I’m finally taking the plunge and getting tested for Celiac Disease. I’ve been teaching clients for the past year or so that it’s important to get tested if you have family members who have been diagnosed with Celiac, yet I haven’t practiced what I preach. I have a cousin who was recently diagnosed with Celiac disease, and an aunt who is “gluten intolerant”, and as you all know I have had GI issues my entire life, plus I was iron deficient at one time in my life (and haven’t really been tested since then) both of which are signs of Celiac. Many people believe that GI upset or weight loss are the two main symptoms of Celiac Disease, but in reality weight gain, iron-deficiency, depression, dermatitis, and osteoporosis or osteopenia are more common symptoms.
The New York Times wrote a fantastic article about the testing that is done for Celiac Disease. The following passage, taken from the article, describes two of the proteins that are looked for when tested;
One protein is an enzyme called tissue transglutaminase, or TTG, that is found in many cells of our body. TTG is released from the damaged intestine during active celiac disease, and antibodies to TTG are found to be elevated in the blood of most patients with untreated celiac disease.
The other protein to which the body’s immune system responds to abnormally in someone with active celiac disease (and occasionally in some other disorders) is a group of proteins found in gluten called gliadins.
I’ve been following the low FODMAPs diet for over two years now, and since wheat contains FODMAPs, I try to stay away from it. The other two grains that contain gluten are rye and barley, which I really don’t consume. So I know my intake of gluten has been pretty low, but I’ve certainly not been “gluten free”. I drink beer, eat gluten-containing samples at work, sometimes eat desserts at parties, plus I take bites of Nick’s pastas and breads on occasion, but I want this test to be as accurate as can be, so after reading the following passage from the New York Times article I decided to increase my gluten intake before getting tested.
Going on a gluten-free diet for many months, and particularly for a year or more, can lead to the most commonly used diagnostic tests for celiac disease to no longer being helpful. Even intestinal biopsies can go back to a normal or near-normal appearance if you have been gluten-free for a long time. Without an intestinal biopsy that shows the abnormalities of celiac disease, you cannot be diagnosed with celiac disease. The only way to make a diagnosis of celiac disease after starting a gluten-free diet is to go back on gluten. This is referred to as a “gluten challenge” and is the subject of another discussion.
Here is what I’ve been eating/drinking:
BEER; Barley contains glutenWheat cakes; made from wheat and other gluten-containing ingredientsPanko Bread Crumbs (made from wheat bread)Tuna: Yes, this does contain wheat, check out the ingredients!Toasted Oats: While oats aren’t a natural source of gluten, many are contaminated. Also, this particular cereal has wheat clearly listed in the ingredient list.And, of course, Thanksgiving leftovers (turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread).QUESTION: Do you have any tips for me before I get tested for Celiac? The big day is Wednesday!
If you know someone who has been diagnosed with Celiac Disease within the past 12 months (or if you have been diagnosed yourself), I encourage you to check out what the University of Chicago is doing this season to help those who have been diagnosed. Check out how you can help, or receive a generous gift of your own, here.