Do you struggle with health issues that seem to persist no matter what remedies you try? You may have even forced yourself to accept that there is no solution to your problem with weight gain, depression, achy joints, or acid reflux.
Here is the good news: a gluten-free diet may be the solution to your health problems. It is possible that you may be suffering with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. While celiac sufferers tend to have more acute reactions to gluten consumption, those who are gluten intolerant still have sensitivities that can lead to illness.
What Does Gluten Do To Your Body?
Gluten is a sticky substance that damages your intestinal tract by tearing its lining. This lining keeps digested food and pathogens from passing through your intestinal wall and into your bloodstream. When this lining is torn, your intestinal wall becomes penetrable. Toxins are then able to escape into the rest of your body, causing a wide range of health problems.
When gluten enters your body, you may produce “anti-gluten” antibodies that attack elements of the gluten as well as parts of your intestine. These antibodies are measured in order to determine the presence of celiac disease.
The tests that measure antibodies for celiac disease aren’t foolproof, and a negative result doesn’t necessarily rule out the disorder. Children often produce false negatives because their immature immune systems are unable to produce the necessary antibodies.
Many doctors are still largely unaware of celiac disease and its effects. Because symptoms are often unrelated to digestion, the disorder tends to remain undiagnosed for a decade or more after symptoms begin.
Researchers are discovering that gluten’s effects reach far beyond celiac disease. Other levels of gluten intolerance can cause health problems that include migraines, mental and emotional disorders, and autoimmune diseases.
Research Shows That Celiac Disease is on the Rise
Up until few years ago, most of us had never heard of celiac disease. Was it more common, but diagnosed as something other than celiac?
In a recent study published by the journal Gastroenterology, researchers studied celiac disease over a period of 50 years. They tested over 9,000 preserved blood samples that were taken from healthy young adults between the years of 1948 and 1954. They found that 14 (0.2%) people had undiagnosed celiac disease at the time.
For the next phase of this study, researchers took blood samples from another group of young adults similar in age to the original study subjects. Out of this present-day group, 68 (0.9%) were found to have celiac disease, demonstrating its increase within this age group over past five decades.
Further blood samples were taken from a group of individuals who were born at the same time as those who were studied in the original sampling 50 years ago. Out of this group, 46 (0.8%) were found to have celiac disease.
The results of this study show that celiac disease is on the rise. It also indicates that this condition may spring up at any time during life, and it is not necessarily present at birth.
Why is Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance So Common Today?
Wheat has been in our food supply for thousands of years, so why is it starting to make us sick? How did it become the cause of such a long list of ailments?
Celiac disease has probably existed as long as people have been eating grains containing gluten, but it definitely has become more widespread within the past several decades.
Today’s wheat, which is the main source of gluten in virtually any diet, isn’t the same kind of wheat that was used in your great-grandmother’s cakes and pies. Wheat has been hybridized and engineered to become more abundant and durable. It is also more resistant to insects and disease than the wheat of previous generations.
The wheat that is contained in our bread, pretzels, crackers, and baked goods contains entirely new gluten proteins. These gluten proteins have never been tested for human safety, and now consumers are suffering the consequences.
Common Symptoms of Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance
Many digestive problems can be alleviated simply by removing gluten from the diet. Painful issues, like acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and chronic diarrhea, are often results of gluten intolerance.
Autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease, can often be inflammatory responses to gluten. For those who suffer with these conditions, eating gluten-containing foods may be the root cause of the body’s overactive immune response.
Gluten intolerance plays an important role in the gut-brain connection. Depression, anxiety, attention deficit, autism and schizophrenia are disorders that may be irritated by gluten in the diet. A variety of studies, as well as individual accounts, have demonstrated improvements in these conditions after switching to a gluten-free diet.
Those who have weight issues–both the overweight and underweight–may be struggling as a result of gluten intolerance. Gluten can cause weight extremes that make it almost impossible for an intolerant person to reach a healthy weight.
Other symptoms of celiac disease or gluten intolerance include skin rashes, asthma, migraines, fatigue, and infertility. Children may be underweight and fall behind in their development until all dietary gluten is eliminated.
Remove the Gluten to Restore Your Health
The only treatment for celiac disease or gluten intolerance is a gluten-free diet. If you remove gluten from your diet and find relief from your symptoms, eating it again will bring the symptoms back.
If you are unable to get an antibody test to determine the presence of celiac disease, or you have tested negative yet your symptoms still persist, try a gluten-free diet to see if you notice any improvement. Those who have a less-severe intolerance to gluten will also notice improvement with the elimination of gluten.
For one month, try to remove from your diet all foods, including condiments and beverages, that contain gluten. A gluten-free diet isn’t dangerous to your health, and may lead to health improvements that you never imagined were possible.
Davis, William. Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health. Emmaus, Penn.: Rodale, 2011. Print.
Rubio-Tapia, Alberto, Robert A. Kyle, Edward L. Kaplan, Dwight R. Johnson, William Page, Frederick Erdtmann, Tricia L. Brantner, W. Ray Kim, Tara K. Phelps, Brian D. Lahr, Alan R. Zinsmeister, L. Joseph Melton, and Joseph A. Murray. “Increased Prevalence and Mortality in Undiagnosed Celiac Disease.” Gastroenterology 137.1 (2009): 88-93. Print.