Monday, April 30, 2012

Celiac Disease Foundation Conference 2012

I had the opportunity this past weekend to attend the Celiac Disease Foundation Annual Conference and Food Show in Los Angeles.

As I study to become a Gluten Free Coach, it is my intention to learn as much as I possibly can about this disease and the potential damage that can be caused by this insidious little protein. I personally suffer from non celiac gluten intolerance and have been gluten free for 12 years since beginning my Low Carbohydrate/Paleo journey. Check out my page on gluten intolerance here. If you have any of the symptoms, you might consider testing and at the very least, trying to eliminate gluten for 30 days to see if you notice any marked improvement.

I will say that while I took a few points away, I was slightly disappointed with this conference. There were four featured speakers and I gained the most from one which happens to be a RD specializing in advising the celiac on diet and nutrition.

I was particularly disappointed with one of the speakers, Peter H. R. Green, MD.

Dr. Green is the Director of The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University. He is a Professor of Clinical Medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University and Attending Physician at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. He is also a Member of CDF Medical Advisory Board.

Dr. Green made what I believe to be an irresponsible statement for the innocent patient suffering intestinal damage. "Probiotics are un-necessary and even dangerous" and "Just go to Costco and pick up a cheap multi-vitamin".

As a Nutrition Educator, I have personal experience with both sides of the coin. Dr. Green made the reference to "lack of clinical data of the efficacy of probiotics in celiac disease". Interestingly enough, the first speaker, Stefano Guandalini, MD spoke of the potential relationship between reduced microbes and celiac disease being a potential cause. Our increase in C-Sections and lack of breast feeding could be one of the factors but more evidence is still needed. Now this made me feel like Dr. Green is disconnected from the ever important steps it takes to repair the gut and gain improved health considering "Celiacs have a higher mortality rate" as quoted by the good Dr. Talking out both sides of his mouth perhaps?

While so many gluten intolerant and celiacs are suffering without diagnosis by Gastroenterologists, one would think that this particular Dr. would be well versed in the healing of the villi that is damaged by the gluten protein considering his position. I would like to know if Dr. Green has spent any time advising on diet and repair of gut permeability?

The second speaker that I truly appreciated was RD, Shelley Case. A registered dietitian, Shelley Case is a leading international expert on celiac disease and the gluten-free diet. She is a member of the Medical Advisory Boards of the Celiac Disease Foundation, Gluten Intolerance Group and Canadian Celiac Association, as well as the Scientific Advisory Board of the Grain Foods Foundation.

We had the opportunity to ask questions of the speakers and mine of course was devoted to Dr. Greens statement. I appreciated the fact that Ms. Case so eloquently pointed out that Physicians are usually clinical data driven and stated: "I have and do use quality probiotic and supplement treatment with my clients with great success." That question and statement received the only ovation of the entire day. Shelley Case has published what I think one of the most complete guides to living with Celiac you will find. Gluten-Free Diet: A Comprehensive Resource Guide- Expanded and Revised Edition

Again, I have personally witnessed the efficacy of quality probiotics and quality whole food supplementation on celiac/gluten intolerance clients as well, I have watched celiacs suffer a couple of years post diagnosis with no gut treatment. This, referred to as continued TTA (Tissue Transglutaminase Antibody) elevation. This, one of the markers of inflammation in the gut.

Never mentioned during this entire conference, the ensuing damage of phytates, lectins and sapponins contained within all grains and legumes nor the cross reactionary potential of these toxins to maintain inflammatory responses in the gut. To top it off, phytates bind to minerals and in the already deficient individual, this can cause further mineral depletion. My point? A Paleo diet along with a gut healing protocol will elevate the health of the Celiac.

I thought to myself, "If only Prof. Loren Cordain, Robb Wolf or Nora Gedgaudas had been there, I know my time spent would have garnered more information than I would even known what to do with."

Consistently, in modern medicine, we look for cures to what seems to affect an increasing number of people. As Dr. William Davis points out in his book Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health, our modern wheat supply has changed so much we barely recognize many of the proteins. Mentioned at this conference was the possibility of a vaccine.


So rather than stand up against big food processing, we manipulate? We allow big food to force us to change the evolutionary biology of the human body? I refuse to believe that this is a solution for long term health and fear this only panders to our addictions and the profit of the food processing industry.

Speaking of the food processing industry. Let's just say that all of the big guys are sponsoring this event. I was hard pressed to find real food options at this event. Fortunately, the breakfast supplied had fresh fruit and hard boiled eggs. Now I'm pretty picky about the food I will put into my body and I knew that some of the cleaner natural food producers were going to be there. I'm a grain free girl but not all of my clients are so it is important to me to know the options that I can safely recommend to my grain consuming celiac/gluten intolerant friends. I did taste test a few things and as I expected, left with a stomach ache.

In my opinion as well as many of my colleagues, we are trading one problem for another. High carb food for high carb food. The president of the CDF clearly stated "We need food so be sure to support our sponsors". Sorry folks, that is not food these processors are providing you. As a celiac with damaged villi, or gluten intolerant sufferer with IBS, you need nutrient from real whole foods to assist in healing that gut and reducing your mortality rate (as stated by one of the speakers).

I located one vendor that not only tickled my taste buds but really caught my attention with advertising at their booth "Low Carb". This was a local restaurant in Los Angeles called Chili Addiction. One taste and I was addicted!. Owners Johnny and Rick won my loyalty with their knowledge of good food, Paleo, Low Carb and quality. More about this establishment in my next blog post because they have mail order! Let's just say they use Prime Rib cut in their chili and burgers and one of the ingredients in my favorite chili is rosemary.

All in all I enjoyed my time at this conference and while there is still a great deal of work to be done with education of the benefit of whole, real foods and overall health, word is spreading and the needs of this very special group are becoming increasingly met.

After the conference, my husband made an excellent observation. He stated "There is a vast difference between the physical health of the attendees at this conference as opposed to the attendees at the Ancestral Health Symposium." I have to agree with him. Imagine if every celiac adapted the Paleo/Primal/Low Carb Lifestyle. Their health would soar and as a result, their physical appearance would be greatly improved. Our physical appearance is so frequently influenced by our inner health.


  1. Foods are the essential thing for us. Although some are not allowed to eat things due to food allergies and stuff.

  2. Yes, foods are essential. They are essential to all of us for life.

    However, the foods promoted by big food companies are not essential to us and don't elevate our health.

    The celiac really needs direction in healing and that is only done through foods that carry high nutritional value.

  3. Hey this is so nice of you that you have shared your point of view and about the Celiac Disease conference you attended. This was very useful and informative post by you thanks for sharing this post..

  4. I came across your blog. Some very interesting point and information had came in front of me which I was unaware of it. Great to visit and had a good time on your blog.

  5. @Hypnotizer, I'm glad you found this post useful. It's important that we take notice of our processed food intake and the affects on human health.

    @Public thank you for your comments as well!