Gearing up for a gluten challenge

I know I haven’t been around much lately.  I haven’t had much I’ve felt like writing.  And I’m trying to get both some school and personal projects done (I’ve yet to be successful with those either).

But one thing I did discuss with my doctor the last time I saw her was the possibility of doing a gluten challenge so that I can finally get diagnosed with celiac disease.  It’s been hard to really work through why I really want a celiac diagnosis.  There is a little voice that lives in the back of my head that questions this whole gluten free thing.  Wonders if I really need to do it.  Wonders if a little wouldn’t hurt.  I’d like to attempt to quiet that voice.  Since my dad is diagnosed as celiac, and I fit two out of the five criteria for having celiac disease, I likely have it too.  Now to make it official.

The hard part however has been scheduling when to do this gluten challenge, as I’m sure it will impact my ability to function, and answering the question of just how much gluten I need to eat for how long to get an accurate diagnosis.  On this last one, the doctor and I didn’t agree.  She said to eat “some” every day for two weeks, and then come in for the blood work.  That set off warning bells in my head, so off I went in search of papers on the subject.

So far, there is only one paper that addresses this question specifically:

Pyle G. G., B. Paaso, B. E. Anderson, D. Allen, T. Marti, C. Khosla, and G. M. Gray. 2005. Low-dose gluten challenge in celiac sprue: malabsorptive and antibody responses. Clinical gastroenterology and hepatology 3:679-86.

pubmed link

The gist is that 8 diagnosed nonsymptomatic celiac patients ate gluten daily for 21 days.  Four of them had 5 g a day, the other four had 10 g a day.  While all the patients had an increase in symptoms and all the patients performed worse on a few of the malabsorptive tests (which aren’t incredibly accurate), NO ONEs antibody levels changed.

So I’m still left wondering how to handle this.  This paper was helpful in that I know 10 g a day for 21 days is insufficient.  But I don’t know if I’ll just need to eat more or longer, likely both.  And as 10 g is roughly equal to two slices a day, I’ll definitely be blowing that portion right out the water, as I plan on consuming gluten like a ‘normal’ person, at pretty much every damn meal.  Now the question is for how long will I need to suffer?  And hope that this will all be worth it in the end.


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