Do You Need To Be Gluten Free?

     I have worked with many patients who have problems with gluten.  It can be potentially a serious medical issue.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that can attack the intestines and other tissues in response to eating foods with gluten.  In addition, some people have gluten sensitivity without the diagnosis of Celiac disease.

     There may be many people with celiac disease who are unaware they have it.  The condition can bring on vague and confusing symptoms including abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, muscle cramps, even bone fractures.  The disorder can remain unknown for many years, allowing damage to occur that can have lifelong negative health effects.

     Millions of Americans are adopting gluten free diets without knowing whether or not they have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  While many report feeling better, there can be a serious medical downside.  If people have not been tested and do not know they actually have the condition, they tend to be less motivated to maintain a rigorous gluten-free diet.  That can put them at risk for the disease continuing to progress.  Also, if they are not under a doctor’s care they may develop other medical problems, including a heightened risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

     I also see many patients who have gluten sensitivity without Celiac disease.  Some of the most common conditions that seem to have a higher incidence of non-Celiac gluten sensitivity include autism, ADHD and autoimmune diseases (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Sjogren’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, etc.).  There are other tests available to screen for non-Celiac gluten sensitivity that I use on a regular basis.  Some people have issues with only non-organic genetically modified wheat, which uses high amounts of herbicides and other chemicals.  

     Also many people think that because an item is marked gluten free, that means it is a healthier choice – this is not necessarily the case!  I definitely agree with the comment in the article that a gluten-free diet is not necessarily a healthy diet. Most commercial gluten free products contain a lot of corn and white rice flours that are high in simple sugars and often genetically modified.  There are all kinds of processed gluten free foods that are not healthy.  While these can be helpful transition foods for children starting on a gluten free diet, I generally recommend that people on a gluten free diet try to avoid processed gluten free foods and instead opt mostly for foods that are naturally gluten free, including vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, fish and meat.  You can click on the photo or here to read the article.

     If you or a family member have questions about whether you should be gluten free, please call our office at 808-783-0361.  We offer a no-charge phone consultation (an $88 value).  Mahalo!