Are you tired of hearing information about gluten? Is it only hype being endorsed by celebrities or is it a real issue? Could a gluten free diet positively affect IBS, ADHD and Fibromyalgia? Here’s the real scoop!
Gluten is protein that is found in several types of grains, including wheat, rye, spelt and barley. Gluten consists of two proteins called gliadin and glutenin. It is the gliadin portion that causes people to have a negative reaction. Celiac Disease is a disease in which the immune system attacks the gluten proteins, but is also attacks the intestinal wall. This means that when those with Celiac Disease ingest gluten, the immune system attacks it’s own body tissue, which classifies Celiac Disease as an autoimmune disease. This severe reaction can cause degeneration to the intestinal wall. This will lead to digestive complaints, nutrient deficiencies, fatigue and an increased risk for many diseases. According to one study, over 80% of people with Celiac Disease don’t even know they have it!
What we do need to keep in mind is that Celiac Disease only affects about 1% of the population. You don’t necessarily need to have full-blown Celiac Disease to be experiencing adverse reactions to gluten. Gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity is much, much more common. In a gluten intolerance, the body does not attack it’s own tissue. Many of the symptoms are the same as those in Celiac Disease. These include bloating, stomach pain, fatigue as well as joint pain. Many people have had a false diagnosis of Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, when in fact their symptoms were due to gluten intolerance. In fact, about 40% of people carry genes that make them more susceptible to gluten sensitivity.
So, you are sure you don’t have Celiac Disease and you are sure you aren’t gluten intolerant. There is no benefit in following a gluten-free diet then, right? Wrong. There are many studies showing that individuals with neither Celiac Disease nor gluten intolerance still have adverse reactions to gluten! Following a gluten-free diet is especially beneficial for people who have been given a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). Gluten may also have negative effects on the barrier function of the intestine. If you have every heard of ‘Leaky Gut Syndrome’, this is it. Leaky Gut is when the unwanted substances ‘leak’ through the intestines into the bloodstream. This can cause allergies and many unwanted symptoms. Essentially, you have gluten protein circulating through the brain. This leads us to the next point, the association to gluten and mental disorders.
There are multiple cases of neurological illness such as anxiety and ADHD that may be caused or exacerbated by the consumption of gluten. Studies show that over 50% of patients with mental disorders had antibodies against gluten. Autism, Epilepsy and Schizophrenia are all conditions that may see major improvement when patients start following a gluten-free diet. There is also such strong evidence to support the connection between ADHD and gluten sensitivity. This connection is especially strong in children. Once gluten is removed from the diet, some children are able to completely stop taking their medication to mange their ADHD symptoms.
Awareness of the negative health effects of gluten has increased in the past few years. But gluten-free is more than just the latest fad. There are multiple studies showing that gluten can cause harmful effects. So, why not? Give it a try! One thing to keep in mind, if you do think you may have Celiac Disease, be sure to visit your Doctor and do testing prior to starting a gluten-free diet. This will ensure that you get accurate test results.
Until next time,
The Apollo Team