Gluten-free diet good in some cases

May 27, 2011 5:30:55 PM PDT
Gluten-free is becoming a trendy diet, but experts say only about 10 percent of the people going gluten-free have a problem with gluten. The diet is critical for people with a real intolerance but it also may not be for everyone.

Page Parkes is known for her modeling studios and talent agencies in Dallas and Houston. But what isn't known is her lifelong health struggle with health problems caused by gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley.

"One of the worst things, I think, is that your arms and legs eventually become numb," Parkes said.

She says it also caused high blood pressure, intestinal problems, osteoporosis and even malnutrition.

"I even had a root canal on my baby teeth, which of course is another sign of no nutrition," she said.

Jeff Lake has diabetes. He did a spread sheet on his food and found his sugar spiked when he ate gluten.

"I was having a reaction to something in breads and wheats and ryes and all that and realized the common thread is gluten," Lake said.

Since he went gluten-free, his diabetes has improved.

"All my levels are normal so it made a huge difference," Lake said.

Should everyone avoid gluten? Medical experts say no.

"I think most people can save their money and don't need to buy it," UT Health Dr. Marc Rhoades said.

Dr. Rhoades says don't avoid gluten unless you are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease.

"Celiac disease is a condition where you have an immune response, not an allergy, but an immune response in your gut when you eat gluten," he said.

It's easier today to find gluten-free food. There are sections of gluten-free products in grocery stores now. And there are restaurants, like the Redfish Seafood Grill, that serve gluten-free food.

"I began to lose weight because of the inflammation; my blood pressure became controllable with medication," Parkes said.

And that changed her life.

Gluten problems can often go undiagnosed for years. But Dr. Rhoades says most of the new cases of celiac disease are being diagnosed in children around age 2.

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