Hämtat från Dr Cynthia Leeders hemsida

It is estimated that up to 40% of our population is gluten sensitive.  That means that one out of four (4) people are sensitive to gluten.  Celiac disease afflicts 1% of the population - these numbers are world wide. All celiacs are gluten sensitive, but not all those with gluten sensitivity are celiac.

What is gluten?

 

Gluten is the elastic, rubbery protein present in wheat, rye, barley and to a lesser degree in oats. It binds the dough in foods such as bread and other baked goods. It contributes to spongy consistency. Rice and maize do not contain gluten.

 

However, gluten is only one protein found in wheat, rye and barley. These foods, like all other foods, contain a number of discreet proteins that all can result in adverse reactions, including allergies. 

 

For example, wheat protein comprises 4 main groups of proteins: water-soluble, salt-soluble, alcohol-soluble and alcohol-insoluble. The major proteins in wheat-albumin, globulin, gliadin and glutenin (gluten)-vary in proportion according to the type of wheat.

 

It is also found in processed foods derived from wheat, barley, rye, and oats.  Breads, cereals, and pastas are rich in gluten.  Other foods and/or food additives can be derived from gluten containing grains.  Examples include soy sauce, gravies, soups, whiskey, and modified food starch.  Traditional medical thought is that the protein gluten interacts with some people’s immune systems causing an autoimmune reaction which damages the intestine.  However, newer research is identifying that the protein gluten is only part of the problem.  Some scientists argue that many grains (including corn) can create similar reactions.

So what is the difference between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity?

Celiac disease (also spelled “coeliac”) is an immune reaction, a severe sudden onset allergic reaction, to the protein called gluten. While celiac disease is initially an autoimmune disorder, it is also a disease of malabsorption, because essential nutrients are not absorbed. Therefore one of the most devastating symptoms of long-term undiagnosed celiac disease is malnutrition.

Gluten intolerance is a word used by different people to mean 2 different things. This can make the area confusing. Most doctors state “intolerance” as being celiac and yet many people who are not celiac and have severe reactions to wheat (negative tests), will say they are intolerant. Again, it is a word that is used in two ways. If you have an auto-immune reaction to gluten, you are celiac.

Then we have the word “gluten sensitivity” that is again used by many people to mean they are sensitive, have a reaction or an allergy- not celiac though. There is a clear cut difference from a gluten sensitive individual than a celiac. Celiac is an auto immune disease. Some celiacs yet are more sensitive than others to gluten and have more of  a “reaction” to gluten when it is ingested. 

All people with celiac disease are gluten sensitive, but not all gluten sensitive people have celiac.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease, caused by and intolerance to the protein in specific grains, however people with lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, and many other autoimmune diseases do not necessarily have celiac disease, but they are gluten sensitive. Considering that all autoimmune diseases taken as a whole are the third leading cause of death, increasing one’s risk by 5 times gluten might be considered is a very poor idea in one’s diet.

Both celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and gluten sensitivity can be really revved up by emotional stress, infection, surgery, pregnancy and childbirth. Every individual with some level of gluten intolerance or allergy may experience different shades of symptoms, which explains the challenge for medical practitioners to diagnose.

What are the symptoms associated with gluten?

In North America alone, thousands of Americans are suffering from digestive problems, obesity, fatigue, depression, arthritis, migraines and more. The traditional approach to dealing with these conditions varies, but bottom line is that they are treated unsuccessfully, with some kind of medication, usually.

The major problem here is that undiagnosed celiac disease and gluten sensitivity creates symptoms that go beyond just digestive problems.  The reason for this is that gluten is a toxin to the digestive system, specifically the small intestine to those who are sensitive to it.  As that toxin it slowly erodes and destroys the small intestine.  It is the small intestine’s responsibility to take the food we eat and convert into fuel the body needs to feed its cells, including the bones, brain, heart, etc. So, if the intestine is unable to break down the food we eat and convert it into fuel, eventually the cells begin to deteriorate due to lack of nutrients, and with cell deterioration, comes the deterioration of health. 

So what are the specific symptoms?  (these can be from celiac and gluten sensitivity):

  1. Weight loss or weight gain

  2. Nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption—e.g., low iron levels

  3. Gastrointestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)

  4. Fat in the stools (due to poor digestion)

  5. Aching joints

  6. Depression

  7. Eczema /rashes

  8. Headaches

  9. Exhaustion

  10. Irritability and behavioral changes

  11. Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage

  12. Cramps, tingling and numbness

  13. Slow infant and child growth

  14. Decline in dental health

  15. Brain fog

  16. Difficulty focusing

  17. Eye problems

  18. Hair loss

  19. Heartburn/GERD

  20. Asthmatic conditions

  21. Male pattern baldness

  22. Osteoporosis

  23. Iron Deficiency

  24. Chronic hip pain (not associated with any accident)

 

There are now over 180 recognized symptoms currently identified with gluten sensitivity.  These symptoms are seemingly “common” and who would think they would be connected to gluten!  Then there are the more obvious “serious” conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, alopecia areata, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and other autoimmune diseases that are all linked to gluten. The marvelous thing about this is that many of these conditions can be completely reversed just by getting off gluten.  One major problem is that gluten is so invasive and harmful to one who is sensitive (that includes celiac and allergies and sensitivity to gluten) that one bite can take anywhere from 8 months to 2 years for the damage to the intestinal track to be healed, and the damage is cumulative.

Most people don’t realize that 82% of the entire immune system depends on the health of the gastrointestinal system, or gut.  The traditional approach is to give drugs.  The problem is that the drugs only act as a bandaid, masking the problem but doing nothing to address the root cause.  In fact the drugs actually negate the whole concept that there IS a root cause.

So How is this Diagnosed?

 

The proper tools must be used to accurately diagnose gluten sensitivity.  Relying solely on a biopsy can delay a diagnosis for several years.  I have seen people with obvious symptoms, but because their medical doctor said that the biopsy came back negative, gluten is not the cause of their problems, so they go on eating gluten creating more and more problems.  Blood antibody tests provide a better degree of accuracy but still have a great degree of false negatives.  Genetic testing offers the greatest degree of accuracy and when combined with a patient’s history and examination a diagnosis can be made early and accurately.  However, the greatest tool is patient improvement.  If a person starts to feel better on a gluten free diet it doesn’t matter what blood tests or biopsies reveal.  No test is going to confirm whether or not a person feels better off the grains except just getting off the grains.

In our office we specialize in getting to the root cause of health problems. And while we're not saying that all health problems are a result of gluten sensitivity, so many are and it is missed 99% of the time. This is why we specialize in the area of gluten sensitivity.  This is why everyone is initially taken off gluten grains when doing a cleansing or detoxing diet.

 

So now that I can’t eat gluten, and gluten is in everything, what can I eat?

 

Now add to the lack of awareness of gluten being the problem the fact that once patients are diagnosed they aren't very happy about the change they need to make in their diet.  In our office we understand the difficulties involved in changing one’s diet so drastically.  We have printed cookbooks, teach cooking classes and help to design menus if desired.  We will actually go to one’s home to help them  clean up their kitchen, go shopping and become gluten free.


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