Gluten is a hot topic in the media right now. Going gluten free seems to be the new fad diet. We’re seeing gluten-free restaurants in Richmond, VA pop up all over the place. Many items with gluten are marked on restaurant menus and items without gluten are stamped “Gluten Free” in food products at grocery stores. But whether you can be gluten intolerant and whether or not you should eat gluten are both controversial topics.
We sat down with Dr. Thanjan to ask some basic questions about gluten and how it affects you.
What is gluten?
“Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Some examples of foods/drinks that contain gluten are pasta, bread, and beer. “
How does gluten affect your digestion?
“Celiac disease is when the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten and causes damage to the lining of the small intestine. This damage can lead to malabsorption.”
Who should be tested for celiac disease?
“Consider testing in patients with chronic or recurrent diarrhea, abdominal bloating, or weight loss. Deficiencies in iron, folate, and vitamin B12 are other indications for testing.”
How is celiac disease diagnosed?
“Celiac disease is diagnosed by blood work and small intestinal biopsies by upper endoscopy.”
If you don’t have gluten intolerance, should you worry about gluten?
“There is controversy and more research that needs to be done regarding gluten sensitivity without a diagnosis of celiac disease. At this time, if you are asymptomatic, I would advice against a gluten-free diet.”
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms Dr. Thanjan mentioned above or suspect you may have a gluten intolerance, contact your gastroenterologist for information on Celiac Disease.