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Does gluten REALLY matter?

Gluten Free food

Our simple 3 step process to help you discover if gluten sensitivity could be a problem for you!

It seems like no protein is more controversial than gluten.Gluten is the protein in certain grains and often finds its way into every meal of the day. Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, malt, oats and spelt, and is what makes bread soft and chewy.

So where do we find gluten?

  • Breakfast: oatmeal, bagels, cereal, waffles and/or toast
  • Lunch: sandwich, pasta and/or soup
  • Dinner: pasta, pizza and/or bread
  • Dessert: cookies, cake and/or pie
  • Snacks: crackers, pretzels, pastries

I see patients of all ages and help them discover if they have a gluten sensitivity. And although I have a biased patient population toward illness, my experience is roughly 7 out of 10 people I evaluate have a gluten sensitivity. If we can answer the question together, “what role does food have in your chronic health problems?”, we can make great strides in drug-free measures to alleviate symptoms and restore great health and function again. This should be the 1st question every doctor asks him/herself in the examination room. Fortunately, it is a question every properly trained, licensed, and credentialed Naturopathic doctor DOES ask.

You see, once the immune system starts reacting to gluten, a number of symptoms can result anywhere in the body, causing chronic inflammation and subsequent health issues. Different patients can have different reactions to gluten. How is that? It seems to be related to genetic and personal medical history. This means if everyone in your family has a weak stomach, gluten sensitivity will likely rear its head in YOUR stomach. Or if you’ve had chronic trauma/inflammation in your gut, or abused drugs like NSAIDs or steroidal medications, gluten sensitivity will very likely show itself in your gut. Others with a family or personal history of depression will be vulnerable to a food sensitivity such as gluten causing clinical depression when they are regularly consuming gluten containing foods AND they have a personal sensitivity to this food protein. Bottom line: gluten affects those of us with a sensitivity wherever we are weakest or most vulnerable and explains why different people manifest different symptoms to the same food.

I get it. I am Italian, after all!

At first, it can be hard to imagine that the foods we love, like bread and pizza, might actually be causing our health problems. It is as if we think we will have nothing to eat if not for gluten. And for good reason. It is in most everything that is commonly served and sold in stores and restaurants.

In reality, it is BECAUSE most all of our foods contain gluten that so many of us (myself included) have become sensitive to it. The wonderful news is that there ARE many foods available that do NOT contain gluten. It takes a bit of a shift in thinking about what to eat, but there is no doubt in my mind that we can live without gluten.

Sometimes it can be very confusing whether or not you have a gluten sensitivity for the following reasons:

1. Not everyone experiences the same symptoms in the same parts of the body.
2. Symptoms typically do not come on immediately after eating gluten.
3. You can actually crave gluten (and other food sensitivities).
4. A unified, standard test, agreed on by all the medical powers that be…does not exist.

To choose to avoid gluten requires diligence because it is used in so many common foods and meals, and exposure is highly likely unless you are on the look-out for it. So how can you know if it’s worth all the bother for YOU?

My Simple 3-Step Process to see if gluten is a problem for YOU:

1. Do you experience these symptoms?

  • Reflux
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Frequent infections in any location
  • Pain such as headaches, migraines, joint pain, muscle aches, fibromyalgia
  • Mental/emotional symptoms
  • Skin rashes
  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain or difficulty losing weight

2. Do an IgG food sensitivity panel

Gluten sensitivity can show as IgG antibody responses to gluten, and gluten-containing grains. It may also show as anti-gliadin antibodies, but that is usually best relied on as a measure of actual celiac disease. You can get your antibodies checked in a simple blood test – done either by blood draw or with a finger poke.

I suggest checking for food sensitivities to other foods as well, because with gluten sensitivity, and the symptoms mentioned above, it is quite likely that you may also be reacting to such foods as dairy products, eggs, beans, and other grains. In over 17 years of testing patients for food sensitivities, I have NEVER seen a patient who ONLY has a gluten sensitivity! There are always others, but as far as clinical consequences, gluten is the #1 ‘usual suspect’.

3. Conduct a short, clinical trial…on YOURSELF

You can either do a food/gluten sensitivity test, or you can try avoiding gluten for at least 6-8 weeks to see how you feel. Then, after avoiding gluten for this period of time, have a serving of food containing gluten (or the way you would normally be eating gluten on a typical day) and notice how you feel over the following two to three days. Remember, this is an IgG, type III, delayed hypersensitivity reaction so the response may not be immediately following the test meal per se.

What next?

Discovering that you have a gluten sensitivity could change your life – for the better! It could mean losing the weight you’ve been trying to lose, increasing your energy, getting rid of pain and other un-resolving symptoms, and simply moving forward with your goals, whether that is pregnancy, a project that requires focus, or simply enjoying life without infections and a need for medications. That seems worth figuring out to me!

If you’d like to know whether you have gluten sensitivity that could be underlying many of your chronic medical complaints, the next step is to evaluate your diet and immune system with a simple blood test to ensure that you do not have a gluten sensitivity. In this way, we can completely personalize your diet and your health so that you don’t have to wonder anymore if food is the cause of your symptoms and ills and you can begin the process of enjoying life and good health again. I’d be happy to help you with that…in fact, it’s my mission, just click here to make an appointment!

For additional gluten-related resources, check these out:

Posted on behalf of Dr. Bradley Bongiovanni, Wholistic Medicine Specialists of Atlanta

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Wholistic Medicine Specialists of Atlanta

1055 Powers Place, Suite A
Alpharetta, GA 30009
(678) 987-8451