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CELIAC DX STORY: Leah Edelstein

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"I have an M.S. in speech-language pathology. Currently, I'm a Co-Chairperson of the South New Jersey Chapter of Celiac Sprue Assn/USA Inc. My 21-year-old daughter is a senior at Yale Univ. My husband and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary in December 2003."

My friend Fran tells me I see the world though "Celiac Colored Glasses." Allow me to backtrack. I was diagnosed with celiac disease 21 years ago. This was after 10 years of intermittently feeling ill to various degrees. After an emergency hospitalization at age 19 (I had extreme abdominal cramps) I was diagnosed with colitis. Fast forward nine years to less than two months after my daughter was born. I began to have "classic" symptoms of celiac: diarrhea, weight loss, weakness, etc. The doctor dismissed my concerns about my fatigue. He told me my baby was getting heavier to carry (in my arms) and that was why I was feeling so tired. He was clueless. When I began having numbness I asked him to refer me to a neurologist. He did.

I credit the neurologist with saving my life. At first he thought I was malingering (faking illness) but then he did a simple reflex type test which proved my calcium levels were extremely low. I heard him call my family physician and practically yell at him.

Not too long after, I woke up very early one morning with a complete sensation something was utterly wrong with me. I left my infant daughter with my mom and had my husband drive me to a nearby hospital ER. I saw noone in charge and waited patiently. Suddently someone who seemed to be having a heart attack was rushed through the office door and got attention. I obviously wasn't a top priority. I was finally let in a room and while waiting for a resident my body began to "cramp up." My hands were unable to get out of the fist position. The pain I felt was so much worse than the pain I felt with my then recent experience of natural childbirth. I actually begged my husband to kill me.

When I finally saw a resident I told him about my calcium levels and he began administering calcium through an IV. After my blood work was done it was discovered I needed more than just calcium. I was now a top priority.

Eventually, my body began to feel better. I was attached to a cardiac monitor. Later I learned from a too truthful doctor I was in real danger of going into cardiac arrest. he said it was a miracle I was alive (my electrolyte levels were so low). I found out he wasn't exaggerating when a second doctor repeated the same thing to me a few days later.

Being naive, I thought once I was stabilized I could be discharged. No such luck. I spent 15 days in the hospital and had a different diagnosis almost each day. Finally the results of my small intestinal biopsy returned positive and I was told I had celiac disease. I actually laughed. I told my doctor it was the funniest diagnosis yet! I found it incredible having eaten wheat, rye, oats, and barley for the 28 years of my life that I now had a problem with those grains.

The hospital staff didn't make things less confusing for me. They kept giving me bread with my meals. And being newly diagnosed, with little information about the diet, I ate it. I kept telling myself it must be "special bread," the staf must know what they're doing! I've grown to learn to never take ANYTHING for granted.

One thing the difficult ordeal of getting a celiac diagnosis has taught me is to suspect celiac in others. The symptoms are so varied and some people don't even have symptoms. According to one respectable source, 97% of celiacs still go undiagnosed. I "see" celiac among many people whom I meet. That's why Fran tells me I see the world through "Celiac Colored Glasses." And what's more, I've influenced her to do the same!

From: A PERSONAL TOUCH ON CELIAC DISEASE: The #1 Misdiagnosed Intestinal Disorder." Apt Publishing, 2004.


CELIAC DX STORY: Tina Ackerman

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

"Hi, I'm Tina Ackerman, a 25-year old, living in Goffstown, NH. I was finally diagnosed with Celiac Sprue in May 2003. My favorite grocery store to shop at is Trader Joe's. They have a gluten-free spicy jalapeno chicken sausage that simply ROCKS!"

DURING my senior year of college, I had to work full time to support myself. my parens are not wealthy so they were only able to help me with love and support, not financially.

By the end of October, I was very tired and not feeling up to par. My co-workers suggested I go to the emergency room to be evaluated since I had no physician. I figured I caught a virus or was just run down since I was in school and working so much. The ER ran all kinds of tests including blood work, a mono screen, a strep test, and complete blood count (CBC), and a metabolic panel. Everything came back normal. They said I had a virus that caused gastroenteritis. This is how they explained the abdominal pain and diarrhea.

