Scientific American, August 2009 had a nice article by Alessio Fasano, MD called “Surprises from Celiac”. In it he discussed the “Trio” of causes that create gluten sensitivity:
1. the trigger: gluten
2. genetic predisposition: nothing we can do about that one.
3. leaky small intestine
In # 1 and 3 we have some hope. It is suggested that in those infants with a suspicious genetic predisposition that restricting all gluten for the first year of life may empower the immune system sufficiently to lessen its responsiveness to gluten and tolerate it better. The research is currently occurring but preliminary findings suggest that such a delay in initiating gluten exposure may reduce fourfold that incidence of celiac.
If I was about to have a child I would definitely consider avoiding all gluten in the diet and after a good year plus had expired do a small challenge of gluten followed by an antibody test to see how the child’s immune system responded.
In the third point: trying to keep the small intestine intact and less “leaky” is something we work very hard on with our patients. It involves many steps and usually removing gluten and dairy are on the top of the list. What follows is the isolation and eradication of any unfriendly organisms, recolonization with beneficial probiotics and healing with amino acid L-glutamine and other nutrients as needed.
There is some evidence that dairy products are responsible for damaging the small intestine and creating a leaky gut. Dairy is also responsible, it is thought, for weakening the immune system. We know that Rotavirus is a culprit as an initiator of small intestine damage. Could a stronger immune system lessen the number of these infections?
All good food for thought. I believe the isolation of the underlying cause(s) of leaky gut is going to be a very important factor in restoring and maintaining good health.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”