Friday, June 29, 2012

Can a Gluten-free Diet Cure Type 1 Diabetes?


A new study revealed that a child with type 1 diabetes went into complete remission and remained that way for 20 months (perhaps more, but that was the duration of the study) on a gluten-free diet. No insulin was required and his blood values were normal.

Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmune disease. By that is meant that one’s immune system mistakenly attacks a body part instead of a disease causing organism such as a bacteria, virus or parasite. The immune system is designed to protect the body from foreign invaders, it is certainly not designed to attack the body itself.

Yet, in the case of over 100 different autoimmune diseases, that’s exactly what happens. In diabetes the pancreas is the target, in celiac disease the small intestine bears the brunt of destructive immune forces, in rheumatoid arthritis it is the joints that are under attack, etc, etc.

Research has known for some time that there is a strong correlation between type 1 diabetes (typically diagnosed in children) and celiac disease. In fact the genetic components of both diseases seem to share genes. The correlation is so strong that some researchers feel that it is prudent to rule out celiac disease in type 1 diabetics.

Unfortunately I have found that all too often it is the diabetes and its treatment with insulin that gets center stage and celiac or gluten intolerance is either not tested or, even when found, is not given the attention it deserves.

I still remember two cases where the parent of the child stated that a gluten free diet was just ‘too much’ to cope with considering all that diabetes involved, diet-wise. While I appreciate that it’s not an easy lifestyle, I think if these parents had the study that we’re about to discuss to hand they might have been more willing to adopt a gluten-free diet.

Here are the specifics of the study:
Published just days ago in the British Medical Journal (June 21, 2012) from authors Sildorf SM, Fredheim S, Svensson J, and Buschard K out of Copenhagen University Hospital , the article was titled “Remission without insulin therapy on gluten-free diet in a 6-year old boy with type 1 diabetes mellitus”.

The patient was a boy aged 5 years and 10 months who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes but was not diagnosed with celiac disease. Despite a negative celiac test he was started on a gluten-free diet and within 2 to 3 weeks had no need for insulin. This is rather astonishing and certainly the only ‘treatment’ he was receiving was a gluten-free diet.

A lab test called Hemoglobin A1c was very high upon initial diagnosis, consistent with diabetes. With the addition of a gluten-free diet that number dropped to within normal range and stabilized, once again without any insulin.

Evaluated at the 16 month mark after initiating the gluten free diet, and again at the 20 month mark, the young boy was still completely stable with no need for insulin. The authors note that a gluten-free diet is completely safe and without side effects – That’s for sure. Other than the great side effect of stabilizing (can we say reversing?) diabetes!

The researchers summation was that a gluten-free diet has prolonged remission of diabetes in this patient and they recommend further trials be initiated.

This research is just a dream come true for me. The problem is finding these newly diagnosed children and then educating their parents and doctors. And the child in this study didn’t even have a positive celiac test.

Do realize that celiac testing is not perfect and due to its lack of sensitivity it can often miss the disease. So too there is gluten intolerance, which despite what some may think, I find to be related to autoimmune disease.

So while we do have a bit of an uphill battle as far as education goes, if we could get some pediatricians and endocrinologists to look at this data we could really make an impact.

Have you had any experience with this personally? I’d love to hear from you.

Also I would like to ask you to spread this information far and wide if you will. Imagine how beautiful it would be to ‘catch’ a child newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and reverse/stabilize it with a simple dietary change?

I truly believe it is possible (certainly the above study shows that) and the more it occurs the more likely we are to have clinicians adopt a policy of trying a gluten-free diet in these at-risk children. A gluten-free diet certainly poses no harm and when compared to the devastating effects of diabetes, I think we can all agree that the gluten-free diet sounds like an ideal treatment.

I hope this information was helpful. Please let me know if you have any questions.

If your health is not at the level you desire, please consider our offer of a free health analysis. Call 408-733-0400. We are here to help.

Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally so you do not need to live locally to receive assistance.

To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the e-Book: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Is a Leaky Gut only Found in Those with Celiac Disease?


If you follow the literature at all on celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, then you have likely heard much about ‘leaky gut’.

What is it?

The small intestine, 23 feet in length and responsible for turning food into fuel, is a permeable organ. This means that it allows digested food to leave its confines in order to feed all the cells of the body but it also has an intelligent ‘gate keeper’ system that prevents toxins or dangerous organisms from escaping.

When it is functioning normally, the small intestine performs these two, but opposite, functions superbly.
A leaky gut it defined as a small intestine that no longer is guarding the gates well. As a result, partially digested food, toxins and disease-causing organisms gain access to the bloodstream where they can be responsible for a host of ills including many autoimmune diseases – the third leading cause of death in this country.

