What’s the Big Deal with Gluten Sensitivity Anyway?

Many books have been written on gluten sensitivity. Here I will briefly highlight some of the issues encountered with gluten problems. Sources of gluten include:

  • Wheat
  • Spelt
  • Kamut
  • Rye
  • Barley
  • Oats (that aren’t from a gluten free farm)

There are also hidden sources of gluten that need to be evaluated for those with gluten sensitivities. Some hidden sources of gluten are:

  • Soy sauce
  • Food starches
  • Food emulsifiers
  • Food stabilizers
  • Dextrose
  • Malt extracts
  • Malt flavors
  • Malt Syrup
  • Artificial food colorings…..what color are your pills?

An article in Gut. 2006, estimated that the current ratio of clinically diagnosed to undetected cases of Celiac Disease (CD) is approximately 1 to 8. A 2010 article in Gastroenterology has shown that the prevalence of CD has increased dramatically and not simply due to increased detection. It went on to say that undiagnosed CD maybe associated with increased mortality. In the past 50 years, CD has grown from 1 in 700 to 1 in 100; the question is why? There are factors that lead to the increased incidence of CD. Some of those factors are:

  • Genetically Modified Foods (GMO)
  • Gluten storage in bins for extended periods of time, leading to contamination
  • Leaky Gut
  • Chronic Stress-decreasing immune tolerance
  • Poor Nutrition
  • Enzyme Insufficiency
  • Gluten Deamination- (making it water soluble)

All these factors can lead to autoimmune antibodies which are common in CD and can affect Endocrine, Gastrointestinal, Neurological and Cytoskeletal antibodies, meaning all these systems can have an autoimmune reaction/dysfunction. This specifically comes into play with those individuals affected by Thyroid issues, specifically Hashimotos Thyroiditis. We frequently associate Gluten sensitivity with intestinal issues but CD can be associated with Osteopenia, Osteoporosis, and Osteomalacia. When specifically looking at the Transglutaminases, a breakdown of gluten, these molecules can be involved in Neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s Disease, just to name a few. It should be noted that psychiatric illness has been observed to be a primary cause of disability with undiagnosed CD as well as ADHD. As I mentioned earlier, this blog could turn into a book, but I will leave you with some final thoughts. Migraine’s, Rheumatoid Arthritis, obesity, fatigue, diabetes, depression, menstrual/reproductive health, and immune dysregulation can all be affected by reactions to gluten. There are specific comprehensive test that can be performed to evaluate gluten sensitivity. If you suspect a gluten problem you can avoid ALL gluten containing products, and possibly dairy and corn, for at least a 21 day period. If your symptoms change, you may want to seek further evaluation. Fresh and Natural has a wide variety of gluten free products, and the staff is happy to give you ideas for gluten alternatives. Let us know how we can help! Wishing you all a happy and healthy fall.
Paul A. Westby DC, DACBN

Author: Dr. Paul Westby

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