Monday, April 26, 2010

Cheating as a Celiac

I am continuing to answer questions from those who attended the virtual book tour.

Here’s the question: What happens if you have Celiac Disease but continue to eat gluten daily?

While I know this occurs, I can only think that a celiac who continues to eat gluten just hasn’t been properly educated. Either that or they have a bit of a death wish…

Celiac disease destroys the small intestine creating malabsorption of nutrients critical for good health, often with concurrent digestive complaints. It also puts a tremendous strain on the body’s immune system, the defender against infections and cancer. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease and when you have it you are 5 times more likely to suffer from another autoimmune disease than the average population. Autoimmune diseases include such things as type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, M.S., Sjogren’s, Lupus, fibromyalgia, Alzheimer’s, etc. Considering that all autoimmune diseases taken as a whole are the third leading cause of death, increasing one’s risk by 5 times is a very poor idea.

In a nutshell, continuing to consume gluten even monthly, let alone every day, is putting one on a fast train towards their mortality.

I can only think that the individual asking this question is one of those rare patients who has been diagnosed with celiac but doesn’t have too many symptoms…yet. But if the diagnosis is accurate, the symptoms will come, and how unfortunate to have known that they were preventable.

Ultimately we each have a wonderful, unique machine called the human body. We own it and it is all ours. While I recommend that you treat it well so that you can enjoy the experience of an optimally functioning machine, I can only recommend. In the final analysis the body is yours and you can do with it what you will.

However, if you continue to “cheat” because you don’t understand the ramifications of doing so, I heartily recommend that you get educated. While I’m a bit partial to my own book “The Gluten Effect”, readers continue to tell me that they feel it is extremely easy to read, understand and it has resulted in many, many individuals finally taking their gluten intolerance seriously. So I encourage you to read a book, blog and in some way get educated about the problems gluten can create.

I hope this has been helpful. If your health is not what you want it to be, consider calling us for a free health analysis - call 408-733-0400. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally. You don't need to live local to us to receive care.

We're here to help!

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect

Lab Test Interpretation for Celiac and Gluten Sensitivity

What do you do when your doctor is uninformed?

The question below came from a listener of my recent virtual book tour. It was a bit horrifying to read, I must tell you. Unfortunately I see this type of poor advice given often, but it doesn’t make it any less palatable.

Here’s the question:
“I had positive deamidated gliadin antibodies but did not have any celiac-specific antibodies... my doctor did not recommend I go gluten-free. What does this mean and where do I go from there?”

The deamidated gliadin antibody test IS a celiac-specific test. It is believed to be more sensitive than the traditional tTG test and that is why it is being used more broadly. As you may know, one of our biggest concerns is to have those suffering from celiac and gluten sensitivity diagnosed as soon as possible. Early diagnosis will help to prevent a tremendous amount of suffering, ill health and secondary autoimmune diseases.

Unfortunately this person’s doctor didn’t seem to know what the purpose of the test was and as a result didn’t recommend that a celiac patient remove gluten from their diet! What a tragedy…

On the bright side, I was happy that this individual attended the virtual book tour and shared her question. Now she knows what the test means and will remove gluten from her diet. This will not only improve her current health status but will also hopefully protect her from developing future problems such as autoimmune disease.

Situations just as this occur all too frequently. While such ignorance may not be intentional on the part of the doctor, it is ignorance none the less and the effects it creates can be devastating. We see it here at our clinic, unfortunately, all too often. A patient came in just last week with undiagnosed dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin condition related to celiac disease) who was told that the reason her skin looked the way it did was because she had a psychological problem and she was prescribed antidepressants. Fortunately a friend helper her to find us and we KNOW that her problem is not a mental one.

The bottom line is that it is critical to find a clinician who is really informed about celiac and gluten sensitivity. Here’s a test question for your doctor: Ask him or her if they would recommend removing gluten from the diet due to suspected gluten sensitivity even without the presence of celiac. If the doctor states there is no reason to eliminate gluten from the diet if celiac isn’t present, then find a new clinician. This may sound harsh but I want you to be healthy. There is too much needless ill health from undiagnosed gluten intolerance

I know that I’m located in California and not all of you are. But I do want you to know that I am more than happy to help you locate someone to help you if you are unable to visit us here.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect

Friday, April 16, 2010

How Long Does it Take to Heal After Removing Gluten?

A reader asks: “How long does it take for the small intestine to heal once gluten is out of the diet..for a person in their 50's?”

While we tend to think of the small intestine as a long smooth tube or pipe, I’d like to paint a more accurate picture for you. The small intestine is about 23 feet long but because it is folded into many finger-like projections it is anything but smooth (imagine shag carpeting), and its surface area is that of a tennis court. That’s a tremendously large area that is responsible for converting one’s food into available fuel that is then delivered to the trillion cells that you own.

