What is Gluten?

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Late night television host Jimmy Kimmel poked fun of gluten-free diets last week by asking “people on the street” the question: “What is gluten?” Click here to watch it.  http://abc.go.com/shows/jimmy-kimmel-live/video/featured/VDKA0_2wexwoh9

As you can see, the answers were pretty comical! Since May is Celiac Awareness Month, I thought this would be a great time to discuss gluten, gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and how it impacts the body.

Let’s start with the definition from the Oxford Dictionary:

glu·ten

ˈglo͞otn/ noun

A substance present in cereal grains, especially wheat, responsible for the elastic texture of dough. A mixture of two proteins, it is known to cause illness in people with celiac disease.

The New England Journal of Medicine http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMra071600 reports that Celiac disease is one of the most common, lifelong disorders in both Europe and the United States, and it impacts millions of people. Celiac is an autoimmune, digestive disease, caused by gluten. Gluten damages the villi (small hair-like projections) in the small intestine. This damage means that the small intestine is unable to absorb nutrients from food. Each time a person eats a gluten-containing food, his or her body essentially attacks itself. This attack creates inflammation.

The breakdown of these villi doesn’t occur over night. Evidence suggests that intestinal damage from ongoing exposure to gluten develops gradually. Some people suffer as long as eight to 10 years before being diagnosed. In the interim, the body breaks down.

The primary culprit behind this inflammatory response is gluten-intolerance and gluten-sensitivity. The intestines of a person who is gluten-intolerant are on fire like a roaring flame, while the intestines of someone who is gluten sensitive are more like a smoldering fire. Either way THEY ARE ON FIRE!

At the same time, gluten sensitivity is not exclusively a gut problem. There are more than 300 different symptoms associated with it, ranging from diarrhea and abdominal pain, to weight gain and joint pain. The affected organs include the brain, kidneys, stomach, intestines, liver, and gallbladder. The brain is particularly vulnerable, and associated symptoms include brain fog, migraines, multiple sclerosis, ADHD, autism, depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, depression and chronic fatigue syndrome. Also, gluten sensitivity is associated with asthma, allergies and skin rashes.

The most prescribed therapy for celiac disease and non-celiac/gluten-sensitivity is a gluten-free diet. However, unless the underlying inflammation is addressed, the body’s response to dietary changes will be limited. Specific nutrients also are needed In order to get the inflammation under control.

Because my son has to be 100 percent gluten-free, I decided to pursue additional education and I became a Certified Gluten Practitioner. I am very familiar with the daily challenges associated with a family member who has to be on a gluten-free diet. I will not lie to you—it can be a daily struggle if you are not organized.

As a Certified Gluten Practitioner, I can work with you to develop a carefully selected nutritional protocol and eating program needed to heal and rebuild your body’s intestinal walls and decrease inflammation in the gut. Make an appointment today to begin the first step to a healthy gut!

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About the Author

Dr. Ingrid Maes

Dr. Ingrid Maes specializes in gentle chiropractic care and creating a lifestyle that promotes your best health. As a doctor of chiropractic and certified acupuncturist, Ingrid is skilled at identifying the root cause of imbalance and creating physical, nutritional and emotional balance in all systems of your body.

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