Living Well with “Gluten Freedom”

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.

The Book:

Gluten Freedom

Fasano, Alessio M.D. with Susie Flaherty

Wiley General Trade (Turner) 2014

ISBN 978-1-118-42310-3 (hardback)

312 pp

Gluten FreedomImage found on amazon.ca

 The Review

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.

 

 

 

 

 


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6 thoughts on “Living Well with “Gluten Freedom”

  1. Hi Christine, and thx for sharing your review of this book. I am not gluten-free myself, but certainly have friends who are and will share your link with them.

    It’s funny you should post this at this point in time, as I just returned from a weekend at Ste. Anne’s Spa in Grafton, ON, not too far from you. Their bakeshop is entirely gluten free and offers a wide selection that is open to all for purchase. They also make chocolates on site and an amazing selection of fabulous baking. (The baking that is done within the spa’s kitchen is not gluten free, but the bakeshop, which is an entirely separate building is gluten free and each morning, a selection of their baked goods were offered for guests in addition to the regular baked goods.) All were delish!

    1. Hi Doreen:
      I followed your Ste. Anne’s visit on Facebook, and from the photos you posted, the food looked “delish” indeed. That’s wonderful that they have a dedicated bakery for gluten-free goodies. I haven’t been to Ste. Anne’s for quite a few years, but I will definitely have to go back. If you’re going to make a return visit, I’d definitely come to meet you!
      Thanks for sharing the post and links with your friends who need gluten-free options. This book helps to explain the “wherefores and whys” very well.

  2. I am not Gluten free but I have friends who are, and are doing very well they tell me and I have noticed they are feeling healthier than ever in our so called “Golden Years”. I think that everyone has their own opinions on any change to their diet and being that it is an individual choice and only WE know our own bodies I am happy there is so much information out there.
    This book sounds very helpful and now I am off to check out your links. Great article. Hug B

    1. You’re right, B, everyone has their own ideas about changing their diet, and they should so what works for them. There is a lot of information, but you still have to read it with a critical eye, and get help from health professionals to figure out what works for you. Thanks for joining the discussion.

  3. One of the problems with people understanding Gluten Free is also how people who claim to be Gluten Free behave. A few years ago I was at a workshop where a lady asked for Gluten Free meals, no problem they were provided but on the last day of the event she walked into the lunch room looked at her meal and what the rest were getting and decided that she could eat from the regular meals. As a result the last person to arrive had to take her Gluten Free meal and was not happy. This caused some to question what Gluten Free means. I am glad that you have found a path to healthy eating. It is not easy with all the tempting foods out there.

    1. That is so frustrating, Lillie, and I’ve heard those stories before. I’ve also heard of people being gluten free “most of the time.” That makes it hard for people like me who need to live gluten free ALL of the time. Having family and friends who are supportive and acommodating helps. It’s not easy, but it’s manageable. Thanks so much for your insights.

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