Showing posts with label diet. Show all posts
Showing posts with label diet. Show all posts

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Gluten Intolerant? Be Careful of ‘Everything in Moderation’ Advice



Is 'Moderation' Always a Good Idea?

We’ve probably all heard ‘everything in moderation’ as a good rule of thumb to follow. Whether we are talking about diet or exercise it seems to ring true, for the most part. But all rules have exceptions and this one is no different.

If you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity moderate consumption of gluten is a death sentence. Is that an exaggeration? No it isn’t. Gluten is known to increase the incidence of dying from all causes, in intolerant individuals, when it is untreated  - and the treatment is total and complete elimination of gluten.

Gluten consumption is a zero tolerance policy for those of us who are intolerant, meaning that you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.

Why do I bring this up? I was reading a recent article in the Huffington Post titled “Should Everyone Avoid Gluten for Good Health”, where the author quoted Alessio Fasano, a personal hero of mine, as stating that he personally ate pizza, but in moderation.

This comment by Dr Fasano then was used as a jumping off point to stress ‘moderation’ as the best choice for those who are gluten tolerant.

This may sound innocent enough on the surface, but remember that most people hear what they want to hear and I can just imagine readers thinking, “If it’s good enough for Dr Fasano it’s good enough for me”.
The vital missing information here is that Dr Fasano is one of the lucky people who suffers from neither celiac disease nor gluten sensitivity. By his own admission and testing, his body tolerates gluten just fine. The fact that he chooses to ingest it in moderation probably has to do with the fact that he knows gluten is not properly digested by anyone, sensitive or not.

Eating Gluten Doesn't Always Result in 'Instant' Symptoms

Getting back to the article, the author, who is not a doctor but a registered dietician, uses what I consider a poor example of explaining why he feels that he himself is not gluten intolerant. He shares that he enjoyed a pasta dinner and felt just fine afterwards, thus confirming, in his opinion, that he is fine to eat gluten.

This is an incorrect way to diagnose the problem. I myself am highly gluten sensitive. If I chose to eat a pasta dinner, I too would feel fine afterwards. Two to three days later, however, I would begin to feel quite horrible.

My point is that gluten intolerance is not an allergy in the true definition of the word and therefore one is more likely to see reactions occurring many hours up to several days later, as opposed to seeing an immediate reaction. I'm not saying that immediate reactions never occur, they do. But to expect that no immediate reaction confirms a negative diagnosis, is far off the mark, and to share it with millions of uneducated readers is downright irresponsible.

The Huffington Post is a largely read site and I don’t want this article that preaches ‘moderation’ to be adopted by someone who is in fact gluten intolerant. Consuming gluten as little as once per month is frequent enough to keep someone quite ill.

Cheating with Gluten is a Dangerous Proposition

 If you already know that you’re gluten intolerant please don’t be tempted to cheat. For those you know who do not enjoy good health, encourage them to get tested. If the test is positive for celiac or gluten sensitivity, make sure they know the importance of zero gluten consumption. It could make the difference between a healthy or disease-ridden life, not to mention a shortened life span for those who cheat.

Better Health is Available!

I hope you found this helpful. If you would like assistance for yourself or loved one, please consider calling us for a free health analysis - 408-733-0400.

HealthNOW Medical Center treats patients from across the country and internationally at our destination clinic. You do not need to live local to us to receive care. We are here to help.

To your good health,

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

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Are Gluten-Free Grains Contaminated?


Personally I hate doom and gloom titles to blogs. I think it’s overdone and truly I like to take the high road if I can. But this one, we’ve just got to look at. Ok? Here we go:

New research from Dr Fasano and a team of others was recently published in BMC Gastroenterology. The title of the article is “Trace gluten contamination may play a role in mucosal and clinical recovery in a subgroup of diet-adherent non-responsive celiac disease patients”. The title is a mouthful, but basically the researchers were curious about a subgroup of celiac that fall into the category of non-responsive celiacs. These patients continue to have symptoms despite a strict gluten-free diet and some continue to show villous atrophy as well.

Within the group of non-responsive celiac disease is a smaller, though more serious condition, called refractory celiac disease. This condition involves such a lack of healing that patients are put on immunosuppressive drugs to try to suppress the damage the immune system is creating. These drugs are quite dangerous, increasing one’s risk of life-threatening infections while increasing cancer risk. Obviously these are conditions we all want to avoid. And what if avoiding them was pretty simple?

