In Part I, you might remember the long list of symptoms associated with gluten intolerance. I also mentioned, after eliminating gluten (dairy and soy which I’ll talk about at another time) I was able to eliminate my chronic conditions such as migraines and Sjögren’s Syndrome. The key is to eliminate inflammation which is the cause of 80% if not all of disease. It’s important to understand the levels of intolerance. Next month I’ll discuss how to start a gluten free lifestyle and feel empowered by giving steps and tips.

Why the problem with gluten now? A lot has changed in the way we harvest food compared to 50 years ago. Some of the seed companies began engineering wheat kernels that could be more easily ground and produce fluffier flour to make the soft, delicious white bread for example had to have greater yields; it made more money for the farmer and increased sales.

Gluten is a composite of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. These exist, conjoined with starch, in the endosperms of some grass-related grains, notably wheat, rye, and barley.

Understanding what happens in the body and some of the symptoms will help millions of people who go undiagnosed. Celiac is the most common genetic disease of mankind (yet for every person diagnosed, 140 will go undiagnosed).

Levels of Intolerance A wheat allergy is the body’s abnormal autoimmune response to a certain protein component of wheat; it’s exhibited by a severe sudden onset allergic reaction. Usual symptoms are immediate coughing, asthma, breathing difficulties, and/or projectile vomiting. It can cause life-threatening responses in allergic people. A true Wheat allergy affects less than 1/2 % of population.

Intolerance’s are much more common than true food allergies but are harder to diagnose. Food intolerance is an adverse reaction to food that does not involve the body’s immune system. Generally food intolerance is an inability to properly digest certain foods. In some cases food passes right through the body before digestion is complete.

Leaky Gut is an increase in permeability of the intestinal mucosa to luminal macromolecules, antigens, and toxins associated with inflammatory degenerative and/ or atrophic mucosa or lining. Put more simply, large spaces develop between the cells of the gut wall allowing bacteria, toxins and food to leak into the bloodstream. Leaky Gut Syndrome has also been linked with many conditions, such as: Celiac Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Fibromyalgia, Autism, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Eczema, Dermatitis, and Ulcerative Colitis.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease caused by an inappropriate immune response to dietary proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley (gluten and gliadin). This response leads to inflammation of the small intestine and to damage and destruction of the villi that line the intestinal wall. These villi are projections (small folds) that increase the surface area of the intestine and allow nutrients, vitamins, minerals, fluids, and electrolytes to be absorbed into the body. When the villi are destroyed, the body is much less capable of absorbing food and begins to develop symptoms associated with malnutrition and malabsorption. When the body is exposed to the gluten and gliadin proteins, it forms antibodies that recognize and act against not only the grain proteins, but also against constituents of the intestinal villi. As long as the patient continues to be exposed to the proteins, he will continue to produce these autoantibodies. Celiac disease is found throughout the world but is most prevalent in those of European descent. It can affect anyone at any age and is more common in women. It is thought to be an inherited tendency that is triggered by an environmental, emotional, or physical event – although the exact mechanism is not fully understood.

According to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse, about 5 to 15% of close family members of a celiac disease patient will also have the condition.

One of the questions I have is if someone gets a negative test for celiac should they still go gluten free. My answer is yes. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms you are more than likely gluten intolerant. Most of the population fits in that category including me. I recommend doing the 45 – 60 day challenge. Try going gluten free and pay attention to your health. If you see changes and feel better you are better off gluten free. You just have to make sure you eat a healthy gluten free diet.

Symptoms There are literally dozens, if not hundreds, of symptoms of gluten intolerance. It all comes down to inflammation in the body! Many people believe the most common symptoms are gastrointestinal in nature – yet the majority of people with gluten intolerance (and celiac disease) have extraintestinal symptoms.

The most common symptoms of celiac disease include:

• Fatigue

• Addison’s disease (hormonal disorder)

• Gastrointestinal distress (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, reflux)

• Headaches (including migraines)

• Infertility

• Mouth sores

• Weight loss/gain

• Inability to concentrate

• Moodiness/depression

• Amenorrhea/delayed menarche (menstrual cycles)

• Bone/joint/muscle pain

• Dental enamel hypoplasia (dental enamel defect)

• Short stature

• Seizures

• Tingling numbness in the legs

The “cure” is a life long gluten free diet.

Next month I’ll discuss some steps to take in making the transition.