Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Hidden infections and gluten intolerances


As a doctor writing a book on the subject of gluten I am writing about this very important, though often overlooked consequence of celiac and gluten intolerance - hidden infections.

The mechanism, for those who are interested, revolves around the inflammation that is created in the small intestine with the ingestion of gluten for so many years. This inflammatory response weakens the immune system of the intestine thereby allowing pathogenic (disease causing) organisms to gain a foothold. Every 10 minutes our small intestines are exposed to pathogenic organisms. A healthy immune system destroys them but a compromised immune system can't defend itself adequately.

These organism can cause a myriad of health problems including gastrointestinal symptoms, arthritis and joint inflammation, obesity and hormone imbalance, to name a few.

Anyone with celiac or gluten intolerance is at risk for these infections which can be bacterial, parasitic, amoeba or yeast. I find a stool test to be the most accurate way to detect them but there are some labs I prefer over others due to their sensitivity and accuracy.

Hope that helps for anyone curious.

Dr Vikki Petersen

P.S. Can't wait to try some of your recipes and share them with my patients.

Also, if an infection is found it is critical to retest to ensure that it's been eradicated. And lastly, since the immune system of a celiac or gluten intolerant individual can take a few years to reestablish once gluten and any offending organisms have been removed, annual testing is probably a good idea for a couple of years.