Gluten is one of those things you have undoubtedly heard about unless you have been living under a rock. There are gluten free diets, recipes, and even restaurants offering gluten free menu items. But what is gluten exactly, and why all the fuss? Is Gluten Sensitivity a real concern, or just hype?
What is Gluten Exactly?
Gluten is a mixture of proteins found in all grains. Grains are actually the seeds of various grasses. These seeds have an outer casing called an endosperm, which is where most of the gluten is contained. This endosperm is also what is used to make flour. It is important to understand that ALL grains have this endosperm and therefor contain at least some percentage of gluten. Some grains contain a much higher amount of gluten than others, such as wheat, which has the highest percentage of gluten at about 69%.
Wait…I thought Grains Where Supposed to be Healthy?
A better way of putting this might be, are grains good for anyone, and the answer to that is, NO. Aside from the issues cause from gluten, which I will get into in a moment, there are several other reasons why they are actually not very beneficial for your health. For example, grains are sprayed with fungicides and insecticides, which are endocrine disruptors, meaning they can interfere with proper hormonal functions in your body. When grains are processed there are preservatives, conditioners, and hydrogenated oils added. The grains also go through a heating process called extrusion, which creates a chemical called acrylamide. Acrylamide is a known carcinogen, meaning it has been proven to have the potential to cause cancer.
Grains are not even a good source of nutritional value. They are poor sources of protein, and low in EPA / DHA (the good fats). Grains also contain anti-nutrients, which are chemicals within the grain that bind to other minerals and prevent them from being able to be absorbed by the body. Lastly, just like sugar, grains cause an excess of insulin. Insulin tells the body to store fat, prevents muscle building, weakens the immune system, and sodium retention.
I Was Told That Gluten Allergy is Rare…Is This Not True?
Traditionally only a gluten allergy was recognized by the medical establishment, however, new research and testing has revealed that people can also be sensitive to gluten and have many health issues because of it. A gluten allergy is when your body has a severe allergic response to gluten. A gluten sensitivity or intolerance is when your body has issue with digesting and handling gluten and can manifest itself through many different symptoms.
For many, the Terms Celiac Disease and Gluten Allergy are synonymous. However, this is not true. You can have an allergy or sensitivity to gluten, but not have full blown Celiac Disease. Celiac is actually caused by gluten and is merely one of the many possible symptoms of a gluten allergy or sensitivity. The medical establishment is slowly starting to catch on to this, as a new medical term called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity was recently created.
There are also other “diagnosis” that are in many cases actually a symptom of a gluten sensitivity, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, Acid Reflux, and Colitis. These are all, what I like to call, trash can diagnoses, because they are a way of putting a label on a group of symptoms and do not address the root cause.
What are the possible effects of Gluten Sensitivity / Intolerance?
Just as Celiac Disease, IBS, Crohn’s and colitis are not a cause, but rather a symptom, there are also numerous other conditions that can be caused by gluten. There are upwards of 200 conditions that can be caused from gluten sensitivity, including the following major conditions:
- Celiac Disease
- Thyroid Disease
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Psychological Disorders
- Some Cancers (including lymphoma)
However, there are far more common symptoms that may be less severe, but have a big impact on your quality of life, such as:
- Irritable Bowels
- Abdominal Bloating / Cramping
- Joint and Muscle Pain
- Brain Fog
- Skin Rashes (such as Eczema and Dermatitis Herpetiformis)
- Malabsorption of Nutrients (Nutritional Deficiency)
- And so much more…
Different people respond differently to gluten sensitivity, so you may have some of these symptoms and not others.
How Can You Confirm You Have a Gluten Allergy / Sensitivity?
Through advanced, comprehensive testing we can determine if you have sensitivity to Gluten. We use a combination of food sensitivity testing, Genetic Testing, and your clinical symptoms and history to get the most accurate picture of what you are sensitive to, whether gluten of any other foods. Knowing your sensitivities is the first step in working towards alleviating your symptoms.
Once results are received, they are reviewed in an extensive office visit. Most of my patients go on a rotation diet to exclude products that contain gluten along with any other foods they are sensitive to. Once the foods that are causing the symptoms are removed, patients begin to feel better almost immediately. The course of treatment depends on the severity of the intolerance but typically lasts 3-6 months although most patients decide they feel so much better that they do not re-introduce the foods into their diet.
Do You Suspect You May Have a Gluten Sensitivity?
If you want to find out if you are sensitive to gluten or any other foods, we would love the opportunity to speak to you about our testing and treatment options. Simply request a Free Consultation by calling (281) 313-7435 today or by Requesting a Consultation Online!