3 Shocking Barriers to Resolving Celiac Disease

Evidence is mounting of the prevalence of Celiac Disease and it's implication in the development of other autoimmune disorders. But where is the response from the medical community? It seems there are more than a few barriers preventing traditional medical practitioners from grasping the gravity of the situation.

Here are a few:

1. Physicians believe that Celiac Disease is rare. Since only 1 out of 4,700 people are diagnosed in the United States, it seems that few cases exist. However, according to a study completed by Dr. Alessio Fassano, Director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, at least 1 in 133 people in the United States suffers from Celiac Disease. That means 97% of sufferers remain undiagnosed.

2. Denial of nutrition's role in autoimmune disorders. This is true both for the general public and medical practitioners. If we “are what we eat,” why do many gastroenterologists throw medication at a problem when simply changing our diet could resolve the issue entirely?

3. Insurance and Pharmaceutical Companies lose money. Insurance companies denied payment for an intestinal biopsy (to confirm a diagnosis of celiac disease) for 21% of patients with a positive blood test in a study published on February 10, 2003 in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Insurance companies deny these tests so they don't lose money. Pharmaceutical companies also profit from selling medications that mitigate Celiac Disease symptoms, without resolving the core illness. Currently, medications such as AT-1001 and CCX-281 are being developed which allow Celiac Disease sufferers to continue to eat gluten. These drug sales could reach $8 billion by 2019.

Don't let insurance companies, pharmaceutical businesses, or misinformed medical practitioners stand in the way of your health. If you or a loved one suffers from symptoms of gluten intolerance, get tested as soon as possible.

U.S. Lags Behind Europe in Celiac Disease Knowledge

Did you know that 1 in 133 people in the U.S has celiac disease? (Archives of Internal Medicine, published 10 February 2003)

Unfortunately, only about 1 out of every 4,700 Americans has been diagnosed, which means 97% of cases go undetected in our country. Why is this? Dr. Alessio Fassano, the Director of the Center for Celiac Research at the University of Maryland, points to lack of research by medical professionals in the United States.

"Equal recognition of celiac disease has been frustratingly slow to reach the U.S," says a colleague of Dr. Fassano, Dr. Guandalini, who trained in Italy. "In Europe, it typically takes a few weeks to go from the first symptoms to a diagnosis. In the U.S., the average lag time between onset and diagnosis is 11 years." If ever.

In the mid-1970s, European scientists spearheaded a task force to determine celiac disease prevalence and presentation. These efforts allowed for both a greater understanding and management of the disease. In the United States, very few medical doctors attempt to understand the disease or its wide-spread implications. Unless your endocrinologist or pathologist knows about celiac disease, the diagnosis could remain a mystery for years.

Dr. Alessio Fassano: A Revolutionary Doctor

The shortcomings of traditional medicine often block a patient’s path to better health. Sometimes even medical professionals cannot uncover the truth because of endless red tape and road blocks. Many patients and doctors become discouraged and give up. Dr. Alessio Fassano, thankfully, is not one of them.

After moving to Baltimore from Naples, Italy in 1993, Dr. Fassano worked tirelessly on issues of digestive health. As the Director of the Center for Celiac Research and Mucosal Biology Research Center at the University of Maryland, Dr. Fassano and his research team proved that gluten contributes to autoimmune disorders such as Type I diabetes, thyroid disease, Sjorgen's syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, collagen vascular disease and liver disease.

Despite the fact that Dr. Fassano unequivocally proved the connection between gluten and autoimmune disorders, many medical professionals ignore or are unaware of gluten intolerances and celiacs disease.  If you or a loved one is experiencing pain or discomfort, do not give in. There are medical professionals who are willing and able to help you.

5 Big Changes: A Hospital's Nutritional Make-Over

Soggy lettuce. Mealy potatoes. Rubberized flank steak. The mere idea of hospital food can trigger one's gag reflex.

At St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, the hospital food's image has just undergone a complete makeover. St. Joseph is backed by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association's Healthy Food Hospitals program, which supports locally grown foods and nutritional choices for patients and staff. These initiatives set the foundation for the new hospital cafeteria.

A quick look at the new changes:

1. Portion-size reduction

2. Lower fat and sodium content

3. Fresh ingredients from on-site farm

4. Fewer processed foods, more home-made products

5. Color-coded system which allows cafeteria-goers to select the healthiest option for their diet

St. Joseph Mercy certainly raised the bar, but why did it take so long? If what we eat directly correlates to our health, why aren't all hospitals creating similar cafeterias? We cannot wait for hospital's to catch up to our needs. It is important that we take our health into our own hands. If you or a loved one is experiencing pain or discomfort, don't let a medical system stand in your path.

To find out more, click on this link:


Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Disease: Different Name, Same Game

Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity sound like two totally different entities. Celiac disease sounds severe while gluten sensitivity seems pretty harmless. Unfortunately, both are very serious digestive conditions and are actually much more similar than their names would indicate.

Both celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are forms of gluten intolerance. Gluten and gliadin are proteins found in wheat, barley, and rye that give flour its elasticity. Gluten and gliadin can be found in cookies, breads, pastas, anything that uses flour and certain kinds of alcohol. An allergy to gluten can lead to both gluten sensitivity and eventually celiac disease.

Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease should be thought of as progressing points on the same continuum. Both are caused by gluten intolerances, and gluten sensitivity can quickly evolve into the more severe celiac disease.

Celiac disease sufferers are defined as those who have unhealthy, deteriorated villi. When gliadin and gluten trigger an allergic reaction, it inflames the small intestine. This inflammation flattens and destroys the lining (villi) of the small intestine, impeding nutrient absorption. Celiac disease is diagnosed through a biopsy of the small intestine which shows the villous atrophy.

Below is an image of healthy villi on the left, and villi worn down due to gluten consumption on the right. The villi are responsible for capturing and transmitting nutrients to the rest of the body. Flattened and deteriorated villi are much less functional.

Though it is well-known in the medical community that gluten sensitivity is a precursor to Celiac disease, it is often misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all. Why? Because most doctors test only for Celiac disease. Though the villi biopsy cannot measure gluten sensitivity, it is the most common test among medical professionals. Unfortunately, many people who have Gluten Sensitivity continue to suffer for years, leading to unnecessary villi damage and pain. It's time to demand preventative measures when it comes to your health.