Celiac Disease Underdiagnosed in 90% of Cases?

That’s the case according to U of T prof Ahmed El-Sohemy, whose research suggests that celiac disease is very much underdiagnosed in Canada, as with other parts of the world including the US and the UK.

When he took blood samples from over 2800 people, he found that celiac disease occurs in 1% of Canadians–that’s a similar frequency to other countries in the world.

What wasn’t similar was that this frequency of occurrence did not match the frequency of diagnosis. El-Sohemy estimated that 90% of the 1% go undiagnosed.

What does that mean in numbers? For Canada, a population of 35 million people means there are approximately 350,000 people with celiac. The same 1% as most places.

But if 90% of them are undiagnosed, then 315,000 of these people don’t know they have it.

What is celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition. That means your own immune system is attacking a part of your own body. In the case of celiac, when a person eats gluten, that gluten activates the immune system in their digestive system and their immune system then attacks and destroys the intestinal lining.

The result is obvious symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, and diarrhea. But the damage to the intestinal lining also results in poor absorption of nutrients. As a result, patients with celiac can have weight loss, failure to thrive, anemia and other complaints associated with nutrient deficiencies. In fact, whenever a patient comes to StoneTree clinic with unexplained iron deficiency anemia, this is one of the first culprits we consider.

Are celiac disease and gluten intolerance the same thing?

Nope.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. The gluten activates the immune system to attack the person’s intestines.

Gluten intolerance is an inflammatory response to the gluten itself–the immune system sees the gluten as the problem and attacks it, creating inflammation. Why this happens is still not totally understood.

Theories include:

  • Wheat hybrids have been bred to have more gluten and therefore more antigenic.
  • We eat too much gluten so the inflammatory reaction never has a chance to die down.
  • Wheat GMO’s (round-up ready crops) create wheat that is irritating to the immune system.

How do you test for celiac disease?

For celiac disease, the gold standard for diagnosis is an intestinal biopsy to look for tell-tale signs of damage.

This way of testing has its limitations. First, the patient needs to go to a hospital, get sedated and have a piece of their intestines removed via scope–no fun at all. Also, the patient needs to be actually eating gluten or you could go through all that trouble and get a false negative result.

Other tests for celiac include blood tests for the auto-antibody. This is easier, but also the patient also needs to be eating gluten to ensure that there is not a false negative.

Gluten intolerance can be tested by looking for an IgG antibody in the blood.

You can also test using an elimination diet. Whether you have celiac or a gluten intolerance, an elimination diet can give your own body a chance to tell you if you have a problem with gluten without relying on a test to tell you. If you have GI symptoms like symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation and you suspect gluten might be the culprit – just remove it from your diet for 28 days and left your body talk to you. If gluten is an issue you will know, no blood test or biopsy needed. It’s simple and cheap, but not necessarily easy!

For more information on testing, contact the clinic anytime at 705-444-5331, or book online.

Need help with gluten-free foods? Check out The pantry at StoneTree Clinic. All foods, including pre-prepared meals, are gluten- and dairy- free.

13 Books to Help With Your Resolutions

According a recent poll, many of our top resolutions this year are around our health–three of the top four, in fact:

  • Eat better
  • Exercise more
  • Save more money
  • Increase self-care (more sleep, etc.)

Interestingly, “read more” came in at number five. With that in mind, we thought we’d give you a list of our top health and wellness books. If read and put to use, they could do wonders for your health in 2018.

Here they are, in no particular order. Happy Reading!

Younger Next Year: A Guide to Living Like 50 to 80 and Beyond by Chris Crowley. An oldie but a goodie. I have gifted and recommended this book dozens of times. It is a life changer.

Untangled: Guiding Teenager Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood by Lisa Damour. If you are living with a teenage girl you can feel like you are going crazy yourself. This great book helps you keep your head on straight as you navigate through this life change.

The Passion Test by Janet Bray Attwod and Chris Attwood. Purpose is a big determinant of our health. This simple read helps you get to yours.

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg. When we can understand how and why our habits are there it makes it easier to change them and let them go. This book does that AND gives you strategies to make the change.

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge MD. Debunking everything we thought about brain injury and the brain’s ability to heal – it will blow your doors off.

The Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D. In a culture that has demonized the stress word, we have forgotten it’s true purpose in our lives. This book reframes our thinking about this word for our betterment.

Healthy at 100 by John Robbins. Just read it – the solutions are simple…if not easy.

In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto by Micheal Pollen. Eat food that nature makes, mostly plants, not too much – it really is that simple

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Traub. This book is a little academic, but worth the read. It will completely de-bunk everything you thought about fat.

The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin. A year of happiness – so worth it.

Eat, Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes by Tom Rath. Can you capture health better in three words?

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown, One of my favorite books of ALL times.   We so often trade our health in our pursuit of more. This book makes a very compelling argument for focusing on what’s most important.

Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut Might be the Root Cause of your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It by Josh Axe. In a germ-phobic world, its good to reconnect with just how critical bacteria are in our lives. More than you might know!