Gluten Intolerance Goes “Legit”

Those of us who are gluten sensitive have always known that it wasn’t just in our heads.  So it’s nice to know that the medical world now agrees with us. 

Dr. Alessio Fasano at the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Celiac Research has published a study demonstrating that gluten intolerance is not just some nebulous condition or a step towards celiac disease.  Rather, it is a distinct medical conditionarising from it own unique mechanism in the immune system that responds to gluten and is completely separate from the reaction to gluten that occurs in celiac disease and or an allergic reaction to wheat.

Hopefully, now that researchers are aware of gluten intolerance as a disease in its own right, they will begin to find ways to test for it and understand it better.  Moreover, many more people are gluten sensitive than have celiac disease.  Food manufacturers have already realized this and jumped on the gluten-free bandwagon, but this finding may bring the pharmaceuticals on board as well.  Imagine taking a pill a day and being able to eat wheat products again.  It boggles the mind.

Another interesting point: Dr. Fasano suggests two reasons why celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are on the rise.  First, the wheat eaten by our grandparents was harvested once a year and had low amounts of gluten.  Agribusiness has now engineered grains to increase yields and elasticity so that they are rich in gluten.  Secondly, the overall increase in autoimmune diseases shows that our environment is changing faster that our bodies can adapt to the changes.  Dr. Fasano describes the coming together of these two components as a “perfect storm.”  Indeed.

(The info in this post comes from an interview in Living Without: The Magazine for People with Allergies and Food Sensitivities (August/September, 2011).

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