Celiac Disease and Gluten-Free Diet Support
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Dr. Rodney Ford M.D.
Dr. Rodney Ford is a Pediatric Gastroenterologist. He was Professor of Pediatrics at the Christchurch School of Medicine. He runs the Children's Gastroenterology and Allergy Clinic in New Zealand. He has written a series of 7 books on gluten (www.DrRodneyFord.com). His main theory is that symptoms from gluten reactions arise from brain and nerve damage. His latest book is "The Gluten Syndrome" which encapsulates current ideas and concepts of gluten and the harm that it does.
Helen, a woman with severe lifelong eczema/dermatitis, wrote to me a few weeks ago, saying "I have taken your advice and been strictly gluten free for five months now. The eczema inflammation is 99% gone and my skin quality has significantly improved. I do still get a bit itchy around my neck area and elbow creases, more so at night when it is warm.
I have noticed a significant improvement in my asthma also. I still use antihistamines perhaps once or twice a week for runny nose. Does this mean I will need to be gluten free for life? Which of your books would you say would be the most relevant for someone in my position? Thank you for your assistance, regards, Helen.
"Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric" – Bertrand Russell.
I would like to introduce the term "zero" when we talk about eliminating gluten. Precise language leads to precise action. Zero means none, not some.
Yes, my recommendation is to change the gluten-language that we have been using. The meaning of the phrase 'gluten-free' has been diluted, so it almost has the connotation of 'not-much-gluten'. It suggests that 'a-little-gluten-does-not-matter' or 'you-are-free-to-give-up-gluten-if-you-want-to'.
How early can you diagnose celiac disease? This is a most challenging question for everyone: children, parents, pediatricians, gastroenterologists and many other health professionals. This is because, like so many other diseases, celiac disease is a progressive condition that slowly creeps up on you. In addition, there is disagreement about what constitutes a definitive diagnosis of celiac disease.
This week I have noticed many blogs/articles claiming that the only illness that can be caused by gluten is celiac disease. Yes, they state that celiac disease alone needs a gluten-free diet. I totally disagree with this distorted out-of-date viewpoint. There are tens of millions of non-celiac people who testify that gluten causes them significant harm.
I am likely to be accused of gluten heresy. That is because I propose that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity usually coexist. By this I mean that they are not mutually exclusive entities.
Lots of people find it hard to believe that such a common food as wheat/gluten could possibly be implicated in causing skin diseases. They say something like this: "Everyone eats wheat, but not everyone gets skin troubles—so it can't be wheat!" This logic is flawed.
I've got a sore tummy! So many children say they have tummy pain. I see them every day in my clinic. Is this attention seeking or actual pain?
In 2006, I presented a research paper called "Who warrants a gluten-free diet?". At that time I was thinking about the sick children who were coming through my clinic with skin, gut and brain symptoms: that is they had eczema and itchy skin; sore tummies and constipation; and behaviour disturbances.
The answer to the "oats questions" are becoming clearer. The long-asked question is "Can people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity safely eat oats?" Some people are so sensitive, that even the tiniest bit of gluten makes them feel unwell. So this answer is important because people on a gluten-free diet should not restrict foods unnecessarily.
A concerned mum asked me, "Should I dabble with a gluten-free diet?" Well, that got me thinking. The answer is, "Yes! and no!" Experimentation is part of learning and living. We have to start somewhere in our pursuit of learning about gluten. So dabbling is a good start--but you need a plan, or else you will get nowhere and feel confused.
What an odd thing to say: “Do not mask the appearance of celiac disease.” Inferring that you keep on eating gluten, despite early signs of celiac disease, until you get enough damage to your intestines that it can be seen under a microscope. I totally disagree with this concept—but this is still a common belief of medical practitioners.
The chilling news is that gluten-harm reaches far beyond the concept of celiac disease. Gluten has now been recognized to cause a widespread spectrum of illness, over and above celiac disease. The two questions to answer in this context are:
- How many other diseases does gluten cause?
- How many people are adversely affected by gluten over their lifetime?