When testing for the presence of a leaky gut most research has employed the use of a test called the lactulose mannitol test. Lactulose and mannitol are both sugar molecules that are water soluble but not metabolized by the body. Mannitol is the smaller of the two and should be easily absorbed by cells, while lactulose has larger molecules and should be only partially absorbed.

When evaluating those with celiac disease vs. gluten sensitivity, many researchers have cited a positive lactulose mannitol test in those with celiac disease, while consistently showing a negative test in a gluten sensitive population. Their conclusions were, therefore, that only those suffering with celiac disease suffered from leaky gut and those with gluten sensitivity did not.

I have been perplexed by this for quite some time because I see many gluten sensitive patients that respond very favorably to a program that heals a leaky gut.

My clinical knowledge, meaning what I learn from working with my patients, rarely steers me wrong. It was due to my patients that I even discovered gluten sensitivity 20 years ago and I recently saw a quote from Alessio Fasano that cited very much the same thing. He commented that people who were ‘convinced’ that they were celiac and came to his center only to be tested and discover they were not, went home and tried a gluten-free diet anyway and reported miraculous improvement from having done so. Fortunately he listened and from these individuals he began to research what we now know is a very legitimate and common condition, gluten sensitivity.

A couple of years ago I heard research presented by a doctor who was discussing a new permeability test. This doctor contended that the lactulose mannitol test was too gross a test and by the time it showed positive there was extremely severe damage done to the lining of the gut. This makes sense because the test is typically found positive only in celiac and we know that disease causes catastrophic damage to the lining of the small intestine – it is in no way a subtle degree of destruction.

The new test claimed to be more sensitive to subtle changes in permeability of the small intestine, thus making early diagnosis available (always a good thing) plus it frequently proves to be positive in those with gluten sensitivity, not just celiac.

This got my attention because it aligned with what I saw with my patients.
Do understand that I have no personal vested interest in the laboratory offering this test, I’m simply trying to make the point that I believe two things to be true:

1.       The lactulose mannitol test is potentially outdated because it isn’t sensitive to early and subtle changes in gut permeability
2.       Gluten sensitive patients suffer from leaky gut in much the same way as do those with celiac disease. The damage is not as severe, but it doesn’t preclude the negative effects that a leaky gut will create.

Why is this important?

If you have a leaky gut and it isn’t treated properly and early on, you will not regain optimal health, despite a gluten-free diet) and you will be more likely to develop other diseases involving the immune system and nervous system, whether it’s a poor balance of good bacteria in the gut, chronic food reactions, depression, chronic fatigue or autoimmune disease.

The more sensitive test, a blood test, is offered by Cyrex Labs and it measures the body’s immune response to the passage of a lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a substance that is released once a bacterial cell has died. It is felt that the passage of LPS is a more sensitive marker than the previous lactulose mannitol that has been likened to a ‘Mack truck’ passing through the small intestine. And as we all know, a Mack truck is not subtle. The LPS molecule is more like tracking the passage of a ‘Mini cooper’ making its way through the intestinal barrier. Both are a problem and therefore both must be identified.

Much like our poor diagnosis rate – on 5% of all celiac ever get diagnosed in this country and that is typically after a decade of seeking out help – it seems that our ability to diagnose leaky gut is also in need of some assistance.

If you suspect leaky gut you should try to find a clinician to test you. If you need help in this department, always feel free to contact me. I can offer you a free health analysis if you call the clinic at 408-733-0400.
I feel that we will soon appreciate the fact that leaky gut is prevalent in those with gluten sensitivity as well as celiac. This knowledge plus the implementation of an effective treatment plan will go a long way towards dramatic health improvement.

My treatment for a leaky gut involves identifying any and all inhospitable organisms (this would include bacteria, parasites, amoeba, etc) and eradicating them. It further entails evaluating the balance of the good organisms or probiotics in the gut and balancing them as needed. Looking for any nutritional deficiencies, toxicities, hormonal imbalance and other food reactions is all part of this comprehensive program.

Do you know anyone who is wondering if leaky gut is a problem for them? If so, please send them this post.
I am here to help and my commitment is to dramatically increase the awareness of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity, while developing effective treatment strategies that work. We have a strong, effective program for normalizing gut permeability. It is tailored to each individual because we are not all the same, but the above description is the foundation upon which it is based.

I hope this was informative. Do you have any questions? Please send them to me.
We are happy to offer a free health analysis to you, your family and friends – we are here to help!


To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Gluten Drs Blog_ Gluten Intolerant? Easy Explanation of How Your Immune System Causes It


If you are an avid reader of articles related to gluten intolerance, you may run into some confusing terminology that I’m often asked to explain. It is the difference between gluten sensitivity, celiac disease and how the different aspects of the immune system respond in each. The immune system is designed to attack ‘bad guys’, but you’re about to learn how it can differ in its approach and how that’s related to the above conditions.

