As you many of my patients know, I have been gluten-free for over 8 years. My health now compared to when I was eating gluten… well, there’s really no comparison. I wasn’t overtly sick when I was eating gluten, but I just wasn’t well. I was fatigued, my complexion was sallow, I caught colds easily and had huge bags under my eyes. I was also incapable of focusing and had to rest after every meal. I will spare you the details of the GI symptoms I had.
I don’t think everyone should be gluten-free… Not yet at least. Modern wheat has been modified over the decades to resist pests and become more and more hardy. This is helpful for farmers, but bad for eaters. In making it more resistant, wheat has also become more resistant to digestion. Undigested gluten particles cause an immune response in the digestive tract. This is what causes the symptoms of a gluten allergy/sensitivity.
I believe it is worth it for everyone to get the appropriate blood tests to determine if there gluten sensitivity. If there is a diagnosis of sprue, there is no question that gluten must be removed from the diet. Additionally, if you have any kind of skin condition, chronic sinusitis, or IBS, I think gluten should be removed from the diet regardless of what blood tests find. It’s important to note that most gastroenterologists will require a gastric biopsy to confirm gluten intolerance, but this is not always necessary in the opinions of most holistic health practitioners. I would venture to say that if there are symptoms after eating gluten, abstaining is a good idea.
Here’s an interesting article from the Wall Street Journal about the debate on gluten in the Western medical community and some recent research on the subject.