Since I started learning and teaching about the adverse consequences of eating gluten about 12 years ago, some new facts about gluten have come out. There is enormous interest in this food protein that is found in it’s native form in many of the grains that Americans eat. The implication here is that much of gluten is not native anymore(Thank you, Monsanto) and the forms of gluten in packaged food are totally different than the gluten in grains.
Current estimates of gluten sensitivity are approximately 80% of the American population. That’s a far cry from when I started investigating gluten 12 years ago when the most liberal estimates were 1 in 140. This is not the same percentage of American’s that have Celiac Disease, the most destructive condition in the gluten spectrum.
So what has happened and why?
For one thing, the testing for gluten has gotten a lot more sophisticated. When I started investigating this, the only marker that was used to test for gluten intolerance was alpha gliadin.
If you showed elevated antibodies to alpha gliadin, either in your blood or saliva then you were considered to be suspicious for gluten intolerance.
Then, a lab called Entero Labs came out with a gene test that figures out whether or not you have the genes necessary to correlate with gluten sensitivity. These are called Human Leukocyte Antigen genes(HLA) and the two subtypes are DQ2 and DQ8. One correlates with intestinal inflammation, the other with brain dysfunction.
In addition, two other markers for gluten problems were introduced, stool endomysial antibodies and stool tissue transglutaminase antibodies. These are for the diagnosis of Celiac Disease, not for just gluten sensitivity.
You see, gluten sensitivity is a spectrum of reaction by the body to the elements in gluten. What I mean by this is that one one hand of the spectrum are people who do not react seemingly at all and on the other hand there are people with full blown Celiac disease that will get very ill if any gluten is consumed.
Here’s the weird part: Many people have intestinal destruction due to the immune reaction of their body to the elements of gluten and have no digestive symptoms.
However, they often have other seemingly unrelated symptoms like:
-stunted growth in children
-anxiety and depression
Finally, a new lab with a director who has an impressive array of credentials has just started business and they not only look at the standard alpha gliadin but also beta and omega gliaden, gluteomorphins,glutenin( to name a few) and a new intestinal permeability test which measures the destructive force of gluten like substances on the intestinal lining(leaky gut). Also there is a test that measures an array of foods that cross react with gluten. This means you could be entirely gluten free in your diet and still get intestinal degeneration and all it’s effects, because of the inflammation due to a food that merely looks like gluten to your body.
Here is the point: Seems like gluten can negatively affect any system in the body. And, you can have big time or no gastro-intestinal complaints. And as usually is the case, symptoms help but are not definitive.
So how do you figure out if you are part of the 80% of American that has some sensitivity to gluten, when you eat it now and have no intestinal complaints?
-Elimination and Provocation
-Lab testing for gluten and gene sensitivity
-Coca Pulse test
The gold standard for any food sensitivity is to eliminate the food from being consumed, let the body adjust to it not being there and then re introduce the food to observe it effect. The big question is how long to keep the suspected food from being consumed.
When I was doing this for myself, I went off gluten for 9 months and I had zero g.i. complaints before I started.
Now, I realize that an Apex Energetics formula would have de inflamed my gut in about 3 weeks so that I would react to gluten when it was re introduced. That would have been much easier than 9 months!
The labs today are very sophisticated in picking up gluten sensitivity. At a minimum, there should be the mouth swab gene test and a measurement of your reaction to all of the subfractions of gluten.
Finally, it would be great if you knew which foods cross react with gluten so to prepare the diet that is the least allergenic for you.
Lastly, the Coca pulse test was developed by the pediatric allergist, Dr. Coca. In this test, your pulse becomes elevated when you eat a food that is inflammatory: gluten. Of course in this test you can look at other foods like dairy and corn to gauge your body’s reaction. You just have to do it one at a time.
Gluten can be a serious destructive force in the susceptible person’s health. And the symptoms of gluten intolerance can range all over the board including no obvious definable symptoms.
It is critical, therefore, to assess your sensitivity to this seemingly ubiquitous food protein.
You health may depend on it!