As we all know, paleo and gluten-free diets are having a moment (a very long moment). But the disease that started it all, Celiac disease, or gluten-intolerance, is actually more common than you think. According to Celiac.org, 1 in 100 Caucasians or 1 in 133 Americans suffer from Celiac Disease. Despite this fairly-common syndrome, it’s actually a pretty elusive diagnosis. Many people suffer from bad stomach pains without knowing that they are actually gluten intolerant, and only 17 percent of those with Celiac disease are actually diagnosed, according to the Mayo Clinic.
So why is Celiac disease so common nowadays? Doctors are pointing to our modern eating and agricultural habits; we eat more processed and cross-pollinated wheat today than we ever have in the past.
To understand why Celiac disease remains one of the most common, yet highly undiagnosed diseases, we have to understand exactly what it is. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and when people who suffer from the disease consume gluten, their bodies go into full-on attack mode, damaging the villi in the small intestines. Some of the listed symptoms, including irritable bowel syndrome, can be so mild that it’s easy to ignore. Even with extensive symptoms, a doctor could perform the tests wrong, or not take enough blood samples, according to the New York Times. The average person with Celiac disease takes six years of symptoms to get a proper diagnosis.
For the latest happenings in the food and drink world, visit our Food News page.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter@JoannaFantozzi