Is an Unrestricted Diet on the Horizon for Celiac Sufferers?
Celiac Incidence is on the Rise
We know that celiac disease is not the ‘rare’ disorder that doctors were taught it was at school. We know that at 1% incidence, it is the most common life-long disorder in the US and Europe. And we know, as of recent research, that the 1% incidence actually increases to 4 and 5% as the population ages. Therefore, we have a fairly common disorder on our hands that is poorly diagnosed.
Poor diagnosis stems partly from the fact that many doctors, such as myself, have been taught that it is a rare disorder and therefore they expect to see it in their patients only rarely. Makes sense! The other issue lies in the misunderstanding of how celiac disease presents itself.
If you are ‘stuck’ in the classic model of celiac disease, you will be expecting an underweight patient, fraught with diarrhea and abdominal pain. We now know that many patients, in fact the majority, don’t fit that picture. So it’s not surprising that we miss 95%+ of those suffering.
There’s Hope for Those Who Cheat on Their Diet
What happens for those who do get diagnosed? They are urged to follow a gluten free diet and sent on their way.
Research now shows that many patients are not diligent following their gluten-free diet and tend to cheat. A recent journal article in Gastroenterology & Hepatology entitled “Emerging Therapeutic Options for Celiac Disease: Potential Alternatives to a Gluten-Free Diet”, reviewed the latest advancements being made towards the goal of having celiac disease be less of a dietary burden.
The researchers hailed from the George Washing University Medical Center. Their goal was to isolate the most recent advancements that are occurring to ease the burden of maintaining a gluten-free diet as we know it today.
While none of these therapies are available right now, the sheer number of them being worked on makes us hopeful that some will soon come to fruition. The researchers correctly stated that the three main pathways causing celiac disease (and gluten sensitivity, I may add) are:
- The presence of the environmental trigger gluten
- Genetic susceptibility
- Increased gut permeability (leaky gut)
The new treatments on the horizon include:
- Engineering gluten-free grains – (On a personal note, when I see that word ‘engineering’, I quickly jump to all the concerns and problems being generated from GMO foods. When ‘engineering’ replaces mother nature, the body’s immune system seems to react poorly. Not something a celiac sufferer needs.)
- Decreasing intestinal permeability [leaky gut] by blocking zonulin receptors – zonulin is what makes the gates of the small intestine open and close. (I personally know that Dr Alessio Fasano and his team are hard at work on this one.)
- Inducing oral tolerance to gluten with a vaccine – the body’s immune system would then stop reacting to the protein gluten.
- Degrading gluten proteins using probiotics and enzymes or enzyme inhibitors – this is a ‘pre-digestion’ if you will that will prevent the negative reaction of the immune system from occurring. (Currently the only things on the market in this category are designed to handle accidental contamination, not a meal of gluten.)
What is exciting about all the above is that they are non-diet therapies. You could ‘eat what you want’ supposedly and fear no negative consequences.
It may seem a bit unfair to discuss these when they don’t yet exist, but I think it’s important for you to know where research is headed. Dr Fasano received a very large personal endowment for his research. Maybe you know someone who could assist in bringing one of these treatments to fruition sooner. Miracles happen!
In the meantime we need to be perfect on our gluten-free diets and encourage those we know to get tested and, if they are positive, well educated. Too often, I find that those who cheat or just don’t understand what to look for to remain gluten-free, are poorly educated. Stay strong and hopefully, for those who have difficulty following the diet, life will get a bit easier soon.
I hope you found this helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions or if you or someone you needs assistance in improving their health.
Do You Have Any of the Above Symptoms?
If you are suffering from any of the problems listed above—contact us for a FREE CONSULTATION. Call (408) 733-0400 to schedule. Our medical center is located in Sunnyvale, CA. If you are not local to us, our DESTINATION CLINIC treats patients from across the country and internationally. We will help you find the underlying root cause!
To your health,
Dr. Vikki Petersen
IFM Certified Practitioner
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”