Dr. Peter Green Speaks at the GIG Conference in Seattle

June 9th, 2009 by Jean Duane

Joining a support group can be fun! I just attended the 35th Annual Gluten Intolerance Group of North America?s annual convention in Seattle. It was a great experience! Lots of food vendors shared their wares and many informative speakers (including yours truly talking about ?GF on a Dime? and ?Internationally GF?).

Seattle at the North American GIG Conference

Seattle at the North American GIG Conference

One speaker I really found fascinating was Dr. Peter Green.
Dr. Peter Green presented at the banquet and enlightened us on Celiac Disease. For example, he said that in Finland, 70% of the people are diagnosed. In Italy, Australia and Ireland, 30% of the people are diagnosed, but in America, only 1% of those who have Celiac disease are diagnosed! Isn?t that shocking? He said the CDC now recognizes Celiac disease as a ?more common? disease. Well hurray! Maybe now, more people will get properly diagnosed (quicker).
He talked about how Celiac disease can be found in world-wide populations, and explained the reason is because ?there was a lot of activity at night on the silk road?. Hubba hubba. Though it seems to have originated in northern Europe, it certainly hasn?t stayed there!
He mentioned there was a peculiar epidemic of infantile Celiac disease in Sweden in the late 1980s and early 1990s when infant formula was thickened with wheat. Children are not supposed to be given gluten-containing grains until after four month?s, and then only a little bit at a time while they are being breast-fed. He mentioned that in Italy, people who have Celiac disease get an extra 3 days off from work a year so they have more time to shop for food.
We often say ?there is no ?look? for Celiac Disease? ? meaning that it isn?t the skinny armed and legged person with a bloated belly as was once thought ? it can be virtually any body type. But Dr. Peter Green showed a picture of a person with a large forehead and said that is a sign of Celiac disease! I investigated this a little further and found this study http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15919249. Isn?t that interesting? (And I was always told that a large forehead was a sign of intelligence!!! Oh well.)
He said something else that really piqued my interest. He mentioned that transglutaminase enzymes are added to revive aging fish and meats ? to extend their shelf-life and make them look appetizing. He said that grocers do not have to declare that they add these enzymes because they are naturally occurring in the human body. He mentioned that people with Celiac disease develop antibodies to tissue transglutaminase, and that the addition of those enzymes may be causing people who are already sensitive to get sicker. I found a little more about it from this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transglutamination. It is just another reason to consider the vegan diet a ?healing? diet. You wouldn?t be exposed to these undeclared enzymes on a vegan diet.
Seattle was really fun, and the group took a ferry across the Puget Sound to eat at a restaurant. It made for a lovely evening. seattle3
I highly recommend getting involved with a support group. On the right side of this blog, you?ll find links to lots of organizations that help people meet others with similar lifestyles. You?ll rekindle old and make new friends, learn a lot about living this lifestyle and come home more informed. Here is me with my new friend Rose Mary Simmons from the Lone Star Support Group in Texas.
Rose Mary and Jean

Rose Mary and Jean

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