Growing Gluten Free Awareness

It is undeniable that the gluten free industry’s awareness is growing exponentially.

Most of all, the awareness has caught the attention of almost every doctor.  Ultimately, more and more lives are being greatly improved or saved.  People now know what the true cause of their aliment is.  Patients who have been misdiagnosed for years, have completely turned their lives around.  With the nutrient deficiency that celiac causes, many terrible diseases have been prevented.

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  • “Untreated celiac disease increases the risk of cancer 200-300%.”  REFERENCE 3
  • “Total US healthcare cost for all untreated celiacs: $14.5 – $34.8 billion annually.”  REFERENCE 3
  • “Over 300 signs, symptoms, associated disorders and complications may result from celiac disease.”  REFERENCE 3
  • “Prevalence of celiac disease: 1 in 250 Americans estimated rate; actual diagnosis rate is 1 in 4,700 Americans.”  REFERENCE 4

Some doctors have openly said that the gluten free diet is one of the healthiest diet possible.  You are cutting out processed foods, eating a lot of natural foods, and motoring everything you eat.  With this, and any hype of a healthy diet, especially when someone can lose weight on it, comes a flood of people who adopt the diet, sometimes claiming they are a self-diagnosed celiac, just for the attention and to be part of a fad.  I frequently hear that this upsets many doctor-diagnosed celiacs.  In the beginning, I also found it somewhat offensive.  After reflecting further on the issue, I believe any attention and product demand that is brought upon the gluten free industry is good.  In the end, those of us who truly have celiac will benefit.

With the increase in demand for gluten free food and products, more manufacturers have entered the industry.  Competition has been amazing for this industry!  Even in the past couple of years, the quality and taste of the food has greatly improved.  The quality of bread products have improved from the gluten free bakeries, and the major food manufacturers are now making breads easily available at almost every grocery store.  You have to be blind to have not seen, even some of your daily products, labeled gluten free.

  • “Demand has been growing exponentially as sufferers of a wide variety of maladies (including celiac disease, autism, attention deficit disorder, irritated bowel syndrome, and MS) have come to believe a gluten-free diet will provide relief.”  REFERENCE 1
  • “The Federal Government is lending a hand as it finalizes regulatory criteria for gluten-free labeling.”  REFERENCE 1
  • “Packaged Facts projects that this segment of the U.S. retail marketplace enjoyed a 28% CAGR to reach $1.56 billion by the end of 2008. Packaged Facts goes on to project that the segment will continue to grow, though not at the same torrid pace, through 2012.”  REFERENCE 1
  • “To meet consumer demand, more than 225 marketers introduced new gluten-free products into the United States in 2008.”  REFERENCE 2

Be thankful for the things the gluten free industry has brought us.  I am now able to enjoy a normal sandwich and a beer!  I look forward to many more gluten free options, more availability, and continued research.

Celiac & Gluten Free Statistics

Celiac Disease affects 3 million Americans. 1

  • Celiac Disease affects more Americans than Epilepsy(2.8M), Crohns(500k), Ulcerative Colitis(500k), Multiple Sclerosis(333k), Cystic Fibrosis(30k).  1

1 in 133 people have Celiac Disease. 1

  • 1 in 22 people with celiac disease have a first degree relative diagnosed. 5
  • 1 in 250 in Italy; 1 in 300 in Ireland.  3
  • 500,000 new Celiac diagnoses are expected to occur in the US by 2012 — thanks to efforts to raise public awareness of the disease.  6

1 in 4,700 people are ever diagnosed. 1

  • 97% of Americans estimated to have CD are not diagnosed.  6
  • The average length of time it takes for a symptomatic person to be diagnosed with celiac disease in the US is 4 years (11 years 6); this type of delay dramatically increases an individual’s risk of developing autoimmune disorders, new zealand viagra online, neurological problems, osteoporosis and even cancer.  7
  • The average cost of misdiagnosis is $5,000 – $12,000 per person per year. Improving the time to diagnosis could save the health care system millions of dollars annually in unnecessary medical care.  6
  • 60% of children and 41% of adults diagnosed during the study were asymptomatic (without any symptoms).  7

People with Celiac Disease are 40 to 100 times at risk for gastrointestinal cancer. 1

  • About 3 to 8 percent of people with type 1 diabetes will have biopsy-confirmed celiac disease, and 5 to 10 percent of people with Down syndrome will be diagnosed with celiac disease.  5
  • 12% of people in the US who have Down Syndrome also have CD.  6
  • 6% of people in the US who have Type 1 Diabetes also have CD.  6

There are no signs or symptoms typical for all people with celiac disease. Signs and symptoms and can vary greatly from person to person. 2

  • CD has over 300 known symptoms although some people experience none.  6
  • Only 35% of newly diagnosed patients had chronic diarrhea, dispelling the myth that diarrhea must be present to diagnose celiac disease.  7
  • 30% of the US population is estimated to have the genes necessary for CD.  6

CD can present at any age from 6 months on. 4

  • Age of diagnosis is key: If you are diagnosed between age 2-4, your chance of getting an additional autoimmune disorder is 10.5%. Over the age of 20, that rockets up to 34%.  6

Women more affected than men. 4

The US Department of Agriculture projects that the GF industries revenues will reach $1.7 Billion by 2010. 6

GF foods are, on average, 242% more expensive then their non-GF counterparts. 6

  • 21% of patients with a positive anti-endomysial antibody test could not receive a biopsy due to the refusal of their physician to perform the procedure or the insurance company to pay for it.  7

