I think what I was most excited about at ICDS 2013 was the session about celiac and gluten-free myths. This session did not disappoint! There are so many myths (and just plain old wrong information and scare tactics) that we live in a world of fear and anxiety! I feel like every day I go online and get terrified for some reason. Luckily Dr. Guandalini was here at ICDS with a panel of guest to address gluten-free myths: Melinda Dennis, John Zone, Daonald Kasarda, and Markku Maki.
I tried to add in ALL of the myths throughout the session, but I still have to go deeply into my notes. I may add more later on this…
- Do I just a blood test to diagnose disease? NOT SO FAST THERE, SLUGGER. There are steps to a definitive diagnosis including a biopsy.
- Celiac Disease requires an expert evaluation, don’t just have one test with someone who doesn’t know how to read it. Please please please get a doctor that knows what he is doing.
- OMG CORN?! ON A GLUTEN-FREE DIET!?!?! Oddly enough, ICDS posted a picture of Gluten Free Society (which is a website that I believe spreads more fear than science-based information. BUT, there is NO PROOF TO THIS. Corn is safe, don’t believe the cross-reactivity myths. However, just like ANY food, you CAN have a sensitivity to corn. Corn makes you feel awful? Solution: quit eating it! Just don’t blame it on celiac disease.
- Let’s talk about Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity. How many of them are out there? Well, with NCGS, everything is still unclear – we don’t have a proper definition for what NCGS is or a number of NCGS’ out there. Also, even though you may see marketing for it, there are NO biomarkers for it!There is also no genetic test for NCGS, sorry.
- Products that have Glutenase (a gluten digesting enzyme) that are ACTUALLY effective are NOT available on the market YET (but will be soon). Stop spending a ton of money on those products that you see in the supermarket! Scientific studies revealed that all of the major brands don’t get rid of all of the gluten proteins that you may ingest (accidentally of course, because cheating is rude).
- There’s pills that digest gluten just like Lactaid does for lactose, right? MYTH BUSTED! Nothing on the market that helps digest gluten in the way that future enzymes will. Believe me, they’re coming and I’m very hopeful about it.
- Wheat doesn’t make you fat. An unhealthy lifestyle or other health issues make you fat. Stop believing everything you’ve read in Wheat Belly – because we’ve pretty much debunked ALL of them at this conference. Joe Schmo off the street will not benefit from a GFD for weight loss.
- We’re not eating more wheat than we have in the past. That’s not the cause. The range of wheat protein content for the 1st and 2nd half of the century is little change. Stop the Wheat Belly shenanigans!
- Can you drink coffee with a gluten-free diet? But what about all the cross-reactivity with gluten I’ve been reading about on the interwebs? Luckily, 86% of the conference said no, because the answer is no. IT IS A MYTH. STOP SPREADING THIS CRAP!!!! Drink your coffee, again, there is no scientifically validated research on cross-reactivity. However, coffee is a bowel irritant to EVERYONE. My mom. your mom. THe baristas at Starbucks. If coffee gives you the runs, congratulations – you’re like everyone else. Also, stop drinking coffee if you do. It’s that simple.
- Not everything that happens to a celiac is caused by gluten. We are SO fearful ALL the time about XYZ symptoms being linked to gluten or celiac. OMG I ate corn and had diarrhea, it had gluten! Now, I’m not saying that gluten won’t get ‘cha at the worst moment, but we still get sick like regular people, have food poisoning like regular people, etc. We’re quick to blame gluten for it all. That being said, celiac disease is a MULTI SYMPTOM disease – which is why you can get mouth sores, joint pains, etc. This is basically just saying “gluten isn’t always the culprit” and I believe you should always be a scientist and detective with your own body to dig more into why you are sick.
- Symptoms do NOT indicate the degree of the disease. Just because you have no symptoms does not mean you’re okay. You’re not okay. Celiac is celiac. Stop eating gluten – even if you have no symptoms.
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis people needs to be on a gluten-free diet. Just because you have a skin reaction to gluten does not mean that you’re not a celiac and have to eat like the rest of us! That just how special you are and how you manifest the disease.
- There’s no evidence that gluten in shampoo and conditioner can cause DH or celiac disease. If your skin is damaged or broken, gluten can get through though. There is no protection in your mucous membranes, so places like your mouth and nose, you can be exposed! I, however, refuse to introduce ANY gluten into my house, and have a sensitive scalp and skin so I use all GF items. And hey, if you feel like you have reactions or sensitivities to it on your scalp, I approve of you using only GF products too.
- You don’t have to be skinny to be a celiac. Half of the adult population in the western countries are overweight or obese. We’re seeing a similar trend for those in celiac disease.
- Gluten/wheat does not remain in the muscle tissues of animals who eat gluten. Meat is gluten free – so stop telling me to eat grass-fed beef.