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  • Jefferson Adams
    Jefferson Adams

    Fad Gluten-Free Dieters Fueling Mistaken Claims of Gluten-Sensitivity

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

      Public perception of the gluten-free diet as a healthier way to eat is sparking massive rise in erroneous claims of gluten-sensitivity.


    Caption: Image: CC BY-SA 2.0--ishane

    Celiac.com 08/29/2019 - Is the popular gluten-free fad dieting trend fueling a rise in mistaken claims of gluten sensitivity?

    There isn't much data on how overall rates of self-reported gluten sensitivity might be influenced by growing numbers of people who believe the gluten-free diet to be generally healthier, so-called "Life-stylers."  A team of researchers recently set out to get some answers by repeating a population survey from 2012 in order to examine how attitudes towards gluten sensitivity have changed over time. 

    The research team included ID Croall, N Trott, A Rej, I Aziz, DJ O'Brien, HA George, MY Hossain, LJS Marks, JI Richardson, R Rigby, M Hadjivassiliou, N Hoggard, and DS Sanders. They are variously affiliated with the University of Sheffield, Academic Unit of Radiology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield, UK., and the Academic Unit of Gastroenterology, Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, in Sheffield, UK.

    To replicate the 2012 experiment the team surveyed 1,004 subjects in Sheffield (UK) in 2015. The questionnaire included a survey on food frequency, and measured self-reported gluten sensitivity along with associated variables, including prevalence, current diet, and pre-existing conditions. 

    Compared to the previous survey, associated variables and chi-squared analysis results showed rates of self-reported gluten sensitivity increasing from about 13% in 2012 to nearly 33% in 2015. 

    Meanwhile, rates of pre-existing celiac disease increased from 0.8% in 2012 to 1.2% in 2015, while the percentage of people following a gluten-free diet remained 3.7%. 

    People are much more likely to self-report gluten sensitivity if they had certain pre-existing conditions, including anxiety, depression, chronic fatigue, headaches, and other food allergies/intolerances, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), with chi-squared analyses, all p < 0.001. 

    Over a 3-year period, the number of people who self-reported gluten sensitivity rose by over 250%. Despite the fact that rates of physiological gluten sensitivity remained about the same. 

    This data suggests that the public perception of gluten as an unhealthy food is causing more and more people to erroneously believe they are gluten-sensitive, when if fact they are likely not sensitive to gluten. What do you think about the popularity of a gluten-free diet, and how it may change public perception of gluten-free foods?

    Read more in Nutrients. 2019 Jun 5;11(6). pii: E1276. doi: 10.3390/nu11061276.


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    Guest Finally diagnosed celiac

    Posted

    Sounds to me like you're gaslighting the people who honestly report their symptoms, only to be dismissed by their doctors LIKE SO MANY OF US WHO EVENTUALLY DID GET DIAGNOSIS FROM BLOOD WORK AND/OR BIOPSY. 

     

     

     

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    On 9/2/2019 at 9:24 AM, Guest Finally diagnosed celiac said:

    Sounds to me like you're gaslighting the people who honestly report their symptoms, only to be dismissed by their doctors LIKE SO MANY OF US WHO EVENTUALLY DID GET DIAGNOSIS FROM BLOOD WORK AND/OR BIOPSY. 

     

     

     

    Doesn't sound like that to me.  Data are data, and a lot of people are claiming gluten sensitivity that really have other problems.  That's not surprising to anyone who's been out with a big group and found like 50% of them claimed gluten issues - there's just no way it's that many people.  Also, honestly, it does folks very little good if they think they have celiac disease but never get diagnosed and really have the FODMAP carb disorder or some other problem they aren't treating correctly.

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    I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was about two years old (1939). Mother described large abdomen, skinny legs, failure to thrive. Lived on bananas and buttermilk for two years. I've  had exzema for as long as I remember,  later diagnosed mctd or uctd, lupus, uveitis, Sjogren's, pah, Parkinson's/not Parkinson's, paravertebral myopia, cardiac issues, and more. A rheumatologist did a test (no biopsy) and told me I do not have Celiac disease.  Recent bouts with GI problems, weakness and fatigue convinced me to try a gluten free diet. If I feel better after a month I will have found an answer and a treatment.

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    1 hour ago, Guest DeLene said:

    I was diagnosed with celiac disease when I was about two years old (1939). Mother described large abdomen, skinny legs, failure to thrive. Lived on bananas and buttermilk for two years. I've  had exzema for as long as I remember,  later diagnosed mctd or uctd, lupus, uveitis, Sjogren's, pah, Parkinson's/not Parkinson's, paravertebral myopia, cardiac issues, and more. A rheumatologist did a test (no biopsy) and told me I do not have Celiac disease.  Recent bouts with GI problems, weakness and fatigue convinced me to try a gluten free diet. If I feel better after a month I will have found an answer and a treatment.

    The celiac antibody testing requires 12 weeks of eating gluten before the testing.  It takes only 3 to 4 weeks of eating gluten for the endoscopy testing.  Celiac disease does not go away, so if you had it as a child you have it now.  Congrats on going gluten-free again, I hope you feel better soon.

    Edited by GFinDC

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    After six months of various testing and blood work, the doctor determine that I did not have Celia disease but could be wheat sensitive.  I have been on a gluten free diet for three months and all my symptoms have disappear.  You won't be able to convince me that it was something else. And when I eat wheat accidentally, my body tells me so.   

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    36 minutes ago, kanucme2019 said:

    After six months of various testing and blood work, the doctor determine that I did not have Celia disease but could be wheat sensitive.  I have been on a gluten free diet for three months and all my symptoms have disappear.  You won't be able to convince me that it was something else. And when I eat wheat accidentally, my body tells me so.   

    So... the doctors were right? Can you eat barley? I found the easiest way to test is if you can eat Kellogg's Rice Krispies or drink a malt, neither of which are tolerable for Celiac but are perfectly fine for those with wheat allergies.

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    On 9/24/2019 at 3:56 PM, Richard D said:

    So... the doctors were right? Can you eat barley? I found the easiest way to test is if you can eat Kellogg's Rice Krispies or drink a malt, neither of which are tolerable for Celiac but are perfectly fine for those with wheat allergies.

    Haven't tried barley or rye yet.  Will give it a try once my insides heal some more

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  • About Me

    Jefferson Adams is Celiac.com's senior writer and Digital Content Director. He earned his B.A. and M.F.A. at Arizona State University, and has authored more than 2,000 articles on celiac disease. His coursework includes studies in biology, anatomy, medicine, science, and advanced research, and scientific methods. He previously served as SF Health News Examiner for Examiner.com, and devised health and medical content for Sharecare.com. Jefferson has spoken about celiac disease to the media, including an appearance on the KQED radio show Forum, and is the editor of the book "Cereal Killers" by Scott Adams and Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

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