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Celiac Disease/Gluten Intolerance Resources

The diagnosis of celiac or of gluten-intolerance can be a bit overwhelming at first, which is why we've put together a few thoughts, tips, and resources that might be helpful for you.

It might help to learn a bit more about the disease, www.celiac.com is a great resource for everything from current research, to related diseases, to finding sites that sell gluten-free foods. There is an enormous amount of information on that site, and you will find a lot of support there.

In our experience, and the experience of more and more health care professionals, celiac disease is much more widespread than previously thought : up to 30% of the population can be gluten-intolerant. Many diseases with an autoimmune component like lupus, MS, or Hashimoto's; or mood disorders like bi-polar; or nerve disorders like ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease) have been directly linked with celiac disease. One does not have to have digestive symptoms to have celiac disease. If someone has symptoms that Western doctors cannot figure out, we always check for celiac.

It's important to know that celiac disease has a genetic component, meaning it can be passed to your children, and it's possible your parents had the gene or the disease and didn't know it. It might be a good idea to get your children tested as well.

Sources of gluten include more than just wheat: they also include barley and rye. Spelt is also a type of wheat, as is kamut. Oats are often included, because often wheat has contaminated the oats; so, unless the oats are certified gluten-free, it is safer not to eat them. Some people may be sensitive to oats themselves. The proteins in grains, are labelled prolamines. Oats lack many of the prolamines found in wheat; however, they do contain avenin. Avenin is a prolamine that is toxic to the intestinal mucosa of avenin-sensitive individuals, and can trigger a reaction in these celiacs. For further information, read: Avenin-sensitive enteropathy

The most recent research indicates that some cultivars of oat can be a safe part of a gluten-free diet, because different varieties of oat have different levels of toxicity. Although oats do contain avenin, there are several studies suggesting that this may not be problematic for all celiacs. The first such study was published in 1995.A follow-up study indicated it is safe to use oats even in a longer period.

One thing that people don't realize is that if they have celiac disease, there is no cheating on a gluten-free diet. You might think it won't make much difference to eat that piece of birthday cake 'just this once' because you've been eating so cleanly, or to not check ingredients properly or thoroughly, which can lead to accidental contamination.

The problem is, the gluten will cause the body to inflame again, causing intestinal damage and then related damage, whether it's an autoimmune disease like Hashimoto's or multiple sclerosis, or other types of damage, like brain function.

Once celiac disease has been diagnosed and gluten is removed from the diet, it can take 3 to 6 months to halt the inflammation caused by gluten, and that's not including whatever food sensitivities may have resulted from the intestinal damage. So, any ingestion of gluten can fire up the body again, and it doesn't take much. It's estimated that between 10 and 30 MILLIGRAMS can cause a reaction in some people: as little as a bite of a cracker.

Here are some 'hidden' places gluten can be found:

* Soy sauce (gluten-free versions can be found online)

* The breading of deep fried foods

* Sauces

* Marinades (often contain soy sauce)

* Sausages/meatballs/hamburgers/meatloaf, etc.

* Soups (as a thickener)

* Grills that have had gluten sources cooked on them

Eating out can be challenging, although more and more restaurants are aware of gluten-intolerance and some even have separate menus. Pei Wei restaurants, for example, have a separate menu, as does PF Chang's, Chili's, etc. If you bring your own gluten-free soy sauce, Japanese restaurants can be a good option (be careful of any sauces or marinades), or Mexican restaurants (just be sure to ask if the chips are actually corn chips ( some are a mix of corn and wheat). In any restaurant, make sure the waiter checks with the kitchen if there is any uncertainty about any of the foods.

There are many, many gluten-free options available now, as well as many gluten-free cooking websites and blogs. Need some supplies? See www.gluten-free.com to buy stuff online, or this online store with great flour and pizza crust, etc. replacements: http://www.smartflourfoods.com. Check out www.glutenfreegirl.com for some ideas.

Most health food stores have gluten-free sections now. One thing to remember, though, is that it is easy to find gluten-free replacements for most baked goods nowadays, but that doesn't mean we should still be eating all those breads, muffins, cookies, pancakes, etc.! It is far better to use this as an opportunity to start a more healthful lifestyle that includes more vegetables, protein, some fruit, etc.: your body will thank you for it!

If you are interested in having yourself, or someone else, tested for gluten intolerance/celiac, we recommend the Gluten Sensitivity Stool and Gene Panel Complete offered through Entero Labs. You can get more information about this test at: https://www.enterolab.com

The current cost of this test is $369, and it includes a gluten sensitivity stool test, tissue transglutaminase stool test (test for the autoimmune reaction caused by gluten sensitivity), intestinal malabsorption test, gluten sensitivity gene test, and a milk sensitivity stool test.