While the existence of gluten sensitivity is, at this point well established, I wanted to write this post to address a common misconception. And that is that some people adopt a gluten-free diet who perhaps don’t need to.
Just a few weeks ago, a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.The authors wanted to address the topic of people adopting a gluten-free diet without a celiac diagnosis.
Dr Murray and his team from the Mayo Clinic evaluated 137 patients on a self-treated gluten free diet and compared them with 443 patients with known celiac disease. Those on the self-treated diet had a history of diarrhea, abdominal distention, flatulence, cramping, itchy skin, oral inflammation and constipation. These symptoms were more frequent in this group as compared to those with celiac who presented with more anemia and malaise (fatigue).
Upon testing it was discovered that 2% of those self-treated patients actually had celiac disease and 59% of them carried the gene for celiac disease. This was compared to 94% of those with confirmed celiac disease who carried the genes.
Interestingly, both groups had the same incidence of celiac disease in their families.
As far as gaining benefit from the gluten free diet, both groups had an extremely high response rate – 98% with the celiac patients and 94% with the self-treated group.
What does this mean? It means that individuals do not adopt a gluten-free diet just for the heck of it, as is sometimes implied. But rather, they have intelligently discovered for themselves, whether due to a missed celiac diagnosis or a missed gluten sensitivity, that their body does much better gluten-free.
Do you follow a gluten-free diet despite no formal diagnosis? If so, do not doubt your decision or self awareness. You are doing the right thing!
I hope this was helpful and validating if you fall into this category. Studies such as these will start to show the true incidence of gluten sensitivity in our society and give credence to those who have chosen to follow a gluten-free diet despite no formal celiac diagnosis.
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Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2013 Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print] Human Leukocyte Antigen Genetics and Clinical Features of Self-treated Patients on a Gluten-free Diet.