Gluten 101

Did you know 1 in 100 people has celiac disease — but most don’t know it. No one knows how many people have gluten sensitivity, but estimates are that it may be as high as 50 percent, or even 70 percent, of the population! (source)

Today we are featuring a guest post on gluten – what it is, why it can be harmful, and how to know if it’s affecting you or your children adversely.

#1: It Is An Undigestible Protein

Yes indeed, that’s what I said.  Which begs the question, do you want to feed your kids something that they can’t digest?  But before we explore this, let’s first know what it is, in case talk show host Jimmy Kimmel asks you the question, “What is gluten?”.  It is the “staff of life,” according to the Bible, and it is the biggest part of the US food pyramid.  But in reality, today’s gluten is not your grandma’s gluten.  Gluten is a protein, just like a virus protein, that is found in wheat, barley, rye and most oats.  It has a particular combination of amino acids that cannot be digested by humans, because we don’t have the enzymes to break it down.  Top this off with the fact that the grains that produce gluten have four and a half more chromosomes than the wheat described in the Bible, and you have a super-alien seed that produces a “super gluten” ready to wreak havoc on the human population.  And that, it did!  In fact, since its creation in the 1960s, during the so-called “Green Revolution,” the prevalence of autoimmune diseases has risen over 400% wherever this wheat was introduced.

 

#2:  It Can Cause Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)

We know that ADD is a “big thing” these days and kids are commonly placed on medications to reverse the dilemma.  Unfortunately, gluten’s action on the brain is huge and very likely correlated.  On one end, according to SPECT scan analysis, it has been found to decrease the blood flow in the frontal lobe.  This is the place that is used for reasoning and sound judgment.  So imagine having your blood supply to that region diminished… hello hyperactivity.  Combine this with the fact that gluten produces a compound similar to the opioid heroin, and you have one irrational, hyper, strung-out kid, that we’ll just call “defiant.”   Some mood altering drugs later, and we call him “under control.”  The answer may actually be a gluten-free diet. (source)

 

#3:  Gluten Sensitivity is More Common than you think

According to a major study, it looks like gluten sensitivity affects more than just the bowel.  In fact, it turns out that the brain is the most common organ affected in the human body.  And just when we thought it was a rare phenomenon, it has been shown to affect up to one in 120 people in the US.  Isn’t that about how many kids are being afflicted with autism?  What a strange coincidence.  So before you run off to your physician who believes that gluten only causes Celiac disease, you may want to ask the question… “what is gluten?”  If they don’t have a clue, you may want to shop around for another doctor.  According to the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine from Harvard , gluten has been definitively linked to 55 diseases such as juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, Down’s Syndrome, Schizophrenia, and more, thus supporting the fact that gluten just doesn’t cause one disease, but many. (Reference: Richard J. Farrell, M.D., and Ciarán P. Kelly, M.D.N Engl J Med 2002; 346:180-188 January 17, 2002DOI: 10.1056/NEJM)

 

#4:  Where is gluten found?

Obviously we know it’s found in wheat, so bread would be the immediate response.  But we also have to remember pastas made from Durum, malted balls made from malt, a derivative of barley, rye and most oats are the common-place.  Yes, the good ‘ole cheerios may be making your child sick with so many ailments, like ear infections, sinus issues, asthma, etc., that your pediatrician made you believe were part of “bad genes.”  But to go further, some of the hidden foods that are otherwise glutenized are “modified food starch,” “hydrolysed protein” and the like.  They put gluten in things like Twizzler candy, ice cream, many chocolates, and most fast foods.  Let’s face it, it makes food taste great and holds things together like “glue.”  Great for baking and excellent for keeping us addicted.   It is even in the glue that is found on envelopes.  It is everywhere and “every one is doing it.”  Yet, we are faced with an epidemic of sickness like none before.

 

#5:  How to know if you are gluten sensitive

Aside from genetic testing, I advise what’s known as the elimination diet.  Keep you and/or your child off of gluten for three weeks and see if there are any changes in mood, health, etc.  Then after three weeks, reintroduce gluten back in the diet and see if any health issues return or worsen.  This is referred to as the elimination diet and is probably the most effective way to see if gluten is a problem.

 

I am hoping this short introduction to gluten gives you some insight into potential harm that gluten can cause.  Here is to your gluten-free future and just one step further into your optimal health!

Dr. DaSilva

 

Click HERE to find out how to clean up your diet

Click HERE to read about GAPS

Click HERE to read about eating for your blood type

dr-guy-dasilva-md2

Guy DaSilva, MD is the author of the upcoming book, “The Many Faces of Gluten” and is the medical director of the DaSilva Institute in Sarasota, Florida.

The DaSilva Institute of Anti-Aging, Regenerative and Functional Medicine in Sarasota, Florida is dedicated to reversing chronic disease, the damage caused by gluten and the destructive processes of aging by uncovering the root cause of symptoms and restoring the body to optimal health.

You can also connect with him and get his latest blogposts through his Facebook page.