I returned to work and school, just trying to survive each day. Weeks passed and I did not feel better. I completely stopped eating because it was hard to keep food down. When I wasn't vomiting, I had horribly painful abdominal cramping and persistent diarrhea. My weight went from 110 to 90 lbs. Since my condition wasn't improving, I went to the doctor at the local Family Health Center. The nurse practioner I saw was worried I had cholecystitis (inflammation of the gallbladder). She ordered an ultrasound and made an appt for me with a surgeon. They cancelled the appt when the results of the ultrasound came back normal.

I was extremely frustrated. While I didn't want something to be wrong, I wanted to find out what was causing my problems so I could feel better. I was so tired and dehydrated I would pass out if I stood up quickly. I went back to the nurse practioner a few days later and this time they admitted my 87 lb emaciated body into the hospital. They ran more tests and drew lots of blood. The test results were all negative. They decided I had IBS and referred me to a gastroenterologist. The doctor placed me on Levsin for the abdominal cramping. This helped but I began to have side effects from the medication. I had trouble urinating and became extremely sensitive to light. I stopped taking the meds.

The doctor then told me to go on a BRAT (banana, rice, applesauce, and toast) diet. This bland diet was supposed to help my stomach to get used to digesting food again.

My health was so bad I took a leave of absence from school and work and moved back with my parents for a month to recover. I slowly began to feel better.

A few months later I began to date my future husband, Tom. I was often embarrassed when we first started dating. We would be out shopping or at a movie and we would have to stop what we were doing and go home beause of my "IBS". When the diarrhea came it would be horrible, painful, and physically draining. Thankfully Tom took it all in stride. It did not bother him that I was gassy, bloated, and miserable a lot of the time. It was emotionally draining for me. I was becoming very self-conscious and had trouble using public restrooms. Being chronically sick took a toll on my self-esteem. I was extremely frustrated with the fact I would be sick for the rest of my life. Slowly I began to gain weight and grew accustomed to all my gastrointestinal distress.

I found myself a new primary care physician and made an appt for a physical. At the physical I mentioned all my intestinal problems. The doctor ran some tests and like before they all came back negative. Since she couldn't find anything physically wrong with me, she concluded I must be depressed, anxious, and making myself sick.

I was devastated and cried for days. If I wasn't depressed before, I was now. I couldn't imagine why I hated myself so much that I would make myself so sick. I started going to therapy to discover the root of this self-hatred that was making me so ill. The therapist placed me on medications. I went through Paxil, BuSpar, Amitriptyline, Celexa, Ativan, Ambien, Effexor, Klonopin, Prozac, and then Serzone in the course of three years. When one medication didn't work they just put me on another. I stopped taking meds shortly after I started Serzone because I had an allergic reaction. I finally said enough. No more meds.

Four-and-a-half years after my first hospitalization my weight had ballooned to 140 lbs. I was getting married to the love of my life, Tom, and we planned our wedding at the Polynesian Resort at Walt Disney World. Our wedding was perfect, right down to the best cake I had ever tasted and the mouse ears on our heads. We spent five days at Disney World and then took a four day cruise to the Bahamas. We ate and drank like kings. Tom gained 15 lbs in two weeks. I imbibed more than I ever had before. Unfortunately my stomach and intestines were not as happy as my heart and my soul. I just felt like hell.

Three weeks after we came back from Florida we went to Baltimore where I attended a Johns Hopkins conference for work. Tom came with me even though he had the flu. Wednesday, our first night in Baltimore, we went to the Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I thought I caught Tom's flu because I was nauseous and had abdominal cramping. For dinner I ordered a turkey sandwich of which I only had a few bites. The dessert was the real reason we went to the Cheesecake Factory. I ordered Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheesecake and was only able to eat a quarter of the piece. Tom realized I was not feeling well at this point. I would never pass up a piece of cheesecake. I had been looking forward to eating there for a few months. By Sunday, I could barely keep any food down. The plane flight home was miserable because I felt so ill. Tom's flu hadn't lasted this long and he already felt normal.

The next day at work was very busy and we had sandwiches delivered for lunch. After eating a quarter of a sandwich, I was sick to my stomach. My abdominal pain was all on the right side. What if I have appendicitis?

I left work and went to the ER because my doctor's office could not fit me in. I had a negative CT scan but my white blood cell count was elevated and I was severely dehydrated. So they admitted me into the hospital for three days. The diagnosis came back as "acute exacerbation" of IBS. My primary care physician told me it was probably due to too much stress in my life. I should change my diet and eat more fiber. She suggested introducing whole wheat products.

