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Does Gluten Affect You?

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Does Gluten Affect You?

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?

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Megan, selected from Experience Life

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit experiencelife.com to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter, or to subscribe to the print or digital version.

57 comments

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12:05PM PST on Jan 20, 2015

wow, a lot of people are not aware of this, thank you for the info

3:04AM PDT on Apr 11, 2011

Thank you

9:00AM PST on Jan 7, 2011

thanks for the info!

4:31AM PST on Jan 7, 2011

Correction: coeliac disease is NOT curable. It is managed by removing gluten from the diet, but you still have coeliac disease.

5:50PM PST on Dec 26, 2010

Thank you for the article.

1:56AM PST on Dec 25, 2010

Thank you

12:55AM PST on Dec 25, 2010

Thanks for sharing, this is all very worrying :( I once went on a strict elimination diet and had never felt better in my life - however, it eliminated a lot of foods and it was very hard to maintain long-term...

1:41PM PST on Dec 24, 2010

To my knowledge, I don't have this issue, but the article was interesting nonetheless. Thanks.

6:07AM PST on Dec 24, 2010

thank you :)

6:28PM PST on Dec 23, 2010

When I finally went to my doctor about the pain I was having, he had a sonogram done, then said, "well, it looks like a pocket of gas". Wasn't helpful at all, and he had no idea what was causing the problem. Fortunately, I went to a kinesiologist, and he determined the problem almost immediately; gluten intolerance. Thank you for an excellent article. I'm thankful I found the cause before it did major damage to my system.

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