© 2012 Dr. Harold Steinberg, D.C.

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Gluten Sensitivity

 

FACT:   What is gluten sensitivity? What is celiac disease?

 

Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease of the small intestines. Over a million people in the US have this disorder, which is a result of eating proteins called glutens. The gluten protein in wheat, barley, oats and rye is difficult for some people to digest. This protein is called gliadin. Other grains, like rice, corn, millet and sorghum, also have gluten protein but they are considered gluten-free. Are they really? Recent testing has shown corn can have effects similar to wheat. An Australian researcher has found over 400 new gluten proteins. The issue for gluten sensitivity is: can the body make an antibody against the gluten protein? If staying away from all gluten foods makes you feel better and have no abdominal pain, then you want to talk to your health care doctor about further lab tests.

 

FACT:   Do you know the difference between gluten allergy and gluten intolerance?

 

An allergy is defined as a reaction that triggers an antibody production, or the creation of an antibody called IgE. This is an anaphylactic reaction. If you eat peanuts and your throat constricts, your lips swell, or you break out in hives, this is anaphylaxis and it can be life threatening. That is an acute allergy reaction.

 

The other type of allergy reaction is called the delayed hypersensitivity allergy reaction, which can happen up to two weeks after ingesting a food item. Symptoms can sometimes take time and we may not know instantaneously what is causing the reaction, whereas with an acute reaction we can know usually within 30 minutes. So IgE is associated with an acute reaction, whereas other antibodies - IgA, IgM, IgD and IgG - are delayed hypersensitivity reactions. If you go to an allergist, MD, and get a pin prick test on the skin, they are only looking for skin flare up, which is checking for IgE only. Maybe you eat food that makes you feel uncomfortable; it doesn’t agree with you, you have gas and bloating. This is intolerance and not directly an immune response. It does not mean you are having an allergic reaction; it just means that your body, or bacteria in your colon, doesn’t like that food. Consequently, the way it’s digested leads to excessive gas, maybe pain or gastrointestinal discomfort. You may need special digestive enzymes to process that food. Alternatively, your bacteria has to digest it for you, or that food slips into your bloodstream (leaky gut loose junction vs. tight junction) where it mounts a secondary immune reaction. The food may be fine for your body, but, as a result of it being processed by bacteria, a byproduct can be created that is unacceptable. It could be a chemical waste product that your body doesn’t like; the immune system thinks it is an enemy and you can get a secondary allergic reaction. The intestinal cells are held tightly together by a protein and this is known as a tight junction. Where the cells of the intestine are not held tightly together, there are spaces between the protein “glue” and this is known as a leaky condition. In this case, food particles of larger than normal digestive size can pass into the bloodstream. Research studies have shown that Leaky Gut Syndrome, as it’s referred to, if left untreated, can lead to a multitude of health problems. The reason is because, once undigested food particles - bacteria, yeast, toxins, etc. - from your digestive tract get into your bloodstream, they can travel anywhere within your body, causing all kinds of health problems. 

 

The examples below can be attributed to LGS:

 

  • Arthritis

  • Eczema

  • Psoriasis

  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome

  • Crohn’s Disease

  • Ulcerative Colitis

  • Inflammatory Bowel disease

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • Multiple Sclerosis

  • Depression

  • Diabetes

  • Heart Disease

  • Liver Disease