Gluten is a protein found in barley, oats, rye and wheat. Gluten intolerance occurs when a person reacts adversely to gluten. This reaction may be severe such as the symptoms of Celiac disease, or more subtle such as unexplained weight gain, low energy, poor concentration and hormone imbalances and or digestive disturbances.
Are you gluten intolerant? You could be if you suffer with bloating, constipation and/or diarrhea, fatigue, weight gain, bone or joint pain, dental enamel defects, depression, infertility, anemia, alopecia (hair loss), migraines, multiple sclerosis (MS), psoriasis, rheumatoid arthritis, or any of the dozens of other symptoms now believed to be connected to gluten intolerance.
If you have difficulty digesting gluten – which means you have sensitivity to wheat, rye, barley, and oats – vitamin deficiency could become a serious, long-term health problem unless you incorporate proper supplementation into your health regimen. People with gluten intolerance and other associated malabsorption syndromes such as celiac disease have challenging dietary concerns.
Ultimately, getting the necessary nutrients from food intake alone is nearly impossible for most people. This problem is magnified for those with malabsorption issues, which is why incorporating targeted whole food supplements, herbs and proper dietary choices under the care of a qualified professional is vital for the gluten intolerant individual.
Gluten Intolerance is Far-reaching
While gluten has been a food staple in the Western world for hundreds of years, today the enormous scope of gluten intolerance is a health problem that cannot be underestimated.
Unfortunately, many people are unaware that the symptoms they're experiencing could be a reaction to the gluten contained in the wheat, rye, barley, and oat products they consume on a daily basis. Additionally, most gluten containing products also contain bromine which is toxic to thyroid health.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
While the world is just beginning to understand gluten intolerance, scientists believe it developed hundreds of years ago when our ancestors – who used to forage for nuts and meat – first introduced grains, such as wheat, into their diets. Today, approximately two million Americans suffer from celiac disease alone. Gluten intolerance is a malabsorption syndrome caused by a reaction to gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and oats. People with gluten intolerance cannot digest this protein and, as a result, suffer from various bowel abnormalities.
Villi, the thread-like projections in the small intestine that are normally responsible for absorbing fluids and nutrients, become flattened and deficient in digestive enzymes. When the villi become damaged their ability to absorb nutrients such as fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals is severely compromised and malabsorption follows.
One of the main reasons gluten enteropathy is so devastating is that the place in the small intestine where it wreaks the most havoc is the site where B12 is absorbed. This vitamin is critical for many cellular functions, including the body's manufacture of red blood cells, nerves, and neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine.
Gluten Intolerance and Blood Type
Gluten intolerance is a genetic issue to a very large extent. It is commonly, but not exclusively, connected to type O blood (who account for over 33% of the Western world’s population). It appears that all blood types have issues with gluten. Does your pulse go up after ingesting gluten? If so, you may be experiencing a negative reaction to it and we suggest avoiding it all together.
For years Dr. Carolyn has been a proponent of the Blood Type Diet. Experiencing both personal and extensive clinical success has made the Blood Type Diet a core component to her wellness programs.
Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
There are dozens, possibly hundreds, of gluten intolerance symptoms. Unfortunately, no one symptom is specifically characteristic of this common ailment. The majority of people with gluten intolerance (and celiac disease) have intestinal symptoms as well as many others. Common manifestations include:
- Bone, joint, muscle pain
- Delayed/disrupted menstrual cycles
- Dental enamel hypoplasia (enamel defects)
- Gastrointestinal distress (gas, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, reflux)
- Headaches (including migraines)
- Inability to concentrate
- Moodiness, depression
- Mouth sores
- Short stature
- Tingling numbness in the legs
- Weight loss/gain
Other Conditions Associated with Gluten Intolerance
While gluten intolerance is largely hereditary, its prevalence is being exacerbated by the enormous problem of over processing and hybridization of refined grains (GMO’s).
Combined with issues such as the plastics now being found in foods stored in plastic containers, and all the chemicals used by the large agricultural corporations, it becomes clear why the human body sometimes reacts with an allergic reaction to common food.
Not everyone is negatively affected by eating whole grains, but for those who are truly allergic and cannot digest gluten/gliadin properly, the damaging health effects begin in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Unfortunately, it is very difficult to detect, or even to study, reactions taking place in the small intestine.
One thing is for certain; almost everyone eats too much refined wheat – the main source of gluten – and the list of symptoms associated with gluten intolerance continues to grow.
Symptoms may also include:
- Abnormal liver test
- Addison's disease
- Alopecia (hair loss)
- Ataxia (loss of coordination)
- Chronic abdominal pain
- Chronic fatigue
- Crohn's disease
- Dermatitis herpetiformis (itchy skin sores)
- Family history of celiac disease
- Gall bladder disease
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease)
- Total IgA (blood immunoglobulin) deficiency
- Insulin-dependent diabetes (type 1)
- Infertility, spontaneous abortions, low birth-weight babies
- Iron deficiency
- IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)
- Lactose intolerance
- Multiple sclerosis
- Osteoporosis, osteopenia
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Sjögren's syndrome
- Systemic lupus
- Ulcerative colitis
- Vitiligo (white skin patches)
Most often, the best way to determine whether or not you are gluten intolerant is to eliminate gluten from your diet for a two-week period – and actually feel the effects. If you are blood type “O” we suggest avoiding it altogether.