Gluten Sensitivity: A Chiropractor's View
Months ago, I was listening to NPR when an “investigative reporter”, no doubt a lover of baguettes, bagels and beignets, sought to gain scientific evidence that the gluten insensitivity was merely a fad. She blithely blithered on about how there was no evidence that gluten affected the health of mainstream America and instead, pointed to a low percentage of less than 1% of the population who is affected by celiac or gluten intolerance. However, according to statistics, if someone in your family line develops celiac, you have a 5% chance of developing gluten sensitivity.
While these seem like low numbers, clinical observation proves otherwise. I have counseled thousands of patients regarding gluten intake and 80% have noted improvement with eliminating gluten from their diets.
Autoimmune disorders are on the increase. Holistic health care providers, including MD’s, chiropractors, acupuncturists, nutritionists know that autoimmune disorders are a result of gut disturbances and the creation of antibodies that attack certain systems, causing many modern diseases such as type 1 diabetes, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, mood disorders, heart disease, lupus as well as various cancers. Gluten ingestion causes gut inflammation, resulting in the formation of antibodies that may go on to attack depleted or compromised organ systems.
Many holistically minded health practitioners are noting that when they remove gluten foods from their patient’s diets, a plethora of symptoms diminish or disappear. Some of these include: s osteoarthritic swelling, digestive disorders, bloating, constipation, allergies, asthma, iron deficiencies, lower extremity swelling, gastric heartburn and various other symptoms that are often misdiagnosed.
Modern wheat is not the same grain our ancestors ate, even 100 years ago. It is the result of intense cross-breeding programs. This modern version of wheat is now dubbed “dwarf wheat” as it is short with with an abnormally large seed head. It was created by crossing wheat with non-wheat grasses and inducing genetic mutations through irradiation and exposure to toxins such as Round-up. Perhaps scientists wanted to increase protein levels. Gluten, however, is a junk protein and in large amounts, will in effect, mow down the cilia that line the small intestine and account for absorption of nutrients.
In addition to the focus on cultivated wheat, perhaps one can look to blood type and genetics as a clue to gluten sensitivity problems.
Blood type O humans are genetically linked to hunters and gatherers from Northern Europe. Types O’s will have the digestive enzymes to break down proteins, vegetables and fruits. They are less likely to handle gluten and cow dairy if their health is compromised in any direction. Some type A’s will also be acclimated to digesting fish and rice rather than other grains, especially if there is an Asian genetic link.
This subject is close to home as my mother, with an O blood type, developed celiac after enjoying her share of pasta and breads for many years. She became ill at age 70, lost 40 pounds in a few months, with steadily decreasing health. I had advised her for years to give up wheat and dairy. It wasn’t until I insisted that she be tested for gluten intolerance that she was diagnosed celiac. When she gave up gluten, her health immediately improved. Her gluten insensitivity however, had led to brain inflammation, which I believe hastened the development of her Alzheimer’s disease.
In my practice, I counsel anyone with chronic pain or health issues to give up gluten for one month to observe the results. 80% of the time, they will note definitive improvements. Some of the positive results include the reversal of digestive disorders, decreasing symptoms of conditions such as Hashimoto’s, interstitial cystitis, osteoarthritis, alopecia, chronic abdominal disorders, sinus issues, joint pain, hypoglycemia, type II diabetes, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, iron anemia, reflux disease and immune dysfunction disorders.
What grains have gluten? All forms of wheat, spelt (a kind of wheat), rye, barley and bulgur. Fortunately, there are still grains to be enjoyed! Buckwheat, corn, amaranth, quinoa and all forms of rice are among the grains that can be ingested. However, some will do better health and weight wise to limit the amount of grains in their diet, especially over the age of 40.
Gluten is in many manufactures food products, so read labels! It does not occur in any other real foods such as vegetables, meats, fats, dairy or fruit. There are a plethora of gluten substitutes if you must have that occasional sandwich or dessert. Grains are pure carbohydrates and are best consumed in association with high-energy output exercise.
If you have any chronic aches and pains, it may be wise to take a month off of gluten and see if you symptoms improve. Find a balance of protein and veggies at every meal and supplement with fruit for energy and cleansing. You may even drop a few unwanted pounds, experience less joint pain or have more energy.