Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Tummy Ache? You May have an Increased Risk for Celiac Disease

In the last few years there have been two major studies evaluating the incidence of celiac disease in the US military. The first study, 2010, revealed that the incidence actually quadrupled as the population aged. A soldier who was in his or her twenties likely had a 1% incidence of celiac disease but that same soldier’s risk rose to 4% as time passed and he moved into his fourth or fifth decade of life. The most recent study shows that incidence to quintuple – 5X as the soldiers aged.

The study, just released on May 15, 2012 in the American Journal of Gastroenterology is titled “The Incidence and Risk of Celiac Disease in a Healthy US Adult Population”. It puts the blame of the increased incidence on life stressors, including illnesses, surgeries and trauma.
Is this a new concept? Not to me or my team. We’ve been operating on this as the root cause of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity for quite some time. But finding a research study to corroborate our protocols is always a nice acknowledgement.

Now let’s get back to our favorite question: “Why”.

As Dr Alessio Fasano pointed out several years ago, the presence of gluten in the diet of someone at risk genetically for celiac disease is not enough for the disease to develop. The third ‘prong’ of the disease is an unhealthy small intestine.

A healthy small intestine actually has the wherewithal to prevent the gene responsible for celiac disease from expressing itself. How? The vast population of probiotics, or healthy bacteria in the gut, can, when healthy, keep bad genes turned off. It is only when these probiotics decrease in number and strength that their ability to suppress these bad genes becomes ineffective.
What does that mean for you and those you care about?

1.      You must realize that keeping your small intestine healthy is paramount to optimal health.

2.      Eating a very healthy diet is one of the most important steps you can take to ensure #1 above. Obviously it’s a big step to determine what’s most healthy for you, but I can help with that.

3.      Realize that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity can develop at any age and is more likely to occur with each passing decade. So get tested, and if your health is not doing well, continue to get tested because a negative test at age 35 could mean a positive test at age 40.

4.      The stressors that this study described as a cause for weakening the small intestine included such things as infections of the digestive tract, surgeries and trauma.
As an example of an infection, ‘gastroenteritis’ (meaning the ‘stomach flu’ as most people call it), was found to be highly linked to later development of celiac disease. So too were surgeries and trauma.
Does a truly healthy gut immune system get gastroenteritis (stomach flu)? Doubtful. This is perhaps why getting the stomach flu is a harbinger of celiac disease to come – that third prong, the unhealthy small intestine – has been activated. In such an ‘at risk’ individual, celiac disease is not far behind.

What is ‘trauma’? It could be a tough pregnancy, being a soldier at war, a car accident or even ‘mental’ stress such as a messy divorce or intense job stress. Clinically, after working with so many patients, we have been confident in the cause and effect relationship of these three initiators (infection, surgery and trauma) long before this study was released. But once again, it’s great to see it in print as corroboration.

5.      Look around at your family. Are there digestive issues, neurological problems such as migraines, depression, etc? Are autoimmune diseases present in your family? If so, you should get yourself tested as well as those whose health is not what it should be. One thing we DO know is that these diseases are genetic – looking to your family tree can help you and those you love discover if gluten is affecting your health before it has done permanent damage.

The most significant take-away from this study is this: Just because you’ve been tested for celiac disease once in your life doesn’t mean that you can’t develop it later. As a matter a fact your chances increase 5-fold that you will develop celiac with increased age. We don’t know yet how gluten sensitivity increases with age, but it’s my opinion that it also sees a dramatic increase with age and a lessening of overall health.
I believe that one of the biggest mistakes we make is ruling out celiac disease or gluten sensitivity after a single test. Not only are the tests available not as sensitive as they need to be, making false negatives an abundant problem, but a true negative today cannot rule out the potential of a positive test in the future.
Does this ring true for you? Did you develop a gluten problem as you got older or after a major life event involving infection, surgery or trauma?

I’d like to hear from you. Please send me your questions and comments.

If your health is not at the level you desire please contact me for a free health analysis. We are here to help!
Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally so you do not have to live locally to receive assistance.

Visit us at If you have questions or need any help, I’m here for you! C
all 408-733-0400.

I look forward to hearing from you.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN, CFMP

IFM Certified Practitioner

Founder of Root Cause Medical Clinic
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What You Don’t Know May Be Killing You!”


Kathy said...

Hi, Thank you for the good reading article. I gave up gluten just to see what would happen. 1 month into eating GF, my long standing (at least 6 years) brain fog went away. Nothing could have made me happier! I've had geographic tongue for 25 years and that has taken a hike. Also, after 2 months it seems that it is going to make me more regular and less constipated. I may never know "what" I have, but one thing for sure is that I am gluten intolerant. No problems for me to give it up. There is NO treat made of gluten that would mean more to me than my brain. Amen!

Kathy said...

I stopped eating gluten about 2 months ago. I did it because I want my husband and youngest daughter who have depression to go off of it to see if it would help. What a great surprise for me when after 1 month, my long standing, scary brain fog went away. I don't know when my brain was last this clear, maybe 7 or 8 years ago. I can't even tell you how happy I am with this discovery! Also my 25 yr with geographic tongue has taken a hike, and my BM are much more regular (less constipation, I have never had IB, or eating issues).
I with that there were more studies out there on gluten intolerance and neurological problems like dementia. My mom has dementia, and her mom and sister had it too. It is the saddest thing to watch someone you love have it. I now wonder, with my clear brain, if they all had a gluten problem. I vow to stay GF for life. There's just no food in this world that I would choose over having a healthy brain. It means the world to me that I found a cure for myself.
Thank you for your great article. I am going to forward it to my dad to start educating him. Maybe he'll get he and my mom off of gluten someday, I sure hope so.

Anonymous said...

I went off of gluten last November after four years of intense stomach pain and nausea. My doctor had done many, many tests with no results and even sent me to a gastrointestinologist. She only gave me pills to treat symptoms, not the cause. I believe strongly that my symptoms developed as a result of trauma and stress. Before my symptoms began, I was working through, for the first time, my childhood sexual abuse with a therapist. A couple years after the symptoms began, I tested positive for hypothyroidism. Since it seems my doctors were skeptical, I took the initiative to go off gluten myself after some research. My body is completely different now. Stomach pain and nausea gone. I just wished the doctors in my area would've given me this option. I lost too many years being sick.

Genghis said...

Can you send me a link to a food diary that you like that my daughter can use to track foods/snacks she eats and then document times and symptoms that she experiences?

We're trying to figure out triggers and to get with a gastroenterologist to figure out a diagnosis.

Thanks for your help,


The HealthNOW Doctors said...

Hello Genghis,
I don't have a specific food diary to recommend to you. Patients find different ones online and others prefer hand written versions.

Depending on what you daughter prefers to do, you can find many options and suggestions online.

Do understand that a food can create effects in the body for up to 4 days after ingestion.

If you are not getting the help you need, please don't hesitate to contact us for a free health analysis. If you'd like you can call us at 408-733-0400.

Dr Vikki

madel09 said...

Dear Dr Vikki, my 6 yr old has geographic tongue, severe constipation, often feels sick and has behaviour problems, our paediatrician says it's our parenting but with Ibs and celiac on both sides of her family I am wondering if this is in fact the culprit.

The HealthNOW Doctors said...

It very well could be your family history of celiac and IBS that is the true culprit. And I can't possibly imagine any parenting issue that would result in a geographic tongue...

Getting to the root cause of the problem should not be difficult.
We have great success in patients like your child.

I'm not sure where you live but consider calling us for a free health analysis - 408-733-0400. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally.

We are here to help!

I look forward to hearing from you.

Dr Vikki Petersen