In recent years, the proliferation of fad diets based on anecdotal evidence and no scientific basis has supported the belief that a gluten-free diet is healthy for everyone because it prevents people from feeling heavy or heavy. have digestion problems.
Statements such as those made by celebrities who are convinced that following a gluten-free diet, even if they are not celiac, allow them to lose weight, also affect the number of people who eliminate gluten from their diet without reason.
In this particular case, weight loss actually occurs because an important food group, such as bread, pasta or grains, is removed from the diet, which means a lower calorie intake, but not to exclude gluten. . This means that it is not necessary for most people to eliminate gluten from their diet, and if they do, significant caloric intake is lost.
However, for a small group of people – it is estimated that 1% of the Spanish population suffers from celiac disease, although the vast majority still do not know that they have it – gluten can be a serious problem that worsens their quality of life.
According to the Spanish Federation of Celiac Associations (FACE), “Disorders in the gluten-free diet [en personas celíacas] They can cause chronic fatigue, apathy, arthritis, infertility, miscarriage, depression, growth retardation, diabetes, lymphoma or digestive cancer.”
What is celiac disease?
Celiac disease, celebrated on National Celiac Day on May 27, is an autoimmune and multisystemic disease involving the immune system that causes inflammation of the small intestine when gluten is ingested.
However, as FACE points out, “any other system in the human body can be affected, not just the digestive system, which can cause extra-intestinal symptoms.”
Gluten is a set of small proteins found in three widely consumed grains: wheat, rye, and barley. It is also found in other less commonly consumed grains such as spelled or kamut.
Therefore, the main source of gluten is food made with this grain: bread, pasta, breakfast cereal, pizza, cake, etc.
It is this difficulty in detecting gluten, since even a few traces can cause a reaction, that makes people with celiac disease eat more.
Celiac disease can appear at any age, and one of the problems is the difficulty of diagnosing the disease, because some suffer from weight loss, others have stunted growth – in children – and have no other external symptoms.
You may not develop any of these symptoms, but gluten affects the digestive system and can lead to more serious illnesses in the long run.
There are a series of genetic markers – HLA DQ2 and DQ8 haplotypes – that indicate the presence of a genetic predisposition that increases the likelihood of suffering from the disease. “However, the presence of compatible genetics does not imply the development of pathology,” explains FACE.
The same association asserts that “a significant percentage of patients (75%) are undiagnosed, largely because CD [enfermedad celíaca] For years, it has been exclusively associated with its classic form of clinical presentation.”
However, the recognition of other forms of manifestation of celiac disease, with few or no symptoms, together with the improvement of predisposing tests or the diagnosis of often associated diseases, has made it possible to identify different types of the disease.
Thus, FACE classifies it as:
The most common symptoms of celiac disease
The symptoms of what we might call clinical celiac disease are mostly related to bowel disorders, although they can also affect nutrition and mood.
The main and most common ones, which should allow us to make an appropriate analysis:
How to recognize celiac disease
As mentioned earlier, in both children and adults, symptoms may be atypical or absent, making diagnosis difficult. However, there is a protocol to complete any of the different types of disease restrictions.
First of all, a suspected diagnosis of the disease is made through a clinical examination and a blood test that includes serological markers of celiac disease (antigliadin, anti-endomysial and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies).
Genetic marker testing may also be performed to strengthen the diagnosis. It should be accompanied by a biopsy of the intestine to determine whether the mucosa is irritated or healthy.
A biopsy “consists of removing a sample of tissue from the upper part of the small intestine to see if it’s damaged,” FACE explains. In order to perform this test, it is necessary that gluten is not removed from the diet.
Finally, if the diagnosis is not positive through these tests, but the disease is suspected, the sufferer should go on a gluten-free diet to see what results come from it, hoping to improve their health.
There are a number of associated diseases that can precede celiac disease or appear simultaneously and later. Their presence increases the risk of celiac disease, and therefore they are a reason for suspicion.
The main thing is:
What happens when gluten is eliminated from the diet without celiac disease?
For people with non-celiac disease who are otherwise in good health without eating gluten-containing foods, following a gluten-free diet is like wearing magnifying glasses without vision problems: which can lead to poor nutrition if you don’t do it right.
Celiac associations argue that it is not advisable to give up gluten without a prescription and without a health problem that warrants it.
For people who don’t have celiac disease, it’s important to note that gluten can provide some benefits that are lost if it’s removed from their regular diet: it can improve blood lipid levels and thus lower triglycerides. It also improves hypertension and reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Therefore, if there is no medical justification, it is not necessary to exclude gluten from the diet; If this is done because some improvement is observed, even if the disease is not diagnosed, it is better to do it under the supervision of a nutritionist who helps to compensate for the gluten deficiency with other foods.
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Source: El Diario