A Roundup of Gluten-Related Stories

by Melissa Diane Smith

It has been close to two-and-a-half years since I began Nutrition News & Notes. Many of you come to this site looking for gluten-related information, but sometimes miss earlier posts I have written about gluten sensitivity, celiac disease or the gluten-free diet. I find it pays to do a little review of the information every so often. So, here is a roundup of the gluten-related stories you might have missed. Click on the links below to read the full stories.

The Gluten-Free Diet –
A Recipe for Unhealthy Weight Gain?

The vast majority of people who go on the gluten-free diet as it’s conventionally prescribed gain weight – and nearly one-third who are normal weight become overweight. So says a study in the October 2006 American Journal of Gastroenterology.

Gluten and Wheat Sensitivity Increasingly
Recognized as Common Health Problems

In the course of researching various topics in New Zealand in preparation for my upcoming presentations to the integrative medicine association there, I saw that Dr. Rodney Ford of Christchurch, New Zealand – known as Dr. Gluten – has some interesting news about gluten sensitivity on his website: Fasano says yes to gluten sensitivity.

Gluten sensitivity has long been ignored by many doctors and researchers, so this is very big news! The full abstract about gluten sensitivity about which Dr. Alessio Fasano spoke is posted here.

The Growing Gluten-Free Movement

The gluten-free movement is growing exponentially. Consider this: Two years ago about 40 people attended the Southern Arizona Gluten-Free Faire. Last year 200 to 250 people attended — that took me and the Southern Arizona Celiac Sprue chapter by surprise! This year the Southern Arizona Celiac Support Group planned for higher attendance, rented a gymnasium to hold the Faire, and more then 650 people attended!

Like Humans, Rhesus Monkeys React to Gluten
and Respond to a Gluten-Free Diet

Humans aren’t alone in being sensitive to gluten and having symptoms including diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, depression and skin rashes and blistering. Rhesus macaques, a type of monkey, develop gluten sensitivity and these same gluten-related symptoms. They also recover when put on a gluten-free diet.

Gluten Stimulates Immune Response
in People Without Celiac Disease

A component of wheat gluten stimulates an innate immune system response in people with or without celiac disease, says a report in the British medical journal Gut.

The New Picture of Celiac Disease

Celiac disease was long considered to be a rare condition; characterized by obvious symptoms such as diarrhea, abdominal distention, and failure to thrive; and not common in areas of the Middle East where the domestication and cultivation of wheat began.

Studies in the past several years, including a few new studies, paint a completely different picture.

Top Celiac Researcher Speaks Out
About Gluten Sensitivity

The researcher who established that celiac disease is much more common in the United States than long thought is now speaking about gluten sensitivity.

Alessio Fasano, M.D., Medical Director of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research, is known for conducting landmark research that showed that celiac disease is a common gastrointestinal disease in the United States, with prevalence rates comparable to those in Europe. Now is he conducting research and speaking about gluten sensitivity, a non-celiac intolerance to gluten. Gluten sensitivity is a condition that many people who have tested negative for celiac disease have long suspected but that most traditional celiac disease researchers have not acknowledged.

National Magazine Covers Celiac Disease
But Not the Whole Story

The topic of celiac disease is hitting the mainstream. This weekend it was one of many conditions covered in short stories in a Special Women’s Health Report in USA Weekend, a magazine distributed in 623 newspapers throughout the country, with a circulation of 23 million people.

Seeing a story about celiac disease in the nation’s second-largest-circulation magazine is encouraging. However, as I mentioned in my last post, “The New Picture of Celiac Disease,” many stories in the media – the USA Weekend story, “Celiac: A Gut Reaction,” included – perpetuate the old picture of celiac disease: that people with celiac disease almost always have gastrointestinal symptoms and weight loss.

More on Gluten Sensitivity
and Celiac Disease from Dr. Fasano

An update on my Top Celiac Researcher Speaks Out About Gluten Sensitivity post: This past week I asked Alessio Fasano, M.D., from the Center for Celiac Research, a few questions for a magazine article I was writing. He said that there is “no doubt” that gluten sensitivity affects many more people than celiac disease does and that 60 to 70 percent of the patients who come to the Center for Celiac Research fit his criteria for gluten sensitivity. His criteria for gluten sensitivity is not testing positive for celiac disease or for wheat allergy but responding positively to a gluten-free diet with resolution of symptoms. New screening tests for gluten sensitivity may be coming in the near future to change the criteria, Dr. Fasano says.

Gluten Sensitivity May Be a Factor
in IBS, Researchers Suggest

People with gastrointestinal symptoms who test negative for celiac disease have long known that they are apt to get a diagnosis of “irritable bowel syndrome” (IBS) from a doctor rather than a diagnosis of gluten sensitivity. But gluten sensitivity provides a trigger that can explain at least part of the spectrum of symptoms that constitutes IBS, a group of doctors from the Farncombe Family Digestive Health Research Institute in Canada and the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota propose.

Two Stories about Gluten Sensitivity
in LA Times are Signs of Progress

(Opinion) – It used to be that I was the only one writing about non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a condition largely dismissed by mainstream doctors. Major newspapers wouldn’t come close to touching the subject. Now, seven years after my Going Against the Grain book came out, the Los Angeles Times, a newspaper with a circulation of three-quarters of a million people, has run a story “Gluten sensitivity: A long road toward discovery” and a follow-up story a few weeks later, “Going gluten-free – for many reasons.”

Symptoms Because It Damages Nerves,
Gluten Sensitivity Specialist Says

Ever wonder how gluten can cause such a wide array of symptoms in so many different people? Dr. Rodney Ford, a doctor from Christchurch, New Zealand who is known as “Doctor Gluten,” just may have the answer – that gluten causes symptoms, in both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, by directly and indirectly injuring nerve networks that control various organs and systems in the body.

Three New Studies Provide More Insights
into Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity

If your doctor thinks there is no research to support gluten sensitivity that is not celiac disease, three new scientific abstracts published in a Journal of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition supplement and presented at the annual NASPGHAN pediatric gastroenterology scientific meeting in mid-November might change his or her mind. Leading gluten researchers Alessio Fasano, MD, of the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research was involved in two of the research reports, and Rodney Ford, MD, of the Children’s Gastroenterology Clinic in Christchurch, New Zealand, authored the other.

Gluten Intolerance in 2010:
Looking Back and Looking Forward

(Opinion) The decade of 2000 to 2009 was a breakthrough decade in our awareness and understanding of gluten intolerance.

In 2000, celiac disease was considered very rare and non-celiac gluten sensitivity was hardly on anyone’s radar screen (except for a few researchers’ and doctors’ – and mine as well. I published Going Against the Grain in 2002.)

Copyright © 2010 Melissa Diane Smith

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