In having two friends over for dinner last night who are both gluten free, I realized two things: One, it can be extremely difficult to accommodate a gluten-free diet. And two, perhaps I’m slightly gluten intolerant myself as I’ve had similar symptoms to the ones they were listing off before changing their diet.
And after seeing a report this morning from RTT News that most Americans have celiac disease but are unaware of it, I’m starting to wonder if I’m among the gluten intolerant after all.
A new survey from the Mayo Clinic found that about 1.8 million Americans have celiac disease, but approximately 1.4 million are unaware they have it. Or, 1 in 141 Americans is living with the condition without knowing it.
Researchers ran blood tests on 7,798 people over the age of six who’d previously participated in a nationwide survey from the CDC between 2009 and 2010. Findings revealed that 35 participants had celiac disease – 20 were women, 29 were Caucasian, and 29 were entirely unaware of their condition.
The study also found that 1.6 million people follow a gluten-free diet but don’t have the disease.
Symptoms of celiac disease can include a wide range of things depending on its severity in a person, but shouldn’t be confused with a gluten intolerance as there’s a difference between the two.
According to the Gluten Free Network, celiac disease is an onset allergic reaction to the protein gluten commonly found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. While it’s initially an auto-immune disorder, it can result in malabsorption as essential nutrients are no longer being absorbed. This can ultimately result in a person suffering from malnutrition.
Gluten intolerance, on the other hand, has a slower onset than celiac disease, making it the less severe of the two.
People suffering from either gluten intolerance or celiac disease typically experience such symptoms as weight loss or gain, aching joints, eczema, head aches, exhaustion, cramps, irritability, infertility and gastrointestinal problems such as bloating, pain and gas.
If you suspect you may have some level of intolerance, consult your physician about getting tested. You can also order an at-home test kit from EnteroLab, which is mailed out, allows you to provide saliva and stool sample, and after mailing it back in and you’ll receive your results a few weeks later.
If you discover you do have a gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, be sure to make the appropriate dietary changes as ignoring the condition can do long-term damage to your thyroid, joints, digestive system and overall health.
August 1st, 2012