Monday, December 6, 2010
HOW GLUTEN MAY BE RUINING YOUR HEALTH
The Gluten Effect
By Drs. Vikki and Richard Peterson, D.C., C.C.N.
How effective is modern medicine in preventing and curing disease? Are doctors taught to look for the root causes of illness or are they trained to only treat the symptoms? These are questions which need serious consideration. It is becoming more and more obvious that profit goals are fueling the destructive medical paradigm of keeping the patients sick while making money by treating only the symptoms and not the cause.
The authors of The Gluten Effect place heavy emphasis on getting to the root causes of illness. Often there are many inciting factors that need to be looked at. On page 321 the Petersons summarize their method of treating disease. “Our approach to a person in ill health is first to identify the symptoms and to which bodily system these symptoms are related. The next step is to find what stressor may be affecting this bodily system and remove it. Stressors can include toxins, foods, infections, malnutrition, emotional stress and others. Because our bodies are so resilient, once we eliminate the stressors, our bodies have an amazing ability to heal over time.” The authors call this their “Health Now Method.”
As the title of this book suggests, gluten ( a component of wheat, barley, and rye) is being increasingly recognized as a significant stressor to the body. Gluten is being linked to autoimmune disease, lymphoma and many other chronic symptoms and illnesses. Not everyone is sensitive to gluten but those who are need to permanently eliminate gluten containing foods from their diet. This is not always an easy task as foods containing wheat barley and rye comprise a large portion of the modern diet.
In the beginning of the book the authors include a general introduction to the subject of gluten sensitivity and give reasons as to why they think gluten is becoming a problem for an increasing number of people. The Petersons inform the reader about the differences between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity or intolerance. They explain how celiac disease is only one manifestation of gluten intolerance. Evidence is mounting showing that celiac disease is only the tip of the iceberg when determining the many different ways gluten intolerance can harm the body.
Those who are gluten intolerant can incur damage to the immune system, specific glands and the digestive system. The damage to these areas of the body can then cause multiple symptoms throughout the entire body. The hallmark symptoms of celiac disease were once thought to be digestive problems and loss of weight. While these symptoms can definitely be a part of celiac disease/gluten intolerance, patients can also experience weight gain and a lack of digestive problems. Because of a continued misunderstanding of this fact, many people are being left undiagnosed. A quote from page 275 explains the reasoning behind gluten intolerance and weight gain. “As outlined earlier in the book, gluten sensitivity is a chronic health stress on the body affecting many organs, including the immune system and digestive system. Our hormonal system (specifically the adrenal glands) increases stress hormone (cortisol) production, which causes disturbances in our metabolism and weight. Cortisol, like prednisone, causes weight gain around the abdomen, makes it harder to use glucose from the diet, and increases fatigue through poor sleep mechanisms. All of these result in weight gain.” The fact that gluten intolerance can also lower thyroid function…is also a factor. Hashimoto’s disease has more recently been connected with gluten sensitivity
Celiac disease occurs when gluten sensitivity causes an autoimmune reaction in the body, which in turn flattens the small intestinal villi and results in malabsorption of vitamins and minerals. There are many conditions….such as osteoporosis, which can be the end result of this malabsorption of essential nutrients. B12 deficiency is a very common problem due to damaged intestinal function. The good news is that complete avoidance of all sources of gluten can result in complete healing of the intestines and improvement or healing of other glands in the body which have been affected.
The authors stress over and over again the importance of the fact that the adrenal glands are very frequently and negatively affected by gluten intolerance. I found this specific information to be extremely interesting and I appreciated the fact that the authors repeated this finding quite a few times throughout the book. Often…in order to heal chronic conditions….such as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Lyme and coinfections, Arthritis….etc. we need to address the absolute root cause. For example, some naturopathic doctors may diagnose adrenal insufficiency and prescribe certain herbs to alleviate or strengthen the adrenal glands. However, if we continue to consume a weakening stressful substance, such as gluten, if there are any good effects from the herbal remedy prescribed, it will only be palliative or temporary. The weakening substance(s) need to be found and eliminated.
I have recently read several books on gluten intolerance and celiac disease and found them to be rather mediocre and not really getting down to the nitty gritty of how all the body systems interact with gluten. This book…. “The Gluten Effect” is not a book which goes into detail about where to find gluten free foods nor does it offer recipes for gluten free meals. You will want to read other books to obtain this more general information. However……if you want to better understand the possible cause of chronic symptoms or disease and why these symptoms have manifested, then you need to put this book on your “must read” list. I have not included half of the information that is covered in this book, such as testing for gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. To summarize, I found this book to be extremely helpful in understanding what symptoms can be attributed to gluten sensitivity and WHY. My copy of The Gluten Effect is all marked up because on almost every page I found myself underlining and starring important information that I wanted to remember. I heartily recommend this book for anyone who has chronic symptoms and is looking for the root cause. Gluten may not be your root cause, but you’ll never know until you thoroughly research this subject.