Gluten Sensitivity

Gluten can be found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt. Therefore, it is found in most types of cereals and in many types of bread. Not all foods from the grain family have gluten some that don’t  include wild rice, corn, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, quinoa, oats, soybeans and sunflower seeds. In nature these grains do not contain gluten but when processed in a factory that also processes wheat, rye, barley, or other gluten containing grains, these grains can get cross- contaminated. Oats in nature does not contain gluten, but a recent study shows almost all the oat products found on the store shelf contained gluten. When buying products that are not supposed to have gluten in them, like oats you should buy the ones that are labeled gluten-free. This label of gluten-free means they are not processed in a factory that processes wheat or grains that contain gluten.

What is gluten? Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley etc.. Due to genetic engineering of our grains there is five times more gluten in wheat then there was 20 to 30 years ago. Our body is not designed to handle wheat especially gluten, we do not break wheat down totally as it passes through our digestive system. In order to do this, break down wheat we would need three stomachs much like a cow. Gluten over time can damage our digestive system. It can cause physical symptoms such as dental defects in the enamel of the teeth of children, skin rashes on the back, legs, elbows, hands and face- that looks much like acne. Gluten can also cause bruising easily on the body of babies, it can also cause a person to have a slightly enlarged for head this is a sign easily evident visually. Some other symptoms caused by gluten sensitivity could be swelling, cracking and redness in the corners of the mouth, vitamin K insufficiency (this would be noted by pink toothbrush and bruising easily), lymph nodes enlargement, zinc insufficiency, failure to thrive (this would be children not developing physically for their age). Gluten sensitivity can also lead to celiac disease; this is a disease of the digestive system in which the villi (the outward projections in the intestinal tract that are used for absorption of nutrients into the body and resemble shag carpet.) are worn flat. A person with celiac disease will have a hard time digesting vitamins and nutrients from the food they eat.

Some general foods that have gluten in them would be biscuits, batter – fried foods, bran, granola, Bread, bread crumbs, rye bread, flowers, gravies, macaroni, crackers, croutons, doughnuts, bonds, cakes, cereals of all types, cookies, cornbread, crackers, pancake mixes, pasta, pastries, noodles, pumpernickel bread, dumplings, muffins, cream of wheat, spaghetti, ice cream cones, waffles, pies, pita bread, pizza, pretzels, and wheat germ, just to name a few. Processed meats: baloney, hot dogs, salami, pâté, liverwurst, sausage and cold cuts will all contain gluten unless labeled gluten-free. Condiments and seasonings: barley malt, certain mayonnaise made with gluten, sauces, soups, Worcestershire sauce, any salad dressing or gravy thickened with wheat, modified food starch, monosodium glutamate, malt products, soy sauce, ketchup, and tamari will have gluten in them. Sweets: sodas, chocolate, cocoa, candy, ice cream, flavored mixes for milk, puddings, root beer and malted milk, all of which contribute to allergenic response due to their gluten content. Alcoholic beverages: certain hard liquors and other alcoholic beverages such as beer, ale and light beers made with grains contain gluten and should be avoided by people with gluten intolerance or allergy to gluten. Care should be taken to check labels for items that are guaranteed to be gluten-free, were manufactured in a gluten-free facility. Some brands of your favorite foods, found in specialty and health food stores, have gluten-free versions that make an excellent replacement for those foods you may otherwise have to give up.

The Dangers of Gluten

A recently released, large study in the Journal of American Medical Association found that people with diagnosed, undiagnosed, and latent celiac disease or gluten sensitivity had a higher risk of death, mostly from heart attack and cancer. The study looked at almost 30,000 patients from 1969 to 2008 and examines death in three groups: 1. Those with full-blown celiac disease (This is when the villi, the shags in the intestinal tract are worn down and flat. Diagnosis only by intestinal biopsy which is taking a small piece of the intestinal tract out and looking at it under a microscope to see if there is any shag left.), 2. Those with inflammation of their intestine but not celiac disease and  3.Those with latent celiac disease or gluten sensitivity (elevated gluten antibodies but negative intestinal biopsy). The last two could be classified as silent celiac disease.

The findings were dramatic. There was a 39% increased risk of death in those with celiac disease, 72% increased risk in those with gut inflammation related to gluten, and 35% increased risk in those with gluten sensitivity but no celiac disease. This is groundbreaking research that proves you’d don’t have to have full-blown celiac disease with a positive intestinal biopsy to have a serious health problem and complications- even death – from eating gluten. The deaths could have been stated as death: from gluten sensitivity secondary to heart disease. Yet an estimated 99% of people who have problem with eating gluten don’t even know this information. They suspect their illness or symptoms come from something else – not gluten sensitivity, which is 100% curable. It is not just the few who suffer, but millions. Far more people have gluten sensitivity than one would think – especially those who are chronically ill. The most serious form of allergies to gluten, celiac disease, affects one in 100 people or 3 million Americans most of who don’t know they have it. There are milder forms of gluten sensitivity that are even more common and may affect up to one third of American population and could be classified a silent celiac.

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