The Background Story:
There is no denying that the term “gluten free” can evoke very interesting, and sometimes combative, discussions. There are those who will insist that only those diagnosed with Celiac Disease (CD)—a relatively small percentage of the population—need to follow a gluten-free diet. That is difficult for the millions of others who will insist that they are healthier, both physically and mentally, by cutting gluten from their diet. I am one of them.
After a process of trial and error, and a lengthy “elimination diet” I cut out gluten-containing foods several years ago. Therefore I cannot go for a test that would definitively determine whether I have celiac disease but health professionals and I agree that I am likely Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitive (NCGS), and following a gluten-free diet has made an improvement in my health. I am always looking for ways to continue this healthful journey.
I’d read a review of Gluten Freedom by Dr. Alessio Fasano on the blog, The Patient Celiac, and wanted to read it myself. While I was certainly aware that there was a “bandwagon” that many people have jumped on, this is not the situation for me. I’ve made changes to my diet before to help improve my health, and I never did so without doing some research. Changing to the gluten-free diet was no different. I researched it well before making the change, and I continue to read a great deal about all of this. So I was happy to receive this book.
Fasano, Alessio M.D. with Susie Flaherty
Wiley General Trade (Turner) 2014
ISBN 978-1-118-42310-3 (hardback)
Gluten Freedom is divided into four sections, taking you from looking how gluten entered the world to looking towards the future with new therapies and new treatments that might make it easier for us to live gluten-free, and maybe even are able to better tolerate gluten. The layout of the book also allows you to choose where to start, depending on where you are in your life.
I started with the chapter Gluten in Your Golden Years, because I was in my 50s before I was diagnosed. I don’t know if your 50s are considered your “golden years”, but that seemed like a good place to start. It was interesting for me to learn that while Celiac Disease is often diagnosed as a paediatric condition, it can come on later in life. Or, it may be that while the disease actually never goes away, the condition can improve due to diet changes—and then come back if those diet changes are not made permanent. It was also good to read stories from others who had a later-life diagnosis.
The personal stories are a definite asset to the book, but at times they are a bit too long. That said, it’s good to have them, so that reader knows he/she is not alone. By the same token, the research is a bit too detailed, which made me, and perhaps other readers skip over it at times, which is unfortunate, because it’s important research. We can learn from both the research and the stories.
The research comes from Fasano’s Center for Celiac Research & Treatment, which he founded in 1996. Since it’s definitely become easier to live gluten free, it is difficult to imagine dietary hardships and other problems faced by those with CD in the earlier years, or the need for a research facility dedicated to this. Clearly there is a need for the center*, and I for one, am grateful for the research done there.
There are still a lot of unanswered questions, and there is a need for more research (hence the Center) For example, why is CD diagnosed in some people as children, yet not until later in life for others? Why are there only intestinal problems for some while others experience symptoms affecting different systems in the body, including the brain?
Whether you are seeking Gluten Freedom for yourself, or you know someone who is, I urge you to read this book. You’ll understand more about what affects your gut health, and how important a healthy gut is to your overall health. Then you can decide whether there is a need for a CD test, or whether you or someone in your family may have developed NCGS. I wish I’d known before I removed gluten from my diet the importance of the tests, so that I would have had a more accurate diagnosis.
Living with gluten sensitivity is not fun, but it is manageable, and there are more products available, which makes it easier. Information and research being done by Dr. Fasano and others is welcome.
Have you tried a gluten-free diet? Is anyone in your family or circle of friends “gluten free”? What were the results? Share your experiences here.
Head over to my other blog, “Local Business Matters” where I talk about the importance of supporting local businesses. While there may be more choice of gluten-free products in larger centres, I can get what I need in my local stores, featured in this post.
*I am sticking with the “American” spelling of center, as the Center for Celiac Disease is located in Boston, Massachusetts. I would normally use the “Canadian” spelling of “centre.” Either is correct.