Why You Might Have a Gluten Sensitivity and Not Even Know It
I see many patients who insist they don't have issues with gluten. They were tested for gluten sensitivity, they explain, and the results came back negative.
Well, whether or not you have been tested for gluten sensitivity, it’s worth your while to learn these little-known facts about wheat and gluten sensitivity.
Wheat consists of multiple proteins and peptides– all of which we can react to.
Wheat consists of a wide range of polypeptides such as gliadin, glutenin, prodynorphin, wheat germ agglutinin, omega gliadin, and gluteomorphin. Every single one of us can react to one or a variety of combinations of these proteins.
The current blood tests available in mainstream laboratories only test for reactions against ONE of the proteins in wheat.
Traditional gluten sensitivity tests look for antibodies to gliadin and tissue transglutaminase. Gliadin is one of many proteins found in wheat, and tissue transglutaminase is a ubiquitous enzyme found in the body that crosslinks to gluten which can prompt an immune reaction. But what about the numerous other proteins in gluten that we can react to? These are not conventionally tested.
Gluten sensitivity is on the rise worldwide
An estimated 30-35% of people have gluten sensitivity. It's increasing globally due to a breakdown of our immune tolerance caused by increased exposure to chemicals, medications, and stress, as well as poor nutrition. This results in an altered gut microbiome, dysfunctional gut enzymes, increased intestinal permeability, and a lack of vitamins and minerals necessary to support the immune system.
The duration of gluten exposure in a gluten sensitive individual is a key factor in developing other autoimmune diseases.
A landmark study published in 1999 found that the longer that people who were gluten sensitive were exposed to gluten, the more likely they were to develop other autoimmune diseases such as psoriasis, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, lupus, and rheumatoid arthritis.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity vary from person to person. They may be present as abdominal discomfort, bloating, diarrhea, or crampy abdominal pain. Extra-intestinal symptoms may include headache, migraines, joint pain, fatigue, difficulty focusing, and lethargy.
How to find out if you are gluten sensitive:
1. Go gluten-free.
2. Eliminate gluten for for 3-4 weeks and then reintroduce it into your diet and see how you react.
2. Get rid of the following foods.
Barley, rye, oats, spelt, kamut, wheat, and triticale. Check out www.celiac.com for a complete list of foods that contain gluten.
3. Watch out for hidden sources of gluten.
These include soup mixes, salad dressings, lipstick, certain vitamins, medications, stamps, envelope glue, and even Play-Doh.
4. Slowly reintroduce gluten.
After being off of gluten for 3-4 weeks, reintroduce it into your diet and observe your body for the 72 hours after consuming it. If you experience any reaction at all, you have your answer- you should be gluten-free.
5. Find a holistic healthcare provider who can partner with you.
If you are still interested in lab testing or if you have further questions, find a healthcare provider who offers laboratory testing from companies that provide advanced gluten sensitivity testing and can partner with you throughout the process.