Monday, June 24, 2013

Mild Gluten Sensitivities – How much Gluten is Safe to eat?

I am frequently asked how ‘careful’ someone has to be if they have gluten sensitivity. Those individuals suffering from celiac disease know, or should, that ANY gluten is too much. Their immune systems are highly sensitive and reactive, and dangerous contamination can literally be in the form of a crumb.

Those with gluten sensitivity are in a better condition. Gluten sensitivity is not considered an autoimmune disease; celiac, of course, is. Those with gluten sensitivity are often not reactive to small amounts of contamination… or are they?

In my opinion, there is no such thing as a ‘mild’ gluten sensitivity. You either are or you are not. And if you are sensitive, gluten in any form can be very deleterious to your health. The slightly insidious thing with gluten sensitivity, and sometimes for celiac sufferers as well, is that the reaction to gluten can be ‘silent’. But just because you can’t feel it, doesn't mean it isn't still having its evil way with you.

Sadly, irritation and inflammation to the nervous system and major organs of the body (yes, there is no organ spared according to research) can be free of obvious symptoms…initially. Once the damage progresses beyond a certain point, however you will then develop symptoms, but at the beginning you can be ignorant and by the time symptoms develop some major damage has occurred – meaning you can be formally diagnosed with a disease.

Obviously no one wants insidious, silent damage to be occurring to their body. That’s why it’s so critical to discover if you are really celiac or gluten sensitive. If you are, then there is no middle ground – you are and that means zero gluten.

What about individuals who aren't suffering from either condition but just notice they ‘feel better’ when they don’t eat gluten? In this case they either do have one of the conditions and it just hasn't been properly diagnosed, or the refined carbohydrate aspect of the grain is bothering them.
Do realize that:
1.       Gluten is a protein that no human properly digests, even if they don’t have celiac or gluten sensitivity. This is complete fact, not my opinion.
2.       The quality of gluten we tend to eat in this country is highly refined, processed and often laden with chemicals. It’s just not good quality food for anyone.

While in a perfect world I would love to have you tested while you are still eating gluten, I would never recommend a reintroduction if you have already stopped and notice that you feel better. My favorite test is a blood test from Cyrex Labs (I have no personal affiliation with this lab) because it is the most comprehensive one on the market.

If you have already stopped eating gluten, EnteroLab (I have no personal affiliation with this lab either) offers an online test that is easy to do and you don’t need to be eating gluten in order to achieve accurate results.
EnteroLab also offers a genetic test so you can find out if you carry the genes associated with celiac or gluten sensitivity.

Testing is my first choice, but if that’s not possible then conduct your own test – it’s free. Avoid gluten completely (100%) for 30 days. Make sure you know all the places gluten can hide such that your 30 day trial contains no slip-ups. Feel free to visit my website where I delineate the most common places gluten can hide.

Once your 30 days is complete, see how you feel. If you’ve noticed no change, then likely you aren’t sensitive. If you have noticed improvement in your symptoms, consider that you likely have one of these conditions. Remember, you can use the tests that don’t require you to eat gluten to be sure your analysis is correct – if that’s affordable for you. When you’re considering a permanent lifestyle change, saving a bit of money for the test that might provide you with the validation you need to continue your gluten-free life, could be worth it.

I hope this helps to answer this very common question. Gluten is just not something to play around with. If you’re sensitive and you eat a small amount even once per month, that’s too much. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Please realize that you aren’t doing yourself any favors being 80 or 90% gluten-free – at least not if you’re sensitive to it.

Honestly, I think it’s easier to completely stay away from it than continuing to torment yourself with occasional cheating.

Let me know if you have any questions. This is an important area to understand and I hope this post clears some things up. Remember that we are here to help. Regardless of where you live, we can offer you assistance. HealthNOW is a destination clinic and we treat patients from across the country and internationally.

If you want assistance consider calling us for a free health analysis – 408-733-0400.

I look forward to hearing from you.

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Gluten Free Doctor of the Year 2013
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Friday, June 21, 2013

Tired of the Gas and Bloating? Is it Gluten?

One of the most common symptoms that patients complain of is gas and bloating. Sometimes it’s associated with acid reflux or heartburn, and other times it comes along with constipation or diarrhea, but gas and bloating are very, very common.

Is it normal? Absolutely not. I don’t care how long you've had it, there is nothing normal about gas or bloating. There is a treatment that works and it’s completely natural.

For some people the symptom has been with them since childhood. As a child you may have complained of ‘tummy aches’ when the gas got too bad. Perhaps you remember these tummy aches, I know I do. Or perhaps you have a child who complains. This is not a symptom to ignore and personally I get a little peeved when parents casually mention the symptom but quickly add that the child’s teacher or their spouse believes the symptom is ‘made up’. No one enjoys pain and I rarely find that children are fabricating their symptoms.
So, regardless of your age, let’s discuss why gas and bloating occur.

