I was reading a position statement from a national celiac organization as regards to making it law that all gluten is removed from medications. While I completely concur, the issue I’d like to discuss involves a statistic that this organization gathered after surveying its members.
They stated that a member survey indicated those with celiac disease take an average of eight oral medications per day. Eight!
Gluten contents aside, when one gets to that number of medications it is known that an adverse drug reactions is definitely occurring – the likelihood is considered 100%.
What I would like to discuss is why celiacs would be, on average, consuming so many medications. They should be following a gluten-free diet that would, theoretically, improve their health dramatically. But apparently that is not the case.
Here are my thoughts as to what might be creating this problem:
Some celiacs are a bit ‘sloppy’ on their gluten-free diets because they haven’t been well educated or they simply don’t notice a difference in their health when they knowingly cheat. Whether you ‘feel ‘ it or not, consuming gluten when you are gluten intolerant is increasing your risk of dying from all causes, especially heart disease, cancer and autoimmune disease, our three leading causes of death.
Due to our poor ability to diagnose celiac disease (95% remain undiagnosed in this country), even those who now have the diagnosis often waited about a decade to find out. During that time their health was so compromised that autoimmune and other diseases developed that are now being ‘managed’ by drugs. While those in this position may feel that drugs are their only option, I disagree. We have seen nice improvements in the diseases caused by gluten, even in those who have suffered for many decades. See #3 below for more information on how we treat this.
Generally speaking the treatment for celiac disease and gluten sensitivity is a life-long gluten-free diet – period. Unfortunately, eating gluten-free alone is usually insufficient to restore health. What I like to call the ‘secondary effects’ of gluten must also be addressed to truly restore optimal health. Such things as ‘hidden’ infections in the intestines, nutritional deficiencies, probiotic imbalance, enzyme insufficiency, the presence of cross-reactive foods, toxic overload and hormonal imbalance must all be evaluated and addressed if found to be lacking. Neglecting this type of follow-up, in my opinion, diminishes the chances of a full recovery and is currently one of our biggest problems in treating the gluten intolerant population.
Those who do follow the diet happily replace all the gluten-containing foods with the gluten-free variety, but don’t take steps to really eat a healthy diet. The bad news is that a gluten-free diet doesn’t necessarily equate to a healthy one. Too often, in order to aid the feeling of deprivation, gluten intolerant individuals throw themselves into overeating the cookies, cakes, breads and other goodies offered by the gluten-free manufacturers. While we are all delighted that such a broad array of food is available gluten-free, it doesn’t make that cookie or cake any healthier for you. These ‘goodies’ should be relegated to special occasions and, instead, the bulk of the diet should be made up of healthy vegetables, fruits, beans, good fat and a small amount of healthy animal protein.
Please pass this post along to others whom you know suffer from gluten intolerance. It’s hard enough to get diagnosed. Once you do and you’re following a gluten-free diet, you deserve to be enjoying excellent health.
What are your thoughts on this?
Do you take more medications than you’d like?
I would love to hear from you.
If your current level of health is not what you would like it to be, please call me for a free health analysis. We are here to help and our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally, so you don’t have to live locally to get assistance.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the e-Book: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”
Nominated Gluten Free Doctor of the Year 2012