Monday, January 27, 2014

One in Every 100 Americans Affected by Celiac Disease

When I initially embarked on my gluten-free journey, I did so half-heartedly. I didn't study the labels of everything I bought or worry if I "fell off the wagon" from time to time when it came to the food I ate. I treated my new food lifestyle like a many people ever stick to diets? The word "diet" conjures so many negative perceptions with most people treating diets as if they are merely trends, especially with so many fad diets that come and go.

I now know that it has to be all or nothing for a lifetime when it comes to going gluten-free. This is not a fad or trend but a path to saving my life. Once gluten is eliminated from meals and snacks, there is no turning back. Gluten intake is debilitating for people like me. "Cheating" on a gluten-free regimen can change the course of the body’s healing process.

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye, spelt, kamut, and often time, oats. It is hidden in pizza, pasta, soy sauce, salad dressing, licorice, bread, wraps, rolls, and most processed foods. (Oats are available in gluten-free form from producers that do not rotate their crops with wheat, which contaminates the soil with gluten protein.) American strains of wheat have a much higher gluten content than European wheat.

Wheat was introduced into Europe during the Middle Ages and 30 percent of those of European descent carry the gene for celiac disease (HLA DQ2 or HLA DQ8), (xii). This 30 percent of people have a much higher risk of developing serious health problems than those that do not carry the gene.

While initial responses like stomach pain, nausea, diarrhea, gas and rashes can sidetrack, the long-term effects of gluten intake can lead to life-threatening disorders. Gluten sensitivity is an autoimmune disorder wherein the body begins to attack itself. Unhealthy and healthy cells are detected as toxins that need to be eliminated when gluten is introduced. This internal battle can lead to inflammation in major organs such as the brain and heart, digestive tract, joints and other parts of the body.

A review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat. These include osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten is also linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage). It has also been linked to autism.

One in every 100 Americans is affected by celiac disease. According to Integrative Medical Doctor Mark Hyman, MD, “What most people don’t know is that gluten can cause serious health complications for many. You may be at risk even if you don’t have full blown celiac disease.”

Hyman reports, “…milder forms of gluten sensitivity are even more common and may affect up to one-third of the American population.”

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