Your digestive tract is a closed system with an opening at either end. Considering its length is almost 30 feet, that leaves a lot of potential room for trapped gas. When food is ingested it goes to the stomach where it is broken down somewhat and then it move on to the small intestine where full digestion occurs. Once a food is fully broken down, it leaves the small intestine via the bloodstream, where it is delivered as fuel to all the cells of the body.

If a food is not considered a good fuel by your body, it won’t be able to digest it properly. This is what occurs with the protein gluten. For those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, gluten is seen as a toxin that therefore becomes a burden to the small intestine. (It is interesting to note that the protein gluten is unable to be fully digested by any human, regardless of whether they have celiac or gluten sensitivity. It starts to make you wonder if we should really consider it a food...)

When a food is improperly digested it starts to putrefy within the small intestine. This creates gas, and built-up gas creates bloating. It’s a little like what occurs when something gets pushed to the back of your refrigerator and goes bad. If it’s in a plastic container, it will start to bulge and it’s definitely built up gas.
Do you feel overly full, uncomfortable or gassy after eating? This is not normal and it indicates that something that you’re eating is not being perceived as a good fuel. Is it a gluten sensitivity? Possibly. It could also be a dairy sensitivity or another food that’s bothering you.

An interesting catch-22 occurs when you don’t digest food properly. Over time you then don’t produce enough stomach acid and enzymes that are required to digest your food. You need enzymes and stomach acid to digest, but you make those things from the foods you eat – it can get quite circular.

In addition to discovering any food sensitivities, it is therefore important to discover if you do require any extra stomach acid (hydrochloric acid) or enzymes to assist you in regaining the proper balance within your intestine.

Another factor is your probiotic balance. These good bacteria help strengthen the immune system of the gut and destroy any pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms.
Lastly, those above mentioned infectious organisms can be in residence in the small intestine, and due to their less than hospitable intentions, can be creating inflammation that causes bloating and improper food digestion.
In summary:
1.       Gas and bloating is not normal
2.       Food sensitivities such as gluten and dairy can cause the problem
3.       Insufficient stomach acid and/or enzymes can also cause the symptoms
4.       Probiotic levels should be evaluated to ensure proper functioning of the intestine
5.       Intestinal infections can be present that prevent healing and perpetuate the symptoms
Treatment would look like this:
1.       Determine if you have any food sensitivities. Blood testing is a great place to start to rule out celiac disease but even if that test is negative, a 30 day gluten elimination diet will help you to determine if you have a problem. Sadly, our available tests are not perfect.
2.       For a dairy, corn or soy sensitivity – eliminate the foods for at least 2 weeks and then challenge one at a time allowing three days between challenges. Notice if you feel better off the foods and then what occurs when you reintroduce them. Remember that a reaction after reintroduction can occur anywhere from immediately up to 3 days later.
3.       Once you have determined any food sensitivities, if the gas and bloating is continuing and it tends to be something you feel shortly after eating, try some hydrochloric acid. Get a good one from a reputable health food store or your doctor. You may need to titrate it up a bit to find the proper dosage, but if it’s what you need you’ll be able to tell relatively quickly.
4.       If your symptoms tend to occur about an hour or so after meals, try pancreatic enzymes first. Much like the stomach acid, you may need to titrate the dose up to find what works for you.
5.       Probiotics are always a safe bet, just use human strains of different organisms at a high strength. Once again, your doctor or reputable health food store is your best source.
6.       Determining the presence of any infectious organisms requires a lab test. We use a lab that looks for an abundance of different bacteria, parasites, amoeba, etc. Often a traditional medical stool test only looks for a couple of parasites. This is not what I’m referring to. You want a comprehensive test. The good news about this test is that it also evaluates your probiotic and enzyme levels.

What’s interesting is how all the above points are inter-related. The food sensitivity often starts the problem and the rest of them follow as a result.

Please realize that gas and bloating go beyond discomfort or embarrassment when gas passes. These symptoms are an indicator of poor digestive function. If you cannot turn your food into proper fuel, there truly is no way the rest of your body can be healthy.

If you have any of these symptoms and are having difficulty remedying them, you are welcome to contact us for a free health analysis. Just call 408-733-0400.

We are a destination clinic, meaning that we treat patients from across the country and internationally. You don’t need to live locally to receive assistance.

Please share this information with those you know. It’s certainly not ‘dinner table’ discussion, but it’s extremely important for overall health and many who are suffering either don’t know it’s abnormal, or they don’t know that it’s correctable without dangerous drugs.
I look forward to hearing your questions.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN

Friday, June 14, 2013

Migraine Awareness Month – Is there a Gluten Link?