While there are no ‘absolutes’ when it comes to these conditions, what follows is what research currently understands to be the case. I’m not sure when ‘absolutes’ ever occur, but certainly with the vast wealth of information emerging about celiac disease and the newly accepted gluten sensitivity, it will be several years before we are likely to enjoy stable ‘truisms’ on the subject.

Okay, let’s dive in.The human immune system is a fantastically complex and brilliant system that is truly a feat of genius. There are two different aspects to the immune system that I’d like to clarify.
Adaptive Immune System vs Innate Immune System

There are many studies that state that gluten sensitivity is associated the innate immune system while celiac disease is associated with the adaptive one. Both involve ‘taking out’ bad guys, but what is the difference and why is it significant?

The innate immune system is our first line of defense and it’s rather crude. It recognizes what’s foreign and dangerous but won’t get confused and attack “self”, such as what occurs in autoimmune disease (celiac being one such example of a hundred different autoimmune diseases). The innate immune system can orchestrate a gross level response against an invading ‘bad guy’, much like the equivalent of throwing bleach or another destructive material at it. The innate system also doesn’t require having seen the bad guy previously to decide whether it’s bad or not.

A not very pleasant analogy would be seeing a strange figure moving in your house in the middle of the night and simply throwing acid at it.  It’s not elegant and it’s rather gross, but it gets the job done. Not only does it ‘take out’ the invader, but in its brilliance it doesn’t get any acid on the walls or the floor! See, I told you it was smart…

Adaptive immunity is the immune system’s secondary response and it does require the previous presence of the bad guy (called an antigen) to know that an attack is necessary. Akin to the previous analogy, the adaptive immune system would let the bad guy enter the house the first time undisturbed; it would wait until the second time to take action. It also is highly specific in the way it reacts to the ‘bad guy’. Unlike the gross example of throwing acid at the bad guy, the adaptive immune system would know exactly what jujitsu move to make to incapacitate the bad guy. It’s highly precise and specific.

This specific handling is accomplished by the production of something called antibodies that, as mentioned, are highly specific. They are effective in handling the bad guy but they unfortunately create collateral damage. In our home invader analogy that would be having the jujitsu move also break the fine china. In the human body it would involve an attack of the body’s own tissue, creating a potential autoimmune disease – witness small intestinal damage in celiac disease or joint destruction in rheumatoid arthritis – both autoimmune diseases mediated by the adaptive immune system.

While this seems very clear and concise, I recently read a study that profiled gene expression and claimed to find both adaptive and innate immunity involved in celiac disease – so to some degree the jury is still out.
Many studies state that along with the autoimmune driven destruction of the small intestine found in celiac but not gluten sensitivity, there is also a distinction between the two as regards the presence of ‘leaky gut’ found in celiac disease but not gluten sensitivity. While this once again sounds very clear cut and neat, I must express some disagreement on these points.

Is it possible that celiac disease and gluten sensitivity lie along a continuum that is less distinct than some would have us believe? I ask this question because of the following evidence:
1.      Studies have stated that celiac disease IS found in patients with normal small intestine linings as well as those with inflamed, but not destroyed, linings. So the criteria of tissue destruction = celiac disease is not completely correct. It’s only true in some circumstances.
2.      There are those that feel that the leaky gut tests of the past were not sensitive enough. In other words the past tests would only show leakiness when it was so severe that you could drive the proverbial ‘truck’ through the opening. More subtle and sensitive testing has revealed the presence of leaky gut in those with gluten sensitivity and no celiac disease. Is leaky gut confined to celiac disease only? I don’t believe so.

A leaky gut (correctly known as increased intestinal permeability) permits toxins, bacteria and partially digested food to flow out from the intestine into the bloodstream. Recent research feels that such transport of inappropriate substances is associated with early onset of autoimmune disease.

My clinical experience has found such occurrences in those with gluten sensitivity, not celiac disease, and I have found improvement and sometimes reversal of autoimmune disease by healing the leaky gut in these patients.

Where does this leave us?

It leaves us with unanswered questions, there’s no doubt about it. But, let’s look at what’s important. As a clinician it is my intention to improve the patient’s health, which I believe coincides with their desire as well. It is also my intention to increase their awareness of gluten intolerance, whether they suffer from celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. Increasing their awareness will not only help ensure that they remain gluten-free which is critical to their health, but they will also hopefully begin to educate others.
Remember, we only diagnose 3 to 5% of those suffering from celiac disease and maybe 1 to 2% of those suffering from gluten sensitivity. What this leaves is millions of individuals suffering needlessly from a condition that’s highly treatable.

