Gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease: Vastly overdiagnosed.
Celiac disease is a chronic autoimmune condition caused by gluten, a protein found primarily in wheat. It is different than a food allergy. In those that have it, gluten causes inflammation of the small intestine, and inhibits the proper absorption of many nutrients including vitamin A,D E and K, iron, and vitamins B and Folic acid.
Symptoms in children can be quite dramatic, and include, weight loss, abdominal bloating and pain, watery pale foul smelling diarrhea, mouth sores and poor dentition and behavioral and developmental abnormalities, as well as the conditions associated with various vitamin deficiencies.
Symptoms in adults are usually more vague, and may be similar to irritable bowel syndrome, with bloating, gassiness and fatigue.
Diagnosis of Celiac disease can be made with blood testing, but is very unreliable. The gold standard is to do endoscopy, and take a biopsy of the small intestine, and is not typically done. Therefore, the diagnosis is usually a clinical one, if you have any degree of abdominal symptoms, and feel better on a gluten free diet, you are diagnosed with the condition.
The problem (not really) with this is that gluten free is a very difficult diet to follow. When you can’t eat wheat, that means no cookies, or bread, or pasta, or pizza. This forces people into a healthy diet, veggies, and fruits and chicken and fish, and guess what?….You feel better!!!
For that reason, Anyone I see that has concerns about gluten, I encourage them to try a month, gluten free. If they feel better, which they do, I encourage them to stay on the diet.
The exception to this would be in a child. If a child is anemic, or fails to gain weight, or has a specific vitamin deficiency disorder, it is important to establish a cause. It is very difficult to put a child on a gluten free diet, and I must have a strong justification to do so. Children and adults do not have the same dietary requirement, and children are not small adults.