The smallest amount of gluten which has been shown by a biopsy to cause damage to a Celiac is 0.1 gram per day – or 1/48th of a slice of bread. 6

There are currently 0 drugs available to treat CD. 6


References:

  1. National Institutes of Health via celiac.com 6/26/2007
  2. celiac.com 2/8/2007
  3. Reader’s Digest: Feb 2004 via wrongdiagnosis.com
  4. The 5-Minute Pediatric Consult, 2008 via wrongdiagnosis.com
  5. celiac-disease.emedtv.com 1/6/2007
  6. glutenfreeraleigh.blogspot.com 20/23/2008
  7. Univ. of Chicago Celiac Disease Center 02/2003

Bella’s Story: Diagnosed at 55

Here is Bella’s personal story and answers to my list of gluten free questions for the Mary’s Gone Crackers contest. I hear similar diagnosis stories from people of that generation.  My grandmother and father were both misdiagnosed for most of their lives and found out they had celiac after they were 50.

What are the foods you missed the most?
Crackers, chips, most breads.

If you initially did not follow the gluten free diet.  What made you change your mind?

I’m going to add this addendum to say I am almost 60 and didn’t know I was allergic to gluten until I was about 55. As a child the doctor (this was the 1950’s) told my Mom I was definitely allergic to wheat. My mom being fairly naive switched me to white bread (now that I think about this it’s laughable) and kept giving me gluten all my young life. Thinking there was no wheat in white bread and pasta, crackers and such. I was sick all my life. I wheezed, I had no energy to play sports in school, I had mysterious rashes, and 2x a year I had bronchitis. Still gluten intolerance was never mentioned again. It wasn’t until my mid 50’s that I went on a very low carb/high protein diet for the reason of weight loss and suddenly felt great–had energy and all my ailments vanished. I began to do research and realized I probably had been eating wrong (for me) my entire life.

Thank you for your story, Bella!

Double Edge Sword

I was diagnosed with Celiac while showing no, or very little, symptoms.  My blood work showed I had it and my endoscope showed little signs, therefore it was positive.  I could go eat a pizza buffet and not fart once! 

A couple years ago, I went gluten free for a few months.  During that time, if I ate gluten I would have some stomach symptoms.  The same thing is happening to me now.  A couple chocolate chip cookies, hurts my stomach.

So, if I eat gluten, I feel fine.  If I go gluten free, when I slip-up, I don’t feel fine.  

Points To Remember  (Taken from celiaccentral.com)

  • People with celiac disease cannot tolerate gluten, a protein in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats.
  • Celiac disease damages the small intestine and interferes with nutrient absorption.
  • Treatment is important because people with celiac disease could develop complications like cancer, osteoporosis, anemia, and seizures.
  • A person with celiac disease may or may not have symptoms.
  • Diagnosis involves blood tests and biopsy.
  • Because celiac disease is hereditary, family members of a person with celiac disease may need to be tested.
  • Celiac disease is treated by eliminating all gluten from the diet. The gluten-free diet is a lifetime requirement.

Can’t Eat Just One!

Last night I went over to my aunt and uncle’s house for dinner.  She was having turkey, mashed potatoes, and corn… so I’m all good with the menu.  I immediately opted for a margarita instead of a beer… so far so good!  After dinner something terrible happened!  My aunt makes her amazing chocolate chip cookies!  I had to have just one… well I’d already had one- one more isn’t going to hurt… two or three, who cares!  So, about an hour later my stomach starts to act up.  You’re probably saying, “but Mike, I thought you didn’t have the typical stomach type of symptoms?”  True, I usually don’t… which leads me to my next topic: The less gluten I eat, the more I feel.  

Why Did I Do That?

Last night, I went to a New Years Eve party and felt like crap.  I knew I was starting this new diet and ate everything I could.  It was one of those after thoughts, just like drinking, where you ask yourself, “why did I do that, knowing how it would make me feel later?”

I frequently put myself in that situation, like most overeaters and drinkers.  Frequently, I will go to a pizza or Chinese buffet, eat a good amount, then feel like crap later, not so much with Celiac symptoms, but just overall.  Don’t you wish there was someone at the cash register warning you about how you will feel afterwards?  

Time for a Change

Why make the change?  Over the past few months, I have not felt very well.  Even though I do not have the typical symptoms of Celiac, I think I am being affected in other ways.  I sleep way too much for no reason and am generally lethargic about everything.  I suspect gluten is the culprit.  It is time to make a change!  

My History

Celiac runs strong in my family, starting with my grandmother and down to her grandchildren (my generation).  Nine people on my dad’s side of the family have celiac.  

I always was very active in sports and generally pretty healthy.  My favorite foods are pizza, Chinese food, cheeseburgers, and macaroni and cheese… I showed no signs of an intolerance to gluten.  My sister was diagnosed with Celiac after she went through a long period of pain and feeling poor.  My mom insisted that I have a blood test, and I failed miserably.  I was officially diagnosed with celiac via an endoscope when I was 22 years old and in college.  My eating and beer drinking habits at that time were gluten ONLY. 

Fast-forward a year or two, I’m 24 now… I’ve put on some pounds due to my favorite foods, am not aerobically in shape, and overall not feeling very well on a daily basis.  I still do not have the typical stomach symptoms that are shared by most people with Celiac.