Wall Street Journal Shines Spotlight on Gluten (Again)

Don't worry, the real flow chart isn't this complicated.

There are lots of reasons to like the Wall Street Journal, but one of the biggest has to be columnist Melinda Beck.

In September of 2010, Beck published an article called, “Giving up Gluten to Lose Weight? Not so Fast” (and we wrote about it, of course).

Now, she’s followed up with, “New Guide to Who Really Shouldn’t Eat Gluten,” an overview of  a newly-proposed classification system for all people who are better-off without gluten.

Thanks, Melinda Beck! It’s nice to see the gluten-free world get coverage in such a mainstream publication, year in and year out.

So what’s this article about?

Not too long ago (non-celiac) gluten sensitivity was thought to be made-up or psychosomatic. Recently it’s been more broadly accepted as a very legitimate medical concern — but there’s more work to be done. Fifteen international experts have issued a proposal that, “defines a spectrum of illnesses based on the kind of immune defenses people mount to gluten, from wheat allergies to autoimmune responses, such as celiac disease,” according to Beck’s article.

The proposal also acknowledges other autoimmune responses, like dermatitis herpetiformis and gluten ataxia, and non-autoimmune responses that would include gluten sensitivity. About.com’s Celiac Disease Guide Jane Anderson explains that the team of experts, “proposes using an algorithm that first rules out celiac disease and wheat allergy, and then diagnoses gluten sensitivity based on the person’s response to a gluten challenge.”

If you’d like to read a provisional PDf of the source material, check out BMC Medicine online; there will be a full version up as soon as it’s ready. It’s worth perusing, especially for the charts at the end: figure 4 is a flow chart to help doctors figure out which questions and tests are important for different stages of diagnosis.

One of the biggest pieces that Beck pulls from this — and something we harp on here sometimes — is that in order to get a proper diagnosis, a patient must be consuming gluten. A “normal” diet is required for effective tests. This is unlikely to change anytime in the near future — so if you’re thinking of going gluten-free, get yourself to a (well-read) doctor first!

If you have non-celiac reasons to avoid gluten, what was your diagnosis like?

3 thoughts on “Wall Street Journal Shines Spotlight on Gluten (Again)”

  1. I was biopsied for celiacs twice over 6 months – both times came back negative. Upon discussion with my allergist, since I have a rye allergy (plus 50 other food allergies and lactose intolerance) and autoimmune issues, we discussed me giving Gluten Free a trial run, just for two weeks to see how it made me feel.

    My inflammation improved within a week, and my GI symptoms within two. I’ve cut gluten out and not cheated once since, but I can tell when I accidentally get glutened because I *crave* bread and fried things for a week after. My allergist thinks I have an intolerance or most gluten is just cross contaminated with Rye – either way, I’m gluten free, and my belly is much happier almost three whole months out.

  2. My diagnosis was awful. I went from doc to doc bring given one garbage can diagnosis after another! IBS, hysterical female, etc. finally my dads allergist figured out he was gluten intolerant and after 6 months of resisting I finally got tested with a doc who had a clue. She told me I was as reactive and intolerant as one could be without actually being celiac. Thank God for her!! I have been GF for 5 years now and dairy free for 6 months (found out my son was allergic and tried elimination and reintroduction and sure enough…). Keep trying if you think you need to be GF!

  3. An allergist/immunologist can provide expert medical advice and treatment in the evaluation and management of people with allergic diseases, asthma and immune problems (see above for types of patients seen). This includes the ability to perform and interpret allergy testing, expertise in treating complex allergic diseases and asthma, as well as the ability to prescribe allergen immunotherapy (allergy shots).

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