Aug 2, 2012 by APRIL McCARTHY
Many With Gluten Intolerance Avoid Diagnosis, Move Towards Gluten Free Foods For Relief
Celiac disease is a digestive disorder brought on when genetically susceptible people eat wheat, rye and barley. A gluten-free diet, which excludes the protein gluten, is used to treat celiac disease. Roughly 80 percent of the people on a gluten-free diet do so without a diagnosis of celiac disease.
Millions have been diagnosed with celiac disease, but around just as many are unaware that they have it, a Mayo Clinic-led analysis of the condition’s prevalence has found. Meanwhile, 1.6 million people in the United States are on a gluten-free diet even though they haven’t been diagnosed with celiac disease, according to the study published Tuesday in the American Journal of Gastroenterology. This suggests more people are indifferent about diagnosis and becoming more concerned about how food makes them feel.
Researchers have estimated the rate of diagnosed and undiagnosed celiac disease at similar levels prior to this study, but this is the most definitive study on the issue. “This provides proof that this disease is common in the United States,” says co-author Joseph Murray, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. “If you detect one person for every five or six (who have it), we aren’t doing a very good job detecting celiac disease.”
An intolerance to gluten can cause a wide array of symptoms, some debilitating. Moreover, delays in diagnosis or common misdiagnoses can be devastating to long-term health.
Mayo Clinic researchers uncovered a link between celiac disease and dementia or other forms of cognitive decline.
The incidence of celiac disease is also much more common among persons with insulin-dependent diabetes than once thought.
There are as many health risks associated with the consumption of wheat as there are nutritional benefits claimed by the wheat industry. Many are asking why there continues to be such a strong emphasis on the development of wheat products all over the world when there are so many adverse and crippling effects such as neurological impairment, dementia, heart disease, cataracts, diabetes, arthritis and visceral fat accumulation, not to mention the full range of intolerances and bloating now experienced by millions of people?
To determine its prevalence, researchers combined blood tests confirming celiac disease with interviews from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nationwide population sample survey called National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. The survey, designed to assess the health and nutrition of U.S. adults and children, is unique in that it combines interviews and physical examinations.
Researchers found that celiac disease is much more common in Caucasians.
“In fact, virtually all the individuals we found were non-Hispanic Caucasians,” says co-author Alberto Rubio-Tapia, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist. But previous research in Mexico has shown that celiac disease could be just as common as it is in the U.S.
“So that is something we don’t fully understand,” Dr. Rubio-Tapia says. The study found the rate of celiac disease in the U.S. is similar to that found in several European countries.
"We talk about people being genetically susceptible, but it's the hybridization and genetic engineering of wheat that is the problem for current human populations," said researcher Joseph Ricci.
A powerful little chemical in wheat known as 'wheat germ agglutinin' (WGA) which is largely responsible for many of wheat's pervasive, and difficult to diagnose, ill effects. Researchers are now discovering that WGA in modern wheat is very different from ancient strains. Not only does WGA throw a monkey wrench into our assumptions about the primary causes of wheat intolerance, but due to the fact that WGA is found in highest concentrations in "whole wheat," including its supposedly superior sprouted form, it also pulls the rug out from under one of the health food industry's favorite poster children.
Each grain of wheat contains about one microgram of Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA). Even in small quantities, WGA can have profoundly adverse effects. It may be pro-inflammatory, immunotoxic, cardiotoxic ... and neurotoxic.
Author and preventive cardiologist William Davis, MD, says wheat's new biochemical code causes hormone disruption that is linked to diabetes and obesity. "It is not my contention that it is in everyone's best interest to cut back on wheat; it is my belief that complete elimination is in everyone's best health interests," says Dr. Davis, "In my view, that's how bad this thing called 'wheat' has become."
April McCarthy is a community journalist playing an active role reporting and analyzing world events to advance our health and eco-friendly initiatives.