Have you tried a gluten-free diet for various symptoms and not noticed any changes, or maybe even noticed that your symptoms worsened?
What could be more frustrating than thinking you are doing everything right to be healthy, without realizing you were set up to fail?
In an attempt to avoid gluten, the traditional gluten-free diet traditionally fails us. Unbeknownst to many, plenty of “gluten-free” products are made with other types of grain-based glutens that have not been adequately studied to be safe for people with gluten sensitivity.(1) Furthermore, there are studies (2,3) which have shown that reversal of intestinal damage was ABSENT in a group of people with celiac disease despite following a gluten-free diet. You read that right… intestinal damage was STILL present in some people after as long as 5 years of a gluten free diet.
How could that be? Here is why…
Gluten is a generic term for a subclass of proteins found in grains. And what most people don’t realize is that kitchen staples like rice and corn are grains which contain gluten! Here is where things get tricky… rice & corn do not have the same type or amount of gluten as wheat, but can be exposed to it in the midst of their processing for consumption.. yikes!
The advent of gluten-free substitutes for kitchen staples like flour, bread, desserts, pasta… (the list can go on) have made their way to a section our local supermarkets. Hence giving people a false sense of security that they can re-introduce their favorite comfort foods back into their diet. Unfortunately processed “gluten-free” products can contain cross-contamination of gluten.
In 2009, there was a pilot study done where 22 different products which were “inherently gluten free grains, seeds and flours” had been sent to a lab to be analyzed for gluten content. The lab was a company that specialized in gluten analysis. The results revealed that 41% of the samples contained an amount of gluten higher than their upper limit of ability to quantify and 32% contained an amount of gluten that would technically NOT be considered gluten-free by FDA regulation for gluten-free labelling.(4)
And what about that bag of popcorn that says certified gluten-free??
Well, another study published in GUT 2005 concluded that there was activation of immune-mediated cells in the intestinal lining which precedes a pronounced enhancement of nitric oxide production (an inflammatory reaction) after they challenged celiac patients with wheat gluten. They found that some of the celiac patients also displayed signs of an inflammatory reaction, as measured by nitric oxide and presence of immune-mediated cells, AFTER a CORN gluten challenge as well.(5) This means corn can produce the same aftermath in our bodies as wheat!
Now, before you lose hope and decide on being a breatharian… read on. Because being TRULY gluten-free in the modern world is ABSOLUTELY possible. We just have to arm you with some knowledge.
A TRUE gluten free diet is free of all grains ( not just wheat ), including rice and corn. The other types of grains to avoid are malt, barley, rye, oats, teff, sorghum, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, spelt, maize, millet, and triticale.
The truly gluten free diet should also exclude conventional dairy. This is because of similarity of epitopes (like a name tag) between the protein in wheat gluten and the main protein in milk (casein). An antibody response to casein has been demonstrated in people with celiac disease, similar that of gluten.(6) Only dairy products from grass- fed sources or raw milk products from a trusted local dairy farm are acceptable.
What can you eat to be TRULY gluten-free?
- Meat of any variety, but you have to be aware of the source
- Beef from grass-fed cows
- Fish – wild and not farm-raised
- Poultry and Eggs – free range and organic
- Dairy from grass-fed animals
- Fruits and Vegetables – organic
- Nuts – non grain seeds, and beans (organic)
Processed foods labelled gluten-free are difficult to trust. Not to mention all of the other issues with processed food such as preservatives, food colorings, or MSG to mention just a few.
So what can you trust? …Your Gut.
After trying a truly gluten-free diet, get still and tune into your what gut is telling you is right. You’ll find that you may not have to listen too hard as you’ll probably be feeling much better like the tons of people out there who are reversing symptoms and disease by eliminating gluten and unhealthy foods.
This blog post written by Liana Rodriguez, D.O. is based on a masterfully crafted lecture delivered by Dr. Peter Osborne. You can view his video tutorials about gluten at www.glutenfreesociety.org
- Clin Exp Allergy. 1995 Nov;25(11):1100-7
- Aliment Pharmacol There. 2009 Jun 15:29(12):1299-308
- Am J Gastroenterol 2010; 105:1412–1420
- J Am Diet Assoc. 2010 Jun;110(6):937-940
- Gut, 1983, 24 825-830
- Nutrition 25 (2009) 7150716