By Dr. James D. Krystosik
Grains, once considered the staff of life, have recently been getting a bad rap. In fact, millions of Americans think that eating grains that contain gluten will put them on the road to gluten hell. Are they right? Let’s look at the facts. Harmful reactions to food are common; harmful reactions to gluten are not as common. Still gluten creates ill health for more than 20 million Americans.
Distinguishing the various types of reactions to gluten is important to anyone’s health. There are three types of reactions that can occur to gluten or any food: 1) Allergy 2) Intolerance 3) Sensitivity.
There are two types of allergic reactions to food. Both types trigger an immune system response—Immediate Response and Delayed or Hidden Response. An immediate allergic reaction to a food usually occurs within minutes or up to three hours after exposure to the reactive food. An example is an immediate allergy to peanuts in which a person may develop hives or worse, their airways become inflamed and breathing is impaired. Immediate allergies are rare. According to health experts, less than 1% of the population has this type of allergy. On the other hand, experts believe delayed food allergies are very common. In fact, some experts believe up to 75% of doctor’s visits are linked to hidden food allergies. A delayed or hidden food allergy can occur anywhere from three hours or up to three days after exposure to the reactive foods. Dr. James Braley, a medical doctor and author of “Food Allergy & Nutrition Revolution” says that over 150 diseases and 100 symptoms are linked to delayed food allergies in the medical literature. I’ve tested thousands of patient’s blood samples for hidden food allergies and I can assure you that
Dr.Braley is right. Finding out if your health problems are linked to hidden food allergies could change and possibly even save your life.
Food intolerance, including intolerance to gluten, can cause some of the same symptoms as food allergies; however, it is not an allergy. Unlike a food allergy, food intolerance does not provoke or activate the immune system. Simply put, the body just does not like the food. Other examples of food intolerance are milk lactose intolerance, food poisoning, reaction to food additives, emotional stress (the thought of food makes you sick), and irritable bowel syndrome. Mistakenly, many people believe their symptoms are triggered by gluten, but in reality, their symptoms may in fact be provoked by the above underlying causes. Therefore, getting a correct diagnosis is important. Unfortunately, most doctors are not trained in the proper diagnosis of this type of reaction to food.
3. Food Sensitivity
This type of reaction to a food is a variation of the first two. Food sensitivity may or may not trigger an immune system response. Sensitivity to gluten is a prime example of this type of reaction. There are two types of gluten sensitivity: celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects 3 million people, 1 out of every 100. Yet less than 1% of people with celiac are diagnosed with the illness. Autoimmune disease sufferer’s immune system literally attacks their body’s own healthy cells by mistake. Gluten sensitivity in celiac disease damages the lining of the small intestines, triggers inflammation, and causes nutritional deficiencies. Celiac disease affects many organs and systems of the body including the brain, heart, lungs, liver, digestive system, immune system and more. A review an article in the New England Journal of Medicine listed 55 diseases linked to celiac disease. Canker sores, fatigue, anemia, recurrent illness, osteoporosis, heart disease, cancer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn’s disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, psoriasis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases are among the symptoms and diseases listed. Celiac is often called the “big masquerader” because it can be the cause of many symptoms and diseases yet it sneaks past the doctor’s consideration. Most physicians are unaware that the symptoms of celiac go way beyond
digestive disturbances like gas, bloating, and diarrhea. Lastly, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is much more common, 17 million people have it, and less than 1% realizes it’s the cause of their health problems. It does not cause damage to the lining of the intestines; therefore, it is not an autoimmune disease. However, non-celiac gluten sensitivity sufferers can experience the same symptoms and diseases associated with celiac disease.
A simple blood test and comprehensive questionnaire can identify if you have an allergy, intolerance or sensitivity to gluten or any other food. When doctors fail to identify reactions to gluten or any other foods, it creates needless suffering and death for millions of Americans. Symptoms or diseases caused by reactions to foods cannot be cured with medication. They can only be cured by eliminating the foods that aren’t right for your body.
The take home message: Your health problems may be caused by the food on your plate. I tell my patients the food they put in their mouth is a life or death decision. Food is medicine. It is your best medicine. However, just remember, “One person’s food is another person’s poison.”
Call for an appointment at 440.519.1766.
Dr. Krystosik is a board certified chiropractic family physician with an undergraduate degree in clinical nutrition. He is the author of five books on nutrition and natural medicine, including his best seller “Carbs from Heaven Carbs from Hell.” Dr. Krystosik is a nationally known speaker and the host of the radio program “The Other Side of Medicine.” He has a private practice in Northfield, a southeast suburb of Cleveland.