Is Gluten Making You Sick?
Is the gluten craze just a fad or is gluten actually making you sick?
I have a confession: I get a huge kick out of hearing ignorant comments about gluten. Of course, informed, educated statements are one thing, but proclamations claiming this “whole gluten free era” is nothing more than a widespread delusion, fad, or trend is laughable! And, when the same (uneducated) individuals are asked, “so, what IS gluten?”, they typically answer, “Um, I don’t really know, but I think it’s like the wheat in bread and stuff.”
On the flip side, another group of individuals has given up gluten, but they have no clue as to why they don’t eat it. They just heard it was bad for them. Even more classic!
Gluten. What is it?
According to Wikipedia, gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue”) is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye.
Gluten gives bread its fluffy, airy texture and is also used as a stabilizing agent in many processed foods. Gluten is in everything from beauty products to packaged foods – and can also be found in many vitamins, supplements, and medications.
Gluten is not what it used to be.
In the late 1960s, gluten was hybridized, crossbred, and re-engineered to increase the supply of grains. According to cardiologist Dr. William Davis, author of the book, Wheat Belly, today’s hybridized wheat contains sodium azide, a known toxin. Gluten also goes through a gamma irradiation process during manufacturing. Our bodies no longer digest gluten and when you understand more about it, it makes sense why that is.
What is Celiac disease and how does it differ from gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance?
Celiac disease, one of the most common autoimmune diseases, can be diagnosed with a blood test and confirmed with a biopsy of the small intestines. It involves an immune reaction that is severe and sudden. Celiac disease can also be associated with other autoimmune conditions such as thyroid disease and diabetes.
Gluten sensitivity has a slower onset than Celiac and a very broad range of symptoms, such as gastrointestinal disturbances, fatigue, migraines, or even mood changes. Gluten sensitivity can be much harder to diagnose than Celiac, as the symptoms may be both mild and delayed.
When people with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity consume gluten, their immune system receives a message that there is a foreign invader in the bloodstream. But, instead of attacking the gluten invader, the immune system becomes overactive and attacks the human body. Unfortunately, the attack is not limited to the intestinal tract – it can attack the joints, brain, organs, nerves, cells, muscles, etc.
Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity
According to Amy Meyers, MD, more than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten. And, it is estimated that as much as 15 percent of the US population is gluten intolerant.
Could you be one of them?
Meyers suggests that if you suffer from any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign that you are gluten intolerant:
Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation.
Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends to be a result of a fatty acid and vitamin A-deficiency, secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.
Fatigue, brain fog, or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Graves, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple Sclerosis.
Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or a feeling of being off balance.
Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS, or unexplained infertility.
Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses indicate your conventional doctor cannot pinpoint the cause of your fatigue or pain.
Inflammation, swelling, or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees, or hips.
Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and ADD.
Symptoms of Celiac disease:
Anemia, usually resulting from iron deficiency.
Loss of bone density (osteoporosis) or softening of bone (osteomalacia).
Itchy, blistery skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis).
Damage to dental enamel.
Headaches and fatigue.
Nervous system injury, including numbness and tingling in the feet and hands, and possible problems with balance.
Reduced functioning of the spleen (hyposplenism).
Acid reflux and heartburn.
Reasons to go gluten-free
The Journal of the American Medical Association found that individuals with Celiac disease or gluten sensitivity have a much higher risk of death than those who are disease- and sensitivity-free. The study looked at 30,000 patients from 1969 to 2008 and examined death rate in three groups: those with Celiac, those with inflamed intestines, and those with gluten sensitivity (or elevated gluten antibodies). The findings were surprising. The individuals with full-blown Celiac had a 39 percent higher risk of death. The patients with gut inflammation related to gluten had a 72 percent higher risk of death, and those with gluten sensitivity had a 35 percent increased risk of death.
The reasons to ditch gluten are endless, but the bottom line is this: gluten is very inflammatory to your gut. Your gut is your immune system and when it becomes inflamed, it no longer works, leaving us very susceptible to illness and disease.
Don’t miss the health benefits of going gluten-free (GF):
Take care to fully remove gluten from your diet. Gluten is hidden in many foods, especially processed and packaged foods.
Know that if you don’t remove gluten for a long enough period of time and allow your gut to heal, you will not experience the health benefits. This process can take months depending on the level of inflammation. If your immune system is reacting to gluten, even trace amounts will cause an immune reaction.
While you may be successful at removing gluten, some people start reaching for far too many “gluten-free” foods, which they wrongly assume must be healthy because they don’t contain gluten. A cookie is a cookie, folks. A pizza is a pizza. GF does NOT equal healthy!
What should you do about the gluten in your life?
It is estimated that 30 percent of people are sensitive to gluten and that 1 in 100 people suffer from full-blown Celiac disease. Those numbers are rising.
The single best way to determine if you are gluten intolerant or if gluten is having a negative effect on your body is to remove it from your diet for at least 30 days (90 days for best results), then reintroduce it.
Christa Orecchio, renowned clinical nutritionist says, “Avoid gluten like the plague. Gluten is overly-acid, genetically-modified, overproduced, and, more often than not, devoid of nutrients (especially in the U.S.). In the US, our wheat contains three times the amount of gluten than the wheat in Europe or South America. It is overly acidic and causes immune antibody production in those with elevated TPO (thyroid antibodies) levels. There are so many other options today.”
Each day, millions of Americans reap the benefits of going gluten-free. For some, going gluten-free means curing themselves of an “incurable” disease or managing an underlying autoimmune disease such as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), arthritis, or Graves’ disease. People consume gluten, but it’s not necessary or healthful. It’s simple: when you remove the thing that is causing your gut to become inflamed and your immune system has a chance to settle down and regain its strength, your body will thank you. You’ll begin to return to health – your natural state – once again.
If you still think that gluten-free is just a fad, here is my advice to you: set aside your emotions and gluten-free frustrations and listen to this:
Please don’t let social media tell you if you’re gluten intolerant; let your body tell you.
Most people who adopt a gluten-free lifestyle eat a clean diet. Avoiding gluten can lead to eating far fewer simple carbohydrates as well as fewer processed sugars. Regardless, whether or not you are allergic or intolerant to gluten, the fact is that gluten is inflammatory. And inflammation is the gateway to disease.
Trust me, I’ve read the studies and consulted with the experts. Gluten can make people very ill – that’s been proven. More importantly, I have witnessed many of my clients, friends, and family members as they reap the health benefits of ditching gluten. The debate has been settled by multiple scientists and experts and re-confirmed by millions and millions of individuals whose entire lives have been changed by adopting a GF lifestyle.
So, is there something to this whole GF thing? Um, yes, ma’am. Yes, sir. Definitely. I’ve lived it.
Who are you to say otherwise until you have really given it a try?
What do you have to lose? Weight, headaches, body aches, low energy, bloating, or inflammation??
Lighten your load. The proof is in the pudding. Gluten-free pudding, that is!