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“Forty percent of the population has problems digesting gluten and 99 percent with gluten sensitivity are unaware of it.” I read this information intently and with purpose.

Four years ago, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you about gluten sensitivity or Celiac disease. My son was always small for his age. His younger brother was taller and bigger. So, at 15, the pediatrician sent us to an endocrinologist at Women & Children’s Hospital. The doctor asked if my son had ever been tested for Celiac. After a blood test and endoscopy, he was diagnosed with Celiac disease. He showed no other symptoms.

The best way to explain it is that your small intestine should look like a shag carpet, with fibers collecting nutrition from what you eat and absorbing it into your body. My son’s small intestine was like linoleum. Everything he ate slid through his system. He was undernourished regardless of eating regularly. Now, after four years on a gluten-free diet, he is 10 inches taller and 40 pounds heavier.

At the start, I was told by the nutritionist to avoid barley, rye, oats and wheat (BROW). It sounded simple enough. Just read the label. I learned that a great many ingredients contain gluten. Food manufacturers have been steadily increasing the amount of gluten in their products. It makes the food taste better, people eat more of it and it is a cheap additive to increase product yields.

It surprises many people when I tell them that gluten is also found in toothpaste, the glue on stamps and envelopes, vitamins, medicine, shampoo, conditioner, soap, hand lotion, shaving cream, cosmetics, and even Play-Doh. What happened to “avoid BROW”?

Another issue is cross-contamination. The same toaster cannot be used for gluten-free and regular bread. When I make dinner, I must use separate utensils. I cannot stir gluten-free soup and use the same spoon for non-gluten-free soup.

We went to a local restaurant and ordered from the gluten-free menu. When we got home, my son immediately ran to the bathroom with stomach cramps and diarrhea. The reaction is similar to food poisoning.

If the chef was wearing gloves to cut bread and continued to wear those same gloves when handling my son’s food, that would explain the contamination. Too many people are under the impression that having gluten-free food is enough, when preparation is actually a large part of the problem.

I am reading a book by neurologist Dr. David Perlmutter. He feels that ADHD, anxiety, bone pain, brain fog, constantly being sick, delayed growth, depression, migraines, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, schizophrenia and more are impacted by gluten sensitivity.

Celiac disease is hereditary. Yet my husband, my other son and I have all had the blood test and it came back negative. I have no issues with gluten but my son has complete intolerance of it? The book notes that the Cyrex Array 3 test for gluten sensitivity is available to doctors and is the most reliable blood test. How many doctors know and use this test?

We need to take a very close look at what is going into our food. Maybe when we discover how many of us have problems with gluten, the government and food industry will assist us in getting healthier rather than increasing the corporate bottom line.