There are several diseases and conditions for which the medical profession in our country states there is no cure. IBS, eczema, depression and migraines are just some of those conditions. It’s frustrating enough to be plagued with one of these problems, but to be told there’s no cure and the best that can be done is taking a dangerous drug from the rest of your life, would truly make anyone depressed.
Since June is National Migraine Awareness Month, I thought that we'd share the success rate we have with migraines here at HealthNOW.
Over the two decades we've been treating patients with headaches and migraines, we have been delighted at the excellent results we achieve regardless of the severity and duration of the problem. We have vastly improved and eliminated many migraines that have been completely debilitating.
What's our secret? One thing it isn't is a pill. Drugs given for migraines can alleviate the pain but they are not a cure and they never resolve the underlying reason that the headaches have occurred.
We find that migraines tend to be multifactorial, meaning they have at their root cause more than one factor. The most common contributing factors, that once resolved, lead to successful migraine eradication are as follows:
1. A structural or neurological component that affects the nerves in the neck or head. This can occur from pinched nerves in the neck, head or TMJ (jaw). Whether it is due to an injury or just the build-up of minor life stress, we consider it mandatory that any migraine sufferer be evaluated for nerve irritation. Missing this can result in unsuccessful treatment.
2. Food sensitivities - whether it's gluten, dairy, MSG or some other food, we almost always find that a food is contributing to the condition. Gluten and dairy are definitely at the top of the list because they have known associations with nerve irritation.
The difficulty in determining what food is the culprit lies in the misunderstanding of how a food reacts with the nervous system. Patients, and doctors for that matter, often assume that a  migraine precipitated by eating a certain food would occur within an hour or so of ingesting the food in question. The facts are that when it comes to food sensitivities such as gluten and dairy,  it can be many hours or days after eating the food before a migraine is triggered.
Obviously this makes it difficult to determine the cause. But not impossible, of course, as this is one of the major issues we find affecting migraine sufferers. We prefer to do a lab test to rule out celiac disease or gluten sensitivity first, and then we follow-up with a 30 day elimination of both gluten and dairy products.
3. Hormonal imbalance - some women get migraines around there menstrual cycle (typically due to insufficient progesterone). These migraines are triggered at the time of the month when the sex hormones naturally fall, but in women with migraines the fall is too steep and the result is a migraine. Normalization of these hormone levels is not difficult and we see outstanding success in those women willing to make some lifestyle changes.
Hormonal imbalance can also originate from the adrenal glands, the stress glands, which can also precipitate migraines when malfunctioning. The good news is that the program to normalize the adrenal glands is a completely natural one, no drugs are needed.
These are the top causes I have seen time and time again that should be addressed when dealing with migraines. The success rate when these are normalized is quite high.
Some of the ‘classic’ migraine triggers mentioned in the literature such as weather changes, aged cheeses, bright light or loud sounds, we find, can be acting as an exacerbator, but are less the true cause than what we mention above.
Migraines are miserable. I personally suffered with them for over a decade. I was told at the time that I had them because my mother had them. Well, once we both removed gluten from our diets and got some great chiropractic care, guess what? Neither one of us ever had another migraine. My mother had been suffering for well over 4 decades by that time.
If you know of someone suffering with migraines, please alert them to this data. We are more than happy to offer them a free health analysis to determine if we can help. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally. So you don’t need to live locally to receive assistance.

There is always a reason the body is giving symptoms. Migraines are awful. Find out the real reason your body is creating them and rid yourself of the misery!

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Gluten Free Doctor of the Year 2013
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”

Monday, June 03, 2013

Celiac Aside, Is Self-Treating with a Gluten Free Diets the Right Thing to Do?

While the existence of gluten sensitivity is, at this point well established, I wanted to write this post to address a common misconception. And that is that some people adopt a gluten-free diet who perhaps don’t need to.

Just a few weeks ago, a study was published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology.The authors wanted to address the topic of people adopting a gluten-free diet without a celiac diagnosis.

Dr Murray and his team from the Mayo Clinic evaluated 137 patients on a self-treated gluten free diet and compared them with 443 patients with known celiac disease. Those on the self-treated diet had a history of diarrhea, abdominal distention, flatulence, cramping, itchy skin, oral inflammation and constipation. These symptoms were more frequent in this group as compared to those with celiac who presented with more anemia and malaise (fatigue).

Upon testing it was discovered that 2% of those self-treated patients actually had celiac disease and 59% of them carried the gene for celiac disease. This was compared to 94% of those with confirmed celiac disease who carried the genes.

Interestingly, both groups had the same incidence of celiac disease in their families.

As far as gaining benefit from the gluten free diet, both groups had an extremely high response rate – 98% with the celiac patients and 94% with the self-treated group.

What does this mean? It means that individuals do not adopt a gluten-free diet just for the heck of it, as is sometimes implied. But rather, they have intelligently discovered for themselves, whether due to a missed celiac diagnosis or a missed gluten sensitivity, that their body does much better gluten-free.

Do you follow a gluten-free diet despite no formal diagnosis? If so, do not doubt your decision or self awareness. You are doing the right thing!

I hope this was helpful and validating if you fall into this category. Studies such as these will start to show the true incidence of gluten sensitivity in our society and give credence to those who have chosen to follow a gluten-free diet despite no formal celiac diagnosis.

If your health is not to the level you desire, please consider calling us for a free health analysis.

If you don’t live locally, that isn't a problem. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally. We are here to help!

To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Gluten Free Doctor of the Year 2013
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”


Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology. 2013 Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print] Human Leukocyte Antigen Genetics and Clinical Features of Self-treated Patients on a Gluten-free Diet.