By Catherine Guthrie, Experience Life
Gluten troubles were once thought to be a problem primarily for those with celiac disease. But recent research indicates that gluten-related disorders extend to a far broader population, and affect far more than the digestive system.
As scientists chip away at the mountain of health problems caused by the modern American diet, a troubling finding is emerging. Gluten, present in our most popular grains, is being linked not only to celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder affecting one out of 100 Americans, but also to non-celiac gluten intolerance, which afflicts many millions more.
Non-celiac gluten intolerance is a lesser-understood but no-less-serious condition capable of igniting inflammation, the first stop on a path toward chronic illness. Yet not all doctors understand the condition or take it seriously, says New York City naturopathic doctor Donielle Wilson, ND: “These people need help, but conventional medical practitioners aren’t listening.”
But people with non-celiac gluten intolerance have plenty of problems, as evidenced by a 2009 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, which found an increased risk of death among patients with both celiac and other types of gluten-related inflammation. The risk of mortality, mostly from heart disease and cancer (two leading inflammatory conditions), was an alarming 39 percent higher in people with celiac disease and a jaw-dropping 72 percent higher in people with gluten-related inflammation.
“This is ground-breaking research that proves you don’t have to have full-blown celiac disease to have serious health problems from eating gluten,” says Mark Hyman, MD, chairman of the Institute of Functional Medicine and founder of the UltraWellness Center in Lenox, Mass.
If that forecast sounds dire, take heart. There’s a lot you can do to dodge the gluten bullet. It starts with understanding what gluten intolerance is, and why it has become such a huge problem for so many.
Related: Going Gluten-Free?