HEALTH: Contrary to some opinions, gluten sensitivity absolutely does exist |

HEALTH: Contrary to some opinions, gluten sensitivity absolutely does exist

Angela Wetzel
Free Press Health Columnist


Gluten Free Grand Valley is set to host its next monthly meeting 7 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 4, at the Masonic Center, 2400 Consistory Court.

Gluten Free Grand Valley is a community group which strives to provide support and serve as a resource for the gluten-free population in the Grand Valley, while raising awareness about gluten-free needs within the community.

This month, we will be having an open forum to get to know each other better. Yum! Wholesome Bakery will be providing samples for us.

More information on Gluten Free Grand Valley can be found on Facebook by searching for “Gluten Free Grand Valley,” including recipes, restaurant reviews and more! For more information, contact Angela at 970-216-0351.

At our last Gluten Free Grand Valley meeting, it was brought to my attention that my weekly article was right next to an article by Dr. Phil Mohler titled “Gluttons for gluten free?” The title caught my eye so I decided to take a read and had some concerns with what the doctor reported.

While he acknowledged the fact that those with celiac disease should follow a strict gluten-free diet, he questioned that gluten sensitivity (also known as gluten intolerance) existed and said it was a “poorly defined condition.”

Those who have gluten intolerance suffer from most of the same symptoms as those with celiac disease but do not carry the antibodies that would give them this autoimmune disease. According to Dr. Stephen Guandalini at the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center: “These patients absolutely do exist, they do have real symptoms.” But unlike celiac disease, gluten sensitivity doesn’t damage the intestine which is the biggest difference between celiac disease and a gluten sensitivity. There currently isn’t a medical test specifically for gluten sensitivity. While it may not be a full blown disease, it still is cause for people with the gluten intolerance to follow a gluten-free diet much like someone with lactose intolerance would eliminate dairy products in their diet.

I do agree with Dr. Mohler on the fact that people are jumping on the gluten-free bandwagon and have talked with many people who do not have celiac disease, gluten intolerance or wheat allergies that feel better when not ingesting wheat. I do not think that wheat is essential to our diet even though Dr. Mohler said that it does have health benefits. A lot of these people who have eliminated wheat, then gone back to eating wheat and have been sick, are not celiac, do not have gluten intolerances or have wheat allergies. So why eat something if it makes you sick?

I am not a doctor and I don’t profess to know the human body the way a doctor does. All I know is that the relationships I’ve formed through Gluten Free Grand Valley have opened my eyes to what wheat is doing to our bodies and that it isn’t the healthiest alternative for a lot of the population. If you have questions on wheat and how it’s progressed over time to the grain we have today, I recommend a book called “Wheat Belly.” Also, if you suspect that wheat is causing issues with your health, please contact your doctor; he/she will direct you.

Angela Wetzel has celiac disease and is president of Gluten Free Grand Valley, a support group for those with celiac disease and wheat allergies. Contact her at or visit Gluten Free Grand Valley on Facebook.

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