Most people who know anything about Celiac, know it usually affects the digestive system in some way. People are typically misdiagnosed with IBS for instance. In my case, my only outward symptom was anemia. But once diagnosed, I was able to connect the dots, realizing my intermittent painful bloating and stomach aches were all due to me eating gluten. As I delved into more Celiac research I discovered some interesting peer reviewed, and published medical studies, that noted connections between some mental disorders and undiagnosed Celiac. A few of them are : anxiety, depression, ADD, ADHD, dementia and even schizophrenia. I'm no doctor and can't begin to list everything listed in the studies and please understand - all people with these conditions do NOT have Celiac, of course. But some do, and in many cases, one can't rely on a US doctor to figure this out. In many cases, patients who adhere to the gluten free diet get rid of all their symptoms and also get off rx meds they might be taking for the issue. Worst case they can reduce their doses, and therefore any side effects of the drugs.
Recently there was a listserv posting regarding an article about Celiac and schizophrenia. Some studies indicate that almost 25% of patients with that disorder benefit from being on a gluten free diet because they in fact, have Celiac disease. Think about that if you're supposed to be gluten free and are tempted to cheat on your diet. There is no way you can know how gluten will choose to attack your body. The way it reacts this year, won't necessarily be the same next year, or the one after that.
Most of you are probably aware that many kids who have Autism, do very well on the gluten free/casein free diet - some returning to 'normal' behavior patterns eventually. But you might not know this - a few US doctors believe that a percentage of the kids thought to have Autism, have been misdiagnosed and actually have Celiac disease. No one is suggesting it's a huge percentage, but how is this happening in America? This is ridiculous, unbelievable and so very sad for all those parents out there struggling to pay for expensive therapies when some of them have kids who just need to go off gluten to lead healthy, happy lives. What is going on? It seems to be very hard to get tested for Celiac in many places here. People are having to demand to be tested and doctors are so reluctant to look for Celiac, it's crazy!
In many parts of Europe, testing for Celiac is routine - when you test for it, you find it in one percent of the population - it's that simple. When a doctor isn't looking for something, they surely won't find it. And that's what is happening here in the US. Docs are told they'll never have a patient with Celiac so they never do - to their knowledge anyway. This has GOT to change and people with Celiac are the ones who need to be speaking up and talking about Celiac and gluten until everyone in the US knows what those words mean.
October is Celiac Awareness Month so if you have Celiac, or are gluten free for other health reasons, please do your part by telling people about it at least once this month. Or else, please don't complain that it's hard to eat out here or find great food. Gluten free fairies aren't going to bring delectable gluten free goodies to your local grocery store by chance. You have to ask for what you want in life - even if it's just fabulous gluten free food! I have rarely asked a food store to carry something for me, that they weren't able to get eventually. Ask and you shall receive - it really does work - even for gluten free food!
Thursday, October 11, 2007
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