's conclusion: "Just over 1 in 4 respondents self-reporting as NCGS fulfill criteria for its diagnosis. Initiation of a GFD without adequate exclusion of celiac disease is common. In 1 of 4 respondents, symptoms are poorly controlled despite gluten avoidance."
Again, it's immaterial if only 1 in 4 people really do have a diagnosed NCGS set of symptoms; if the other 3 out of 4 really feel better on a gluten free diet, let them have their Miracle Noodles and eat 'em, too!