Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Gluten illness: should you bother to get tested?

Francene asks: “Do you suggest getting tested before going gluten free? I basically gave it up and feel 100% better. Never thought of getting tested.”

This is such a good question.  Should you bother to get tested for celiac or gluten disease? Or should you just go straight onto a gluten-free diet to see how you feel? The answer is the infuriating “yes and no!”

Scenario 1.
As an adult, living alone, and not having any children, if you choose to go gluten-free lifelong and have zero gluten, then there is no need to ever get tested. Whatever your test results, it will not be relevant to other people, and you are already putting your self on gluten-free diet as if you had celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  End of story.

Scenario 2.
However if we are talking about a child within the family, then the parents are making a big decision for that child on a guess. If the child has ill health, then it is a good idea to get the medical work-up to see what the problem is. Gluten and celiac disease is only one of many causes of ill-health. There can be other things going on that would have a different treatment.

My patients.
In my clinic, it is my experience that parents really do want to have some sort of testing for their children prior to embarking on a gluten free diet. Finding celiac disease or gluten sensitivity in that child by appropriate testing has implications for the wider family. This gluten problem it runs in families and other family members would need to be tested. 

So I am a great tester. I test everybody. Without this testing, you often cannot get a buy-in to the gluten-free diet by the medical profession, and skeptical relatives (especially the dads).

Life-long gluten-free.
Once you go gluten-free, we are talking about zero gluten life-long. This is a big decision for many people to make and having a positive test result makes this a bit easier. People with positive blood tests find it easier to commit to a gluten-free diet.

My ideal world.
Having said all of this, in my ideal world, there would be no gluten in the human-food-chain, and therefore no need to do any testing because no one would have gluten-related-illness. This gluten-utopia is a couple of generations away yet! My mission is to blaze the trail there. The journey begins with raising global gluten awareness and speaking about the possibilities of “Gluten: ZERO Global”.

Dr Rodney Ford

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