Is Gluten Causing your Tootin’? Or is it Something Else?

A frequently cited statistic is that 1 in 133 Americans with celiac disease represents only a fraction of those who are affected.

Ann felt bloated and tired all the time.  Jack suffered terrible headaches and his body ached all over.  Stephanie’s 5-year-old daughter, Nicole was constipated and having temper tantrums all the time. 

All three tested negative for celiac disease, a severe immune response to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. Yet after experimenting on their own with a gluten free diet, they all felt better.

What’s up with that?

Research about gluten and its effects on humans varies, but one thing is consistent. A frequently cited statistic is that 1 in 133 Americans with celiac disease represents only a fraction of those affected. Many other people fall somewhere on what’s being called the gluten sensitivity spectrum. 

Gluten: Friend, Foe or Fad? 

If you suspect you are gluten sensitive it is helpful to think of gluten on a spectrum, illustrated below.

The only way to find out if, and where, you might rate along the gluten spectrum is to be tested. But, that’s where it gets tricky. The most definitive test for celiac disease is an intestinal biopsy. Many people however go undiagnosed because there is no biomarker for gluten sensitivity. Still others go undiagnosed because the symptoms are silent.

If you have celiac disease the only thing to do is to avoid all foods containing gluten. But it’s more difficult to distinguish whether symptoms can be traced to a wheat sensitivity, gluten sensitivity or carbohydrate intolerance. Where does one begin and the other leaves off?

Are You Sensitive to Gluten and Don’t Know It?

To complicate the gluten issue, symptoms are not always a reliable indicator of detecting gluten sensitivity. Many people have found a wide range of ailments linked to eating gluten. In fact, more than 100 symptoms have loosely been linked to gluten intake. If you have sensitivity to gluten, you may be experiencing any or all of following 3 levels of symptoms. 

Silent Symptoms

Some people have gluten intolerance and never experience digestion upset. Yet they still just don’t feel well. Could that be why mothers of autistic children report their kids do better on a gluten free diet? 

Gastrointestinal Symptoms 

At its earliest stages, symptoms are bloating after eating and diarrhea, gas, abdominal cramping and constipation, similar to irritable bowel syndrome or IBS. In some people gluten causes diarrhea and in other people gluten may cause constipation.

When the gluten sensitivity develops into a full-blown immune reaction, villi -tiny fingerlike protrusions that line the inside of the small intestine - become damaged. When this happens, people develop a “leaky gut”, systemic inflammation, and malabsorption of nutrients. If untreated, this cascades into a host of other complications.

Non-gastrointestinal Symptoms 

(Symptoms that cannot be as easily traced to our gut)

Research reveals that gluten problems may even result in a neurological dysfunction. For example, there are some people who are at risk for t-cell lymphoma, liver failure and neurological deficits. Hence your bowel gas and headache may be connected.

What’s the Next Step?

At our clinic we help bridge the gap of misunderstanding.

First, you can find out if you are gluten sensitive. If you are, we may be able to desensitize you to gluten.

Second, you can find out if you have wheat sensitivity rather than a gluten sensitivity. Some people are sensitive to wheat, not gluten. We may be able to desensitize your body to wheat. 

Third your problem may be just plain carbohydrates. If you are only carbohydrate intolerant then you don’t have to eat gluten free products. It may be more that gluten causing diarrhea and other symptoms. Why restrict yourself from gluten if you are intolerant to other carbohydrate foods that merely mimic gluten symptoms?

We have helped hundreds of patients in Chico, Redding, and  the Sacramento Valley untangle the confusion related to gluten related conditions. If traditional medical approaches for bowel problems are not working, call Dr. Patrick at 530-899-8741 to schedule a consultation.

Dr. Patrick Giammarise D.C., Internal Health Specialist, Founder of the Digestion Relief Center, in Chico,  specializes in effective, natural relief for food sensitivities and digestion problems. Dr. Patrick can be reached at 530-899-8741.

2012, © Dr. Patrick Giammarise, DC. All Rights Reserved.

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Digestion Relief Center 

2639 Forest Avenue, Suite 120 Chico, CA 95928


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