The Wall Street Journal ran this article a few days ago. It reports on a recently published medical opinion paper that posits that the medical community should acknowledge three levels of gluten issues: 1) Allergy, 2) autoimmune disorders like celiac disease, and 3) gluten sensitivity in which neither an allergy or autoimmune disorder is detected, but in which individuals who go on a gf diet show an improvement in symptoms. Many doctors these days don't take the claim of gluten sensitivity from their patients very seriously. In my own case, the GI doc who did my upper endoscopy and biopsy was skeptical of my (and my hematologist's) suspicious that I had celiac, even in light of my positive antibody tests (frankly, he was a moron and I don't think he read my file, but that's another story. I have a much better GI doc now.) Needless to say, I think it's really important for more doctors to take diet and nutrition into account when addressing physical and mental challenges presented by their patients. I'd go so far as to say that they should look at diet and nutrition FIRST. I recently blogged about and attached a link to a TEDx Talks by Dr. Terry Wahls in which through diet (a paleo diet, which is devoid of grains) she makes a remarkable recovery from debilitating symptoms of MS. I recently read an article about a possible connection between gluten and ALS (aka Lou Gehrig's disease.) In my own life, I know people who have tested negative for allergies or celiac or who haven't been tested at all, but who have shown a complete abatement of symptoms when going gluten free.
Here's my friend Betty's story. She discovered that gluten was behind her persistent cough. (Betty's the president of Guardian Nurses -- truly you want GN in your corner if you are dealing with complicated or long-term health issues for yourself or a loved one.) Other people I know personally are benefiting from a GF diet without the benefit of a celiac or allergy diagnosis. A friend and co-worker who has persistent debilitating GI distress who tested negative for celiac feels fine when she adheres to a GF diet. The asthma of child of another co-worker and friend is much improved from following a GF diet. A dear relative of mine whose doctor was ill-equipped to pursue a definitive diagnosis cleared up many significant GI issues AND supported his fitness regimin by going gluten-free. One friend had Dermatitis Herpetiformis (a classic sign of celiac) but tested negative when biopsied, who has resolved her issues on the GF diet. How many people do you know that suffer from canker sores or rheumatoid arthritis or lupus or teeth enamel problems or fertility issues or a host of other problems who have no idea what the cause is and can't seem to get better?
I don't believe that all of our ills are caused by gluten. I do believe that as a society we regularly eat things that are either not healthy or which have been so genetically engineered over time as to make them unrecognizable as food to our systems, confusing our natural defense mechanisms and setting off a chain reaction within our bodies from which we get sick.
I strongly believe that each of us needs to take responsibility for our own health and well-being. I try to avoid preaching. I do believe that if a person gets a diagnosis that confirms that damage is being done to the body by eating gluten that they are more likely to adhere to a strict GF diet and improve not only their quality of life NOW but decreasing the likelihood of related more serious health issues later. But for those who haven't tested positive, don't buy it if your doctor says that gluten isn't the issue. Trust your intuition. Listen to your body. Keep looking for the answer. It's your life and you should feel as good as you possibly can to make the most of it.