Diet and Nutrition

Beware of Dietary Supplements: A Warning for Celiac Disease Patients

Beware of Dietary Supplements: A Warning for Celiac Disease Patients

Beware of Dietary Supplements: A Warning for Celiac Disease Patients

Things to Consider When Taking Dietary Supplements

Naturally, it is difficult to control oneself and keep from eating delicious foods that contain gluten, such as pasta, bread, and oats. Some patients depend on supplements that can supposedly break down the gluten in a number of foods. Just because these over-the-counter supplements make such claims, people believe they are protected from the harmful effects of gluten. However, this is not the case. A recent study has found that over-the-counter supplements that assure patients of protection from gluten damage are not as effective as they say and should be taken with caution.

Research has found that these supplements have no scientific basis for fighting off gluten intolerance. This discovery has made some worried, because these supplements may in fact harm patients rather than help them. 

For celiac patients who are gluten intolerant, at times, it can be very tempting to eat certain foods, such as bread, pasta, or pizza, which may be delicious, but contain gluten. These patients may turn to supplements to break down the gluten present in these foods. Because the labels claim these supplements can break down gluten, people may think they are protected from the harmful effects of the protein. But this is not always the case. A recent study has stated that individuals who take such supplements should do so with caution, since there is no scientific backing to support these claims that they can combat gluten. In certain cases, instead of helping the patient, they can actually harm them. The researchers in the study found that many celiac patients often refer to online sites about such supplements without a proper consultation with their doctor. So, the FDA has since encouraged doctors to ask their patients if they take any such supplements. Some of the supplements that were investigated include: Gluten Digest, Digest Gluten Plus, GlutenEase, SerenAid, Gluten Defense, ZGlutn, Glutenaid, and Gluten Cutter. These supplements are known to contain glucanase, which is the enzyme responsible for breaking down gluten in the body. The research was extensive and involved the active ingredients used, indications for use, allergen count, and claims about the capability of the products. For many patients, the product names and their claims sound very attractive, but they have very little evidence to prove their assurances. Often, the individual feels relief due to the placebo effect rather than any actual chemical interactions.

Celiac is considered to be a serious autoimmune disease that mostly occurs due to genetics. It manifests as a reaction when an affected individual eats gluten, which is a protein commonly found in wheat, rye, barley, and other similar foods. The body is triggered by gluten to attack its own small intestine and damage the villi present there. One in every one hundred persons around the globe is known to be affected with celiac disease. The symptoms are based on the age of the patient; in the case of adults, the signs include fatigue, weight loss, diarrhea, pain in the abdomen, and vomiting; for children below two years of age, the symptoms are a chronic case of diarrhea, swelling of the belly, lack of appetite, wasting of the muscles, and vomiting.

It is understandable why a celiac patient would want to reduce their symptoms, but any attempt to do so should be carried out in a proper and safe manner. There are a number of products out in the market that look attractive and offer many assurances about healing, but, again, all of these are unsupported by any kind of strong scientific evidence. Going in for natural products is a better decision, so one should stick to organic, natural foods and make healthy changes in their lifestyle instead.