Is gluten making you sick and tired?
To understand this more lets first look at what gluten is.
Gluten is a protein that is formed by the mixing of gliadin and glutenin with water. It's main characteristic is its stickiness which is what makes it so valuable to the baking industry.
A potentially toxic substance to your body.
One of the main problems with gluten is that you are not fully able to digest it. As a result you can end up with unchanged forms of gluten floating around in your system.
This is very dangerous as it leads to an immune reaction and your body send out antibodies to destroy this foreign protein. It is this process than can go on to cause damage to your organs and potentially your brain and nerves also.
Gluten is also an addictive substance and can invoke a similar response in the brain as morphine does. We naturally create morphine like substances in our brain called endorphin's when we feel pleasure. The brain can also release these endorphin's to numb pain in our body. Research suggests that gluten can also cause some of these responses.
Here is a table I have borrowed from Dr. Rodney Ford a gluten expert. He terms his ten target areas and the symptoms you can expect if you have gluten sensitivity. You don’t need all of these symptoms. If you can answer yes to any of these problems you may be gluten sensitive.
- Mouth - Ulcers, runny nose, sore throat
- Oesophagus - Gastro-oesophagus reflux, heart burn, swallowing difficulties
- Stomach - Indigestion, slow emptying, gastritis
- Small bowel - Coeliac disease, malabsorption, diarrhoea.
- Colon - Diarrhoea and constipation, bloating, low immune function
- Rectum - Constipation, soiling.
- Brain - Disturbed behaviour, migraine, grumpy, tired, headache, depression, mood disorders, ataxia, autism, epilepsy, ADHD
- Skin - Dermatitis herpetiformis, eczema
- Immune - Run-down, low immunity, recurrent infections
- Growth - Poor height and weight
The medical systems approach to gluten sensitivity.
Medicine only looks at gluten through one spectrum which is that of coeliac. If you are not deemed coeliac by the medical system then in their view you have no issue. But in 2006 Hadjivassiliou found that gluten sensitivity clearly caused neurological dysfunction without any sign of histological gut damage.
To be deemed a coeliac a gastroenterologist must pass and endoscope into the upper part of you bowel. A small sample of tissue is taken and is examined under a microscope. If there is no damage to the tissue then you are not coeliac.
There are a number of problems with this approach however.
- Firstly it eliminates all people who may be sensitive to gluten but have no tissue damage.
- Secondly it is expensive and can take a long time,
- Thirdly too much emphasis is placed on the endoscopy within the medical field.
Coeliac disease is a progressive illness and can be patchy throughout the bowel. So just because you had no tissue damage in the sample tissue doesn’t mean it is not in another area.
However there have been a host of blood tested introduced since the 1990’s that could be more useful.
- tTG tissue transglutaminase this is an antibody that is stimulated due to damage to the endomysial muscle in the gut tissue. If a test indicates elevated tTG antibodies you could have gut damage.
- IgG gliadin test, this test has been disregarded by many as it is a poor indicator of coeliac disease, but are we not throwing the baby out with the bath water with that argument? We have already shown that gluten sensitivity can exist free from coeliac disease. So if you have a positive IgG gliadin test it indicates that you are producing antibodies against gluten which shows gluten sensitivity.
Finally you have no biological need to eat gluten. It does not have any health giving properties and in fact a life free from gluten is a healthy life.