Thursday, October 22, 2009


I have given up eating gluten.

I had previously suspected myself of gluten intolerance based on many symptoms and also having an aunt who is celiac.

I ordered a lab test from Enterolab which came back negative.

I tried a diet challenge at the same time, but removing gluten for two weeks did not relieve my symptoms and adding it back in gave me no noticeable change either.

That's the problem with gluten sensitivities - there is no such thing as a true negative. By the time your body is producing antibodies, which are what the test I took looks for, a lot of damage has already been done.

The traditional intestinal biopsy requires even more damage and it must be extensive. Once you have enough intestinal damage you can get diagnosed as celiac.

The diet challenge was partly my fault. For a true diet challenge, one goes on an elimination diet until all symptoms are resolved, then challenges the suspected allergen.

I only gave up gluten and only for two weeks. This was obviously not enough for my digestion to recover.

So how is one supposed to know whether or not to eat gluten?

From what I've learned, the best test to get is actually the genetic marker test (Enterolab offers this also). If you do research, you'll read that not everyone who has the marker will develop gluten intolerance. This is  true, and our environments do affect our gene expression, but if you have the genetic marker and you have any of the symptoms, it's a pretty safe bet. The types of things that can trigger gluten intolerance in those with the genetic marker include stress, antibiotics, chlorinated tap water, and other prescription medications. I don't know anyone personally who would be able to avoid all the triggers. Gluten is also one of the most difficult proteins to digest, so in reality everyone is gluten intolerant to a certain degree.

I personally prefer to avoid grains anyway, so I would rather eat gluten free grains when I do indulge rather than risk the consequences of thyroid disorders, celiac, and colon cancer down the road.

This is easier said than done, and I have been rather lazy in the past about completely avoiding gluten. But I had a blood test recently which showed some markers consistent with gluten sensitivity. That was enough to convince me to completely avoid gluten from now on. If I am sensitive, and I keep eating it, I could develop serious health problems.

This blood test was invaluable in motivating me to stick to the diet that I know is best for me and I have been feeling much better. It was exactly the kick in the pants I needed.

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