Is non-celiac gluten intolerance as important as celiac disease?
I have just finished reading Healthier without Wheat: A new understanding of wheat allergies, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten intolerance, by Dr. Stephen Wangen. You may recognize this name from my post this summer relating to his talk at the GIG conference. I highly recommend this book to everyone, and I hope that by the end of this post you will understand why.
Dr. Wangen is one of the few doctors that is involved in celiac disease and gluten-intolerance, and actually IS gluten-intolerant. He wants to see everyone that has any problems with wheat and/or gluten be cared for adequately.
Have you ever wondered how someone can have elevated levels of an antibody to gluten, but “not have celiac disease or gluten-intolerance”? I have never understood the logic in these statements, often made by doctors.
Apparently, neither does Dr. Wangen. In his book, he states that if you have an elevated IgA or IgG to gliadin, then you have some form of a gluten-intolerance, even if it’s not celiac disease. Is celiac disease more important than or worse than other forms of gluten intolerance? It is not, he says. Can non-celiac forms of gluten-intolerance wreak havoc on your body? Most definitely. According to Dr. Wangen, non-celiac gluten intolerance can still cause most of the symptoms and have the same associated problems as celiac disease (except for villous atrophy – that is only in the celiac form of gluten intolerance). Celiac disease is only one form of gluten intolerance among many. Gluten intolerance, in its many forms, should be studied, not just celiac disease alone.
Dr. Wangen discusses not only the gluten “intolerances” (IgA and IgG reactions)*, but also the IgE reactions that people generally think of when they hear the words food allergy. Did you realize that is possible to have an allergy to wheat that doesn’t involve gluten? There are many proteins in wheat, and even though the gliadins and glutenins are the most common ones to react to, they are not the only ones.
*I choose to put the word intolerance into quotation marks because in the technical sense of the word, it is actually an allergy. An allergy is an immune reaction to something. An intolerance is a non-immune reaction. For the sake of normalcy, and to not confuse the reader, Dr. Wangen sticks with the use of intolerance when discussing an IgA or IgG reaction to gluten. He provides a great discussion on the difference between allergies and intolerances in the book.
I would like to share with you the chapter headings, in hopes that you will get a sense of the importance of this book.
The Whole of Wheat
A Look Inside Wheat: Gluten
Reacting to Wheat: The Many Faces of Gluten Intolerance and Gluten-Associated Diseases
Understanding and Testing for Celiac Disease
The Untold Story: Understanding and Testing for Non-Celiac Forms of Gluten Intolerance
Conventional Wheat Allergies and Non-Gluten Wheat Reactions
Testing for Reactions to Wheat and Gluten
Infants, Children, and Gluten-Intolerance
Treating Gluten Intolerance and Wheat/Gluten Allergies
Problems Common in Gluten Intolerance: Anemia, Iron Deficiency, Hypothyroidism, and Osteoporosis
Optimizing Good Health and the Healing Process
Avoiding Gluten but Not Getting Better
Finding an Answer
In addition, there are 7 appendices with important information, including frequently asked questions about gluten intolerance, celiac disease, and wheat allergies.
Healthier without Wheat has some extremely important information. I highly recommend you read it, and share it with others. I plan on letting my sister-in-law and my mother (neither gf) read my copy, as I know they will both be very interested in the information presented. Whether you have Celiac Disease, a non-celiac gluten intolerance, a wheat or gluten allergy, think you might, or know someone who does, you owe it to yourself (and to others) to better understand the many faces of wheat reactions and the key to better health without them. You can order your copy from Dr. Wangen at The IBS Treatment Center.