Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Keeping it simple - The truths about gluten sensitivity


Sometimes it’s good to go back to basics.  There are certain “truths” when it comes to gluten that truly cannot be overstated.
  1. We, as humans, cannot properly digest the protein gluten.  Does that mean no one?  Yes.  Does that mean that no one should be eating it? Probably.  Does that mean that every human is gluten intolerant?  I don’t know about that one, but I am suspicious that may very well be the case.  Imagine if in 100 years humans look back at this time period when we “thought” eating wheat was good for us as a time when we were greatly misinformed.  Wouldn’t that be interesting?
  2. For a significant part of the population eating any amount of gluten can be likened to consuming a poison.  The damage may occur more slowly but occur it does.
  3. Gluten seems to be an underlying root cause of autoimmune disease.  While there is much in the research about this, clinically we too see it time after time with our patients and their families.  What is most interesting with autoimmune is that the disease that affects one family member can be different from other members.  Point in fact the patient I just saw is gluten sensitive.  Her daughter has thyroid disease, she has osteoporosis, her sister has an autoimmune nervous system disease and her mother had dementia.  Another gluten sensitive patient has arthritis, diabetes and osteoporosis in her family tree. Autoimmune disease is a definite red flag that should cause an individual to evaluate the possible role that gluten is contributing.
  4. While we now know that celiac disease incidence (and likely gluten sensitive incidence as well) increases with age, many children are being negatively affected by gluten.  If all pediatricians and parents knew the signs of celiac and gluten sensitivity we could prevent a lot of health problems in our next generation.
  5. You know the expression “it takes a village”?  I believe that is highly accurate when it comes to successfully avoiding gluten. I’m constantly giving patients good ideas of how to get through life gluten-free.  After almost 20 years of doing this I should have many good ideas!  But my ideas and helpful hints are not enough.  Individuals need to have support.  Whether it’s a formal support group or a website or helping others whom you know discover that they too are gluten intolerant, working to have people around you who understand why you eat and live the way you do is critical.  Here at my clinic we are launching a support group next month for patients and non-patients alike.  I’m also launching a new website in the near future that will have many more tools to support those leading or needing to lead a gluten-free life.

I’m very, very excited about the New Year.  There are so many exciting new things on the horizon including new lab tests, new educational tools and new research findings.

Please do let me know what I can do to make your journey easier.  I am here to help. 
HealthNOW is a destination clinic and we see patients from all over the country as well as internationally. If you want to improve your health consider calling us for a free health analysis - call 408-733-0400.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Co-author of the bestselling “The Gluten Effect”

6 comments:

Janet said...

A support group is a great idea - it helps to not feel alone in this gluten-free journey. I also look forward to your new website. You have been such a help to me over the year since I was diagnosed with celiac disease. I really appreciate you and the work you are doing. Thanks and Happy New Year! Regards Janet NZ

Leslie said...

Please keep this blog going. It's so very important to get the word out about how harmful gluten is to some people. So many people like me with autoimmune diseases can have their lives totally changed around by avoiding gluten. I have an inflammatory arthritis which is likely seronegative RA. I also have hypothyroidism. I have felt human again since avoiding gluten. Your blog is very beneficial and educational. Enough can't be said about the damage gluten can do to our bodies. Thank you for this blog and I look forward to reading more this year :)

Bethany said...

If someone determines they are gluten sensitive but does not resolve to remove gluten, are there long term consequences in addition to the current symptoms they face?

Bethany said...

Are there any further consequences for not following a gluten free diet once you have determined your current symptoms are from gluten. In other words, if you have determined that you can live with your current symptoms, could there be further complications down the road if you don't go gluten free

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

@BEthany:
Yes there are many long term consequences, including amongst them a shorter life expectancy and increased risk of dying from all causes.

Gluten is a toxin that will potentially wreck havoc on most systems of the human body.

If one is sensitive to it, the long term issues go way beyond the current symptoms that the person feels.

Anonymous said...

I have a hypothyroid and for 10 years I have been blaming my symptoms on my dysfunctional thyroid despite the good TSH and T4 levels. So why these symptoms, BLOATING, mild joint pain, brain fogginess, lethargy and BLOATING. I hated to go to gathering because I did not know what to wear with that distended tummy.
I have always been a bread eater; my grandmother made bread, my mother makes bread and it is nothing like it. Being a scientist (Ph.D. in Peptide Chemistry) has helped me link my symptoms to my food intake, the day I ate more bread, did not matter if whole wheat or white I have found out that my symptoms were augmented especially the BLOATING. I suspected gluten sensitivity however the test for Gliadin AB came back negative after loading up on bread for 2-3 weeks. I was really happy, now I can eat bread without fear. I was still miserable and so unhealthy, even my 82 yr old mother seemed healthier.
A heavenly intervention and spending two days reading articles and watching YouTube videos helped discover the cause.
About my divine intervention, I was going through some stressful situation in my life (additional to the stress from eating bread) and I said I am going to fast for the Virgin Mary to intercedes and ask Jesus for help in my stressful situation. My grandmother (who is Armenian) used to fast on bread and water only back in the old country (Nineveh-Iraq) and I wanted to do the same. So I started fasting on Wed and Fri eating nothing but bread and drinking tea. By the end of those days I was extremely miserable with extreme BLOATING and migraine headache for which I had to take advil and just go to sleep. It took me about two months to finally make an appointment with a Gastroenterologist. So this was the divine intervention from my protector and Heavenly Mother, Mary, to point at the bread as the source of my ailment.
So I went to the Gastroenterologist. She recommended that I take Align, an OTC probiotic. I took the first dose and felt better within 1-2 hrs, I noticed a reduction in the bloating. She also recommended to stop eating bread for 2 weeks to see the effect. I had not mentioned to her the: mild joint pain, brain fogginess, lethargy, I only told her about the BLOATING, I did not think of it. She mentioned a very interesting thing about another patient who has similar symptoms like mine, BLOATING. When this patient goes to India and eats bread there, she does not have the symptoms, only when she is back to the States where she experiences the symptoms back again.
So this is where you come into play. I took two days August 1st and 2nd, off from work and read articles and watched YouTube videos. It was an eye opener and it saved my life.
I read also something about the bread making process. We humans cannot digest Gliadin, so who is going to do it foe us? I have to say, my Grandmother and my mother never liked the bread we buy from the market and I had no idea why. They made their own bread and no one complained after eating it. The way they made it was a Loooooooong process. As a peptide chemist now I have an appreciation for a looooooooong fermentation process. The loooooooong fermentation process will digest the Gliadin FOR US into its smallest constituent, the amino acids, which do not promote harmful immune reactions. There are scientific papers to support the complete digestion into amino acids. On the other hand, the short fermentation process which all marketed breads are made by produce partial digestion which leads to the formation of peptides which are highly immunogenic and hence all the horrible and miserable symptoms.
So now after 2 weeks of eliminating bread: the bloating has diminished considerably, I have no pain in my finger joints, no tingling in my fingers and toes, my energy is high, no brain fog which made me feel stupid.
After one month of bread free diet, I will make old fashioned loooooooong fermented bread and I will evaluate its toxicity by monitoring my symptoms.

Sincerely,
Nahla
New Jersey