Gluten Sensitivity or Intolerance

What is Gluten and where is it found?

Wheat gluten is a large protein molecule found in grains and is the stretchy part of bread dough. The term gluten consists of 2 families of proteins, gliadins and glutenins. It is found in wheat, rye and barley and in most processed foods and baked goods.food_intolerance_web

Is gluten sensitivity or intolerance different from a wheat allergy?

A wheat allergy is usually an immediate, histamine type of reaction to only the ‘wheat grain’ which can include swelling, rash, sneezing and respiratory symptoms similar to an allergic reaction from a bee sting. It can be mild or severe in nature.

What grains are gluten-free?

  • Quinoa
  • Millet
  • Buckwheat
  • Sorghum
  • Amaranth
  • Brown rice

You can use other flours made from chickpea flour, garbanzo bean flour, flax seed flour, nut flours, coconut flour, other pea and bean flours.

I thought that gluten was a problem limited to Northern Europeans, is that true?

New research has shown that gluten is a world wide global issue. Every ethnic community and age group can be potentially be affected. Millions of people are suffering unnecessarily due to a lack of awareness of the recent research over the last 8-10 years showing its influence in a wide range of diseases.

Why is there such an increase in gluten products coming on the market? Is this all a hype?

More people world-wide are exposed to this wheat than ever before. It has been speculated in the past that the gluten content has increased 4x over the last 40 years. Recent research by the U.S. department of agriculture could find no evidence of this, however, the overall consumption of wheat has increased during the last 40 years.

There has been also some speculation that changes in the wheat due to hybridization has genetically changed the plant, creating more reactions because of these changes. Celiac disease, sensitivity to gluten and auto-immune diseases have all increased over the last 40 years in which gluten may play a substantial role according to the latest research.

gluten_free_brown_webWhat is the difference between Celiac disease and Gluten Sensitivity?

Celiac Disease (CD) is a lifelong inherited autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present.

Celiac disease produces antibodies against tissue transglutaminase and endomysial tissue lining as well as antibodies against gliadin. In celiac disease there is a loss of the intestinal villi (the finger-like projections that increase the surface area of the small intestine and absorbs nutrients). Gluten Sensitivity (GS) is when antibodies to tissue transglutiminase and endomysial antibodies are absent, and no villous atrophy is present while anti-gliadin antibodies are present. GS appears to be genetically inherited as well. Both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease can cause inflammation in the bowel, and a wide range of diseases.

How does gluten cause all of these health problems?

Gluten can cause increased intestinal permeability problems commonly caused leaky gut. The spaces in between the cells that line the intestines are normally sealed. A protein called zonulin stimulates these spaces to open in the presence of gluten and allows the gluten to pass through and interact with the immune system. When the intestinal lining becomes irritated, the junctions loosen and allows more unwanted larger molecules in the intestines to pass through into the blood. These unwanted substances are seen by the immune system as foreign (because they aren’t normally present in blood). This triggers an antibody reaction.

When the intestinal lining becomes further damaged, even larger substances  such as disease-causing bacteria, undigested food particles and toxins pass directly through the damaged cells. Again, the immune system is alarmed and antibodies cause irritation and inflammation throughout the body by stimulating other inflammatory factors.

What diseases may be related to gluten?

  • Osteoporosis
  • Infertility
  • Migraines
  • Dental health problems
  • Heart disease
  • Epilepsy
  • Mental Health problems ( schizophrenia, bi-polar, depression, anxiety, ADHD, autism)
  • Autoimmune diseases: Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Crohns disease, rheumatoid arthritis, Menieres disease, primary biliary sclerosis, autoimmune hepatitis, etc.
  • Cancer: Intestinal cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma
  • Wide range of nutritional deficiencies: Chronic low iron levels, low B12

What symptoms can be related to gluten?

  • White bands on the fingernails that extend across the width of the fingernails
  • Re-occurring cracks corner of the mouth
  • Re-occurring nose bleeds
  • Bruising easily
  • Large forehead – vertical growth of forehead is affected in the first 5 years of life
  • Dental enamel hypoplasia: white spots on teeth in children
  • Short stature: children fail to grow
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Re-occurring ear, respiratory infections
  • Gastrointestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
  • And many more…