Even after being discharged from the hospital I still couldn't eat and lost 10 lbs in two weeks. I spent more time in the emergency room for pain and nausea control and finally begged my doctor to refer me to a gastroenterologist after losing 20 lbs. I was able to make an appt but had to wait a month.

When I finally had my appt, the doctor drew some lab work that included a transglutaminase titer (Ttg) for celiac disease. A week later the gastroenterologist called me at work and told me my Ttg was 39. He felt at that level I didn't need a small bowel biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of celiac disease unless I wanted one. I didn't want one.

I had read up on celiac disease so I knew what it was. I would have to be gluten-free for the rest of my life and I would be happy to do that if it made me feel better.

I was happy, angry, and scared all at once. Happy I finally knew the reason I had been so sick for half my life, angry at my doctors, who misdiagnosed me for so long and who blamed me for being sick, and scared I would never enjoy food again. I love pasta, pizza, and convenience foods and wasn't quite sure how I'd live without them.

I had a follow-up appt with my primary care physician, who in my opinion, is incompetent and not very empathetic. When I requested a Dexa Scan to measure my bone density she told me I didn't need it. I asked my gastroenterologist at my next appt if I should have the scan and he agreed I should. The results came back as severely osteopenic. This reinforced the feelings I had about my primary care physician. I now take daily calcium in the form of gluten-free VIACTIV chews. This is so important especially since I was extremely lactose intolerant for the first three months after being diagnosed. Lactose intolerance is very common when the small bowel is healing from all the damage the uncontrolled celiac disease created.

It has been six months since my diagnosis. I am starting to get over my anger about being misdiagnosed and I'm more at ease with myself now. I don't stay up at night thinking about my celiac disease anymore. I now know I have to be my own advocate and not believe everything a doctor has to say. I am the only one who knows when I am sick.

I am learning that being gluten-free isn't the end of your life, it is the beginning. It just takes extra time to plan your meals. I have traveled to Germany since my diagnosis and had a wonderful experience. I didn't starve while there and actually ate very well. I refuse to get a salad with no dressing every time I go out to eat. You can usually get whatever you want if you explain how it needs to be prepared. This of course applies to real restaurants with chefs, not chain restaurants.

Just read and learn as much as you can. Every celiac needs to learn as much as they can about their condition. Nobody can do it for you. There are wonderful websites and books out there that are a tremendous help.

I also try to educate as many people as I can without being annoying. You'll be surprised how many people want to understand this illness. I feel the more we educate people about celiac disease the easier it will be for the afflicted people who are not yet diagnosed.

From "A PERSONAL TOUCH ON CELIAC DISASE - The #1 Misdiagnosed Intestinal Disorder", Apt Publishing, 2004.



Friday, February 16, 2007

I have to say that when I eat light for dinner, I tend to lose weight! Why don't I listen to my body!!! It's talking to me!!!

Here's my Tom Venuto (bodybuilder extraordinaire) email today. I liked, so I will share:

Night Time Eating And Fat Loss Revisted:
Does The 'Carb Monster' Come Out At Night?

Read this article online or post your
feedback on the blog at:

"Eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince and eat dinner
like a pauper." This maxim can be attributed to nutrition writer
Adelle Davis, and since her passing in 1974, the advice to eat less
at night to help with fat loss has lived on and continued to circulate
in many different incarnations. This includes suggestions such as:

"Dont eat a lot before bedtime"
"Don't eat midnight snacks"
"Don't eat anything after 7pm"
"Don't eat any carbs at night"
"Don't eat any carbs after 3 pm"
and so on.

I too believe that eating lightly at night is usually very solid advice
for people seeking increased fat loss, especially for people who are
inactive at night. However, some fitness experts today, when they hear
"eat less at night", start screaming, Diet Voodoo!"

Opinions on this subject are definitely mixed. Many highly respected
experts strongly recommend eating less at night to improve fat loss,
while others suggest that it's only calories in vs calories out over
24 hours that matters.

The critics claim that it's ridiculous to cut off food intake at a certain
hour or to presume that "carbs turn to fat" at night as if there were some
kind of nocturnal carbohydrate gremlins waiting to shuttle calories into
fat cells when the moon is full. They suggest that if you eat less in the
morning and eat more at night, it all "balances itself out at the end of
the day."

