Why Do Some Celiacs Never Heal?
Research tells us that only eight percent of those adult patients suffering with celiac disease experience complete healing of their gut despite maintaining a strict gluten-free diet. Sixty five percent feel better, but only a fraction (8%) enjoy complete healing.
This is significant because too many patients suffering from celiac disease and gluten sensitivity do not enjoy the good health they deserve. Instead they suffer a variety of symptoms and many develop serious autoimmune diseases and other life threatening diseases such as cancer.
It is felt that many autoimmune diseases could potentially be prevented if the individuals’ gut lesions and leaky gut were fully addressed.
I want to discuss a tool that we use here at the clinic to help isolate any dietary components that could be ‘confusing’ the immune system of a gluten intolerant patient to react as if gluten was being consumed. I often have patients tell me that they feel ‘glutened’ despite the lack of gluten consumption.
What are "Cross Reactive" Foods and How Can They Make You Sick
How can this occur? Cross reactivity is a process whereby the body consumes a protein (e.g. milk) that has similarities to the protein gluten. Due to this similarity (known as molecular mimicry) the body’s immune system reacts to this food as if it were gluten, creating symptoms that the patient attributes to gluten consumption. The picture at the top of this post gives a good visual of how this occurs.
Is milk gluten? No. But if cross-reactivity is occurring, it may as well be as far as the patient’s immune system is concerned. In other words, ingestion of these cross-reactive foods can irritate and inflame the immune system in much the same way as if gluten was being ingested. The result? Poor healing and continued illness.
Therefore in patients who are not feeling optimal despite maintaining a gluten-free diet, or who continue to have a leaky gut or develop autoimmune disease, testing for cross-reactive foods can be a great diagnostic tool.
The test is a blood test offered by Cyrex Labs and includes the following foods:
Temporary Avoidance May Be All That's Needed
Once the test returns it will reveal what, if any, foods are causing a reaction. The protocol is to remove these foods from the diet for three months and then reintroduce them slowly, one at a time, to determine any negative reactions. Unfortunately, some foods, if found positive, are considered permanent sensitivities and are therefore not reintroduced. These are: dairy, rice, corn, yeast and millet.
For the rest of the foods, elimination for a period of three months should allow the body’s immune system to rebuild and repair and, along with other measures taken by a savvy clinician, will go far towards repairing any leaky gut issues.
I’m not trying to depress anyone regarding further dietary restrictions. Being gluten intolerant myself, I very much understand the discipline that is required. But if a cross-reactive food(s) is the culprit underlying a lack of healing and putting one at risk for other diseases, it certainly is important to find out.
Here at HealthNOW we have found it make a huge difference in some of our patient's health.
I hope this was helpful and please do let me know any questions that you have or if you would like assistance to improve your health. That’s why I’m here!
Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally. If you don’t live locally it’s not a problem. You can call for a free health analysis – 408-733-0400.
To your good health,
Dr Vikki Petersen, DC, CCN
Founder of HealthNOW Medical Center
Co-author of “The Gluten Effect”
Awarded Gluten Doctor of the Year 2013