Gluten is a protein in wheat, rye, and barley that is commonly found in bread, beer, pasta, and a wide range of other processed foods containing these grains. For about 1% of the population, eating gluten causes celiac disease, an intestinal condition characterized by the inability to absorb nutrients from food. Other estimates indicate that as many as 18 million Americans have some degree of gluten allergy, putting them at risk for dozens of diseases and conditions.
Gluten Sensitivity: One Cause, Many Diseases
A review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 “diseases” that can be caused by eating gluten. These include:
- irritable bowel disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
- canker sores
- and rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases.
Research also suggests that gluten is also linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases, including:
- neuropathy (nerve damage)
Gluten problems or celiac disease have long been linked to children who had diarrhea, weight loss, and failure to thrive. But now we know that — young or old, slim or overweight —can be subject to gluten problems.
Gluten sensitivity is actually an autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, with wide-ranging effects across all organ systems including your brain, heart, joints, digestive tract, and more. It can be the single cause behind many different “diseases.” To correct these diseases, you need to treat the cause–which is often gluten sensitivity–not just the symptoms. And that means removing gluten from your diet.
Testing for Gluten Allergy
While testing can help identify gluten allergy, the only way you will know if this is really a problem for you is to eliminate all gluten for a short period of time (up to 4 weeks) and see how you feel.
Doctors recommending getting rid of the following foods:
- Gluten (barley, rye, oats, spelt, kamut, wheat, triticale–see www.celiac.com for a complete list of foods that contain gluten, as well as often surprising and hidden sources of gluten.)
- Hidden sources (soup mixes, salad dressings, sauces, as well as lipstick, certain vitamins, medications, stamps and envelopes you have to lick, and even Play-Doh.)
For this test to work you MUST eliminate 100 percent of the gluten from your diet–no exceptions, no hidden gluten, and not a single crumb of bread. Then eat it again and see what happens. If you feel bad at all, you need to stay off gluten permanently.
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