I have thought for a long time about this very question. Who would suggest such a thing?
I would. The main reason I would dare to make such a statement is because we have been so negligent in recognizing and treating people with celiac disease. Not a day goes by that I don’t hear about or speak to someone directly who has suffered needlessly for years. The other main point I want to make is that NONE of the currently available testing is 100%.
The blood tests and endoscopic biopsies are great tools if they are positive. If they are negative, I have heard of too many people tell me ‘I don’t have celiac disease, my blood test/biopsy was negative’. This is a major cause for concern to me. Both of these tests do not confirm you don’t have, or will never develop celiac disease. First, neither test is 100% reliable. Second, both tests are simply a snapshot of right now. I have also seen test results that are clearly positive for celiac disease, but read as negative by a medical provider that does not understand what the results mean.
The genetic testing is great and it is my first choice when testing people. The test is a cheek swab, I get results in one week and it is covered by most insurances. I utilize Kimball Genetics in Denver, Colorado, www.kimballgenetics.com.
I have run into this scenerio in the past week: a 12 year old on a gluten free diet for several months, a remarkable recovery from many symptoms while on the gluten free diet, and yet, she tests negative for DQ2 and DQ8. Is she at risk for celiac disease if she eats gluten? Are there other genes that could be looked at? I am gathering more data on this because nothing is black and white with gluten intolerance, there are many grey areas. Other than, of course, the need to be on a strict gluten free diet for the rest of your life if you have celiac disease. Not much grey there.
So, this leads me back to the original question: everyone on a gluten free diet? In my perfect world, the answer would be a resounding YES! If people would simply try the gluten free diet for a month, most, if not all of those people will feel better. It remains simply a diet change. Change your diet and feel better, doesn’t that sound appealing? To some yes, and to others, not really. Not without the proof that they need to change their long held diet and lifestyle habits. It also sounds quite un-American to say ‘I can’t eat wheat, barley, rye and oats’, by extension, bread, pies, cakes, beer and pizza.
My most recent convert to a gluten free diet, said to me, “You know I don’t even miss the bread anymore, it doesn’t even appeal to me, I feel so much better on the gluten free food”. This is a woman who has had symptoms for most of her 76 years and I had a hard time convincing her to try the gluten free diet for a month. She is convinced now. I can tell many stories with the same happy ending. I can also tell you that most men have a harder time changing anything, let alone their diet, than women. Trust me, I am a nurse and I have no reason to lie to you. Try it. Go gluten free for a month and contact me with your results. GO!
[This article is a reprint of a Glutenfreeworks.com article originally published in 2008.]
Author Information: Nadine Grzeskowiak, RN, CEN, Corvallis, OR
Nadine Grzeskowiak is a national expert and speaker for diagnosis and treatment of gluten intolerance and celiac disease.