Whether your innate immune system is involved, your adaptive immune system, or both, the point is to have them stop reacting to something they don’t need to. That means if you’re intolerant to gluten, stop eating it. If your gut is leaky and inhospitable substances are entering your bloodstream creating havoc and perhaps autoimmune disease, then we need to heal that gut.

I’m not trying to be overly simplistic here, but the bottom line is that while research is figuring out once and for all the exact mechanisms underlying these health conditions, you don’t need to continue suffering. You, your family and friends can get help.

So if your health is not where you want it to be and you haven’t been getting the help you need, please contact me for a free health analysis. Call 408-733-0400. We’re here to help!
Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally so you do not have to live locally to receive help.

I would love to hear from you. Did this help to clarify some things? Please let me know.


To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”

Thursday, June 07, 2012

Gluten Intolerant? Domino’s ‘Gluten free’ Pizza is NOT Safe


Americans love pizza. Actually, American’s love a lot of foods they would be better off without, but that’s a subject for a different blog. The point is, that for those of us who refrain from eating gluten, having a national food chain publicize that they are offering a gluten-free alternative of their food is a validation. We feel that we’ve been heard and that enough of us are out there that we are making a difference in the food that is being offered to us.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that sometimes there is a ‘disconnect’ between the idea of offering a truly gluten-free product and the practicality of that product remaining gluten-free when the consumer ingests it.

What do I mean? I’m talking about cross-contamination.

Dominos has made a gluten-free crust – fact. However, Dominos did not delve into the problem of cross-contamination. As soon as that gluten-free crust is unwrapped, it is at the mercy of any wheat flour that may be floating around in the environment. And if you think about pizza crust being thrown up in the air, you quickly realize that unless every Dominos has a delegated room for their gluten-free pizza, we are in trouble.
And just a short time after their launch on May 7th, Dominos stated that store operations are such that they cannot guarantee that the crust is free from cross contamination when it reaches the customer.
This is a huge problem! What it means is that this ‘gluten-free’ pizza is not safe to consume for anyone with celiac disease, gluten sensitivity or a wheat allergy.

I am not alone in my opinion, but the Celiac Research Center out of the University of Maryland and the Gluten Intolerance Group concur. They too have stated that this product is not safe to consume.
On a more positive pizza note, the Chuck E. Cheese food chain has found a way to eliminate cross contamination in their gluten-free pizza. While currently only available in the state of Minnesota, Chuck E Cheese is offering a personal size pizza that is made in a dedicated gluten-free facility where it is wrapped and then delivered to the restaurant frozen. There it is cooked in the packaging and when it is delivered to the customer, it comes with its own pizza cutter.

See? That doesn’t sound too hard. Let’s tell Domino’s.

I recently had a similar experience when a local bakery contacted me asking for my endorsement of their gluten-free products while urging me to recommend them to my patients. A short discussion revealed that they were taking no precautions to prevent cross contamination and we making gluten-containing products in the same area and at the same time as those that had gluten-free ingredients.

When I pointed out this issue as a serious one, the owner stated that perhaps his food wasn’t for the ‘hypersensitive people’. Well, you can imagine my response, even AFTER taking a deep breath to contain my upset!

I asked him to really get educated on the subject and made recommendations on how he could do that. I never heard back from him.

Here’s the cautionary take-home. Personally I was not that surprised that a little ‘mom and pop’ bakery was not up to speed on cross contamination issues. However, I was extremely surprised that a huge food chain such as Dominos was ignorant. Being gluten intolerant requires a vigilance that is demanding. Therefore if you find yourself in a restaurant or bakery, I strongly urge you to ask questions before consuming their gluten-free products.

Questions you should ask:
1.      What are the ingredients?
2.      Where is the product prepared?
3.      Is the company manufacturing the product a designated gluten-free facility?
4.      What precautions does the restaurant or bakery utilize to prevent cross contamination?

I hope this was helpful. I’d like to hear back from you regarding any experiences you’ve had in this area.
Would you help me out and let others know these warnings? We work hard enough to maintain our gluten-free status, we certainly don’t need to be given a false sense of security from supposedly gluten free food options that are in fact contaminated.

Do you need help improving your health? Do you know someone who does? We are here to help! Our destination clinic sees patients from across the country and internationally, so even if you don’t live locally you can receive assistance.


If you’d like to receive a free health analysis just give us a call at 408-733-0400.




To your good health,

Dr Vikki Petersen
Founder of
HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of
“The Gluten Effect”
Author of the eBook: “Gluten Intolerance – What you don’t know may be killing you!”
Permission is granted to re-post this article in its entirety with credit to Dr Vikki Petersen & HealthNOW Medical Center and a clickable link back to this page. Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN is founder of HealthNOW Medical Center and the author of “The Gluten Effect”.  She has been featured in national magazines, international medical journals and is a frequent headlined speaker.