Celiac Disease and gluten seem like new topics even though they are decades old. The problem is that testing for Celiac IS still decades old and that is hurting million of people. Most doctors are still using blood tests and biopsies, both of which are outdated and inaccurate.
First letâ€™s clear the myth that Celiac Disease affects only 1% of the population. That is completely wrong (partly due to ancient testing methods). â€œ30% of the American population has the genes for Celiac Diseaseâ€1.
Here is how the medical system fails you with testing for Celiac Diseaseâ€¦
Blood tests often lead to misdiagnoses because several diseases give the exact same results â€“ how would the doctor know which you have? Is it Celiac? Hashimotoâ€™s (much more common than Celiac), diabetes, or yet something else? Your doctor is guessing which one and if he guesses wrong, the actual problem remains untreated and continues to grow.
Biopsies were once thought to be the gold standard for testing and they are still the preferred method of most doctors. A biopsy is done to identify severely damaged intestines – medically called â€œvillous atrophyâ€. The flaw here is that the medical standard says that even if you are reacting negatively to gluten (and showing antibodies in your blood tests), your doctor still canâ€™t officially diagnose you as having Celiac Disease until your intestines are completely worn down.
In case you think you just misunderstood that, here it is again: you can have the DNA that makes you susceptible to Celiac, your blood tests can be positive for specific antibodies showing a reaction to gluten, you can even have every classic symptom, but until a biopsy swab shows that your intestines are completely damaged, your doctor will tell you that you do not have Celiac Disease and you can safely eat gluten.
Whatâ€™s even worse is that the biopsy is taking a small swab from a tiny area and might miss other parts of the intestine already damaged. You might technically be in â€œvillous atrophyâ€ stage in certain parts of your intestines but if the swab didnâ€™t happen to sample from there, your test turns up negative. Given that your intestines are 22 feet long, itâ€™s not hard to imagine how often tests miss it. The official statistic as of 2012 is that the average Celiac goes 11 years undiagnosed or misdiagnosed â€“ and itâ€™s easy to see why.
A few months or years after your â€œfalse negativeâ€ diagnoses, once your intestines have sustained enough damage and you re-do a biopsy showing completely flat â€œvilliâ€ (which means you are no longer absorbing nutrients normally) then your doctor can diagnose you with Celiac Disease. Of course by then you may have triggered other issues including nerve damage leading to MS, organ failure leading to diabetes, neurological issues very often meaning clinical depression, on and on this list goes and your risks to mortality rates more than double2, 3. ALL of which can be prevented!
MODERN METHOD OF TESTING FOR CELIAC DISEASE: Genetic testing allows you to prevent triggering Celiac Disease in the first place by warning you that you are genetically susceptible and that you need to avoid gluten. The specific genes for Celiac Disease are: HLA-DQ2 and DQ8.
BOTTOM LINE: Donâ€™t rely on your doctor or the medical system to do the right thing. Get on the offense with gluten so you can prevent yourself from becoming the next statistic.
1National Institutes of Health, University of Chicago, Celiac Disease Center 12.12.2011
2Journal of the American Medical Association 9.16.2009,Vol302,No.11
3The American Journal of Gastroenterology 2007;102:864-870