Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Gluten Freedom - Book Review

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When I stopped by the Turner Publishing booth at Book Expo America last month, I asked about Dr. Alessio Fasano's book Gluten Freedom. My curiosity about the book garnered me an email from the company's PR person who said she would send me a copy to review.

And so here is my review!

I haven't really read many other books about eating and living gluten-free, but apparently, there was just so much misinformation out there, so Dr. Fasano decided that he needed to write a book about it. And it certainly is THE book on gluten-related disorders and Celiac disease.

What gives Dr. Fasano the right to write this book? He's the founder and director of the Center for Celiac Research at Massachusetts General Hospital (started in 1996), the first research and treatment center for Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity in the U.S. This guy has been studying gluten for a LONG time.

No matter where you are in your gluten-free journey (newly diagnosed, parent of a child with Celiac, been living gluten-free for years), Gluten Freedom is an amazing resource of information, tips, and recipes. The book takes you through what gluten is and how it affects the gut and other parts of your body. It offers tips for living a gluten-free life and living well, as well as how to be a pregnant Celiac, the parent of a Celiac, and even a septuagenarian with Celiac. And finally, the book presents many different treatment options in the works aside from a strict gluten-free diet for life. Perhaps a pill or a vaccine will be available for people who have trouble living gluten-free or who do not respond to a gluten-free diet at all.

People today with Celiac disease and other gluten disorders are so lucky that there are people like Dr. Fasano out there working for them, to give them a better quality of life and advocate for their rights. In 1994, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the NIH's National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases didn't even acknowledge Celiac disease. Twenty years ago, there weren't many gluten-free food options. And even today, knowledge of Celiac disease among doctors is still rather low. It's estimated that 2.5 to 3 million people in the U.S. have Celiac, but only 2% are diagnosed, leading Dr. Fasano to say that Celiac disease is "humankind's most prevalent genetically linked disease. It occurs much more frequently than type 1 diabetes, cystic fibrosis, or Crohn's disease."

There are personal stories from some of Dr. Fasano's patients within this book, all detailing how difficult it was to get diagnosed and how little knowledge their doctors (before Dr. Fasano) had of Celiac disease. Way back in the day (including the 1930s when one woman was diagnosed as a little girl), people thought that you could outgrow Celiac disease like an allergy!!

I'm lucky that it only took my husband six months to get his Celiac diagnosis. Perhaps it was helpful that we were on our honeymoon when his symptoms really flared up and ended up visiting three different doctors in such a short span of time, plus a regular physician when we got home and then a gastroenterologist. I even made a scrapbook layout of all the doctor's forms.

Two of the doctors on our vacation told my husband it was just GERD. The third doctor sent us for an ultrasound because he thought my husband had stomach cancer. (This was on our honeymoon!!!!) The primary care physician back home told my husband it was all in his head. But the gastroenterologist knew what was going on and ordered an endoscopy where he saw signs of acid reflux and Celiac disease. A blood test then confirmed the presence of antibodies for Celiac disease.

So as not to make this review any longer, I'll just quickly get back to the book and add that some parts are a little science-y and went over my head. Those parts sort of read like something from a medical journal. They probably won't be interesting to people who aren't affected by Celiac disease or gluten-related disorders, but if you are affected in any way, this is definitely a book to pick up. There's lots of new information to learn and new recipes to try - my favorite part!

Gluten Freedom is published by Turner Publishing and is available to purchase now. I received a free review copy for my honest review.

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