Of course, food does not turn to fat just because it's eaten after a certain
"cutoff hour" and carbs do not necessarily turn to fat at night either
(although there are hypotheses about low evening insulin sensitivity having
some significance).

What we do know for certain is that the law of energy balance is with us at
all hours of the day - and that bears some deeper consideration when you
consider that we expend the least energy when we are sleeping and many
people spend the entire evening watching TV.

I recently had the privilege of interviewing sports nutritionist and
dietician Dan Benardot, PhD, and he gave us a very interesting perspective on this.

Dr. Benardot said that thinking in terms of 24 hour energy balance may be
a seriously flawed and outdated concept. He says that the old 24-hour model of energy balance looks at calories in versus calories out in 24 hour units. However, what really happens is that your body allocates energy minute by minute and hour by hour as your body's needs dictate, not at some specified 24 hour end point.

I first heard this concept suggested by Dr. Fred Hatfield about 15 years
ago. Hatfield explained how and why you should be thinking ahead to the next three hours and adjusting your energy intake accordingly.

Although it's not really a new idea, Dr. Benardot has recently taken this
concept to a much higher level of sophistication and he calls the new
paradigm, "Within Day Energy Balance."

The Within Day Energy balance approach not only backs up the practice of
eating small meals approximately every three hours, AND the practice of
"nutrient timing" (which is why pre and post workout nutrition is such a
popular topic today, and rightly so). it also suggests that we should adjust our energy intake according to our activity.

Let's make the assumption most people come home from work, then plop on the couch in front of the TV all night. Let's also assume that the majority
of people go to bed late in the evening, usually around 10 pm, 11 pm or
midnight. Therefore, night-time is the period during which the least energy
is being expended.

If this is true, then it's logical to suggest that one should not eat huge
amounts of calories at night, especially right before bed because that
would provide excess fuel at a time when it is not needed. The result is
increased likelihood of fat storage.

From the within day energy balance perspective, the advice to eat less at
night makes complete sense. Of course it also suggests that if you do
intense training at night, then you should eat more at night to support that

Those stuck on a 24 hour model of energy expenditure would say timing of
energy intake doesnt matter as long as the total calories for the day are
in a deficit. But who ever decided that the body operates on a 24-hour "DAY".

Try this test (or not!): Eat a 2500 calorie per day diet, with nothing for
breakfast, nothing before or after your morning workout, 500 calories for
lunch, 750 calories for dinner and 1250 calories before bedtime.

Now compare that to the SAME 2500 calorie diet with 6 small meals of
approximately 420 calories per meal and then tweak those meal sizes a
bit so that you eat a little more before and after your workout and a
little less later at night.

Both are 2500 calories per day. According to "a calorie is just a calorie"
and "24 hour energy balance" thinking, both diets will produce the same
results in performance, health and body composition. But will they?

Does your body really do a calculation at midnight and add up the day's
totals like a business man when he closes out the register at night? It's a
lot more logical that energy is stored in real time and energy is burned
in real time, rather than accounted for at the end of each 24 hour period.

24 hour energy balance is just one way to academically sort calories so
you can understand it and count it in convenient units of time. This has
it's uses, as in calculating a daily calorie intake level for menu
planning purposes.

Ok, but enough about calories, what about the individual macronutrients?
Some people dont simply suggest eating fewer calories at night, they suggest you take your calorie cut specifically from CARBS rather than from all macronutrients evenly across the board. Is there anything to it?

Well, there's more than one theory. The most commonly quoted theory has
to do with insulin.

The late bodybuilding guru Dan Duchaine was once asked by a competitor,

"I want to get cut up for an upcoming contest. Should I eat at night?
I heard I shouldn't eat carbs after 6:00 pm."

Duchaine answered:

"It's true that insulin sensitivity is lowest at night. Let's discuss what
is happening in your body that makes it dislike carbs at night. Cortisol,
a catabolic hormone, is highest at night. When cortisol is elevated, your
muscle cell insulin sensitivity is lowered."

