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Myth? Fad? Or reality?
Each year, more than 100 million Americans consume gluten-free products. (1)
You may feel better cutting out gluten, even if you don't have a wheat allergy or celiac disease. On The Body Ecology Diet, a gluten-free diet coupled with friendly probiotics, found in a probiotic liquid like CocoBiotic, lays the foundation for a healthy gut.
While gluten-free is one of the hottest food trends, many healthcare professionals argue that only those with an allergic or autoimmune response to gluten should avoid it.
But you might feel differently.
How to Go Gluten-Free: Look for Signs of Gluten Sensitivity
You may be one of the millions who haven’t been diagnosed with wheat allergy or celiac disease. But you still feel better without gluten.
Fortunately, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is now a legitimate disorder. (2) Those with gluten sensitivity react to grains and products that have gluten—even though they haven’t been diagnosed with wheat allergy or celiac disease. (3)(4)
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. Like all autoimmune diseases, those with celiac have antibodies that target self.
If you have gluten sensitivity, you do not have an autoimmune response. But your body does mount a pro-inflammatory immune response when exposed to gluten. Similar to when you are invaded by a bug that gives you a cold—your immune system reacts.
Signs of gluten sensitivity can include:
- Abdominal pain, gas, and irregular bowel movements
- Headache or migraine
- Foggy mind
- Behavioral disorders, like autism or schizophrenia
- Joint and muscle pain
- Tingling fingers or toes
- Leg or arm numbness
Signs of gluten sensitivity tend to show up within hours to days of eating gluten. But a hard and fast diagnosis is tricky. In order to receive a diagnosis of gluten sensitivity, both celiac disease and wheat allergy must be ruled out. And symptoms must disappear when on a strict gluten-free diet.
The Difference Between Food Intolerance and Food Sensitivity
According to the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, food intolerance is marked by an inability to properly digest a certain food. (5)
For example, lactose intolerance. This happens when the body doesn’t have enough enzymes or digestive power to break down milk sugars called lactose.
Wheat is another food that some people are unable to tolerate.
Whether it’s lactose or wheat, signs of food intolerance mostly show up in your gut, where food ferments (because the body isn’t able to break it down). As food ferments, gas is released. This causes bloating, abdominal pain, and irregular bowel movements.
Probiotic foods and a low-FODMAP (fermentable oligo- and disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols) diet can relieve signs of food intolerance.
If you have wheat intolerance, you feel better when you eat grains that have been soaked, sprouted, and fermented.
On the other hand, food sensitivities call on the immune system. Signs of food sensitivity are not limited to the gut.
If you have gluten sensitivity, your body mounts an immune response to gluten-containing grains like wheat, rye, and barley. The only sign of your sensitivity to gluten may be a migraine or eczema, while your digestion “feels fine.”
The Zen of Gluten-Related Disorders
Wheat allergy. Celiac disease. Wheat intolerance. Gluten sensitivity. Are you confused yet?
These are all problems that fall under the umbrella of gluten-related disorders:
- Wheat allergy: Marked by an immune response. Happens within minutes to hours of eating wheat. Symptoms are seen in the gut and beyond.
- Celiac disease: Marked by an autoimmune response. Can take hours to weeks to show up. Symptoms are seen in the gut and beyond.
- Wheat intolerance: Marked by an inability to break down wheat. Happens within minutes to hours of eating wheat. Symptoms appear mostly in the gut.
- Gluten sensitivity: Marked by an immune response. Can occur hours to days after eating gluten. Symptoms are seen in the gut and beyond.
If you think that you are sensitive to gluten and that it triggers an immune response, completely avoid gluten-containing grains like modern wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Besides gluten, these grains contain enzyme inhibitors that stir up a response from the immune system and intensify your reaction to gluten. (6)(7)
On The Body Ecology Diet, we advocate a gluten-free diet because a healthy gut is essential to getting rid of Candida overgrowth.
If you would like to learn more about gluten and discover tips on how to stop eating gluten, join Donna Gates at The Healthy Gut Summit, a free online event taking place February 9-16, 2015.
What To Remember Most About This Article:
A gluten-free diet is the latest craze, but is there more to this health trend? Even if you haven't been diagnosed with wheat allergy or celiac disease, you could have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. This recognized disorder results from sensitivity to grains and products that contain gluten—and it applies to those who don't have a wheat allergy or celiac disease.
In short, you may feel much better when you eliminate gluten from your diet.
Signs of gluten sensitivity can include headaches or migraines, brain fog, fatigue, joint and muscle pain, digestive issues and gas, eczema, and even behavioral disorders like autism and schizophrenia. These symptoms may appear within hours to days of eating gluten.
Gluten sensitivity can trigger an immune response any time gluten is eaten. If you suspect that you are sensitive to gluten, it's important to totally eliminate gluten-containing grains from your diet—wheat, rye, barley, and spelt. Going gluten-free on The Body Ecology Diet is an effective way to support robust gut health and fight Candida overgrowth.
- Fasano, A., Sapone, A., Zevallos, V., & Schuppan, D. (2015). Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Gastroenterology.
- Czaja-Bulsa, G. (2014). Non coeliac gluten sensitivity–A new disease with gluten intolerance. Clinical Nutrition.
- Sapone, A., Lammers, K. M., Casolaro, V., Cammarota, M., Giuliano, M. T., De Rosa, M., ... & Fasano, A. (2011). Divergence of gut permeability and mucosal immune gene expression in two gluten-associated conditions: celiac disease and gluten sensitivity. BMC medicine, 9(1), 23.
- Carroccio, A., Mansueto, P., Iacono, G., Soresi, M., D'Alcamo, A., Cavataio, F., ... & Rini, G. B. (2012). Non-celiac wheat sensitivity diagnosed by double-blind placebo-controlled challenge: exploring a new clinical entity. The American journal of gastroenterology, 107(12), 1898-1906.
- Boyce, J. A., Assa'ad, A., Burks, A. W., Jones, S. M., Sampson, H. A., Wood, R. A., ... & Schwaninger, J. M. (2010). Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of food allergy in the United States: report of the NIAID-sponsored expert panel. The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology, 126(6 Suppl), S1-58.
- Drago, S., El Asmar, R., Di Pierro, M., Grazia Clemente, M., Sapone, A. T. A., Thakar, M., ... & Fasano, A. (2006). Gliadin, zonulin and gut permeability: Effects on celiac and non-celiac intestinal mucosa and intestinal cell lines. Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology, 41(4), 408-419.
- Junker, Y., Zeissig, S., Kim, S. J., Barisani, D., Wieser, H., Leffler, D. A., ... & Schuppan, D. (2012). Wheat amylase trypsin inhibitors drive intestinal inflammation via activation of toll-like receptor 4. The Journal of experimental medicine, 209(13), 2395-2408.
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