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Gluten Intolerance on the Rise

Gluten Intolerance in Finland has doubled and is estimated to effect 2% of Finnish population.
“We’ve already seen a similar trend emerge earlier on where allergies and certain autoimmune disorders are concerned. Screening has shown that gluten intolerance occurs in 1.5 per cent of Finnish children and 2.7 per cent of the elderly. The higher figure for older people is explained by the fact that the condition becomes more frequent with age,” says Professor Markku Mäki, head of a research project in the Academy of Finland’s Research Programme on Nutrition, Food and Health (ELVIRA).
According to Mäki, gluten intolerance may often be symptom-free, and people may be unaware that they have the condition if their symptoms are mild or atypical. Three out of four people with gluten intolerance have not been diagnosed, which also means that they are as yet going without treatment.

Better diagnosis methods needed

Mäki’s research team has concluded that the criteria for diagnosing gluten intolerance must be rewritten, since early stages of the condition do not meet the criteria, yet is important to treat. The current criteria for diagnosis focus on damage to the intestinal villi and the small intestine, established in a tissue sample from the small intestine. However, early stages of gluten intolerance are not identifiable from tissue samples.
People may suffer from gluten intolerance, yet have no intestinal symptoms. They may, however, have symptoms unrelated to the intestinal tract. Serious problems with nutrient absorption have become rare; instead, sufferers generally have anaemia due to iron deficiency or folic acid deficiency as their main symptom.


Science Daily (March 5, 2010)

Gluten Free Society’s Stance:

This is an excellent article that helps to increase awareness of gluten sensitivity. It is interesting to note that adults have a higher diagnosis percentage than children. Also interesting is the fact that many with gluten sensitivity are asymptomatic. This point is most important because so many gluten sensitive individuals try to evaluate gluten exposure based on symptoms. This leads to justifying the consumption of less than healthy foods or restaurant food with high levels of cross contamination. Gluten sensitivity should not be classified as a disease but rather as a state of genetics. Those with gluten sensitive genes should not eat gluten whether it makes them feel bad or not. Gluten can contribute to damage over time and leads to a number of disease processes. This explains why adults have higher rates than children. By the time enough damage has occurred, we are typically older and getting sicker because of the accumulation of gluten induced damage over time. By identifying genetic risk early in life, we can prevent future disease, as opposed to waiting for gluten induced damage to occur. It is refreshing to see that scientists are pushing to re-write the criteria for diagnosing those with gluten sensitivity. Gluten Free Society’s Stance is very simple:
  1. Genetically test those with gluten associated diseases (including all autoimmune diseases)
  2. Genetically test family members of those with gluten associated diseases (including all autoimmune diseases)
  3. If test results are positive for gluten associated genes – go on a gluten free diet.
  4. If you can’t afford genetic testing – go and take this simple quiz on gluten intolerance here <<<
Always looking out for you, Dr. O – The Gluten Free Warrior

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