The Truth About the “Gluten Gene”

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More and more, we hear about “gluten free diets” or “gluten free options” on a menu. While there are many fad diets, when it comes to gluten, this one is firmly based in health and science. According to a recent study, the diagnosis of Celiac Disease has increased alongside the mortality rates. Making matters even more concerning is roughly 3 million Americans who believed they didn’t have a gluten allergy, in fact, did. Not knowing you have this condition can impact your health, more than you may even realize.

 What exactly is Celiac Disease?

 Celiac disease is a condition in which the immune system is abnormally sensitive and unable to digest or break down the gluten protein found in wheat, rye and certain other grains. There are common foods that include gluten such as pasta, bread, cereal and more. Celiac disease is partially hereditary and left untreated, can cause serious autoimmune disorders, anemia, infertility, miscarriage, coronary artery disease or even cancer, most notably, small bowel cancer.

 Is Gluten Sensitivity in Your Genetics?

 According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, Celiac disease runs in families. Parents, siblings, or children of people who have an issue with gluten have a 1 in 10 risk of developing the disease. Knowing you have a genetic predisposition can be helpful and risk is connected to an exact HLA class II gene known as HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8. This is how it breaks down:

  • People who only have the HLA-DQ8 gene are less likely to have the disease than those who only have the HLA-DQ2 gene.

  • People who have both HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 do not appear to be at greater risk of the disease than those who have only HLA-DQ2.

  • People with both HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8 are more likely to have the disease than those with only HLA-DQ8.

  • If you have HLA-DQA1 and HLA-DQB1, that means you have a predisposition for gluten sensitivity and may have Celiac Disease.

 How Do I Know If I Have The “Gluten Gene”?

While there clearly has been research and more information around Celiac Disease and the genetics around it in the last almost 50 years, when you consider there are still many who don’t realize they may have this sensitivity, knowing your family history and your own personal genetics can be immeasurable. Therefore, genetic testing, such as the one we offer through Phosphorus, can be an option into learning more about whether or not you have the “Gluten Gene”. This can inform your diet and overall health even if you find out you have the gene but not necessarily the disease. It can also help inform other family members as well.

 What if I Have Celiac Disease?

 As mentioned, even if you do have either the HLA-DQ2 or HLA-DQ8 gene, it doesn’t necessarily mean you have to change your diet. PhosphorusOne will help provide insight into whether you are susceptible to the disease. If you are showing symptoms of the disease however, then this is of course something you should mention to your doctor. Symptoms include but are not limited to fatigue, weight loss, bloating, rash, diarrhea, anemia, depression, constipation and gas.

 You may also want to try an ‘elimination diet,’ removing food that includes gluten to see if you notice any difference. Some foods to avoid (in alphabetical order) are:

  • breads

  • couscous

  • cracked wheat

  • crackers

  • Graham flour

  • kamut

  • matzo

  • pastas

  • seasonings and spice mixes

  • semolina

  • wheat bran

  • wheat germ

  • wheat starch

You may also want to look at some of your medications as well as your vitamins and supplements as they may contain gluten. You can find a bigger list of foods to avoid by going to the Celiac Disease Foundation “Gluten Free Food List”.

How do I get this test?

The PhosphorusONE test is available as part of the entire PhosphorusONE genetic test, or can be purchased by clicking HERE.