Questions and Answers on Gluten – Part 2

September 24, 2014 Updated: September 24, 2014

1. What are the Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity?

The inflammatory and autoimmune responses that arise from gluten sensitivity can impact almost any organ system, including your brain, muscles, skin, and bones, your liver and heart, and your endocrine system.

Here are the more common symptoms:

  • General vague feeling of unwellness
  • Unexplained health problems
  • Fatigue
  • Aches and Pains
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Recurrent canker sores
  • Gastro-intestinal symptoms
    • Nausea, gas, bloating, digestive upset, diarrhea, constipation and abdominal pain
  • Neurological symptoms
    • Numbness in the extremities, impairment in mental functioning, depression
  • Dermatological symptoms
    • Rashes, itching, blistering
  • Gynecological symptoms
    • Infertility, early menopause

2. What Diseases are Associated With Gluten Sensitivity?

As I said above, gluten sensitivity can affect any organ system.

A review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten.

Here are the common disease associations

  • Auto-immune diseases
  • Thyroid disease
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Lupus
  • Addison’s disease
  • Autoimmune liver disease
  • Sjorgren’s disease
  • Type 1 (autoimmune) diabetes
  • Multiple sclerosis

Gastro-intestinal diseases

  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel Syndrome

Neurological diseases

3. Is it Possible to Develop a Gluten Sensitivity in Adulthood?

It is not unusual for people to develop gluten sensitivity and even celiac disease later in life and although it’s well described, it’s currently unclear exactly why this happens.

4. How is it Diagnosed?

The hallmark of a celiac diagnosis is either having specific antibodies in the blood or damage to the intestinal villi in the small intestine when a biopsy is done.

The classic antibodies checked in the blood are

  • IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
  • IgG anti-gliadin antibodies
  • IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
  • Tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA and IgG )

But both of these are often negative with gluten sensitivity!

Therefore the best test for gluten sensitivity is to eliminate gluten completely from your diet for 2-4 weeks and see how you feel. But you must eliminate gluten completely including all the hidden sources.

Then after the 2-4 weeks, you introduce it again and see how you feel. You will know if you have a gluten sensitivity as some of the symptoms which had disappeared will come back.

5. What do you Suggest?

My experience has shown me that eliminating gluten grains helps at least three quarters of the patients who come in to see me as it decreases their “total load”. It seems to give their system a break and makes it easier for them to recover from whatever they have. This could be because their body is expending less energy to deal with this hard to digest protein, giving it more energy to do other processes.

So my suggestion to anyone who thinks they may be sensitive to gluten is to eliminate it from their diet and see how they feel. Gluten sensitivity has such far reaching effects in the body — going without it is one relatively easy path to explore and it will be worth it to your health in the end. I promise, removing gluten from your diet isn’t as difficult as it seems. You can have a perfectly natural, delicious, and nutritious diet without gluten. There are many gluten free grains to choose from….rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, buckwheat.

6. Can I Eat Oats?

Oats, although considered a gluten grain, does not contain the “gliadin” protein that people have a hard time digesting and breaking down. Gliadin is found in all gluten cereal grains except oats. The problem is that oats are usually handled with the same farm machinery and stored and milled in the same facilities as the other gluten grains and gliadin contamination happens. So pure oats are fine.

7. What Resources do you Recommend?

For all sorts of info on being gluten free, try these sites

For a gluten free shopping guide, try this book

For gluten free recipes, try these sites

For gluten free products, try these sites

For gluten free oat products (pure oats), try these sites

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