Solution Proposal Courtney Haas

I found this part of my paper to be particularly interesting: finding the different solutions that are possible
This part was surprisingly difficult: finding enough information to write about the solutions
Next time I would do this differently: research a little bit more on possible solutions

I didn't procrastinate as much this time. I need to get better at expanding on things because I came up short on the number of words, but I'm the type of person who thinks short and sweet not long paragraphs that could be said in 3 sentences.

Consuming Gluten is Harmful to the Human Body

We eat too much gluten and we are better off without it. Eating gluten can cause major health problems, but there are ways to follow a gluten free diet and still get all the nutrition you would miss from a diet containing gluten. In order for people to follow a gluten free diet, though, there needs to be regulations put into place.

About 1.6 million people follow a gluten free diet, even though they have not been diagnosed with Celiac Disease or gluten intolerance (CBS News Staff). It is also believed that Americans will spend $7 billion in one year on foods labeled Gluten Free (CBS News Staff). Research has shown that there are many different reasons people follow a gluten free diet. The main reason is due to gluten intolerance or a gluten allergy, or Celiac Disease. There is actually a spectrum now on gluten intolerance and gluten allergy, or Celiac Disease, with many places in between or “no man’s land” (Quoted from Storrs). The next popular reason is to lose weight, or in other words, a fad diet. There are also a couple reasons that have not been researched as much and have just become popular within the last couple years: diabetes control and treating autism.

According to a study done by Dr. Joseph Murray, a gastroenterologist at the Mayo Clinic, Celiac Disease is on the rise (CBS News Staff). Celiac disease is a hereditary, autoimmune disease (Abel) that affects only about one percent of the human population (or 1 out of every 133 people [Purcell]), four times more compared to fifty years ago (CBS News Staff). About ten percent of the human population suffers from gluten sensitivity, or intolerance (Storrs). According to a study done by Dr. Joseph Murray, from the Mayo Clinic, Celiac Disease is on the rise (CBS News Staff). There was also a study done and posted in the Annals of Medicine in 2010 which stated that people can lose their gluten tolerance as they get older. The people who lose their tolerance as they age are not born with Celiac Disease or gluten insensitivity, they develop the intolerance. Scientists believe this is caused by consuming gluten along with other food allergens repeatedly. This then causes a weakening of the “digestive functioning” of the body (Purcell). This exposure then causes the “slow breakdown of the digestive lining” (Purcell) which is also known as “leaky gut” (Purcell). There is also research showing that certain medications can weaken and damage a person’s digestive functioning (Purcell). Celiac disease is extremely underdiagnosed, about 97% of people who suffer from Celiac disease just in the United States are not diagnosed (Purcell). The number of people diagnosed, though, is believed to rise in the next few years due to an increase in awareness, meaning they will go in and get tested for Celiac Disease (Purcell). Celiac Disease mostly affects the gastrointestinal system, but can affect other areas of the body (Abel). Celiac Disease damages the lining of the small intestine when gluten from wheat, barley, rye, and some oats. There are two different proteins in gluten: gliadins and glutenins. Gliadin is the protein that causes the immune reaction in people who are allergic or sensitive to gluten (Purcell). Gliadin is found in wheat, but there is a similar protein in barley and rye causing the same reaction (Purcell). When the body has a reaction to gluten, the villi (small, hair-like structures in the small intestine) are damaged (Mayo Clinic Staff, Celiac Disease). This causes the body to not absorb necessary nutrients, such as vitamins and minerals (Mayo Clinic Staff, Celiac Disease), found in these foods (CBS News Staff). The biggest difference between Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, or intolerance, is that the intestines do not show any damage with gluten sensitivity/intolerance (Storrs). Doctors have come up with a definition of gluten sensitivity: people who suffer from bloating and other Celiac Disease symptoms, which is helped by following a gluten free diet, but do not actually have Celiac Disease (CBS News Staff). The intestines of a gluten-sensitive person have proteins that cause a “harmful immune response” (Quoted from Storrs). People who are sensitive to gluten will test negative to Celiac disease but will have certain reactions such as: skin reactions, throat, ears, or sinus congestion, digestive upset, or other problems such as fatigue and aching joints (Purcell). People can become sensitive to foods after being over-exposed or from a gradual breakdown of the digestive lining from the exposure of medications, toxins, and vaccinations (Purcell).

Celiac Disease is most commonly found in Caucasians (Mayo Clinic Staff, Celiac Disease). Celiac Disease can be triggered by surgery, pregnancy, childbirth, viral infection, or sever emotional stress (Mayo Clinic Staff, Celiac Disease). Celiac Disease can be more common with people who have a family member with celiac disease, type 1 diabetes, Down Syndrome, Turner Syndrome, Autoimmune Thyroid Disease, or Sjogren’s Disease (Mayo Clinic Staff, Celiac Disease).