More recently, David Barr wrote a tip on "lower carbs at night" for
the bodybuilding website, T-Nation. He said:

"Even when bulking, you don't want to start scarfing down Pop Tarts before
you go to bed. Our muscle insulin sensitivity decreases as the day wears on, meaning that we're more likely to generate a large insulin response from ingesting carbs. Stated differently, we're more predisposed to adding fat mass by eating carbs at night because our body doesn't handle the hormone insulin as well as it does earlier in the day."

Mind you, Barr is a not a "voodoo" guy; he is a respected scientist who also
happens to be well known as a "dogma destroyer" and "myth buster". and
Duchaine, although he had a shady past and some run-ins with the law, was nevertheless highly respected by nearly all in the bodybuilding world for his ahead-of-his-time nutrition wisdom.

As a result of this advice, word got out in the bodybuilding and fitness
community that you should eat fewer carbs at night. Real world results
and the "test of time" have suggested that this is an effective strategy.
I also don't know a single nutrition or training expert who doesn't agree
that insulin management and improvement of insulin sensitivity aren't
effective approaches in the management of body fat.

However, it's only fair to point out that not all scientists agree that
cutting carbs at night will have any major real world impact on fat loss.
Dr. Benardot, for example, doesn't think there's much to it. He says that
exercisers and athletes in particular, usually have excellent glycemic
control, so the ratio of macronutrients should not be as much of an issue
as the total energy balance in relation to energy needs at a particular

Regardless of which side of the "carbs at night" debate you lean towards,
if you consider the within day energy balance principle, it make perfect
sense not to eat large, calorie-dense meals late at night before bedtime.

Keep in mind of course, that cutting back on your calories and or carbs
at night makes the most sense in the context of a fat loss program,
especially if fat loss has been slow. It's quite possible that I might give the exact opposite advice (eat a big meal before bed) to the skinny "ectomorph" who is having a hard time gaining muscular body weight.

Also consider that this doesn't necessarily mean eating nothing at night;
it may simply mean eating smaller meals or emphasizing lean protein and
green veggies (or a small protein shake) at night.

Many programs suggest a specific time when you should eat your last meal
of the day. However, I'd suggest avoiding an absolute cut off time, such
as "no food or no carbs after 6 pm, etc," because people go to bed at
different times, and maintenance of steady blood sugar and an optimal
hormonal balance even at night are also important goals.

A more personalized suggestion is to cut off food intake 3 hours before
bedtime, if practical and possible. For example, if you eat dinner at 6 pm,
but don't go to bed until 12 midnight, then a small 9:00 pm meal or a snack
makes sense, but keep it light, preferably lean protein, and dont raid the
refrigerator at 11:55!

An important rule to remember in all cases, is that whatever is working,
keep doing more of it. If you eat your largest meal before bed and lose
fat anyway, I would never tell you to change that. Results are what counts.
On the other hand, if you're stuck at a fat loss plateau, this is a
technique I'd suggest you give a try.

Night time eating is likely to remain a subject of debate - especially the
part about whether carbs should be targeted for removal in evening meals.

However, perhaps even those who are skeptical can consider, that if cutting out carbs at night is effective for fat loss, it may be for the simple
reason that it forces you to eat less automatically.

In other words, setting a rule to eat fewer calories or to eat fewer carbs
at night may be a superbly effective way to keep your daily calories in
check and to match intake to activity, whereas people who are allowed to eat ad libitum at night when they're home, glued to the couch and watching TV, etc., may tend to overeat when the energy is not needed in large amounts.

Me personally? Unless I'm weight training at night, I have always reduced
calories and carbs at night when "cutting" for bodybuilding competition.
It's worked so well for me that I devoted a whole section to it in my
e-book, Burn The Fat, Feed The Muscle (BFFM) and I have names for the techniques: "calorie tapering" and "carb tapering."

For more information on how I use these methods to help me reach single
digit body fat, you can visit:

Train hard and expect success.

Tom Venuto, NSCA-CPT, CSCS



Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dangerous Grains

If you suffer from a condition such as osteoporosis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis or depression, you're unlikely to blame your breakfast cereal. After all, intolerance of wheat, or celiac disease (CD), is a an allergic reaction to a protein called gluten, thought to affect only about one in 1,000 people.

But now two American clinicians, James Braly and Ron Hoggan, have published a book, Dangerous Grains, claiming that what was thought to be a relatively rare condition may be more widespread than was previously thought. Braly and Hoggan suggest that gluten intolerance does not just affect a few people with CD, but as much as 2-3% of the population.

