Friday, January 04, 2008

When a Gluten-free Diet Isn't Enough


Many patients find themselves in the position of having removed gluten from their diet but still suffering health problems. These patients have made the Herculean effort to remove gluten entirely from their diet and while improved, their health is still not where they would have hoped.
What’s the problem?
In my clinical experience I find that patient’s who are either Celiac or gluten intolerant are highly susceptible to intestinal infections. The damage which gluten causes to the lining of the small intestine also damages the integrity of the immune system within the intestines. Considering that it is estimated that every 10 minutes our intestines are exposed to a pathogenic (able to cause infection) organism, it is critical to good health that our immune systems are strong enough to destroy these organisms. Gluten intolerant individuals don’t have a strong immune system and thereby tend to contract infections.
You might think that if you had an intestinal infection you would have a fever, severe diarrhea or abdominal pain. While this can occur, more often these infections are less extreme in their presentation. But they are not silent. A patient with an intestinal infection will not enjoy optimal health and, unfortunately, will not get the full benefit of removing the offending gluten from their diet. When infection is not present, the removal of gluten results in the healing of the intestines and the improved health and well being of the patient. In the presence of infection that healing does not take place because the infectious organism continues to irritate the lining of the intestine and the patient does not improve markedly.
Most doctors who diagnose celiac disease or gluten intolerance only focus on the change of diet that is necessary. They don’t go the next step and rule out any hidden infection. Many times patients have been diagnosed with an infection and stated that they felt they had had an infection but were told that because they didn’t have a fever or acute diarrhea it was not possible.
If you have been avoiding gluten but haven’t seen all the benefits to your health which you had hoped, consider getting evaluated for hidden infection.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

What tests are recommended to rule out an infectious process in the intestines? Would a normal colonoscopy rule out an infection?

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

No, a normal colonoscopy would not rule out an infection. Here at HealthNOW we use a lab which evaluated 4 different stool samples for not only parasites, amoebas, bacteria and yeast but also can identify the ova or eggs of certain species. That is significant because if the lab is only able to identify the adults they can miss an infection due to the fact that these organisms have a life cycle and they lay their eggs before dying off so there is a period where there are no active adults. I hope this is not all too graphic but believe me we frequently have patients who are told they don't have any intestinal infections only to do the test that BioHealth Diagnostics offers and find that not to be the case. BioHealth is located in L.A. We give patients kits that they take home and then the samples are sent to the lab and we get the results.

I hope this helps.

Dr Vikki Petersen

Lisa said...

Hi,

Just found your blogspot! What great information! I have just created a blogspot "Gluten Free..licious! I was hoping you would check it out and put my link on your site. I will pass your link on as well! Thanks!

Lisa :)

www.glutenfreelicious.blogspot.com