LONDON, June 28, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --
The relatively recent over reliance on wheat-based products, could be a reason behind the current increases in dietary problems related to gluten, according to an expert in digestive disorders.
Professor David Sanders, Consultant Gastroenterologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital and University of Sheffield, commented: "Only for the past ten thousand years have we had wheat-based foods in our diets, which in evolutionary terms makes wheat almost a novel food. If you put that in context to the 2.5 millions years that mankind has been on earth, it makes sense that our bodies are still adapting to this food, and more specifically, the gluten that it contains."
Professor Sanders' comments were prompted following the recent publication of a study highlighting that potentially up to 6% of the population could be suffering from gluten sensitivity, making it by far the most common gluten-related disorder after coeliac disease. Coeliac disease currently affects around 1% of the population, which is an 80-fold increase in reported cases since the 1950s, when only 1 in 8000 were susceptible, compared with 1 in 100, today.
Further to Professor Sanders' comments, a recent survey, commissioned by the Dr Schär Institute, identified that GPs and dietitians frequently see patients with what they believe to be gluten sensitivity but they are uncertain how to manage the condition. And, with gastrointestinal symptoms that include: abdominal pain & bloating, diarrhoea, constipation and generic malaise, including: headache, fatigue and also limb numbness and anaemia, diagnostic difficulties are an issue, too. The survey also reported that 90% of dietitians and 86% of GPs claim to be aware of gluten sensitivity but more than half have a limited or average understanding of it.
Speaking on behalf of the Dr Schär Institute, dietitian Melissa Wilson, said: "The comments from Professor Sanders and the survey results demonstrate that serious confusion exists when experts try to diagnose or manage gluten sensitivity. GPs and dietitians are telling us that they do not feel there is enough information available, despite reporting a large number of patients displaying symptoms associated with the condition."
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Notes to Editors
Key ways to identify if you have gluten sensitivity
Gluten sensitivity exists alongside the other gluten-related conditions and shares many of the symptoms of coeliac disease making it trickier to diagnose. Despite this, there are some definable ways of establishing this condition with guidance from a medical professional:
- The following symptoms affecting different parts of your body, are signs that you could be suffering from gluten sensitivity:
o abdominal pain
o diarrhoea and/or constipation
o nausea and vomiting
o swelling of tongue and colour changes
o pain or burning sensation of upper stomach
o headaches and mental confusion
o numbness and/or pain in limbs
- If you experience symptoms, it is important to exclude the possibility that you are suffering from coeliac disease, a wheat allergy or any other conditions which may be causing the symptoms. To exclude these conditions, you should seek advice from a medical professional and not make any changes to your diet until advised to.
- Finally, if the other possible causes of your symptoms have been excluded, trialling a gluten free diet to see if your symptoms improve is a way of establishing if you may be suffering from gluten sensitivity.
1. Clinic data from Prof A Fasano, Baltimore Clinic, US
2. S. Anna et al. Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: consensus on new nomenclature and classification.BMC journal 7 February 2012
3. Davidson LSP, Fountain JR. Incidence of the sprue syndrome. BMJ 1950;1:1157-61)
4. Sanders DS, Patel D, Stephenson TJ, Milford-Ward A, McCloskey EV, Hadjivassiliou M, Lobo AJ. A primary care cross-sectional study of undiagnosed adult coeliac disease. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2003;4:407-13.
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SOURCE Dr Schaer