Blog | Rachel Begun, MS, RD | Page 2

Genetic Testing for Celiac Disease

Yopung scientist loads PCR samples

The last few talks I’ve done on gluten-related disorders and celiac disease I’ve been asked the same question that shows there is confusion about the role of genetic testing in confirming a diagnosis of celiac disease. So, I would like to address that question here.

Genetic testing does NOT provide a confirmed diagnosis for celiac disease.  To get celiac disease, having one of the genes for celiac disease is required, but then something in the environment must trigger the onset of the disease.  Having the gene alone does not mean you will get celiac disease.

In fact, approximately 30% of the population carries one of the genes for celiac disease, but only 1% of the population gets the disease.  Or, approximately 5% of those with a gene actually gets the disease.

Genetic testing is done to determine if you are at risk for celiac disease.  It is also used to determine if celiac disease can be ruled out in someone who has gone gluten-free prior to testing or if blood testing and biopsy provide borderline results.

Celiac disease is confirmed with blood testing for gluten antibodies and biopsy of the small intestine.

In conclusion:  while you need to have a gene in order to get celiac disease, having one doesn’t mean you will get the disease.  Another way of saying it is genetic testing can rule out celiac disease if you don’t carry one of the genes, but it cannot confirm having the disease.

I tried to stay away from getting into the genetic/science terminology.  I hope this clears up any confusion about the role of genetic testing in celiac disease.

If you have any questions, I’m happy to address them here.

Asheville Gluten-Free


This weekend brought me to the GF Expo in Asheville, NC–a place that’s been on my travel go-to list for a while now. I had the honor of speaking at the expo about preventing cross contact, which is a perfect segue to sharing with you my gluten-free (GF) finds.

I stayed with a good friend, who did her homework and made reservations at GF-friendly restaurants.

The night before the expo, we went to Posana Cafe.  Saying it is GF-friendly is an understatement.  It is a 100% GF restaurant serving awesome farm-to-table food in an upscale, yet casual ambiance. What a treat to be able to order anything on the menu!  I can’t remember the last time I could order crab cakes! I had the chance to say hello and chat with the executive chef, Peter Pollay, who has worked with some of the world’s culinary greats, including Wolfgang Puck and David Burke.  He was a delight to meet.  I found out that his wife has celiac disease, and that is the inspiration behind his 100% GF restaurant.

You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, which serves plenty of options–from vegetarian to fish and seafood to locally-raised meats.  When dessert came around, we were eyeing the lemon olive oil cake with black pepper ricotta and honey, but were too full to go for it.

Low and behold, the Posana Cafe hosted a booth at the Asheville GF Expo and was serving samples of this divine and sublime dessert.  So, I didn’t get to miss out after all.  While tasting the sample, I got to meet the pastry chef at Posana Cafe, who was also genuinely happy to please GF attendees.

Many tried and true national GF brands were at the Expo, including Enjoy Life Foods, SOYJOY, Udi’s, Glutino, King Arthur Flour, Bob’s Red Mill, Bakery on Main, and more.

But since this post is about GF in Asheville, I’d like to call out a few local GF brands that deserve an honorable mention:

Roots is definitely a call out.  This is an Asheville-based company that makes 9 varieties of hummus, 3 types of salsa as well as tzatziki. All products are gluten-free, vegan and non-GMO.  I particularly loved the Hot Chipotle Hummus and the Thai Coconut Curry was like eating coconut curry soup in a dip!


Ingles Markets deserves a callout for sure, because this is a regional supermarket chain that gets gluten-free. Ingles co-hosted the Asheville GF Expo along with the local gluten-free support groups. Leah McGrath, Ingles’ registered dietitian is the one who asked me to speak at the expo.  Ingles, with Leah’s support, has been a champion for serving the gluten-free community for many years.  Ingles offers hundreds of gluten-free products at their stores, they provide a list of these gluten-free products on their website, and Leah regularly shares gluten-free resources and touts gluten-free experts on social media to help spread the good word.


Lastly, I’d like to thank Ingles Market, the Gluten Intolerance Group of Asheville, the Western (North Carolina) Dietetic Association and Enjoy Life Foods for supporting my talk–a perfect opportunity to educate about the gluten-free lifestyle while visiting Asheville, a very GF-friendly town!

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