In order the answer the above question completely accurately it would require knowing how much damage the small intestine had sustained. If this individual has celiac disease and was only just diagnosed in her 50s, the likelihood is that it could take several years to heal the intestine. If the individual is gluten sensitive then the healing time is less, maybe 1 ½ to 2 years, as less damage was sustained. While this may sound like a long time, do realize that most people start feeling better in a matter of weeks. And considering how many years the intestine was likely under attack from gluten, it’s only a fraction of that time that is needed to heal it. And when you recall that we’re talking about something the size of a “tennis court”, it makes sense that it takes some time.

What further plays into this equation, is what the person is doing to ensure that healing occurs. Obviously completely removing gluten is most important. But supplementing any nutritional deficiencies such as vitamin D, B12, iron, calcium, etc are also needed to give the body the raw materials it needs to heal itself. Further, identifying and removing any inhospitable organisms such as parasites, amoeba, bacteria or yeast is also necessary to regain health and proper healing of the small intestine. You can’t re-grow the grass on your lawn if every night an animal is digging it up!

In fact, the above paragraph addresses the largest hole we see in addressing gluten intolerance. The prescribed treatment is to remove gluten, but not much else. Neglecting to similarly remove any infectious organism can prevent regaining one’s health. Adding nutrients in which one has become deficient or those specifically designed to assist healing plus probiotics that help restore strength to the intestine’s immune system, are all factors that need to be employed for a truly successful program.

I hope you find this helpful and please let me know if I can be of further assistance.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect

Friday, April 09, 2010

“The Gluten Effect” Virtual Book Tour an Amazing Success!

I was delighted to participate in my first virtual book tour this week. Several hundred people signed up for the event and it was truly an international affair with listeners from Canada, Mexico and Australia.

If you missed the event you can listen to the replay at

Many wonderful, insightful questions were asked during the event but for those who didn’t get their questions answered at the event I thought this blog would be a good place where I could continue to address all the important issues that were raised.

Imagine my surprise when barely 24 hours later there are 210 questions awaiting me! There is an incredible diversity in the questions and I will truly try to answer as many of them as possible.

So stay tuned. I will also be answering some of the shorter responses in a video format on my YouTube channel:

Okay, so let’s get started.

Question: If I eliminate gluten from my diet but then begin to eat it again will I be more sensitive to it than I was before I eliminated it?

When you eliminate gluten from your diet your body will begin to heal. Whether you’re gluten sensitive or have celiac disease positive changes will begin to develop in your digestive tract, your immune system as a whole, and other affected systems will also begin to improve.

You must realize that because gluten has the ability to affect so many systems of the body, the changes that you see upon removing it will be different for different people. One person may see their migraines disappear, while another may see an increase of energy and less anxiety. One person may stop experiencing joint pain while another’s skin will begin to clear up. The list of symptoms associated with celiac and gluten sensitivity is truly huge! I will post them below:

Signs & Symptoms of Celiac Disease

Anemias, especially iron and folic
Autoimmune arthritis
Autoimmune connective tissue diseases
Autoimmune thyroiditis
Cerebellar ataxia
Cerebral and cerebellar atrophy
Cerebral calcifications
Chromosome aberrations
Chronic fatigue
Chronic liver disease
Delayed puberty
Dental enamel defects
Down’s syndrome
Early menopause
Febrile seizures
Gallbladder dysfunction
IgA deficiency
IgA nephropathy
Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus
Intestinal Cancers
Kidney Stones
Low Calcium
Low Iron
Low Magnesium
Low Vitamin A
Low Vitamin D
Low Vitamin K
Low Zinc
Mild ataxia
Muscular hypotonia
Neurological disorders
Obstructive pulmonary disease
Pancreatic insufficiency
Pulmonary bleeding
Retarded motor development
Short stature
Single generalized seizures
Spontaneous, low-impact fractures
Systemic lupus erythematosus
White-matter brain lesions

Symptoms and Conditions Associated with Gluten Sensitivity

Craving for wheat/gluten or inability to stop eating it
Allergies, asthma
Sinus congestion, post-nasal drip
Joint and muscle aches
Diarrhea and/or constipation
Gas, bloating, abdominal pain
IBS, colitis, gastritis
Psoriasis, eczema or unexplained rash
Depression, anxiety or mood-swings
Hormonal imbalance
Neurological disorders
Memory loss
Unexplained Chronic Fatigue
Increased liver enzymes
Frequent canker sores
Iron-deficiency anemia
Headaches / Migraines
Dental problems
Short stature

The beautiful thing about the human body is that the healthier it is the better it communicates to you how it feels. So the answer is yes, when you introduce gluten into your body after you have eliminated it for at least a month, your body will most likely react in a more sensitive fashion than it did when you were eating gluten all the time. You were always sensitive, it’s just that the reaction is easier to detect when you have eliminated it for a while.

Please note however that the response can be delayed. Your reaction to gluten can occur anywhere from immediately upon its ingestion to up to 3 or 4 days later. It depends on which systems are affected most in your particular situation.

I have some patients experience migraines within a few hours. Others have soreness and swelling the next day and still others notice symptoms several days later. These are all legitimate reactions to gluten.

I hope this helps. Please feel free to contact me if I can be of further assistance.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of HealthNOW Medical CenterCo-author of “The Gluten Effect