Swedish Celiac Society

Annas Hallén is a Swedish author of many cookery books, but she also runs an education for low carb health advicers. Here is an interesting correspondance between her and the Swedish CeliacSociety. Bold text, made by me, Pia. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………

Annas Halléns Questions and The Swedish CeliacSociety ‘s answers.

Hello Anna, Thank you very much for you e-mail that started with the rhetorical question:

You of all should see the damage gluten does?

The Swedish CeliacSociety represents those who have been diagnosed with gluten intolerance. Doctor has diagnosed many of our 24.000 members; some of our members have not been diagnosed. Our recommendations, sent out the 9th of October, recommending not to exclude gluten on your own, is mainly aimed at those who suspect they have a gluten intolerants issue. In your e-mail there are several other questions that I try to reply to below.

Is it dangerous to prevent (forestall) gluten intolerance?”

No, preventing celiac disease is not dangerous. The Swedish CeliacSociety supports the dietary advice that are given today to prevent celiac disease. By that we mean advice given to infants, who should have a gentle introduction to gluten.

“Why should the rest of us await getting ill?”

Our answer to this is everybody will not get ill from gluten. One could flip the argument and ask: Why should everybody exclude gluten because 2 per cent of the Swedes are intolerant and estimate 6 per cent oversensitive to gluten?

“What does gluten contain that is life essential or at least very important for us to eat?”

Protein is essential to our diet. Gluten contains a mix of proteins and is like many other specific proteins not life essential for our diet. It is absolutely no problem in surviving with out gluten.  Amongst those who live on a strict gluten free diet, cased by a gluten allergy, are many who find it problematic to eat a strict gluten free diet as bread is a huge part of everybody’s diet and is found in many places where we eat and can so easily contaminate food with crumbs.

“What happens if you stop eating gluten on your own? Your stomach will get happier. Your spirit will get better. Your energy level will increase. You nutrient intake increase. Your backache may disappear. So what is so dangerous about that? Except for the fact that the pharmaceutical industry would less business?”

The Swedish CeliacSociety does not think that excluding gluten is the solution to every health problem. To say that a gluten free diet will improve your stomach, spirit, increase your level of energy, increase nutrient intake and even fis bad backs is not according to scientific rapports and experience and so not anything we can support. You also ask what if you go gluten free on you own? First and foremost you make it difficult to get a diagnosis.  There are many reasons why a diagnosis is important. A person living with one or several symptoms celiac disease gives; it can be life a matter of life and death to get to the bottom of what is the cause for this. For instance: a person who suffers from anaemia should get an investigation and exclude row of different illnesses to have a chance of getting cured.  To find out whether it is the celiac disease causing the anaemia is an important part, as is excluding cancer and other diseases.

Another good reason for getting a diagnosis is that as newly diagnosed you need to get in contact with a dietician.  Eating a strict gluten free diet for the rest of your life demands more knowledge than just excluding wheat, barley and rye as gluten is hidden in a lot of foods, especially in prefabricated foods.  Celiac disease is a life long chronic disease. The Swedish Celiac Society considers that our health care has a responsibility towards the patients who needs investigations to get a diagnosis, for then to get better help by dieticians and others. The national guidelines for care of adults with celiac disease recommends that adults with celiac disease should do intestinal biopsy regularly for the rest of his life. This to be able to follow the intestines recovers and to prevent lymphatic cancer, which affect gluten intolerants more than the average population.

Another important point with getting a diagnosis concerns children. Most schools demand a special certificate if a child is to get a special diet. Children with gluten intolerance will get gluten free foods on prescription as gluten free food (pasta and bread) still is more expensive than “normal” bread and pasta. Support and follow up from the health care is needed, both from the paediatrician and dietician concerning diet and supplements. You write that doctors lack in knowledge about gluten intolerance.  The Swedish Celiac Society agrees on this. Paediatricians are generally more knowledgeable than your GP. But we do not believe that the solution is people start diagnosing themselves.

Best regards,

Christina Ralsgård

General Secretary

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