Celiac is not a disease

Celiac is not a disease. Lest you think I’ve gone off my rocker, let me explain.

Say that, of 100 people you know who smoke, only 1 gets lung cancer. Do we declare that the only person who has problems with cigarettes is the poor unfortunate guy or girl with the one lung cancer? Shall we ignore the 60 cases of chronic bronchitis and emphysema, the 10 abdominal aortic aneurysms, the 5 thoracic aortic and iliofemoral aneurysms, the oral, tongue, and laryngeal cancers, and the several dozen other conditions that typically develop in smokers–but not as imminently fatal as lung cancer?

In other words, do we dismiss all these conditions that fall outside of lung cancer just because . . . they’re not lung cancer?

Of course not:All the conditions caused by smoking are important, even potentially debilitating, crippling, or fatal, even if they don’t “qualify” as lung cancer.

Then why do we do this with celiac disease? Modern wheat and its various components (alpha gliadins, omega gliadins, glutens, glutenins, amylopectin A, wheat germ agglutinin, alpha amylase inhibitors, and others) trigger an entire range of health conditions. Readers of the Wheat Belly message understand that consumption of any food made with modern wheat can cause:

–Accumumulation of inflammatory visceral fat (a “wheat belly”)
Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), insulin resistance, pre-diabetes, diabetes
Gastrointestinal disruption–acid reflux/heart burn, esophagitis, esophageal stricture, bowel urgency/irritable bowel syndrome, worsening of inflammatory bowel disease (ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease)
Neurological impairment–from mind “fog” and behavior outbursts in children with autistic spectrum disorder and ADHD, to paranoia and hallucations in schizophrenia, to food obsessions in those prone to bulimia and binge eating disorder, to triggering of mania in bipolar illness, to depression in the depression-prone. Also add cerebellar ataxia, peripheral neuropathy, and dementia to the list (“gluten encephalopathy”).
Joint pain and arthritis–Including both “wear-and-tear” osteoarthritis as well as inflammatory forms like rheumatoid.
Autoimmune diseases–The peculiar potential for the gliadin protein of wheat to “unlock” the normal intestinal barriers, allowing foreign antigens access into the bloodstream, is the first step in autoimmunity, the immune system’s misguided effort to eliminate the “intruder,” such as your thyroid gland, colon, small intestine, synovial lining of your joints, skin, thymus, liver, pancreas, even brain.
Skin disorders–Skin rashes and damage from wheat are as varied as they are ubiquitous. There is hardly a skin condition that is not caused by wheat. (Not to say that all skin conditions are caused by wheat–they are not, but that, of all the myriad skin conditions experienced by humans, virtually all have been associated with wheat consumption.) This ranges from the level of nuisance, such as acne, to the level of life-threatening, such as leg gangrene.

There’s plenty more, from cataracts, to calciuria, to porotic hyperostosis (disfigurement of the skull from iron deficiency). Shall we ignore all the other conditions attributable to wheat consumption just because they are not celiac disease? Do we regard the one smoker with lung cancer as the only one with disease–and the rest don’t count?

Okay, I think you can begin to appreciate the absurdity of labeling celiac a “disease”: The disease ain’t celiac; the disease is wheat.

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