As a side note, I’d like to say that I’m grateful to these researchers for the work they've done. I've long thought that both non-responsive and refractory celiac disease were likely quite treatable, without the use of dangerous medications. Here at HealthNOW we have found that to be true. We have rarely had a patient whose ‘seemingly’ refractory or non-responsive celiac disease was not improved with our program. So while we've had suspicions, there was no research to had to support what we have seen clinically – until now that is!

But, back to the research… This group took 17 patients with diagnosed non-responsive celiac disease, 6 of whom had the dangerous refractory type. All patients met with a dietitian who confirmed that they were strictly avoiding gluten in their diet.

The hypothesis was that gluten contamination was potentially to blame for their continued symptoms and, for some, lack of healing of their small intestine. The researchers created a gluten contamination elimination diet. (See table below for the specifics.)





The diet, that excludes all grains other than rice, came about in part from a startling discovery that 32% of all single ingredient gluten-free grains, flours and seeds were contaminated with gluten! Not good. It is thought that the contamination likely occurred during the course of milling, processing and/or transport. The exact ‘how’ remains unknown, but the facts are that it did occur, and that’s a problem.

Is it a problem for everyone? Hard to know. The researchers claim that most celiacs can safely tolerate about 10 mg of gluten cross-contamination daily.  This is about 500 grams of food containing 20 ppm of gluten, the legal limit whereby a food can be labeled gluten-free. While the immune system’s of some patients can sustain that amount of gluten, others clearly cannot. And certainly there are many patients who are unable to tolerate even low gluten exposure without negative ramifications.


The gluten contamination elimination diet, removed grains understandable, but it also removed processed food. The thought is that the more highly processed a food, the more likely contamination occurs. Their hypothesis must have been correct, because here are the results:
Of the 17 total patients evaluated, 14 ‘responded’ to the diet, which was an 82% success rate. The definition of ‘responded’ was a strict one – it meant that the patient had no further symptoms and was no longer suffering from villous atrophy (if the test was performed). Excellent result!
But even more impressive was this fact. At the beginning of the study, 6 patients were diagnosed and met the criteria for refractory celiac disease. After following the diet, 5 of these 6 patients were completely symptom-free and no longer met the criteria for that serious condition. Therefore, out of 6 dangerously ill patients, only 1 did not respond. That means that a mere 17% of the initial 100% diagnosed with the disease actually had it after following the diet. It also means that 83% of those patients were needlessly being given immunosuppressive drugs.
What was also exciting was the finding that 79% of the entire group evaluated was, after a 3 to 6 month period following the diet, were able to return to their ‘regular’, non-restricted gluten-free diet and maintain their lack of symptoms. The researchers felt that the 3 to 6 month period was enough time to ‘heal’ the immune system such that its ability to tolerate some cross-contamination improved.

I would like to add that evaluating these patients for the secondary effects of gluten, including infections, probiotic insufficiency, cross-reactive foods, toxins, nutritional deficiencies and hormonal imbalance, would also be a good idea. I’m curious how many of these patients may have regressed again after a passage of several months back on their processed food diet. This is a time frame we find that our patients, who have done well gluten-free, but who have not been evaluated for the secondary effects, tend to again become symptomatic.
Do you know anyone who seems ‘ultra’ sensitive to gluten contamination? Do you know anyone who seems to react to foods that are ‘gluten-free’? Perhaps you know someone who has been diagnosed with non-responsive celiac or refractory celiac disease. If so, please do pass this information along to them. You could truly make an impact on their health.
If your health, or that of a friend or loved one, is not at the level you desire, consider contacting us for a free health analysis. Just give us a call at 408-733-0400. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally, so you don’t need to live locally to receive assistance. We are here to help!

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!”

Friday, January 11, 2013

What You and Your Doctor Need to Know about Gluten Sensitivity


In an issue of Gastroenterology & Endoscopy News, October 2010, Vol: 61:10 an article was published titled: “Gluten Sensitivity Baffles Celiac Disease Specialists”.  The article begins with a case study that is similar to so many of the hundreds of patients who come through our doors every year. A woman in her late 30's was interviewed who had been suffering from poor health since she was a small child. From diarrhea to canker sores, from rashes to asthma, and from migraines to debilitating fatigue, there weren't too many systems in her body that weren't complaining.

As we too often hear from our patients, she saw many specialists including gastroenterologists who tested her for celiac disease on more than one occasion, only to assure her that that was not her problem.

