Photo: Gluten Detective by Glutenostics. Source: Beyond Celiac.
Being gluten-free is the only way to healthy living with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Nowadays, more people are going gluten-free as they become aware of the condition, and there have been better diagnostic tools to help pinpoint the problem.
Being gluten-free is challenging. Excluding wheat, rye or oat products at home may not sound difficult. However, many people still continue to receive minor doses of gluten from products bought in supermarkets, or through food consumed in restaurants. It happens either due to the lack of proper labeling or even due to false labeling in some cases. In other cases, those diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance may not have sufficient knowledge about what products are gluten-free and what not.
Unintentional consumption of gluten continues to cause gastric and other gluten-related symptoms in those intolerant to it. Sometimes, patients are not able to understand whether abdominal distress has been caused due to gluten or for some other reason. One way to exclude the misinterpretations is to get tested in the professional lab. However, it is something that is not practicable if a person is suffering from something that is lifelong. In such cases, the capability to check at home, whether a person has consumed gluten (unintentionally) or not, can be of great value.
Recently, a company called Glutenostics has released a first of its kind diagnostic kit that can detect even just the minute amounts of gluten, in either urine or stool. At present the kit is available for sale in the US and Canada through online platforms.
According to the manufacturer, their kit can detect 500 milligrams or more of gluten in urine or stool; it means that kit can detect gluten within 24 hours of gluten consumption, even if a person has consumed just a couple of bites of a product that contains gluten.
Researchers say that this kind of test has is very significant for those who have been newly diagnosed with gluten intolerance and celiac disease; these are the people who are not much aware of the gluten-free products and they would unwittingly continue to consume gluten and suffer. The testing kit would help them to understand whether their symptoms are the result of gluten consumption or due to other factors. One can also use the kit in case they suspect a gluten intolerance or celiac disease.
So, let's say if a person has a gastrointestinal disturbance after eating out, or after consuming food items bought from the nearest supermarket, he or she would be able to confirm that whether gluten caused the symptoms, or something else, after they take the test.
These tests are more than 96 percent accurate for detecting gluten fragments in body secretions like urine or stool. The effectiveness of the stool test is slightly higher, at above 95 percent, as compared to above 90 percent for a urine test, as cited by the manufacturer on its website.
A tool that empowers patients
The problem with diseases like celiac or gluten intolerance is that these conditions are lifelong. According to the chronic care model, the only way to stay healthy in such circumstances is to take things into your own hands. Care in chronic diseases like celiac disease works best when the patient is knowledgeable, takes the driving seat in managing the condition, and uses their physician as an adviser.
This diagnostic toolkit truly empowers those living with celiac disease, as it brings both the control and diagnostics into the hands of the patients, thus minimizing the need to go to either the physician or lab. It can also help patients manage their conditions better. In those living with celiac, whenever there is some trouble with the stomach, people get completely lost, they are unsure whether their problem has something to do with accidental gluten consumption, or if something different is behind their discomfort.
Such a kit would not only help to manage celiac disease effectively, but it would also make the life of those living with gluten intolerance safer. Firstly, a person would be able to understand better about the gluten content in the diet. Secondly, it would save someone from confusion of whether or not their upset stomach is from gluten consumption or a different infectio
How does the test work?
For any test to be carried out at home, things have to be as simple as possible, and it is true for this gluten detection kit. It comes with a set of reagent (reactive solution) and test strip (similar to what is used to test pregnancy). A person has to mix a urinary or fecal sample in the supplied solution and then dip the strip into it. It can give results with 10-15 minutes. Each kit has been created to be used twice and costs around 45$, it can be ordered online, and there are discounts for the first-time users.
Since the urine test is less sensitive as compared to the stool test, the company recommends that people should start with a urine test, if the urine test is positive, there is logically no need for a stool test (which is slightly uncomfortable to carry out). However, in the case of a negative urine test, the recommendation is to do a stool test, for the best and most reliable results.
Further, the manufacturer of the test says that it could also be used in the absence of symptoms, just to know how well the gluten-free diet is doing. For this purpose, a stool test is recommended as it is more accurate and sensitive.
In future, the company plans to improve the sensitivity of the urine test, as they understand that a stool test is unpleasant to carry out. Also, the company is sponsoring the studies to discover how the test can fit into the general management of celiac disease or gluten intolerance.
Currently, the test is valuable in detecting an accidental exposure to gluten. It is a test that takes out the guesswork that is sometimes involved in disease management and helps individuals to be at peace of mind.
This test is yet to be approved by FDA; so in its present form, it cannot be used for diagnostic practices. The reason the manufacturer decided to launch without FDA approval is due to the lengthy approval process that takes several years.
- Glutenostics. Glutenostics Launches Gluten Detective, the First At-Home Gluten Consumption Monitoring Test. https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/glutenostics-launches-gluten-detective-the-first-at-home-gluten-consumption-monitoring-test-300548989.html. Accessed March 2, 2018.
- Fafage P, Zandonadi R. The Gluten-Free Diet: Difficulties Celiac Disease Patients have to Face Daily. Austin J Ntri Food Sci. 201AD;2014;2(5):1027.