Dear Pharmacist: My brother is on a gluten free diet now and lost a lot of weight. He’s razzing me to join him on his gluten- free diet, but I don’t see the point unless you have irritable bowel syndrome (that’s why he did it). I really like my pizza, and beer too! I read you every week, are there other health benefits? — M.J., Hollywood, Fla.
A: My husband and I keep a very strict gluten-free diet. We think of gluten, the protein found in many grains -like wheat, barley, and rye — as if it were an unnecessary food additive. Digestive problems are typically associated with gluten in those who are intolerant, but for every one person with classic digestive symptoms, there are eight with no GI symptoms. It’s the other “diseases” that you will get medicated for, until you learn of your gluten intolerance, and then get it out of your diet (assuming it is the cause of your troubles).
This will shock you, but gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease can cause or contribute to: psoriatic arthritis, lupus, Type 1 diabetes, dermatitis, ataxia, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, peripheral neuropathy, muscle pain, headaches, bipolar, brain fog, fatigue, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, elevated TPO antibodies, hypothyroidism and more. What are the odds that your physician will test you for gluten sensitivity before prescribing medication for these conditions?
One problem is that gluten testing is frequently inaccurate. Blood tests like IgA anti-transglutaminase or anti-endomysial antibodies may come back negative, and many doctors say if your GI symptoms are not severe, then don’t bother avoiding gluten.
Gluten is in anything made with all-purpose flour, which I think should be renamed “no-purpose flour.” Gluten’s in salad dressings, soy sauce, muffins, bread, pizza, pretty much everything. Gluten acts like glue in regular flour.
I interviewed Dr. Tom O’Bryan, an internationally recognized speaker specializing in gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. He explained, “Eating gluten will cause an inflammatory response in the intestines and throughout the body. Testing for gliadin antibodies is not thorough enough to detect an immune reaction, because these tests basically detect celiac at its end stage of intestinal deterioration, and many gluten-sensitive individuals are not end-stage when they take their blood test.”
I recommend a brand new blood test, by Cyrex Labs, which evaluates 12 peptides of gluten (not just gliadin), therefore increasing the detection rate, while also testing for cross reactivity with other foods that spark an immune reaction. Get more information, videos and articles from the gluten guy himself, Dr. Tom O’Bryan at www.thedr.com.
Up to 75 percent of people with persistent symptoms improve after going gluten-free, and I mean no detectable gluten, not even a teeny bit. If you feel better, don’t ever reintroduce gluten again. A Gastroenterology study found that 25 percent of gluten sensitive people who eliminated all symptoms by going gluten free, went on to develop an auto immune disorder within 3 years of eating gluten again!
This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. For more information about Suzy Cohen, visit her Website at www.suzycohen.com.