Eating gluten has been linked to health risks. Some doctors, including Dr. Daniel Leffler, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, believe that there is “probably some kind of gluten intolerance in all of us” (qtd. in Storrs) and even though some people may not have symptoms, gluten may still be harming a person’s inner lining of the small intestine (Mayo Clinic Staff, Gluten-free diet: What’s allowed, what’s not). Uncontrolled gluten intolerance or allergy can cause anemia (which is when you do not have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to your tissues [Mayo Clinic Staff, Anemia]), osteoporosis, seizures, lymphoma, and cancer of the small intestine (“No Test to Diagnose Wheat or Gluten Sensitivity”). Some symptoms include: gas, bloating, constipation, diarrhea and abdominal discomfort, along with headaches, rashes, “brain fog,” or fatigue (“No Test to Diagnose Wheat or Gluten Sensitivity”) along with: organ pain (specifically the liver and kidney), irritability, mood swings, anxiety, eczema, dry skin, the inability to lose or gain weight, acid reflux, insomnia, restless sleep, and recurrent infections (specifically sinus, respiratory, vaginal, and urinary) (Purcell).

If left untreated, Celiac Disease can cause major health issues. These include: malnutirition, meaning a person’s body cannot absorb necessary nutrients and can lead to anemia, weight loss, and stunted growth in children, loss of calcium and bone density due to malabsorption of Vitamin D and Calcium which can lead to osteoporosis in adults and bone softening in children, infertility and miscarriage, which is also caused by malabsorption of calcium and Vitamin D, lactose intolerance, which is caused by the damage to the small intestine, but may go away after the intestine has healed after following a gluten free diet, and are at an increased risk of getting cancer such as intestinal lymphoma and small bowel cancer (Mayo Clinic Staff, Celiac Disease).

There is a problem with not eating gluten though: nutrient imbalance. People who do not eat gluten sometimes will not realize that they are missing the foods that give them a bunch of nutrients such as: iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate (Mayo Clinic Staff, Gluten-free diet: What’s allowed, what’s not) along with vitamins B and D (Storrs). This causes a problem when it comes to the fad diet that people follow. People do not usually look into a diet thoroughly before following it, which means many of the people who follow this diet do not know they are missing key nutrients. People who have been diagnosed by a doctor as having Celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or some other reason the doctor tells them to follow a gluten free diet though will be informed as to how they should follow the diet and will not miss key nutrients.

As stated above, there is not a lot of research on following a gluten free diet to control diabetes and treating autism. A study was posted stating that following a gluten free diet does not treat autism or hinder the characteristics of autism (Harrisons Elder). A study posted about diabetes, though, did see a lower rate of diabetes among the mice that followed a gluten free diet (Funda et al).
Research has shown that following a gluten free diet is better for a person’s health, especially if the person suffers from Celiac disease. It has been proven to reduce the likelihood of getting Type 1 Diabetes. Unfortunately, following a gluten free diet does not help treat certain aspects of Autism, but not a lot of research has been done, so a gluten free diet may be proven to help later on after more research has been done. It also prevents people from getting a gluten intolerance or sensitivity from over consumption. Following a gluten free diet has become easier and easier over the past few years due to people becoming more aware of the problem. Manufacturers have seen that more people are interested in following a gluten free diet, so they produce more foods that do not contain gluten. One problem with gluten free food is that it is more expensive than the regular, gluten containing food. Another problem with gluten free food is the lack of nutrients in the food. People may not realize that they are missing out on getting certain necessary nutrients and can have bodily problems that affect a person’s energy or even their organs if they do not get a certain amount of those nutrients. Another problem with following a gluten free diet as a fad diet is that not all gluten free foods is healthy. Extra sugar and fat is added to gluten free food to help with the texture and “fluffiness” (Storrs). It is still very difficult to follow a gluten free diet because wheat, rye, and barley are in almost everything and do not necessarily pop out on the ingredients list so people can easily eat food that contains gluten without even knowing it and end up causing havoc on their bodies. There are foods where gluten is hidden completely like soy sauce and salad dressing (Storrs). A gluten free diet is worth following though in order to avoid all the other health dangers that can occur from consuming gluten.

Scientists believe that the increase in people suffering from gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease is due to an increase in consumption of “processed wheat products” such as pastas and baked goods, that have a “higher gluten content” (CBS News Staff). According to Dr. Joseph Murray, gastroenterologist at Mayo Clinic, the increase in gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease could also be due to changes made to wheat (CBS News Staff). Scientists cross-bred wheat to make it a more “hardier, shorter, and better-growing plant” (CBS News Staff). This also increased worldwide wheat production (CBS News Staff).

