This month is National Whole Grains month but for many people, grains cause issues. So, we wanted to take this time to talk about gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, and Celiac disease.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley, and products made from wheat, rye & barley as well. For people who are gluten intolerant, this leads to inflammation in the lining of the intestines. Gluten causes a histamine reaction due to the release of an inflammatory protein called zonulin which causes gaps in the lining of the intestines, allowing particles to enter the bloodstream creating what is known as “leaky gut syndrome”. The lining of the stomach and intestines is supposed to be strong and tight, and impermeable to keep food, microbes and waste inside the digestive tract. When someone with a gluten intolerance or Celiac disease ingests gluten however, the immune response leads to systemic inflammation and chronic illness.
What is Celiac Disease?
Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance and is an autoimmune disease in which the body attacks itself in the small intestines when gluten is ingested. This leads to malabsorption because the intestines are so damaged that they are unable to properly digest food. The nutritional deficiencies caused by this is what leads to most of the symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac disease.
Could An Unknown Gluten Intolerance be Causing Your Health Problems?
The most common symptoms of gluten intolerance & Celiac disease are:
- Iron-Deficiency Anemia
- Unexplained Weight Loss
- Brain Fog
- Itchy Skin & Excema
It’s important to understand that these terms are not just trends, or made-up fads. These are very real health conditions with serious effects on your body, daily life, and even your mental state. The rise in occurrence of these conditions is due to a true increase in the prevalence of gluten intolerance, and not merely due to more testing. In fact, gluten is the most common food sensitivity found in adults.
Going Gluten Free
If you do test to be gluten sensitive, intolerant, or have Celiac disease, there are many options for safe, and delicious alternatives. Brown rice is a nutrient dense grain that is a healthy substitute for grains. For example, if you would typically have toast and fried egg for breakfast, you could have medium-well eggs over brown rice instead.
There are tons of options available at our local Austin health food stores for gluten free pastas, such as pastas made from chickpeas, lentils, or rice-bran. For sandwiches, there are many pre-packaged options that you can find at the store such as Trader Joe’s, Glutino, and Rudi’s gluten free breads.
You may have to pay a bit more for gluten free options but going gluten free will also save you money as you will be motivated to cut out unnecessary sources of gluten in your diet such as desserts, cookies, cereals, and beer in order to feel better.
Fortunately, because gluten sensitivity is so common, many restaurants, bakeries, and grocers offer gluten free options now. Furthermore, many gluten-free people find that they don’t crave as many sweets, breads, pastas and desserts after eating more nutritious, colorful, less processed foods like vegetables, nuts, seeds, and fruits.
How Opus Can Help – Functional Medical Tests
If you suspect that your symptoms could be due to eating grains and consuming gluten, we recommend coming in for Functional Medical Testing so that we can help you get to the bottom of your symptoms and help you with making the changes to repair your gut health and decrease your inflammation. We offer food reactive panels, Celiac & gluten sensitivity tests, gut permeability testing, bowel tests, and microbiome imbalances. Based on your unique diet, health history and symptoms we will decide together what testing is needed.
After you receive your test results, we will meet with you again to discuss how to repair or heal your intestines, what changes you need to make to avoid further discomfort, and we will be there to support you with any concerns or questions. If you suspect gluten intolerance, you should start keeping a food diary and be sure to log not only what you eat, but also any symptoms that you have as well for a few weeks.
Be aware that having some or all of the symptoms of gluten intolerance might make you eager to try to eliminate it to see if your symptoms improve but, it may take a very long time to see any difference if you are just guessing. We don’t recommend you cut out gluten until you have tested positive for Celiac or gluten intolerance because that could interfere with the tests results.
Please give us a call at 512-593-8443 to find out more about testing for food allergies such as gluten intolerance, and nutritional counseling.