Over the last decade there has been much talk and debate about Gluten and its effects, or lack thereof, on a person’s gut health and overall wellness. This article is to provide you with some basic information to help you make the choice of Gluten free, to be or not to be.
What is Gluten? Gluten is a combination of proteins found in grains, including wheat, oats, rice, barley, rye, and corn, as well as hybrid grains like tritricale, a cross between wheat and rye. Gluten has elastic like properties that create the doughy-like texture in breads, as well as other grain products. Each grain has different proteins, also known as prolamines, and the wheat prolamine is Gliadin. Gliadin has come under much scrutiny in the past decade for its role in Celiac disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS).
Research around the world, especially in western cultures, such as the United States, uncovered a large percentage of the general population report stomach pains, digestion problems, weight gain, bloating, and change in bowel habits related to wheat and/or gluten intake, despite the fact they do not have celiac disease (CD) or wheat allergy (WA). Biomarkers for celiac disease are lab tests for HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8, which can be ordered through your primary care providers office. If they are positive, confirmation tests with additional bloodwork known as Tissue transglutaminase (tTG), IgA and IgG should be done. Some patients have negative test results, but report significant improvement in symptoms once they remove Gluten from their diets.
Furthermore, there is significant research that links Gluten sensitivity to ADHA, as well as Hypothyroidism and Hashimotos thyroiditis, a thyroid condition where your body mounts an immune response against your own thyroid gland and begins destroying it. Simple blood tests checking thyroid antibodies can be done to screen for this also.
Lastly, no two people are alike and when your body mounts an immune response against an allergen it can manifest itself in various ways in different people. So if you suffer from strange skin problems that you have never been able to get rid of, weight gain, bloating, and stomach problems that have been difficult to control or require much medication for symptom management, thyroid problems, or have a child with hyperactivity and/or weight gain, you may want to consider trying a Gluten free diet, as well as see a primary care clinician that will partner with you, investigate your symptoms, and help you figure this out.
Knowledge is power and the information in this article scratches the surface of the research currently being done on Gluten and the effects it does and does not have on the health and wellness of many people. I have added some noteworthy references with links at the end of this article for your convenience. Also, when researching remember to use credible databases such as the National Institute of Health (NIH) and Medline, as well as many of the medical academies: American Academy of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Academy of Gastroenterology, American Academy of Functional Medicine.
Remember, you are what you eat and let your food be your medicine!
Cindy Grow, MSN, ARNP, AGPCNP-BC
Patient Centered Healthcare and Wellness LLC