They claim that gluten sensitivity (GS) is at the root of a proportion of cases of cancer, auto-immune disorders, neurological and psychiatric conditions and liver disease. The implication is that the heavily wheat-based western diet - bread, cereals, pastries, pasta - is actually making millions of people ill.

Your doctor, if asked about CD, would tell you that it involves damage to the gut wall, which makes for problems absorbing certain nutrients, such as iron, calcium and vitamin D. As a result, you are more likely to develop conditions such as osteoporosis and anemia, as well as a range of gastrointestinal problems.

Children who have it are often described as "failing to thrive". The proof that you have CD comes when gut damage shows up in a biopsy. The treatment, which has a high rate of success, is to remove gluten - found in rye and barley as well as wheat - from your diet.

But if Braly and Hoggan are right, the problem is far more widespread than the medical profession believes. Celiac disease, they suggest, should be renamed "gluten sensitivity" and, in an appendix to the book, they claim that no fewer than 192 disorders, ranging from Addison's disease and asthma to sperm abnormalities, vasculitis, rheumatoid arthritis and hyperthyroidism, are "heavily overrepresented among those who are GS".

Dangerous Grains contains more than a dozen case histories of people who have recovered from a wide variety of chronic conditions - back pain, chronic fatigue, the auto-immune disorder lupus - simply by following a gluten-free diet. Both authors claim great personal benefits from such a change. "After eliminating gluten grains," writes Hoggan, "I realized how uncomfortable and chronically ill I had been for most of my life."

If you are someone who has visited a clinical nutritionist or a naturopath, this will come as no great surprise. One of their most common suggestions is temporarily to remove wheat from the diet to see if it makes a difference. In fact, so widespread has talk of a wheat allergy become that last November the Flour Advisory Board felt impelled to issue a statement warning of the dangers of this idea. Professor Tom Sanders, head of nutrition and dietetics at King's College, London, was quoted as saying: "Unless you suffer from celiac disease, a very rare condition, cutting wheat out of your diet is extremely unwise."

Sanders certainly represents the mainstream medical view, but there is good evidence - such as the work of Dr Harold Hin, a GP from Banbury in Oxfordshire - to suggest that it may be in need of revision. Over the course of a year, Hin carried out a blood test on the first 1,000 patients who came to his surgery complaining of symptoms that might indicate CD, such as anemia or being "tired all the time". Thirty proved positive and a diagnosis of CD was confirmed by a biopsy.

This indicated that CD was showing up at a rate of three per 100 - 30 times more than expected. Significantly, all but five had no gastrointestinal symptoms. "Underdiagnosis and misdiagnosis of coeliac disease," Hin concluded in an article for the British Medical Journal in 1999, "are common in general practice and often result in protracted and unnecessary morbidity."

More recently, a large research program carried out by the University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research in Baltimore has confirmed Hin's findings. Scientists there tested 8,199 adults and children. Half the sample had various symptoms associated with CD and, of those, one in 40 of the children tested positive for CD and one in 30 of the adults.

But it wasn't just those who seemed ill who were having problems with wheat. Far more worrying was what the Maryland researchers found when they tested the other half of the sample, who were healthy volunteers, selected at random. Among kids under 16, one in 167 had CD, while the rate among the adults was even higher - one in 111.

If those proportions are true for the American population in general, this means that 1.8m adults and 300,000 children have undiagnosed CD - people who, sooner or later, are going to develop vague symptoms of feeling generally unwell, for which they will be offered various drugs that are unlikely to make much difference. Ultimately, they are at higher risk of a range of chronic diseases.

There seems, therefore, to be good evidence that CD is underdiagnosed. But Braly's and Hoggan's proposition is more radical than that. They believe that the immune reaction to gluten that damages the gut in CD can also cause problems almost anywhere else in the body. The evidence for this is a test involving a protein found in gluten called gliadin. When the body has an immune reaction, it makes antibodies. The test for anti-gliadin antibodies is known as AGA and people who test positive to AGA often have no sign of gut damage.

In fact, according to Dr Alessio Fasano, who carried out the University of Maryland research, "Worldwide, CD 'out of the intestine' is 15 times more frequent than CD 'in the intestine'." Braly estimates that between 10% and 15% of the US and Canadian populations have anti-gliadin antibodies, putting them at risk of conditions as varied as psoriasis, multiple sclerosis, jaundice, IBS and eczema.

