If you thought celiac disease didn’t get enough respect, how about gluten sensitivity? You get a lot of the pain and issues like celiac, but you don’t have celiac and there’s no test for it. People have complained to me that doctors don’t really know what to do with them. Now new research from the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research takes a step in the right direction pinning down details on gluten sensitivity.
The University of Maryland’s news release stated Thursday its findings could lead to better diagnostic tools for gluten-sensitivity!
Researchers found both celiac and gluten-sensitivity are on a spectrum of gluten-related disorders, they are even similar in symptoms for some people. But overall they are very different– down to the molecular level– says the news release.
“The research documents the genes and the pathways — a sequence of reactions in the small intestine — possibly associated with gluten sensitivity. ‘Identifying and isolating specific ‘biomarkers’ in the immune response of people with gluten sensitivity could lead to diagnostic tools for the condition,’ says Dr. Alessio Fasano, who directs the University of Maryland School of Medicine Mucosal Biology Research Center and the Center for Celiac Research.
Gluten Sensitivity vs Celiac Disease
The difference between celiac and gluten sensitivity is still not entirely black and white. While gluten sensitive folks don’t have the damage in the smalll intestine and aren’t at risk of getting major diseases like cancer and osteoporosis because of eating gluten. However, they do get stomach pain, foggy brain and other symptoms that celiacs often complain about.
Back in December of 2009 I polled readers about celiac over the last 10 years. In my post entitled “Celiac Dreams we Wish Would Have Come True in the last 10 Years” readers agreed that the medical community needed to be educated more about celiac disease. One reader in particular chimed in about gluten-sensitivity, “…nearly 1 in 4 is gluten-sensitive but not celiac, and many are told they can eat gluten if the celiac test is negative. Doctors need to be educated more!”
The Center for Celiac Research estimates 6% of the US population is gluten sensitive — that’s about 18 million people. Definitely a number doctors should be aware of. Hopefully they’ll learn more about gluten-sensitivity soon. Dr. Fasano says they are “…looking for answers about how to best diagnose and treat this recently identified group of gluten-sensitive individuals.” Which some day could help the gluten-sensitive cause.