Gluten Sensitivity Diagnosis Update
How do I know if I am gluten sensitive?
Most people today diagnose themselves. They read about the problems gluten can cause and then give a gluten-free diet (GFD) a try and notice the favorable change. This approach does have some validity for the observant person. How long you have to be off gluten is highly variable. Some will feel better in just a few days and other will need a few weeks. If you have discovered your gluten sensitivity this way, more power to you. This won’t work for everyone, however.
Some people have problems that will take decades to manifest like osteoporosis or gluten ataxia. These are serious disorders and if you wait for them to be fully developed it may to too late to recover. These people may not have any other sign that they are gluten sensitive or the signs may be very subtle. The best clues that gluten might be an issue in these cases might be the beginning of an autoimmune disorder like Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or a first degree relative who is gluten sensitive.
If you have intestinal issues you may want the small intestine biopsy that is diagnostic of celiac disease. Even this method misses about 70% of the positive samples. This is because the detail revealed by a light microscope isn’t good enough. The detail revealed by an electron microscope is the best but only a few research labs around the country have such tools and your doctor probably doesn’t know about this approach anyway.
Lab testing has come a long way in the last few years. Which labs we recommend depends on the clinical presentation at the time. If a person is suffering from some chronic inflammatory condition or autoimmune disorder, we like to get the information that will show up in a Cyrex Labs Array 3 profile. The Cyrex test will show us which antibody cascades are being activated by different wheat components. People who are gluten sensitive usually will react to other foods too so we recommend an Array 4 and Array 10 to help you understand what your body is trying to tell you.
Genetic information from Enterolab is available. It gives us a pretty good idea of your predispositions as the response to gluten normally has a strong genetic component. They are testing just one gene locus. Most agree that this is the most important one. Some researchers have identified about 10 genes that can be involved with the gluten response. Hopefully this type of information will be available to us in the near future as well. But for now knowing what is happening with the DQ genes on chromosome 6 is pretty cool.
The directors of the Enterolab and Cyrex will both argue that their approach to finding antibodies is the best way to go. Enterlab uses stool testing because they claim that most antibodies are made in the intestines so that is the logical place to look. The Cyrex folks claim that they can find more information by looking at the response in the blood. We tend to use the Cyrex approach because they are checking for many more possible immune reactions to wheat than anybody else and the blood test is more convenient than the stool test.
If your doctor wants to run the standard one or two antibody tests for celiac disease, tell him or her not to bother. You need a fairly advanced case of celiac disease to show up positive. If these results come back negative, the doctor tends to make a sweeping generalization that gluten isn’t an issue which just confuses all but the very well informed. These basic tests will miss non-celiac gluten sensitivity entirely.
In general a positive test means that gluten is a problem and a negative result doesn’t say “no” it says “maybe”.
Not sure which test is best? Give us a call and we will help you decide. We don’t charge for our consultation time. We figure that when you get help with your health problems you are more likely to trust us and buy your supplements at OVitaminPro.com.