The enemy! - photo credit Flickr

The enemy! – photo credit Flickr

A lot of people are talking about this new “trend” of Gluten free eating, in a time in which we hear nearly everyday about new diets and new ways of eating “without”, of course these diets get more and more attention. But is Gluten free really just a trend ? Where does it come from ? And what exactly is gluten ?

Gluten is a protein contained in wheat, barley, rye, and sometimes oat too. It is  often compared to glue, because it acts like it and helps the bread to raise and stick together, which is why most of the gluten free products often doesn’t look as good a products containing gluten. Therefore, when you are on a gluten free diet, you have to avoid every products containing wheat/barley or rye flour. Which means breads, pasta, pizza, cakes, cereals, beer, but also most surprisingly, most of the sauces, meatballs, soy sauce, chocolate, spices powders, drugs or even stamps and envelope paste… In fact every products have to be double checked. Happily, Gluten free products start to be a little bit more common, maybe thanks to the “trend” too, from about a year.

Since a few month though, there are an awful lot of articles online talking about the new way to get skinny which would be according to some people : avoiding gluten. So many article that we can even see articles and websites making fun of gluten free eating. But this diet hasn’t always been a trend and is still today, above all, an obligation for all people suffering from Celiac disease. Indeed, celiac disease is a real condition for which there is no remedy, except a lifelong strict gluten free diet.

Celiac (/Coeliac) disease is an auto immune disorder, which means that whenever someone who’s got this disease eat, even a little, gluten, his/her body create an immune response that attacks the small intestine. These damages leads to unabsorption of most of the nutriments normally absorbed in the food.

Guten free flour - Photo credit (flickr)

Guten free flour – Photo credit (flickr)

Celiac disease isn’t necessarily declared from birth. Even if it’s a hereditary disease, it can stay undiagnostised for years. Unfortunately, this can leads to serious complications like anemia, early osteoporosis, lactose intolerance, vitamins deficiency, pancreatic insuffisance, infertility, recurrent miscarriage, neurological condition, epilepsy, migraines, taste loss, tetany, vitiligo, gastric ulcer, diabetes, short statures, intestinal cancers…

But these are only the damages, the list of the symptoms is also pretty long : abdominal bloating and pain, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, constipation / diarrhea, irritability, behavioral issues, delayed growth and puberty, attention deficit, hyperactivity, bone and joint pain, arthritis, depression, anxiety, back pain, tingling numbness, seizures, migraines, missed menstrual periods, skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis), insomnia, kidney stones, … and this is only a short list over the hundreds of symptoms.

Also, an undiagnostised celiac disease can lead to other auto immune diseases, for example, people only diagnostised after their 20’s has 34% chances to develop a second auto-immune disease. The estimation is that approximatively 1 people out of 100 (or 170, depending of the region of the world) is actually celiac. Which means for example for the united states approximatively 1% of the total population, or more than 3 million people is actually celiac.

The fact is that Gluten is not only a dangerous poison for you when you have celiac disease, but it seems also to be like a drug. Indeed, Gluten and Casein (a protein contained in animal milk) acts nearly like heroin on celiac people’s brain, and it is then very hard to start a gluten free diet, even tho it is for obvious health amelioration. Therefore, it often happens that celiac people find it really hard to go on a gluten free diet.

Most of the people aware of this disease thinks that only a little amount of gluten couldn’t arm someone suffering from it, but this is unfortunately not true, every little ounce of gluten trigger the auto immune reaction and then the symptoms, which is why it is really important to be extra careful in case of celiac disease.

If you think you might be celiac, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor and take the blood test. If you can’t afford going to the doctor or making the blood test, then you can also try going totally gluten free for a few weeks, this may help you figuring out if you have a gluten sensibility or not. Unfortunately, in some cases, symptoms only goes better after months of a fully gluten free diet.

While in France some doctors still deny the fact that this disease is actually quite common, the University of Chicago Celiac disease center’s doctor Stefano Guandalini, speak about a remedy for next 4 to 10 year, which would be a great release for all the people suffering from it. But this would not only be a big step for Celiac people, but maybe also to all people suffering from auto immune diseases, for which these results could also help. 

Gluten free banana cake - photo credit Florence Schwartz

Gluten free banana cake – photo credit Florence Schwartz