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5 Things I wish I knew when I was diagnosed gluten intolerant

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April 2, 2015

1) The disease does not stop after going gluten free – A 2009 study from the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics indicated that after studying 465 Celiac disease patients only 8% of the group reached “histological normalization” after following a strict gluten free diet for 16 months. That is, only 8% of the group regained a healthy gut. Their final conclusion:

“Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients despite adherence to GFD.” We cannot be passive after a diagnosis of Celiac, or gluten sensitivity. Your quality of life depends on you taking action and determining any remaining food allergens, sources of inflammation or gut imbalances. Please consider working with a trained functional medicine doctor to help attain optimal health!

2) Hidden contamination is the most common cause for relapse – Research paper after paper indicates that non-compliance to a gluten free diet will continue the vicious auto-immune circle of damage and adhering to a 100% gluten free diet is the first step in healing. The most common source of hidden contamination is eating out or using packaged foods with shared equipment!

3) Cross reactivity may hinder full healing – To date there are 24 different foods that can mimic gluten because the amino acid sequences found in say corn, rice or buckwheat are similar to those found in gluten containing grains.

So, even though a gluten free diet is adhered to the typical gluten free foods may continue to drive the vicious circle of disease.

4) A safety blanket called DPPIV – This digestive enzyme should normally be produced to help us break gluten down but in those with intolerance it appears we may have less available or it just doesn’t work the same. So, for eating out or where circumstances prevent full control of the food you are exposed to, we recommend a product call “gluten flam”, which can help control exposure to gluten. Please DO NOT consider this a “fix” to the problem and use as if it were a cure to regular exposure to gluten.

5) 5 labs that MUST be checked that are frequently out of balance:

  • Full thyroid panel including Thyroid antibodies (Thyroid peroxidase & Anti-thyroglobulin). In those diagnosed with Celiac disease there is a dramatic increase in the incidence of Hashimoto’s (and vice versa). Even without an elevated TSH (which is normally the only test checked by MD’s) autoimmunity can drive damage to the thyroid organ and intervention can potentially lower the damaging auto-antibodies.
  • Serum 25-OH Vitamin D – Although this hormone is found to be low in 50% of the US population North of Altanta, Georgia it is particularly crucial in leaky gut. Vitamin D appears to be one of the necessary hormones to keep cells tightly together preventing the “leakiness” in the first place.
  • Serum Ferritin – Iron deficiency is one of the most common presentations of gluten intolerance irrespective if a woman has a heavy cycle. Even without gut symptoms, if there is history of anemia, it must be ruled out and if a diagnosis of Celiac disease is made then there is a good chance storage iron is low!
  • Complete blood count with differential – This is important for two reasons, one, MCV or Mean Cell Volume is an indicator of folic acid and vitamin B12 status and a mild elevation can indicate deficiency here. Secondly, alterations in the differential, or different white blood cell types may indicate bacterial, viral or parasitic infections and any of these infections may inhibit proper gut healing!
  • Stool testing for bacterial overgrowths, parasitic infections and pancreatic digestive enzyme function – When the normal environment is in upheaval with digestive diseases many times the instigator, or inability to heal properly is from foreign microbes dominating our internal environment. Celiac disease significantly increases the risk of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth which is connected to many autoimmune conditions. Also, lack of digestive enzymes creates inflammation because our signal for proper digestion begins with adequate digestive enzyme function.

So many people struggle post diagnosis (which is many times a feat in itself!) that I have focused my practice into helping this unique patient population. I have heard horror story after horror story of Gastroenterologists telling patients little to nothing except they have this “Celiac” disease and they should avoid gluten. Well I’m here to tell you that you have some one on your side, fighting for your health. I’m confident that if you can change your diet, take some supplements and maintain a positive attitude, you will dramatically change your health. My Grandfather died of Celiac disease and if I can prevent one more person from suffering needlessly, I will have triumphed as a doctor. If you were recently diagnosed or are a long-term sufferer, enough is enough, pick up the phone and call the Dr. Autoimmune and we will let your health soar!

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