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This month, Dr. Jacques Doueck interviews Dr. Rabin Rahmani, the Director of medical education and research at Maimonides Medical Center. Dr. Rahmani is nationally recognized for his cutting-edge research in the field of gastroenterology. He has garnered wide popularity in the Brooklyn community for his thorough and compassionate patient care and subscribes to a "whole body" philosophy in regards to digestive health. He specializes in advanced, minimally-invasive procedures.


Is a Gluten-Free Diet For You?

What is “gluten sensitivity” or “gluten intolerance?”

Imagine not being able to enjoy pizza, cake, beer, or pasta, simply because your body has a reaction to ingesting the gluten contained in those common foods. The Center for Celiac Research & Treatment estimates that 18 million Americans suffer from gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, most of whom are unaware that they even have a condition.

What is the difference between gluten sensitivity and Celiac Disease? 

Although the symptoms are similar, gluten sensitivity is less severe than Celiac Disease. Research shows that gluten sensitivity does not cause intestinal inflammation or lead to the long-term intestinal damage which Celiac Disease can cause when left untreated. 

What is NCGS (non-celiac gluten sensitivity)? 

"Between a ‘normal’ and a full-blown gluten reaction in the body (known as the Celiac Disease), there is an emerging middle ground of patients whom we can't diagnose. These patients have many of the more minor symptoms associated with Celiac Disease, without actually having the disease. This gray area has been called the "No Man's Land" of gluten sensitivity.  

If  I do have gluten sensitivity, does that mean I only have to avoid wheat?

Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and, possibly, oats. So it’s more than just wheat.

Why is it so important for people with gluten sensitivity to avoid gluten?

Even if a person suffers solely from gluten sensitivity, there's a chance it may progress to Celiac Disease.  A strict, lifelong, gluten-free diet is the current treatment recommendation, in order to not only alleviate the symptoms, but also decrease the likelihood of it progressing to Celiac Disease.  

When people with this sensitivity avoid gluten, they may see their health improve, only to worsen again when gluten is consumed.  As such, many people with gluten sensitivity are cutting gluten out of their diets to find relief from symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, cramping, bloating, and constipation. Other warning signs include anemia and osteoporosis, which can be diagnosed by your doctor. People who have allergies such as hay fever, as well as allergies to medication, may also be prone to gluten sensitivity.

How does a person know that they have “Gluten Sensitivity? 

The important thing is that they become aware of the issue. If you find that you're experiencing symptoms after eating bread, pasta, cake or other gluten-containing foods, you should consult with an expert gastroenterologist who would be able to help you navigate this somewhat complicated process and get you on the road to digestive health. 

Dr. Rabin Rahmani  

Dr. Rabin Rahmani is the Director of medical education and research at  Maimonides Medical Center. He is also the Medical Director of Gastroenterology Associates of Brooklyn and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Additionally, he serves as a member of the prestigious National Affairs Committee for the American College of Gastroenterology. To make an appointment, please call 718-336-3900.