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What if Fad Gluten-free Diets Aren't so Fad After All?

Are fad gluten-free dieters getting more benefits than originally suspected?


Photo: CC--mattwi1s0n

Celiac.com 02/15/2017 - There's been a lot of talk in the media and among researchers about the large numbers of people who adopt a gluten-free diet without a celiac disease diagnosis. Many of these dieters are regarded with a bit of suspicion. The question areises as to whether gluten was causing them any problems that could be improved by a gluten-free diet. Most have been regarded as simple fad dieters.

Well, what if the gluten-free fad isn't such a fad after all? What if many of those without celiac disease who eat gluten-free are actually gaining some heretofore undiscovered benefits?

That's the intriguing possibility raised by the latest study from the Mayo Clinic's Dr. Joseph Murray, and his colleagues at the forefront of research in celiac disease and gluten intolerance. Dr. Murray's colleagues and coauthors include Rok Seon Choung, MD, PhD, Aynur Unalp-Arida, MD, PhD, Constance E. Ruhl, MD, PhD, Tricia L. Brantner, BS, and James E. Everhart, MD.

Today, according to the team's research, published this month in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, some 3.1 million Americans currently avoid gluten without a celiac diagnosis for celiac disease. That number tripled between 2009 and 2014, while the number of cases of celiac disease stayed flat.

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When we designed this study 10 years ago, we didn't think to ask why people avoid gluten, because no one avoided gluten without a celiac diagnosis, said Murray. So, could these folks be avoiding gluten for legitimate health reasons? Very possibly, says Murray. There's definitely growing evidence that severe non-celiac gluten sensitivities exist.

Patients with these sensitivities frequently experience intestinal problems, as well as fatigue, stomachaches and a sense of mental fogginess. And while researchers don't understand the underlying mechanism, clinical studies have shown that a gluten-free diet does relieve symptoms in many gluten-sensitive non-celiac patients. It's possible that gluten may play some role in inflammation, though this is unproven. It's also possible that non-celiacs who cut gluten from their diet might also cut out other irritants and allergens.

The researchers call for further investigation of long-term health consequences of a gluten-free diet in people without celiac disease.

How about you? Do you or someone you know not have celiac disease, but avoid gluten?

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4 Responses:

 
Karen
Rating: ratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfullratingfull Unrated
said this on
15 Feb 2017 5:44:29 PM PST
TEST Driven partly by a perception among consumers that gluten-free foods are healthier than their non-gluten-free counterparts, the global gluten-free packaged food market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 6% between 2015 and 2019, according to a recent market report from Technavio....

 
Mary Thorpe
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said this on
20 Feb 2017 4:30:44 PM PST
I am one of those not diagnosed with celiac disease but have been gluten free for 19 years, since before it became popular. After a double round of antibiotics following a root canal, I developed diarrhea. When it didn't stop after going off the antibiotics, after a month I sought help from my GP. She was no help. I started experimenting with my diet. Finally I heard that wheat affected some people which I never would have thought. I went off, and bingo, the diarrhea stopped (by this time it was black), a rash that was climbing up my legs vanished and after a couple of months I realized I hadn't had a migraine, something that had plagued me once or twice a month for 30 years. I have a list of things that no longer happen, like canker sores, heart arrhythmias, esophageal spasms, twitching eye muscles, muscle spasms in my back, bronchitis after a cold. That´s what I remember off the top of my head. When I get gluten accidentally I get a migraine in a day or two and often get physically ill if something is going around. Otherwise, I don't get sick. I take no prescription drugs, only vitamins. So, I am one of those that Dr. Murray is talking about, though maybe I had undiagnosed celiac disease. I'll never know because I'm not tempted to go on gluten to get tested properly though I do miss chewy bread. As the article implies, we don´t need it. It's poor man's food. We eat like kings without it.

 
Kathy
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said this on
20 Feb 2017 6:47:33 PM PST
I avoid gluten because I was having digestive issues which subsided when I went gluten free. I have no need to get tested when the proof is in avoiding gluten. If I eat gluten I immediately have a reaction. Avoid gluten and I am fine. Celiac or not doesn't matter to me. I just avoid it altogether and I feel much better. Dairy products I avoid also due to mucus production.

 
Gillian
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said this on
21 Feb 2017 4:41:39 AM PST
I have Hashimotos hypothyroid (age 68) whilst suffering with intestinal problems I surfed the net for remedies, I found that a GF diet was recomended for Hashi sufferers so decided to try it for a few days.....after 3 days my intestinal problems subsided, my lifelong migraines disappeared and I felt better than I had for months so I continued the diet. One year on I accidently ate something with gluten and had an occurence of Dermatitis Hepetiformis, after this my endocrinologist assumes I am celiac. I do not wish to have a bi-opsy and so am not officially Celiac but after almost 5 years on a GF diet I have never felt better!




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