Gluten Sensitivity and Celiac Disease
What Is It?
Gluten sensitivity is an inflammatory reaction to eating foods containing gluten. It occurs mainly in the lining of the small intestine where an immune response is triggered against the gluten proteins. The degree of gluten sensitivity can be minor to life threatening as in instances of celiac disease. Thus, there are numerous terms, encompassing several different conditions, that involve some degree or form of gluten or grain sensitivity. This can be very confusing for those not acquainted with this subject.
Celiac disease, the most severe form of gluten sensitivity, can, in fact, go by six different names: sprue, non-tropical sprue, celiac sprue, gluten-induced sprue and gluten-induced enteropathy. These are terms for true celiac disease.
Due to the fact that many people are gluten sensitive, there has been a paradigm shift, and the new term for this condition is “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” or, simply, “gluten sensitivity.”
What Causes It?
They include: bacterial, viral or fungal infections, other food sensitivities, stress, chemotherapy or anything that would cause a chronic increase in leaky gut or intestinal permeability. Gluten sensitivity is a chronic disorder caused by an inability to properly digest foods that contain gluten.
Gluten is the insoluble protein constituent of wheat and other grains, a mixture of gliadin, glutenin and other proteins. It is the gluten in grains that makes the rising
of flour possible. These foods include:
• Possibly oats
The failure to properly digest these foods results in damage to the cells lining the small intestine, which results in malabsorption of nutrients from food. Gliadin is the main protein component in wheat that causes difficulty for those suffering from gluten sensitivity. However, similar proteins in other grains may cause the same reaction such as: hordein in barley, secalin in rye and avidin in oats.
The inflammatory immune response typical of celiac disease eventually destroys the villi of the intestines through which nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. The result is malabsorption.
In addition, the inflammation can break the junctions between the cells of the intestinal lining through which larger toxins can be absorbed. Through this increased intestinal permeability, or leaky gut, toxins enter and directly interact with the immune system located within the intestinal wall (gut-associated lymphoid tissue, or GALT). These toxins trigger antibodies that go into the bloodstream where they circulate throughout the body. It is important to realize that not everyone with gluten sensitivity has full blown celiac disease. Some people simply lack the enzymes needed to properly break down gluten that can cause leaky gut and inflammation even if it doesn’t create the full immune response of celiac disease.
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
• Weight loss
• Gas and bloating
• Diarrhea (which is typical of malabsorption)
• Abdominal pain
• Nutritional deficiencies
• Anemia (due to iron deficiency)
• Edema (fluid accumulation in the extremities due to a decrease in blood protein)
• Steatorrhea (gray or tan, fatty, greasy, foul-smelling stools that float)
• Dermatitis herpetiformis (a chronic skin condition)
• Lack of appetite
• Early satiety (feeling full after eating a small amount of food)
• Muscle cramps and wasting
• Joint and/or bone pain
The first five listed are usually the first to develop. Celiac disease may cause slow growth in children, and suppress the onset of menses in adolescent girls. Also, children may exhibit behavior changes, develop blisters and sores, or a red rash all over their bodies; they may also develop mouth ulcers. On the other hand, symptoms in children may be mild and are likely to be dismissed as a simple stomachache.
The immune response that is produced with gluten sensitivity may also occur in other organs. The central and peripheral nervous systems are particularly vulnerable.
In fact, in one recent study, neurologic disorders or findings were found in 51 percent of celiac patients. There are many conditions in which gluten sensitivity
is an underlying factor. Some of these include:
• Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
• Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
• Pancreatic disease
• Insulin-dependent diabetes
• Thyroid disease
• Rheumatoid arthritis
• Chronic fatigue syndrome
Bear in mind that, while symptoms of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease may be severe, they may also be absent. New research shows that traditional gastrointestinal symptoms may be delayed for up to eight years in some adults with the first clinical signs being iron deficiency anemia, bone disease and sterility in women.
A person with mild wheat intolerance may not have the inflammation in the cells lining the intestine, but nevertheless may experience such symptoms as gas and bloating, distention and even diarrhea.
Brenda's Better Way
In this chapter, two conditions are addressed: gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. With both conditions, the solution is the same: take gluten out of your diet.
I am glad to see that the science behind detecting gluten sensitivity and celiac disease has really progressed since I first started practicing in a clinic 26 years ago. During my years of helping others, I encountered many people with terrible health problems who never knew that they had gluten sensitivity. The methods of testing for this in the past have been inaccurate. Unfortunately, these same inaccurate methods are used by traditional medicine still today.
At EnteroLab, Dr. Fine has developed a stool test that is able to detect gluten sensitivity where it happens first—in the gut! The testing used by traditional doctors looks for gluten sensitivity markers only in the blood, but the markers make their way into the bloodstream only after there is considerable damage to the intestine allowing them to get through. By the time these gluten-sensitive or celiac markers have entered the bloodstream, the condition is quite progressed. The beauty of the stool test is that it can detect if you are reacting to gluten in the gut before too much damage is done to the intestine.
For years I followed a diet that was very low in gluten, but did not exclude it entirely. Then one day, recently, I woke up with pain and inflammation in the joints of my hand. I went to the doctor who told me that it was arthritis—just a normal part of getting older. I did not accept this as my final answer. Because I know that many health conditions are rooted in gut health, I did the gluten sensitivity stool and gene test from EnteroLab. I discovered that I have two genes that make me more likely to develop gluten sensitivity or celiac. I also had elevated levels of the IgA immune markers, indicating an immune response to gluten in the gut.
After that I was very careful to avoid all gluten, but it still took six months of the diet and supplementation before my hand pain completely healed. For more complex health conditions that are triggered by gluten sensitivity it can take a while for the body to heal. It takes a high level of commitment, and the results can be amazing.
• Candida overgrowth
• Dairy (casein) sensitivity
• EnteroLab Gluten Sensitivity Testing Menu - no doctor's order or prescription is necessary. Professional email guidance is provided regarding your test results.
• Doctors Data Celiac & Gluten Sensitivity Blood Spot - this testing requires practitioner authorization. Request your doctor order this test for you or contact Doctor's Data at 800-323-2784 to find a practitioner in your area.
• Follow the Get Lean Phase of the Skinny Gut Diet Eating Plan
• Gluten sensitivity is much more common than most people are aware. Most of us can benefit from a gluten-free diet whether we have celiac disease or not.
• Remember that most beer, ale, gin, whiskey and vodka are distilled from grain.
• Learn to read labels carefully. Educate yourself on the many foods, other than wheat, that may contain gluten such as luncheon meats, grain vinegars, condiments and seasonings.
• When dining out, inquire about sauces or “secret” ingredients. Let the waiter and cook know that you are on a no-wheat or gluten-free diet restriction.
• Join support groups, which usually offer food ideas.
Complementary Mind/Body Therapies
• Colon hydrotherapy can be helpful in removing toxins from the colon.
• Massage, yoga, biofeedback and meditation can help you relax and assist in the healing process.