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Gluten free but not symptom free?

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April 2, 2015

Have you ever wondered why going gluten free hasn’t solved your problems? You may know to avoid gluten if you have the autoimmune disorder Celiac disease, but did you know current research indicates going gluten free will not solve all of your problems?

The single most important aspect of celiac and gluten sensitivity is a gluten free diet. Conventional medicine agrees that the proper treatment of Celiac disease is a gluten free diet, but that’s not enough.
One of the preeminent Celiac research institutions, the University of Chicago indicated:

“While healing may take up to 2 years for many older adults, new research shows that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal, especially when adherence to the diet is less than optimal.”

Those odds are bleak! You may think that this indicates those people are not following a strict gluten free diet, right? Wrong! 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.”

Another study from the American Journal of Gastroenterology observed 381 Celiac disease patients and found that small intestine recovery occurred in 34% of those following the 2-year, traditional gluten free diet. They said:
“Mucosal recovery was absent in a substantial portion of adults with CD after treatment with a GFD.”

That same 2009 study indicated that 65% of participants had “persistent intraepithelial lymphocytosis” which indicates widespread gut inflammation.So if a medically supervised, 16-month gluten free prescription doesn’t heal their guts, what is the problem and what will?

One of my professor always said, “the devil is in the details”, and research has concluded that the “devil” is our inability to stimulate healing to the mucosal surfaces due to uncontrolled inflammation.These studies indicate that Celiacs struggle with an inferno of inflammation that continues to destroy their gut tissue, even with a gluten free diet. So, if gut inflammation continues, what is its significance? For many people the damage has already been done and a gluten free diet does not eliminate their symptoms.

In fact, many go on to develop neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, or more autoimmune disorders such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Multiple Sclerosis, etc. According to the Journal of American Medical Association in 2009, those with gluten sensitivity had a 35% increased risk of premature death as compared to a 39% increased risk of a premature death in celiac disease.

Furthermore, the study indicated those patients having gut inflammation related to gluten had a staggering 72% increase risk of premature death! Gut inflammation is the devil behind these details and if it is not stopped there may be serious consequences.

But I don’t have gut symptoms!

Wonderful, but remember that the majority of people with Celiac Disease and or Gluten Sensitivity do not have gastrointestinal symptoms and are therefore not checked! The British Medical Journal in 1999 emphasized this point by stating that for every patient with overt gastrointestinal signs and symptoms there are 8 other patients who do not have gut symptoms.

The point of this information is that many know they have issues with gluten and many more do not. Both share the common theme of inflammation causing systemic disease and tissue destruction. So, how do you address the underlying issues? This is where functional medicine shines! Functional medicine goes to the source of the problem and looks at environmental, dietary, genetic and lifestyle factors that challenge normal physiology and uses a systematic approach to developing a program that corrects these issues so that you can heal yourself.

This may incorporate an elimination, provocation dietary challenge, anti-inflammatory diet combined with targeted nutritional supplements. At Dr. Autoimmune we also focus on functional neurology, structural health and lifestyle choices that either increase, or decrease inflammation with suggestions and tips on how to become truly vibrant and optimally healthy!

Dr. Karen and Dr. Ian both struggled with health challenges after eliminating gluten. Their personal health stories have guided them to a place of understanding through experience. They recognize that we can all feel uncertain and helpless regarding our health.

As a result, they strive to understand and educate, as well as getting results within 2 months of care! You do not have to live a life of poor health and the most important thing for yourself is to decide that you will no longer live this way. If you want to become empowered with your health, please contact the Dr. Autoimmune and schedule your comprehensive initial appointment!

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