My long-time patient (and friend) KaLee developed debilitating health changes during her late teens and early twenties. Along with unexplained weight gain, depression, brain fog, #fatigue, frequent stomach pain, she had uncontrollable #gingivitis (gum inflammation). Despite KaLee’s impeccable dental #hygiene (she is now a registered dental hygienist), her red puffy gums stumped me, and her dental hygiene instructors. One day KaLee was rushed to a hospital emergency department with extreme gut pain. The doctor suggested she try a gluten-free diet. Long story short, this began a fast track to restoring her health. Her energy was restored almost immediately, her #diarrhea and #bloating disappeared, her depression lifted and she lost all 83 pounds she had gained. Miraculously, her gums healed to become light and tight. I would not have believed all that if I hadn’t witnessed it first-hand.
Despite that the words “gluten-free” appear ubiquitously throughout our grocery and restaurant world, the concept is still poorly understood.
Gluten is the naturally occurring plant protein in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. For people who are sensitive to it, it can cause any of KaLee’s symptoms and more: Anxiety, #autoimmune diseases, migraine headaches, acid reflux, a variety of skin problems, hormone imbalances, adrenal fatigue, mouth ulcers (canker sores), muscle and joint pain. The bottom line is gluten sensitivity is common in today's world and it can affect processes in the body far beyond the digestive tract.
Dr. Jamie Kaufman, ENT, and national reflux expert suggest that up to 20 percent of us have some level of gluten sensitivity. Do you wonder how this occurred? Much of the cause is the change in our wheat, once called the “staff of life”. As recently as 20 years ago, wheat was almost never associated with such #toxicity. Food farming industries continually hybridized wheat to increase yields, protect itself from fungus/pest attacks and make it easier for mechanical harvesting. Along the way, these genetic changes have impacted human health for a significant fraction of our population.
It is important to remember that gluten sensitivity is not the same as celiac disease or wheat allergy. Because there are no specific medical tests that can be performed to confirm gluten sensitivity we rely on a “rule out” diagnosis. To diagnose gluten sensitivity, both celiac disease and wheat allergy must be ruled out, using blood antibody testing and a small intestine biopsy.
If you identify with any of KaLee’s symptoms it would be well worth trying a gluten holiday. If you’re sensitive, three weeks on a strict gluten-free diet (which means reading all labels and avoiding many restaurants) should be enough to improve your symptoms.