IntroductionWheat was a staple food in our house. During my childhood, I loved how the lovely smell of fresh pies, bread, cookies, buns, or other treats baking in the oven filled the entire house. Waking up to the smell of pancakes or my grandmother’s Chelsea buns was always a special treat. I grew to love and appreciate the value of making baked products from scratch, using primarily wheat flour, but also rye, barley and oats. In my own kitchen, I frequently made French loaves, cinnamon bread, Chelsea buns, pie crusts, cakes, apple strudel, tarts, homemade pasta, and many other tasty treats from scratch. I never suspected these foods that I lovingly made for myself and my family, could have toxic effects on every physiological system in our bodies. The realization of that reality was quite a shock!
The path of ill health that led to my diagnosis was long, twisted, full of potholes (symptoms), and broken bridges (misdiagnoses). Only after diagnosis, did the path begin to straighten, the potholes filled, and the bridges mended. With this new path, I finally was able to heal myself and truly nourish my body with the gluten-free foods that I was genetically designed to eat.
Even though this journey was a struggle, I know I am very lucky. Currently, only 3% (approximately) of the people with celiac disease are diagnosed. Unfortunately, the other 97% are unaware that their symptoms are related to the ingestion of gluten (wheat, rye, barley, and for some people oats), and are living a decreased quality of life with the risk of multiple complications .
As well, many are living with a non-celiac gluten intolerance, which is both very under recognized and under diagnosed. Combined, all the forms of undiagnosed gluten intolerance can lead to unnecessary suffering, increased doctor’s visits, increased hospital visits, and possible death due to all the associated complications. This can drastically reduce an individual’s quality of life and adds an additional strain to an already overstressed healthcare system.
This book will discuss the many elusive ways gluten can affect all the systems of the body in gluten intolerant individuals. I reviewed large and small quantitative studies, case studies, and multiple articles while compiling this book. Also included, are my personal stories, patient’s stories and many other stories from people internationally. These stories help to demonstrate how the symptoms can range from vague to very pronounced and obvious.
While reviewing the literature and conversing with doctors, I noticed that many physicians have different views related to the diagnosis and management of celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis, and non-celiac gluten intolerance. Therefore, patients who are consulting their doctor about gluten intolerance may only hear one point of view. My goal is to present all approaches in a collective and objective style. My hope is that this information will empower people so that they can have a knowledgeable discussion with their doctor and co-actively create a plan for diagnosis and a plan of care that is individualized to their needs. My belief is that more patient involvement equals better patient outcomes.
Lack Of Awareness Put Me At RiskI was misdiagnosed and given a variety of explanations for my vague symptoms for most of my life. Unfortunately, even when the symptoms were obvious, misdiagnosis still occurred. For example, I was misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome when I had classic celiac disease symptoms for 5 years prior to my diagnosis.
Eventually, I diagnosed myself by doing my own research and initiating a gluten-free diet to see if it provided symptom relief. Successful, I approached a gastroenterologist and confirmed my diagnosis.
This lack of awareness put me at risk for complications and at risk for a false negative test result since consuming a gluten-free diet prior to diagnosis can lead to false negatives. Unfortunately, delayed diagnosis is very common in many countries. This often leads to an increased risk of developing other autoimmune diseases, lymphomas, cancers, allergies, complications from malabsorption issues, possible decreased immune response to other illnesses, and many other health complications that will be discussed in this book.
What Inspired Me To Create This Book?Inspiration #1: My love for my family has been a powerful motivator for the creation of this book. Gluten intolerance is very prevalent in my family. Therefore, this book is my gift to my current and future family members (grandchildren, great grandchildren, etc). I feel that this guide provides the information they will need to get diagnosed and to help improve their health once diagnosed. For many years to come, my infinite love and guidance can be passed on through this book.
Inspiration #2: Many are suffering and quite likely many are dying globally due to undiagnosed celiac disease, dermatitis herpetiformis and non-celiac gluten intolerance. This breaks my heart when I think of grandparents being lost due to dementia or illness, couples dealing with infertility or pregnancy issues (potentially leading to loss of a baby), mothers and fathers struggling with illness, children with cognitive disabilities affecting their ability to achieve their potential in life, and many others who are suffering with a variety of misdiagnoses.
This is what I visualized while I wrote this book. I shed tears a number of times just thinking of all the people who are afflicted by gluten intolerance. I am hoping that this book will help others to recognize that a link may exist between their symptoms and the ingestion of gluten. Recognition, diagnosis, and a gluten-free diet may be all that is needed to increase their quality of life and end the suffering.