Have you ever wondered why gluten is getting such a bad rap these days? The prevalence of Celiac and gluten intolerance has increased significantly and the media is all over it. But do you really need to cut out gluten from your diet? Here’s what you need to know about gluten sensitivities, allergies and Celiac Disease.
Gluten allergies have increased tremendously over the last 50 years. A 2009 study published in Gastroenterology showed that Celiac Disease has increased from one in 650 people to one in 120 people over the last 50 years. We are not eating the same wheat our bodies have been created digest. The rise of autoimmune disorders, gluten sensitivities and Celiac is so common. Even if you haven’t had all the symptoms or testing it is very likely that gluten could be causing damage to your brain and body.
Could I Have a Gluten Intolerance?
First, let’s be clear on the meaning of gluten intolerance. It does not mean allergy. Gluten intolerance is a physical condition in the gut. It means that your body is not able to digest gluten proteins (from wheat and other grains). Instead, the body begins to attack these undigested proteins as if they were a foreign invader, damaging the micro-villi that line the small intestine. The lining becomes inflamed, which reduces the surface area available to absorb nutrients including the ones you need to fight off infection.
Common Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance:
- Sleep problems
- Impulsive behavior and/or aggression in children
- Poor Focus/ Poor Memory
- Weight Gain or loss
- Bloating and/or diarrhea
- Abdominal cramping, loose stools
- Joint pain
- Low Iron levels
- Neurological disorders
There are several factors that make gluten harmful to many:
- Dysbiosis: Some people may not be able to digest gluten because they have gut dysbiosis, an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Dysbiosis can occur from taking antibiotics (especially if used more than once every few years), or from eating foods you can’t digest. For example: feeding grains to infants before they can digest them can cause dysbiosis. The overgrowth of “bad bacteria” along with the undigested fragments of gluten can trick their immune system into thinking the undigested food particles are from the bad bacteria.
- Genetics: Some people may have the gene responsible for improper digestion of gluten and absorption.
- Food Quality: We all know that food today is much more processed and genetically modified in many cases. We also know that bread today is not made the same as they used to be. In fact, the gluten proteins found in grains today are structurally different from the grains our ancestors used. Scientists have recently discovered a peptide in gluten (which triggers the intolerance) that did not exist in ancestral grains.
Wheat today isn’t the same as it was 20 or 40 years ago, it has been hybridized. That means seeds are created differently. The most prosperous grains which drought-resistant, bug-resistant and faster growing wheat that we have today it confuses the body. It’s estimated that 5 percent of the proteins found in hybridized wheat are new proteins that were not found in either of the original wheat plants. These “new proteins” are part of the problem as they lead to increased systemic inflammation, widespread gluten intolerance and higher rates of Celiac.
Gluten Impacts Your Brain Chemistry
The severity of gluten intolerance may range from gluten sensitivity all the way up to full-blown Celiac disease, a true “allergy” to gluten that is an inherited autoimmune disorder. This is no fad. In fact, many people are gluten sensitive or intolerant and have absolutely no idea. They seek help for focus, help for bloating, and take medications for IBS or constipation. One of the first things to think about is your gut, it’s your second brain. Everything you eat goes to your stomach, this includes medications. If your gut doesn’t absorb the nutrients due to inflammation from gluten or another allergy, your body is begging you (through the pain or problems you are having) to STOP eating this food.
Gluten Sensitivity Versus Celiac
The misuse of words by the media has caused lots of confusion on around gluten. However, the differences are profound. We use “gluten intolerance” when referring to the entire category of gluten issues: Celiac disease, non-Celiac gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy.
- Celiac Disease: is an inherited autoimmune disorder that affects the digestive process of the small intestine.
- “Non-celiac gluten sensitivity” (what many call “gluten intolerance”): causes the body to mount a stress response (often GI symptoms) different from the immunological response that occurs in those who have celiac disease (which most often causes intestinal tissue damage).
As with most allergies, a wheat allergy causes the immune system to respond to a food protein because it considers it dangerous to the body when it actually isn’t. This immune response is often time-limited and does not cause lasting harm to body tissues
Gluten Sensitivity Can be Fixed
Put simply, if you test “sensitive” to gluten, many practitioners suggest to take it out of the diet for three to six months to see if this alone can be helpful for your gut to repair. The gut heals and gluten can gradually be re-introduced. However, some folks may not be so lucky. Removing the gluten and healing the gut can take care of the symptoms, but removing gluten from the diet must be permanent if there is a true intolerance.
If you feel that Gluten may be a problem for you or your loved ones please connect with us, we can help you heal the gut naturally.
Take Good Care,
Emily Roberts MA, LPC & The Neurogistics Team
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Emily Roberts MA, LPC is the clinical therapist for the Neurogistics Children’s Program. She has worked with Neurogistics for over a decade. Emily is also an award-winning author of Express Yourself: A Teen Girls Guide to Speaking Up and Becoming Who You Are, Psychotherapist, TV & Media Contributor, educational speaker and parenting consultant. Express Yourself is available at bookstores nationwide and on Amazon. To learn more about Emily click here.
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