When a patient is diagnosed with celiac disease, he knows it’s time to say goodbye to gluten. There is no other option, since currently the only available treatment of celiac disease is to maintain a gluten-free diet. However, farewells are always difficult, and much more in this case. Nowadays, a significant percentage of celiac patients keep showing symptoms and intestinal damage despite removing gluten from their diet. All of this indicates that following a gluten-free diet is not as easy as it seems. Besides, several scientific publications demonstrate surprising facts: more than 40% of celiac patients fail to adhere to the gluten-free diet, most part not knowing it.
Taking this into account, it’s logical to think that it’s not only important to follow a gluten-free diet, but also to control that it’s been followed correctly. To do this, the best way to monitor a gluten-free diet is by direct evaluation, which is by analyzing whether there have been isolated intakes of gluten. If all this isn’t totally convincing, here are 7 reasons why a celiac should track his diet:
- Gluten contamination is more frequent than what it’s thought
Celiacs always try their best to stick to a gluten-free diet, but more than once they have probably ended up eating gluten by surprise. Avoiding gluten contamination (also known as cross-contamination) on a daily basis is a complicated task. Any gluten-free product that comes into contact with another gluten-containing product ends up contaminated. It’s difficult to establish habits at home to prevent contaminations and, even maintaining good practices, it’s possible to make a mistake.
- The challenge of eating out
Whether they need to or if it is for fun, often celiac patients have to deal with the challenge of eating out. It’s useless to have careful routines to avoid gluten contamination at home, in these cases all that’s left is to trust they are having truly gluten-free meals. Very few restaurants have an exclusive kitchen for gluten-free meals, since most of them cook meals with gluten and without gluten. How can it be known if the restaurant has taken enough measures against contamination? Moreover, in lots of restaurants there is a lack of knowledge about which foods are suitable or not for celiac patients. That is why, more than once, celiacs wonder if they have consumed gluten.
- Avoiding symptoms and complications
The only way to stop celiac disease’s symptoms is to completely eliminate gluten from meals. Therefore, monitoring directly if celiacs are eating something with gluten makes them easier to avoid foods and meals that trigger the annoying symptoms that they fear. In addition, they get rid of long-term complications and diseases associated with celiac disease.
- The damage is not always noticeable
The absence of symptoms doesn’t always indicate that celiac patients are not consuming gluten or they are out of danger. In fact, it has been recently shown that between 68 and 80% of celiac patients have ingested gluten without noticing any symptoms related to the intake of gluten. Although celiacs don’t feel any discomfort when they eat gluten, their body does suffer intestinal and systemic damage. The issue is that if gluten is constantly consumed, the damage can accumulate and end up manifesting as serious complications (nutritional deficiencies, anemia and even lymphomas). Therefore, checking out the diet is very important, since like this celiacs patients will be sure they are adhering to the diet correctly and they aren’t suffering unnoticed damage.
- Avoiding the annoying intestinal biopsy
Intestinal biopsy is the “gold standard” for monitoring gluten-free diet in celiac patients. However, it’s an invasive technique, annoying and very unpleasant, so it isn’t a practical procedure to monitor the diet continuously. Therefore, it would be a great advantage to be sure that gluten hasn’t been ingested using a more friendly option avoiding the unpleasant exploration of a part of the intestine to know if it’s healing.
- Blood transglutaminase levels aren’t reliable to verify the degree of compliance of the gluten-free diet.
One of the tools normally used to evaluate the gluten-free diet is based on measuring serological levels of anti-tissue transglutaminase antibody, since its presence in the blood tells that gluten has been consumed, so there is an atrophy of the intestinal villi. But a negative value of transglutaminase in blood doesn’t secure that the intestine has been recovered: it’s been proved that more than half of adult celiacs with a negative value of transglutaminase in blood continue having intestinal damage. Also, this method isn’t a fully suitable option to control the compliance of the gluten-free diet, because it isn’t sensitive to detect gluten contaminations or punctual transgressions.
- No more doubts when symptoms are back
Sometimes, unexpectedly and despite following a strict gluten free diet, celiacs feel symptoms associated with celiac disease again. Then the concern begins and a thousand doubts come up: “Where could I have eaten something with gluten? Was it in that new restaurant? What if I am not able to avoid gluten contamination at home?” Moreover, when the celiac patient is a child the parent’s concern is even bigger. For children it’s very difficult to monitor the gluten free diet: in some cases children have symptoms such as abdominal pain or diarrhea, but it can be known if they have ingested gluten by mistake. In other situations, they can avoid temptation, they eat food with gluten because they really want it or because they’re influenced and they don’t confess to their parents. Occasionally, control is out of the parent’s reach when their children go to the school cafeteria because, just as eating out, it’s not possible to be totally sure if the contaminations are avoided or if they served truly suitable meals for celiac patients.
The best way of stay calm is to directly confirm whether gluten has been ingested. In turn, if evaluation of gluten intake gives a negative result, it may be useful for medical doctors, to consider or find out other possible pathologies that have the same symptoms as celiac disease.
Thanks to products developed by Biomedal, in particular the test of domestic use GlutenDetect, celiac patient can know if they ingested gluten or not by directly detecting gluten fractions excreted in urine and feces, control the adherence to gluten-free diet and have a healthier life.