Gluten Intolerance + Celiac Disease= Confusion

We know that gluten intolerance, or an intolerance to barley, wheat, oat and rye, is on the rise. Approximately 1% of North Americans have known celiac disease, while many more appear to be gluten intolerant, suffering in silence.

I meet patients everyday, confused by the concept of gluten, gluten intolerance and celiac disease. I understand the confusion. How can “whole grains” ever be considered unhealthy?

From personal experience and now, through my practice, I am astounded by the impact gluten may have on some people. I have had patients remove gluten from their diet and find themselves allergy free, able to reverse longstanding autoimmunity, lose weight, improve hormone balance, cure ADHD and clear acne.

How can one protein have so much power? Why the seemingly sudden rise in Gluten Intolerance and Celiac Disease?

Fast Facts
1. Celiac disease is an inherited condition, caused by genetic and environmental factors.

2. Celiac Disease is often confirmed through blood testing of certain antibodies and/or biopsy of the small intestine.

3. Symptoms of Celiac Disease include poor growth, weight loss, presence of additional autoimmune illnesses, and diarrhea.

4. Atypical Celiac, or Gluten Intolerance is more difficult to diagnose and often does not show up in regular lab work.

5. Gold standard for gluten intolerance diagnosis is an Elimination of gluten for at least 8 weeks.

I believe the rise of gluten intolerance worldwide is the culmination of the Industrial Age attempt to package and process our food. Gluten has been used as fillers and dusters. It has been processed with chemicals like bromide, that attack the neuroendocrine system. Forget bread and pasta, it should probably now be labelled a Food Additive.

While we all fight to reclaim our food, I think most of us should be at least cutting back on gluten.

5 Quick Tips
1. Read labels, try to minimize purchase of packaged and processed foods.

2. Keep total gluten intake to no more than 2 servings per day.

3. Hidden gluten- don’t forget the hidden gluten in beer, wine, soy sauce, dressings, and marinades.

4. Minimize eating out- restaurants
at all price points use a lot of gluten in their food, unless otherwise specified.

5. Get tested- if you are having symptoms or suspect that you may have a gluten issue, either attempt an elimination with physician supervision or have your doctor discuss testing.

More on the History of Gluten Intolerance and the global epidemic….next time!

Nutrients. 2012 Apr 4(4) 243-247
Am J Gastroenterol. 2012 May 15

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