Sensitivity to grains is linked to depression, headaches, and indigestion.
Wheat intake can trigger two increasingly prevalent immune-related conditions—celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. New Israeli research finds that people with multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory muscle disorders have antibodies to gluten (a protein in barley, wheat, and other grains) suggesting sensitivity to this reactive substance.
At least 3 million Americans have celiac disease, an inherited autoimmune disorder that causes the body to attack—and eventually destroy—the walls of the small intestine. In people with related symptoms (anemia, arthritis, depression, diarrhea, digestive discomfort, infertility, malabsorption, and osteoporosis, to name a few), the prevalence of this incurable disease rises to 1 in 56. And it’s 1 in 22 for anyone whose parent, child, or sibling has celiac.
Trouble is, not everyone with celiac disease has symptoms! While this disease can appear at any age, it’s becoming increasingly prevalent among older people—whose symptoms are subtle at best.
While the gut is where most gluten intolerance is evident, research is beginning to explore the brain on gluten. One recent German study finds that 35% of celiac patients report psychiatric problems: depression, personality changes, or even psychosis. Medical histories reveal migraine in 28% of celiacs and gait disturbances (ataxia) in 26%. Even carpal tunnel syndrome and vestibular dysfunction appear in some celiac patients.
Because of close links between gluten intolerance and neurological problems, Canadian researchers recommend that all children with neurodevelopmental problems—including autism—be tested for nutritional deficiency and malabsorption.
Celiac disease can lead to microscopic colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, even duodenal and stomach ulcers. It’s also been linked to numerous autoimmune diseases: Type 1 diabetes, dermatitis herpetiformis (intense skin itching), liver autoimmune disease, and thyroid autoimmune diseases (like Graves and Hashimoto’s disease).
Dr. Ann Louise’s Take:
If you have celiac disease, the only treatment is a gluten-free diet. The chief villain is wheat, which seems to go hand in hand with fatigue, bloating, and abdominal cramping. Barley, kamut, rye, spelt, and triticale also contain gluten, as do all too many processed foods on grocery shelves today. Gluten is also found in lip balm, medicines, play dough, and some supplements, so read labels carefully on all food and products.
Over the years, many of my clients have shown delayed sensitivity to grains, which is one reason I’ve included so many Clean Carbs—gluten-free grains—in Fat Flush for Life. Instead of gluten-based grains, vary your intake of gluten-free substitutes like amaranth, buckwheat, brown rice, millet, and quinoa. For baking or other cooking needs, consider bean, coconut, and nut flours.
Anyone who’s trying to get pregnant or who is already pregnant should ditch gluten. Researchers have found that women with celiac disease who eat wheat have trouble conceiving—and suffer 8 times as many miscarriages as those on a gluten-free diet.
You’ll need tests—usually several including an ELISA for anti-gliadin antibodies—to determine gluten sensitivity or celiac disease. Start with an at-home gluten intolerance test. If you discontinue eating gluten-rich grains before testing, you won’t get accurate results.
Don’t Forget Fiber
Anyone avoiding gluten and most grains needs to get plenty of fiber. Vegetables and fruits can help—but may not be sufficient.
In Fat Flush for Life, you’ll find a tasty new source of fiber and omega-3s (a natural anti-inflammatory for sensitivity-type symptoms)—chia seeds. Try the recipes for Black Bean Cakes, Blueberry Mini Chiacakes, and Fabulous Chia Crax for a gluten-free fiber. Chia’s also an ingredient in the Hot Metabolism Booster Cocktail to turbo-charge detox and weight loss. Other useful forms of fiber include flaxseed, psyllium, and Super-GI Cleanse.
Other Dietary Support
People with celiac disease tend to be anemic, so they need iron, vitamin B12, and folate, as well as vitamin K. Because gluten sensitivity has been linked to bone loss, it’s important to take vitamin D and bone-building minerals. Antioxidants can help the body cope with the effects of allergic reactions, so make sure antioxidants are part of your daily multi.
It’s particularly important for growing children who are gluten sensitive to get all the nutrition they need. The good news is that research shows celiac kids who stay on a gluten-free diet can develop normally.
Fat Flush for Life