Seniors Go Gluten-Free
As awareness of gluten issues grow, more and more people – including seniors – are being diagnosed with celiac disease and gluten allergies. While learning to live a gluten-free lifestyle can be daunting to anyone, it provides unique challenges to seniors over age 65. This blog entry addresses some challenges seniors going gluten-free may grapple with.
Once considered a disease that affects mainly children, doctors now know that gluten issues can affect anyone at any age. But for older people who may be grappling with other health issues, getting a proper diagnosis can be tricky because the symptoms mimic those of a number of other ailments. To get a proper diagnosis, you’ll want to first rule out celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder caused by gluten that attacks the small intestines. Celiac affects 1% of Americans, says Lola O’Rourke, the education supervisor at The Gluten Intolerance Group of North America. That translates to about 400,000 adults over age 60.
If you don’t have celiac, the next step is to test yourself for “non-celiac gluten sensitivity,” which affects about 18 million Americans, or six times the number of those who have celiac, according to the Beyond Celiac website. “There isn’t a test for non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The only way to know if you have it is to give up gluten for several weeks and then binge on it. If you feel really bad, then you probably have it,” says Jane Anderson, a medical journalist who writes about the gluten-free lifestyle for Verywell.com and who has been gluten-free since 2003. The good news is most gluten issues can be managed with diet alone, and the growing awareness of the gluten-free lifestyle means living gluten-free has never been easier.