Is it dangerous to self-diagnose a gluten-free diet?

  • Article by: KEVYN BURGER , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 7, 2013 - 6:36 PM

Seeking a healthier lifestyle, more people are becoming glued to gluten-free products. But is self-diagnosing dangerous?

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AnondsonJul. 7, 13 7:36 PM

Somehow the story failed to answer the headline's question. Is it dangerous to self-diagnose? So celiacs are 1% now (but were a fraction of a fraction of 1% 80 years ago and gluten sensitives are 6%, unanswered are the otherwise gluten allergic. Schizophrenics and other mental disorders improve with removal of gluten, although unlooked at in the research there are overwhelming anecdotal reports of other autoimmune sufferers (besides celiac) claiming improvements with removal of gluten and other grains. Its tough to write a pop-health story and not get slagged from the audience, but I would recommend anyone doing reporting on gluten for the public's reading make an effort to communicate with Dr. Alessio Fasano, the world's leading researcher on gluten, celiac, and whose work lead to the discovery of the zonulin molecule that is implicated in "leaky gut".

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sek2undrstndJul. 7, 1310:10 PM

I found it somewhat interesting that a medical doctor who profits from doing an endoscopy and blood test would call it dangerous for people to self-diagnose. Is that similar to the Star Tribune banging the drums for the new Vikings Stadium since they were going to profit from the selling of their land once the deal was in place? I realize people need to know if they are celiac but isn't there a less costly way to figure it out? Somehow I think there is.

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rabbitsayshiJul. 8, 1312:20 AM

The fundamental problem is grains, corn, soy, as well as other legumes, and most carbohydrates that are not fruits and vegetables. It is true that those going gluten-free just replace it with other crap like corn and rice flower instead of truly healthy flowers like almond and coconut. I have going with a fish focused paleo diet for a few years now, I end up staying lower carb as well but eat plenty of fruit, vegetables, and good starches like sweet potato...I lost 30lbs initially and kept it off but who cares...what matters is I need less sleep, I never nap, I NEVER have heartburn, I rarely sunburn (even without spf), and my wife's IBS is gone. We cut out most dairy (only high fat dairy and goat dairy we consume now)...and this has helped her allergies. What this means is that nutritionists are bought and sold...DO NOT listen to them...they are merely reciting the same crap they learned in school. Read! Research! The truth is out there with reputable doctors and scientists who work hard to understand our bodies...now how to repair symptoms.

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u4775Jul. 8, 13 7:08 AM

Charts of obesity in the US mirror three things, the rise of fast food which virtually always contains bread, the rise of high fructose corn syrup, and the introduction of dwarf strains of high yield wheat. Oh and it seems to mirror the rise of autoimmune diseases too. Take your pick, getting rid of any or all of them always seems to improve ones health, but wheat seems most likely since any leaking of gut material into the blood stream is likely to trigger an immune response. This is the wheat industries worse nightmare since people worldwide get 1/3 of their caloric intake from wheat. Like all scientists, they want to prove you feel better, not take your word for it. I know personally that getting off wheat brought my "stomach full" signal back within days regardless of whether I have celiac disease or not.

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helfertkJul. 8, 13 8:08 AM

Which is more "dangerous"? stopping gluten to see if one experiences relief OR going into a hospital for a biopsy by endoscopy? Oh please...not even close. One question I have learned to ask when various tests are suggested: How will any result change proposed treatment or is the test being done just cause it would be "nice to know"? Too many are the latter. Just how is it "dangerous" to eliminate gluten from one's diet without having a biopsy...the article DID NOT give an answer to the question raised in the article headline. ...An irresponsible "scare" article.

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johnmplsJul. 8, 13 8:28 AM

Anyone here old enough to remember the "cow magnets" of the '70's improving gas mileage? Same story, new decade.

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turkeybuckJul. 8, 13 9:26 AM

My understanding is that humans don't have the enzymes to break down gluten. So why consume something that is basically a foreign substance, has serious potential side effects and has zero benefits? No thanks.

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scott4343Jul. 8, 13 9:53 AM

For people that don't have celiac disease (1% of the population), gluten is simply the latest food phobia. You feel better without gluten? Maybe you should study the placebo effect. In a few years we'll have forgotten about gluten and the next "problem" will be the trend. I'm going to stay ahead of the curve and start avoiding black pepper. So far, I haven't sneezed today.

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helfertkJul. 8, 1310:39 AM

Scott, Clearly you have not experienced the REAL relief when gluten is eliminated or minimized significantly. But, I don't understand your ridicule of something that works and that you have no experience with. I understand well the "placebo effect" as I worked at NIH coordinating/overseeing the reporting to FDA adverse drug events in AIDS drug clinical trials. Funny how the gut responds negatively - without any conscious or even unconscious input from the brain - when too much gluten is eaten (gluten is added into soooo many products that you wouldn't expect to find it in). You think I want (in some way) to not eat some otherwise yummy food, such as burgers, pastry, pasta salads and all the foods with "hidden" gluten in them? Go ahead, forsake your black pepper if YOU feel better.

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speedgibsonJul. 8, 1311:00 AM

This is an excellent, needed article. That said, having listened to many radio shows produced by Nutritional Weight and Wellness, I think on balance they are more part of the problem than the solution, claiming that 30% of the population is gluten sensitive and that everyone would benefit from a gluten-free diet. There is no substitute for qualified medical advice here.

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