Ask Dr Heather Blog

Should I go gluten free???
January 19, 2012
Dr. Heather Boyd Roberts

Gluten free has become the question of 2011 and its growing in 2012. As celiac disease is rising and gluten allergies are becoming more and more prevalent large well know companies, like Betty Crocker, have jumped on board and made gluten free items. Going gluten free used to be a much bigger challenge than it is today.

Wheat, Barley, Spelt, Oats, and Rye all contain gluten. Gluten is a complex protein that is difficult to digest. If your digestive tract has any weakness to it gluten can be a problem. To make matters worse the amount of gluten in wheat has steadily risen. In fact it is estimated that wheat now contains 33% more gluten than it did 100 years ago.

There are different degrees of sensitivity to gluten. The most extreme is celiac sprue. If someone has this condition avoiding gluten in all forms no matter how small is crucial. When a bowel inflicted with celiac sprue is exposed to gluten the small villi or absorptive and digestive arms in the digestive tract become physically damaged. The next step down from celiac sprue is a gluten allergy. While there isn't as imminent danger with exposure to gluten, there is still all out nuclear warfare that happens to your body when you eat gluten, so avoidance again is crucial. Then there is the least reactive person who has a sensitivity or an intolerance to gluten. In this case, you may be able to tolerate it on occasion and if it is really mild then you may just need to cut back. However, with any reaction, the more thorough you avoid it the better the results will be.

If you have neurological, autoimmune or digestive disorders avoiding gluten is definately a needed step for you to try. Gluten has been known to aggravate all of these conditions.

To test for a gluten problem depends on how severe your symptoms are. There are a variety of ways to identify the severity of your reaction. A blood test is needed to screen for celiac sprue. A saliva test is done to check for a gluten allergy and a Zyto stress scan (search for VIP in the search menu) can be done to identify food sensitivities. If you test positive, it is best to avoid gluten altogether for 3 to 6 months. If you do have a gluten sensitivity, testing for other foods in addition to gluten will give you the best results.

Written by Dr. Heather Boyd Roberts of Natural Choice Healthcare Vancouver, Washington