The National Institutes of Health recently launched a Celiac Disease Awareness Campaign to inform both physicians and the public about the prevalence of the disease, which may be far more widespread than most people know.
Those with celiac disease cannot digest gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.
When people with celiac disease eat gluten, it triggers an autoimmune response, provoking the body to attack itself and destroying healthy tissues, especially the villi in the small intestine.
This can cause problems such as chronic diarrhea, gas, bloating, reflux and constipation. Even a small amount of gluten can trigger a response.
But celiac disease can also manifest in ways having nothing to do with the digestive system, leading many doctors to misdiagnose it or mistreat it. One study has shown that it takes an average of 11 years for patients to receive a correct diagnosis.Under a decade ago, it was believed that celiac disease affected only one out of every 10,000 Americans. But a 2004 report based on research by celiac experts estimates that as many as one in every 133 Americans have the disease. That comes to roughly 2 million people.
Who among us doesn't love the smell of freshly baked bread?
Most of us crave wheat nearly as much as sugar. Unfortunately, large numbers of people, perhaps even the majority of the populaton, are negatively affected by the major protein in wheat called gluten. And most of them are not affected by the bowel as in classic celiac disease.
My last two girlfriends had severe problems with wheat that were quite debilitating. One would develop very dry skin, while in the other one it affected her brain. She would become extremely fatigued after eating wheat and felt as if she had taken a sleeping pill.
Yes, wheat can affect many parts of your body so you need to be careful. If you never realized it was a possiblity (like most physicians) you would not even be aware that it could cause these types of symptoms.
Last year, I wrote about the needless treatments that children were given in a British hospital for severe and unexplained abdominal pains. Back then, I warned that the abdominal problems were probably the result of gluten intolerance.
The high incidence of gluten intolerance is a microcosm of conventional medicine's inability to recognize the real problem right in front of them. As a result, that very same scenario is playing out all over <st1:country-region>America,</st1:country-region> too.
The informative USA Today article linked above describes the frustrating plight of a number of families whose children were misdiagnosed for years, including one severe case in which one sibling stopped growing and the other suffered from asthma and anemia and couldn't gain weight normally.
Based on my experience, gluten intolerance is a common problem that can be treated very easily by eliminating gluten and most grains from your daily diet.
The responses I received in regard to this article when I posted it in my blog anecdotally bear out both the high incidence of celiac disease, the frequency with which doctors fail to diagnose it, and the effectiveness of a grain- and gluten-free diet. One person wrote:
The prevalence of celiac disease is yet more evidence that contemporary humans simply have not evolved mechanisms to incorporate starch- and sugar-rich foods, which are relatively new in the human diet, at least at the scale they are eaten. In short, we are consuming far too much bread, cereal, pasta, corn (a grain, not a vegetable), rice, potatoes and Little Debbie snack cakes, with very grave consequences to our health.
A diet high in grains causes far more problems than this dangerous autoimmune response. That 65 percent of Americans are overweight, and 27 percent clinically obese, in a nation addicted to sesame seed buns for that hamburger, with a side of French fries and a Coke, is no coincidence.
It is not the fat in the foods we eat but, far more, the excess carbohydrates from our starch- and sugar-loaded diet that is making people fat and unhealthy, and leading to epidemic levels of a host of diseases such as diabetes.