Equally troubling, yet all too common, she related: “It’s humiliating to go from doctor to doctor and be told, ‘You’re just stressed out; you should see a psychiatrist.’ ” Guess what the psychiatrist is going to prescribe?  That’s correct, a dangerous antidepressant that has a potential side effect of suicide and is less effective than a placebo – research supported. 

I can’t tell you how common such a scenario is. Continuing to educate both the lay public and the professional is our only way out of all this needless suffering. 

Dr Peter Green had this to say: “If a patient comes in and says he or she has gluten sensitivity, most doctors probably think, ‘Where’s the psychiatrist?’ There’s nothing taught about it and it’s not a currently measurable thing”. “A few celiac [disease] experts initially rolled their eyes and said, ‘We don’t get into that. There’s enough work to do to increase the diagnosis of celiac disease without including this condition that’s harder to define.’ But pressure is now on because the public is aware of it.”

Now that quote is music to my ears.  “The pressure is now on because the public is aware of it” – that’s exactly what drives me to write and lecture as much as I do - I want you to be aware of this.  And I want you to pressure your doctor, because for the most part, they don’t know this data. We were compelled to write our book “The Gluten Effect” after treating hundreds of patients whose health problems resolved after eliminating gluten but who were not celiac. Prior to our book, no other published book had addressed this issue and the major celiac researchers were not discussing it.  We were gratified to see the shift in awareness occur when our book was published.

Why don’t psychiatrists and neurologists know that the most common system that gluten affects IS the nervous system?  Why aren't they aware of the great numbers of research studies that have proven this beyond a shadow of a doubt? 

In the article mentioned above, Dr Fasano cited studies showing that gluten sensitivity is more common among persons with schizophrenia. Dr. Fasano, along with colleagues, published a study showing that 23% of over 1,400 schizophrenics had moderate to high levels of antigliadin antibodies (a test showing that the body’s immune system considers gluten a toxin) compared with 3% of controls. That is almost an 8-fold increase. Furthermore, a variety of studies have noted a drastic reduction, if not full remission, in symptoms of schizophrenia after initiating a gluten-free diet. (Kalaydjian AE et al. Acta Psychiatr Scand 2006;113:82-90).

A study published in 2010 demonstrated that the immune response to reducing gluten in schizophrenic patients differs from that of celiac disease (Samaroo D et al. Schizophrenia Research 2010;118:248-255). In fact it has been found in some studies that celiac disease is not significantly more common in schizophrenics than in the general public, but gluten sensitivity is, and dramatically so. Yet in the past schizophrenics would have been told that gluten wasn't a problem for them because they didn't have celiac disease, much like millions of people suffering with gluten sensitivity.

I think you will agree that there is plenty of evidence here about a disease that has baffled doctors for generations.  Has anything as natural as changing one’s diet EVER been put forth as a cure for schizophrenia?  If you had a relative or good friend with schizophrenia would you want to know this information?  How about if that friend had depression or anxiety or migraines or one of the over one hundred symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity?

In the woman whom we initially discussed in this article, it took a friend to diagnose her. The patient states that she turned to the internet to find out more about this condition and decided to give up gluten to see if it would help. Her symptoms improved. As a matter of fact, she stated that the improvement was “life changing”.  Once again, a scenario we hear often.

The article mentioned that “although estimates vary about the true prevalence of gluten sensitivity, the highest figures suggest about 15% to 20% of the population”. As research into gluten sensitivity is still in its infancy, we don’t yet have hard numbers on its incidence. But I would agree that it’s at least 15-20% of the population.

Dr Kelly, professor of medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston was quoted as saying: “I wish I knew why [the sudden increase]. I think it’s due in part to better awareness. However, having said that, there is no question that there are more people with gluten sensitivity today.”  “My own suspicion is that components of gluten-containing foods are relatively indigestible, but that’s only speculation.” Actually it’s not speculation. 

There is plenty of evidence to show that our ability to digest gluten-containing foods is not adequate, for any of us.  Why then doesn't everyone react? Remember that the healthier the body, the better able it is to “turn off” inflammatory reactions, plus it appears that 60% of our population are in the luck category of not possessing the gene(s) for celiac disease. How many possess genes for gluten sensitivity remains to be seen, but we do know that the percentage carrying celiac genes is 40%. There is strong evidence showing that the incidence of celiac increases with age, so there are definitely more and more people suffering – well above the 1% so often stated in the literature. It factually rises to 4 or 5% with increasing age. Unfortunately this means that just because you don’t react to gluten now is no assurance that you won’t later in life.

