What is the deal with all of this gluten-free talk? Is it a diet? Is it a fad? What is the big deal? I will hopefully give you a very basic idea of what is actually going on with the whole gluten-free craze.
Gluten is a set of proteins that mostly comes from wheat, barely, and rye. Someone who has what is called celiac disease has intolerance to gluten. These people develop very tough digestive symptoms that can lead to things like greasy stools, gas, bloating, stomach pain, and after a long period of time anemia can develop. The one good thing about Celiac is that it is 100% curable and reversible, and that is with a gluten-free diet. If you suffer from celiac and you would like more information please join the Can’t Eat Wheat Group that meets Mondays bimonthly in the Northfield Hospital Conference Room.
However, it seems that people who are not suffering from celiac are still eating gluten-free. Why is that? My biggest fear is that it is just a weight loss fad, and the people who really should try a gluten-free diet stop doing this because of the fad fading. The informed gluten-free eaters are not eating gluten, because of what is called hypersensitivity. When these people eat gluten their body reacts in a way that causes their immune system to go on over-load. This is very much like an autoimmune disease.
That is why people who have autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroid (80% of thyroid cases), eczema, psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s, and rheumatoid arthritis to name a few should try a gluten free diet as a first-line therapy. There are several studies showing the link between gluten and autoimmunity that is well summed up in this study. The side-effect of eating a gluten-free diet tends to be weight loss due to the diminishing of processed grains out of the diet. That explains the weight loss craze, but the more important aspect is the therapy that can be delivered to people without the use of medication!
There are methods to see if the autoimmunity that you have is from gluten sensitivity. You can find out if your body is making antibodies against gluten and the gluten breakdown products. Unfortunately, most of the tests are not comprehensive enough to gather all 24 known antibodies that your body makes against gluten. There is a product that does, but it is not standard practice to use this blood test.
I will go in great detail about the subject of gluten and leaky gut syndrome at the Community Education Center in Northfield on Sept 18th and Oct 16th at 7pm. You can sign up through the Northfield Community Education Center. You can also call the office (507-645-8000) or visit our website if you have questions concerning gluten intolerance.