Friday, June 19, 2009

Gluten and Your Health

Since becoming gluten free in February my cholesterol has dropped over 100 points! My Thyroid T4 test has raised 2 points, after 4 years of being at 9 (the scale is 9-24). How can this be?

What is gluten? A protein found in wheat, barley and rye, (more comprehensive list). Gliadin is the substance in gluten that induces inflammation in individuals who are sensitive to it. Gluten sensitivity is a food trigger auto-immune/anti-body response, not a food allergy. IGG vs. IGE(histamine trigger)

Possible symptoms and conditions of gluten sensitivity

• Craving for wheat or inability to stop eating wheat
• Allergies, asthma
• Sinus congestion, post-nasal drip
• Joint and muscle aches
• Diarrhea and/or constipation
• Gas, bloating, abdominal pain
• Psoriasis, eczema or unexplained rash
• Depression, anxiety or mood-swings
• Hyperactivity
• Neurological disorders
• Unexplained chronic fatigue
• Frequent canker sores
• Iron-deficiency anemia
• Osteoporosis, dental enamel defects
• Short stature
• Ear-aches
• Headaches
• Gallbladder dysfunction/stones
• Kidney stones
• Cerebral and cerebellar atrophy (affects coordination)
• Delayed puberty
• Early menopause
• Febrile seizures
• Intestinal cancers
• Obesity
• Pica
• Single generalized seizures

(The above list is a partial list compiled from Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan, M.A. and The Gluten Effect, by Drs. Vikki & Richard Petersen, D.C., C.C.N.)

What happens in your intestines when you’re gluten sensitive and eating gluten?

Healthy Villi with proper absorbtion
There are microscopic finger-like villi along the walls of your intestines. The purpose of the villi is to absorb the food you’ve eaten and make it available to your body to use. The villi, the site of first contact, become red and inflamed from the attack of auto-immune cells, sent out to attack the gluten molecule, when the gluten sensitive person eats gluten. Unhealthy Villi have totally atrophied, wasted
The tips of the villi produce many enzymes including lactase (used to digest lactose), sucrose (used to digest sugars), and EFA (to process essential fatty acids). Starting with the tips of the villi, they begin to atrophy, disappear, leaving you lactose intolerant, dealing badly with sugars (hypoglycemia, yeast infections), and with dry skin.

70% of the human bodies immune cells are located in the small intestine. Wow! No wonder it affects the overall health and immune system of your entire body. 1% of the American population has Celiacs Disease, which is high, but, 40% of the American population is gluten intolerant. (The Gluten Effect by Drs. Vikki and Richard Peterson D.C., C.C.N.)

Cross reactivity/Cell mimicry happens because the gluten antibody looks similar to say a Thyroid cell. The gluten antibody then begins to attack the thyroid, causing hypo thyroid or Hashimoto’s. The thyroid then gets thyroid antibodies created; now the thyroid has no chance. The good news; when you stop eating gluten, the process does cease and desist. If you haven’t gone hypo thyroid yet, your numbers can creep back to normal as your body heals. My free T4 (thyroid test) has been sitting on the lowest number in the normal range, 9, for several years. The normal range is 9-24. After 4 months of a gluten free diet my T4 has risen to 11! My mom and grandmother both had hypothyroid. Once you go hypothyroid, at this point in science, you are on medication for the rest of your life.

Cell mimicry can happen to any system in your body. Gluten/gliadin antibodies are all over the gluten sensitive body, wreaking havoc in the system that is your weakest link. This is one of the reasons gluten intolerance is hard to diagnose when more typical symptoms do not present.

Adrenal Exhaustion

The adrenal system is responsible for handling all stresses on the body. Car accident, job, marriage, food sensitivities, gluten sensitivity are all processed the same way by the adrenals. Stress hits, Cortisol (stress hormone) is released. When stress is ongoing, so is the release of cortisol. Along with calming down your system after release of adrenaline, it can give symptoms of anxiety or lack of well being, as well as redistributing fat throughout the body, slowing down the metabolism. This often results in more fat deposits in the belly.

See the relationship between adrenaline and cortisol.

The hormones produced by the adrenal glands (DHEA, pregnenelone and cortisol) are important for many normal functions in the body. When the adrenals are exhausted due to stress, many seemingly unrelated symptoms can arise because the adrenal hormones are not produced at proper levels. The following is a list of some of the major effects that occur in the body with adrenal exhaustion. A person with adrenal exhaustion may have symptoms in one or more of these areas.

  • Fatigue
  • Immune System Weakness
  • Low Blood Sugar
  • Sugar cravings
  • Weight gain
  • Thyroid problems
  • Depression/ Mood swings
  • Hormone imbalance
(The Gluten Effect, by Drs. Vikki & Richard Petersen, D.C., C.C.N.)

Recommended reading:

The Gluten Effect, by Drs. Vikki & Richard Petersen, D.C., C.C.N.)

Dangerous Grains by James Braly, M.D., and Ron Hoggan, M.A.

Gluten-Free Bible by Jax Peters Lowell

The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook by Marjorie Hurt Jones, R.N.


Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) said...

40% of Americans are gluten intolerant? That's a big percent of the population. Are there any good tests for gluten intolerance available? I've heard many of them are not very reliable.

Aquino Clan said...

You're right, the gliadin antibody test IGG, often gives false negatives. My blood test was negative and saliva test was positive. The true test is going gluten free and seeing the results.

Unless you have severe IBS symptoms, the changes may be less obvious. My joint pains diminished and disappeared slowly enough I didn't notice it until I ate something that caused my joints to flare up.