Gluten-Free Diet Could Provide Cure

USA TODAY, October 2009 | Go to article overview

Gluten-Free Diet Could Provide Cure


Millions of Americans suffer from headaches, stomach problems, and other ailments like shortness of breath, abdominal pain, or even more long-term discomforts like eczema and hypoglycemia. What's worse, they go untreated and undiagnosed because the cause is unclear. The answer could be a simple food allergy, but it is difficult to detect, according to Stephen Wangen, author of Healthier Without Wheat.

"The number of individuals who react to wheat and gluten, and the profound difference seen in their lives when they stop eating them, never ceases to amaze me," Wangen says. "People need to arm themselves with the facts, and they need to change the way they think about their health so they can address diagnosis and potential treatment with their physicians."

Because wheat gluten is such a common ingredient in foods we eat every day--including bread, pizza, and pasta--its affects sometimes can go undiagnosed. A number of patients simply chalk up their symptoms to stress, overeating, or general fatigue when they actually may have celiac, a chronic inflammatory disorder that is an autoimmune digestive disease which damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Essentially, the body attacks itself every time an individual with celiac consumes the storage protein gluten. (Incidentally, October is National Celiac Disease Prevention Month.)

"Many people know that they have a reaction to wheat or gluten, even though their doctors haven't found any evidence to support the diagnosis Wangen contends. …

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