As regards who is at risk, once again we hear from Dr Fasano: “We now know that kids are only a small portion of the celiac population, that every ethnicity is at risk and that most frequently these people present with symptoms that have nothing to do with the GI tract”. “What is clear to us now [is that] there is this big family of gluten sufferers—people of all shapes and sizes and symptoms who suffer several forms of gluten intolerance, including celiac disease, wheat allergy and gluten sensitivity.”

So should we eat gluten until it becomes obvious that we have a problem?  No, I wouldn't recommend that. Early testing when the body “knows” there’s a problem, but before symptoms are too troubling is ideal.  Why? It could save your life. Read on…

Mounting evidence shows that gluten sensitivity is associated with a higher risk for mortality from most causes. Specifically a study of over 13,000 patients in Ireland showed higher mortality rates among gluten-sensitive individuals. Rates of all-cause mortality were significantly higher in gluten-sensitive patients compared with the healthy population. (Anderson et al. World Journal Gastroenterology 2007;13:146-151).

The article ends with this admonition: “Experts are putting the call out to gastroenterologists to educate themselves about the spectrum of gluten-related disorders. They ask specialists to thoroughly work up their patients with suspected gluten sensitivity and/or celiac disease and to perform biopsies and blood tests when appropriate.”

I concur. Please help me to spread the word.  Being healthy and having an optimally functioning body should be a birth right.  Eating food that is nourishing and not acting as a “poison” should be a choice that everyone has available to them.  Though at times it is difficult, those of us who eschew (avoid) gluten and enjoy good health will tell you that it is completely worth it.

Let me know how I can be of further assistance. If you are wondering if you or someone you care about is suffering from gluten intolerance, please consider calling us for a free health analysis (408-733-0400) – we are here to help!

If you don’t live locally that’s not a problem – our Destination Clinic sees patients from across the country and internationally.


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 could be killing you!”

Friday, December 28, 2012

Need a Weight Loss Plan? Try Gluten-free!


In the past I have been somewhat critical of the media’s ‘profiling’ if you will, that a gluten-free diet is the latest weight loss craze. My upset came from the fact that gluten causes so much more than weight gain. As a toxic protein, gluten can create problems in literally every system of the human body in those who are sensitive to it. And, due to our poor diet, increased toxic environmental load and drug exposure, the incidence of gluten intolerance and celiac diseases rises every time we evaluate it.

I think you would agree that a substance that has been linked to depression, migraines, fatigue, joint pain, autoimmune disease, infertility and autism and yes, weight gain, deserves more ‘press’ than a quick quip about it being the latest diet of the stars.

But let’s look at fat and overweight for a moment. Weight gain poses a very serious problem here in the US. A full two-thirds of our population is overweight while one-third is obese. The diseases we now appreciate that are caused by an abundance of fat cells is staggering. In fact, we now understand that fat cells literally explode and the chemicals they release directly cause degenerative diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes and more.

So while I don’t like press that places gluten put into the same category as the latest and greatest weight loss fad, I am happy at any evidence that shows gluten to be a serious weight loss tool that not only lowers the pounds but has a profound effect on the overall health of the body.

I was therefore delighted to read a study that was just published last week in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. The title is a mouthful, as so many scientific articles are, so I have included the full reference specifics below.

The researchers, out of Brazil, took a strain of mice and divided them into two groups. Both groups were fed a high-fat diet but only one group’s diet contained gluten at 4.5% of their total diet. The other group were completely gluten-free.

Body weight and fat gains were assessed, as were blood profiles that measured insulin resistance and inflammatory chemicals released from fat cells. In addition, positive measurements that were protective against disease and anti-inflammatory were also evaluated.

What they found was not only beneficial effects of a gluten-free diet in reducing fat gain, but the gluten-free diet also was anti-inflammatory and reduced insulin resistance.

If you haven’t heard these terms before, know that inflammation and insulin resistance are key issues in the development of the chronic degenerative diseases that are killing most Americans, such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.

The authors’ conclusion was that gluten exclusion from the diet should be tested as a ‘new dietary approach’ to prevent the development of obesity and metabolic disorders.

That would mean that anyone with a weight problem, type II diabetes, heart disease, etc should be tested for gluten intolerance.

Now one thing I can guarantee you, these mice were not living on sugary gluten-free cookies nor were they lounging on the couch all day! You get what I mean. These were mice that were put on a healthy diet that contained no gluten, and they exercised at a healthy level.

And, while I appreciate that you are not a mouse, do understand that animal studies on mice and rats translate quite nicely into human biology. Otherwise there wouldn’t be such an abundance of research using these animals.