One main way to solve this issue is to follow a gluten free diet. In order to do this though, the government needs to make food manufacturing places label all foods that are gluten free. This includes foods, dietary supplements, and any other product that is consumable and can be labeled as gluten free. Also, restaurants must label foods that are gluten free, or label their products/meals that contain any type of gluten product, meaning part of the product/meal is made with wheat. Unfortunately, gluten free foods are more expensive than food containing gluten, but eating gluten free foods will help in a long run by saving you from going to the doctor's office for intestinal issues that arise from consuming gluten. Following a gluten free diet also helps with diabetes, because it does not have the unnecessary carbohydrates that diabetic people need to watch when they eat. I personally am starting to follow a gluten free diet since diabetes runs in my family and I have been diagnosed with Pre-Diabetes. I was informed by my dad, who has diabetes, that eating gluten free foods is best to try and prevent myself from getting diabetes now that I am pre-diabetic. Food brands are seeing the rise in consumer’s purchasing gluten free foods and are now producing and selling their most popular foods gluten free making gluten free foods more easily available to everybody. People who follow a gluten free diet can also eat fruits, vegetables, dairy, and non-processed meat, which are naturally gluten-free, and are at a cheaper price compared processed gluten free foods (Reuters).

Awareness is another key factor in following a gluten free diet. People need to be informed as to why they should follow a gluten free diet and how they should follow a gluten free diet. It could be as simple as putting an article online on a health blog, magazine, in the newspaper. Or it could be more complex or expensive by printing and posting/handing out pamphlets at the doctor’s office or having a table at a public place such as the mall, or a class or meeting about the importance of following a gluten free diet. People then need to be informed on how to follow a gluten free diet. Those who follow a gluten free diet can miss out on very important vitamins and minerals if they are not careful. These include: iron, calcium, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, and folate (Mayo Clinic Staff, Gluten-Free: What's allowed, what's not). That is why people who follow a gluten free diet should make sure to either take vitamin and mineral supplements, or, even better, purchase fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and non-processed meats that will give them the missing vitamins and minerals they are missing from not eating foods containing gluten. It also helps that those foods are cheaper than most gluten free products that can be bought. Foods that should be absolutely avoided would be barley, rye, wheat, and triticale (a cross between wheat and rye) (Mayo Clinic Staff, Gluten-Free: What's allowed, what's not). There are also many foods that you should avoid unless they are labeled gluten free such as: bread, beer, cereals, candy, salad dressings, processed lunch meats, gravies, imitation meat or seafood, and many others (Mayo Clinic Staff, Gluten-Free: What's allowed, what's not).

Another way to solve this issue is to increase regulation on agriculture. The government should regulate the kind of wheat that is grown. They should make it so that the wheat that is being grown only has so much gluten/gluten protein in the wheat. Unfortunately, this solution would be very expensive and difficult to do. Farmers increased the amount of gluten in wheat to increase their yield, so to have them cut back again would be seen as counterproductive to the farmers and the farmers would not be on board with it. This is not a very probable solution, but is still an option in the future when the economy is more stable and farmers are more willing to take risks by going against the crowd.

Works Cited

Abel, Emily K. "The Rise and Fall of Celiac Disease in the United States." Journal of the History of Medicine and Allied Sciences 65.1 (2010): 81-105. Project MUSE. Web. February 12th, 2014.

CBS News Staff. “Gluten-free diet fad: Are celiac disease rates actually rising?” CBS News. CBS News, 31 Jul. 2012. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.

Funda, D. P., Kaas, A., Bock, T., Tlaskalová-Hogenová, H. and Buschard, K. (1999), Gluten-free diet prevents diabetes in NOD mice. Diabetes Metabolism Research and Reviews, 15: 323–327. doi: 10.1002/(SICI)1520-7560(199909/10)15:5<323::AID-DMRR53>3.0.CO;2-P;2-P/full

Harrisons Elder, Jennifer. "The Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet in Autism: An Overview With Clinical Implications." Nutrition in Clinical Practice 23.6 (2008-2009): 583-588. Web. February 13th, 2014.

The Mayo Clinic Staff. "Anemia." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 08 Mar. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014.

The Mayo Clinic Staff. “Celiac Disease.” Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, n.d. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.

The Mayo Clinic Staff. "Gluten-free diet: What's allowed, what's not." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, December 20th, 2011. Web. February 10th, 2014.

"No Test to Diagnose Wheat or Gluten Sensitivity." Mayo Clinic News Network. Mayo Clinic, 12 Aug. 2013. Web. 11 Mar. 2014.

Purcell NMD, Dr, Andrea. "Gluten-free- The Inside Story." Nutricala Magazine, December 18th, 2012. Web. February 13th, 2014.

Rueters. “A gluten free diet, how much will it cost you?” CBS News. CBS News, 25 Feb. 2014. Web. 17 Apr. 2014.

Storrs, Carina. "Will a Gluten-Free Diet Improve Your Health." Health Media Ventures, Inc., April 5th, 2011. Web. February 7th, 2014.,,20479423_last,00.html

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