Have you heard about the gluten free craze that is going around? Suddenly everyone from movie stars to singers, grocery stores to restaurants are following the gluten free bandwagon. I must recommend a gluten free diet four or five times per day and often I hear, “Isn’t that just a phase?”
The gluten free idea has been around for a long time as there are a lot of people who can’t or shouldn’t eat gluten. What I suspect is that the testing and education about gluten has increased and people are realizing how much better they feel when they avoid it. If you have celiac disease then you have a true allergy to gluten, but what are some other reasons to change your diet? First let’s talk statistics.
Recent research show one in 130 people have celiac disease and many believe gluten intolerance/sensitivity is as many as one in seven or one in 10. This is a lot of the population! The testing for celiac disease involves a blood test for gluten markers. Unfortunately, this test can have many false negatives especially if you are only at a mild stage. At our clinic we do the genetic test for celiac as well. Many gastroenterologists recommend a small intestine biopsy--this is also controversial as celiac can be spotty and the biopsy may miss the affected area. Food intolerance/sensitivity testing also involves a blood test that evaluates the IgG or IgA part of your immune system. While this testing is valuable, it is not often covered by insurance.
So is the gluten free thing a phase? I don’t think so. Based on research, I recommend a gluten free diet for those with various gastrointestinal complaints such as colitis or irritable bowel. I also recommend it for autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis. I have seen people’s fatigue improve, memory return, bloating disappear, and joint pain alleviate. Gluten free can lower inflammation, clear up skin conditions, allow for better absorption (which can be especially helpful if you are chronically anemic), and reduce heart burn.
Do I recommend going gluten free for everyone?