The idea of gluten causing damage to parts of the body other than the gut is supported by another UK practitioner, Dr M Hadjivassiliou, a neurologist at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield. He ran an AGA test on patients who had "neurological dysfunction" with no obvious cause and found that more than half tested positive. What is more, only a third of the positive group had any evidence of CD gut damage. In other words, while the gluten antibodies can damage the bowels, they can also cause problems elsewhere. In this case, it was the cerebellum, or the peripheral nervous system.

So if a reaction to gluten can cause problems in the brain, might it also be linked to immune disorders? Braly and Hoggan certainly think so, and claim considerable clinical success in treating patients for conditions such as Addison's disease, lupus, rheumatoid arthritis and ulcerative colitis with a gluten-free diet. In fact, almost all the body's systems can be affected (see below). So if you suffer from a chronic condition that doesn't seem to respond to treatment, cutting out wheat for a while seems worth a try.

Are you gluten sensitive?

If you suffer from any of the following, the possibility that you are GS may be worth investigating.

Upper respiratory tract problems such as sinusitis, "allergies", "glue ear"
Symptoms related to malabsorption of nutrients such as anemia and fatigue (lack of iron or folic acid), osteoporosis, insomnia (lack of calcium)
Bowel complaints: diarrhoea, constipation, bloating and distention, spastic colon, Crohn's disease, diverticulitis
Autoimmune problems: rheumatoid arthritis, bursitis, Crohn's disease
Diseases of the nervous system: motor neuron disease, certain forms of epilepsy
Mental problems: depression, behavioral difficulties, ME, ADD
The Guardian September 17, 2002


Dr. Mercola's Comment:

As many of you know, one of the key components of my eating plan is vastly reducing to eliminating the grains in your diet for optimal health. I am glad to see this issue increasingly addressed in books and other media, and want to take this opportunity to make an announcement:

In the early spring of 2003, Putnam will be publishing my first major book called The No-Grain Diet, which will be available in bookstores throughout the United States and beyond. The No-Grain Diet will address the issues in the article above and more; even more important, it will provide you with a comprehensive and practical approach to implementing an individualized dietary plan that, with the aid of Metabolic Typing, leads to your healing, ideal weight and optimal health.

In addition to its focus on my nutrition plan, what will set The No-Grain Diet apart from other dietary and health books is my focus on maintaining the healthy habits you adopt; whether people change their diet to lose weight, heal a disease, guard against illness or simply improve their health, they are often successful at the start.

However, as time goes by, most fall right back into the old patterns that sabotaged their health in the first place. This is because there was only a focus on changing negative physical habits, not changing negative emotions contributing to those habits. In The No-Grain Diet, I will show you how, by using EFT, you can eliminate those negative emotions and far more easily maintain your healthy nutrition plan and lifestyle for good.

As for the gluten referenced in the article above, it is a protein in wheat, barley, rye, oats and spelt and can cause problems in many individuals that are completely independent of its disruption of insulin homeostasis.

As for grains in the human diet overall, there is fairly strong Paleolithic evidence that 10,000 years ago most humans did not consume many grains. They were hunter-gatherers who subsisted mostly on vegetables and meats. Ten thousand years is a mere blip in a biological sense for humans--over 99 percent of our genetic make-up was in place, in fact, before we ever started consuming grains.

When considered from this perspective alone, it is not too surprising that grains can cause a wide array of health issues: contemporary humans have not suddenly evolved mechanisms to incorporate the high carbohydrates from starch- and sugar-rich foods into their diet.

Some of my patients ask me why, if grains "are bad," the Bible would reference them as acceptable. I am no biblical scholar and so cannot comment on whether the words used in the Bible (and translated from original sources) actually mean "grains" or food in some larger sense.

But I am not making an absolute blanket statement that grains "are bad;" instead, I am stating that most of us would definitely benefit by either drastically reducing or eliminating them from our diet, and throughout, and in my forthcoming book, The No-Grain Diet, I show you why.


University of Maryland Center for Celiac Research: 001-800-492 5538.
For help on starting a gluten-free diet, visit
UK website for sufferers of coeliac disease:
A good US website:

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CELIAC FOOD LIST-for newly dx

Thursday, February 08, 2007



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