The takeaway from this study goes beyond the healthy weight and fat percentages that these gluten-free animals attained. Their blood profiles, when on a gluten-free diet were exceptional. The blood tests revealed that these animals were also less likely to develop the chronic degenerative diseases that afflict most Americans.

For me, that was the exciting part as it went way beyond simple weight loss.

My recommendation? Listen to these researchers and try a gluten-free diet. If you can get a blood test first to determine if you have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, that’s best. But if that’s not available to you, try a 30 day gluten-free trial. After 30 days, see if you feel better. Maybe a specific symptom abates but perhaps it’s just a general feeling of improved well-being. Such changes indicate a positive test and remaining gluten-free is heartily recommended.

Do you want to lose weight? Give this a try and let me know how you do.
I look forward to hearing from you.

If your health is not where you want it to be, consider calling us for a free health analysis – 408-733-0400. We are here to help!

Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and around the world, so you don’t 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!”


Reference:
The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. 2012 Dec 17. pii: S0955-2863(12)00226-4. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2012.08.009. Gluten-free diet reduces adiposity, inflammation and insulin resistance associated with the induction of PPAR-alpha and PPAR-gamma expression.

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Do Drugs Cause Gluten Intolerance?


Have you had a reaction to any medication? Have you had a stressful medical event, be it a root canal or other uncomfortable procedure? What if that stress and discomfort was enough to trigger gluten intolerance and ill health?

I found an interesting case report in Gastrointestinal Medicine recently. The report, titled ‘The onset of enhanced intestinal permeability and food sensitivity triggered by medication used in dental procedures’ drove home an important point that we have known for some time. When the immune system is compromised beyond a certain level, its ability to keep bad genes turned off is thwarted. In other words that healthy ‘off’ switch flips to the ‘on’ position and disease is now manifest.

In this particular study, a healthy 52 year old woman with no discernible health issues went through vigorous dental procedures for several months. She received a root canal, bone graft and dental implants. Her initial visits were five in number over the course of only ten days. During that time she received anesthetics, antibiotics and painkillers.

Four months later while completing the dental implant procedure, she again received anesthesia, antibiotics and painkillers. A few hours later she developed a severe allergic reaction along with difficulty breathing. This was handled with emergency adrenaline but afterwards the patient started suffering from diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal pain lasting over a week. This was followed by IBS-like symptoms that went on for months.

She saw a gastroenterologist who tested her blood extensively including tests for celiac disease, ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. All tests were negative including gene tests for celiac disease. The gastroenterologist could offer no help.

Fortunately the patient did not give up and sought a second opinion from a practitioner in the functional medicine field. This doctor evaluated her for a leaky gut, gluten sensitivity and cross-reactive foods. These tests were all positive. Upon the initiation of a gluten-free diet, avoidance of cross-reactive foods, probiotics and a clinical nutrition program designed to heal the gut, the patient was back to normal within six months.

What can we learn from this case study?
1.      If you are planning an elective medical procedure, take a little time beforehand to optimize your immune system and heal a leaky gut. If you have a strong immune system embarking upon a procedure that requires drugs and is stressful, you are much more likely to weather it successfully if you have prepared ahead of time.
2.      In any elective situation, consider making the procedure less stressful by giving your body a little time to recuperate between visits. Did this patient really require five visits in only ten days? Surely she could have stretched them out somewhat and it would have been less stressful to her system.
3.      Find a functional medicine or like-minded practitioner to work with, if possible. Here at HealthNOW we prepare our patients for such stressful events when we know that they are going to happen. Nutritional protocols properly executed can make the difference between a compromised immune system and one that bounces back well after stress and drugs. I shudder to think what might have happened to this patient if she hadn’t received a second opinion from a savvy practitioner.  Her desire for dental implants could have resulted in compromised health for the rest of her life.

Have you had such an occurrence? Has a pregnancy, surgery or illness seemed to compromise your health to the degree that you’ve never fully bounced back?

If so, I’d like to hear from you and help you. Our destination clinic treats patients from across the country and internationally. You don’t need to live local to us to receive care.

Should you be interested in a free health analysis, call us at 408-733-0400.

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!”

Reference:
Case Reports in Gastrointestinal Medicine. 2012; 2012: 265052. The Onset of Enhanced Intestinal Permeability and Food Sensitivity Triggered by Medication Used in Dental Procedures: A Case Report. Aristo Vojdani  and Jama Lambert

Published online 2012 September 12. doi:  10.1155/2012/265052
PMCID: PMC3447324

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!”