Do You Need To Be Gluten Free?

Do You Need To Be Gluten Free?

     I have worked with many patients who have problems with gluten.  It can be potentially a serious medical issue.  Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that can attack the intestines and other tissues in response to eating foods with gluten.  In addition, some people have gluten sensitivity without the diagnosis of Celiac disease.

     There may be many people with celiac disease who are unaware they have it.  The condition can bring on vague and confusing symptoms including abdominal pain, chronic diarrhea or constipation, fatigue, muscle cramps, even bone fractures.  The disorder can remain unknown for many years, allowing damage to occur that can have lifelong negative health effects.

     Millions of Americans are adopting gluten free diets without knowing whether or not they have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity.  While many report feeling better, there can be a serious medical downside.  If people have not been tested and do not know they actually have the condition, they tend to be less motivated to maintain a rigorous gluten-free diet.  That can put them at risk for the disease continuing to progress.  Also, if they are not under a doctor’s care they may develop other medical problems, including a heightened risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

     I also see many patients who have gluten sensitivity without Celiac disease.  Some of the most common conditions that seem to have a higher incidence of non-Celiac gluten sensitivity include autism, ADHD and autoimmune diseases (e.g. lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Sjogren’s syndrome, type 1 diabetes, etc.).  There are other tests available to screen for non-Celiac gluten sensitivity that I use on a regular basis.  Some people have issues with only non-organic genetically modified wheat, which uses high amounts of herbicides and other chemicals.  

     Also many people think that because an item is marked gluten free, that means it is a healthier choice – this is not necessarily the case!  I definitely agree with the comment in the article that a gluten-free diet is not necessarily a healthy diet. Most commercial gluten free products contain a lot of corn and white rice flours that are high in simple sugars and often genetically modified.  There are all kinds of processed gluten free foods that are not healthy.  While these can be helpful transition foods for children starting on a gluten free diet, I generally recommend that people on a gluten free diet try to avoid processed gluten free foods and instead opt mostly for foods that are naturally gluten free, including vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, seeds, fish and meat.  You can click on the photo or here to read the article.

     If you or a family member have questions about whether you should be gluten free, please call our office at 808-783-0361.  We offer a no-charge phone consultation (an $88 value).  Mahalo!

New Understanding: How to Successfully Treat Autoimmune Diseases

New Understanding: How to Successfully Treat Autoimmune Diseases

      Autoimmune disease rates have been escalating dramatically over the past 30 years, some by up to 23%.  These diseases occur when the immune system, which is supposed to attack invaders like bacteria, viruses, fungi and yeast instead attacks one’s own body.  The medical and scientific community does not know exactly what causes autoimmune conditions like type 1 diabetes, celiac disease, lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, and Crohn’s disease. (More than 100 autoimmune diseases have been identified). 

     The immune system is comprised of white blood cells, lymph nodes and the whole lymph system, the spleen, tonsils, and bone marrow (which makes white blood cells).  It also makes certain types of chemical messengers, while some types of white blood cells make proteins called antibodies.

     The immune system can send out cells that act like Pac-Man, gobbling up bacteria and viruses. It also makes free radicals, which act like miniature bombs to blow up the invaders. Essentially, the whole process is designed to create inflammation in the body that is targeted at killing bacteria, viruses, yeast, and other things that can cause disease.

     For example, with rheumatoid arthritis, the immune system attacks joint tissue, which can cause very bad pain and disfigured joints.  With lupus, the skin, joints, and internal organs are affected.  In multiple sclerosis, the immune system eats away at the protective coating around the nerves, preventing them from functioning properly.

     Fortunately, there are a few pharmaceutical medications that disrupt specific aspects of the autoimmune process, but for the most part, the conventional approach is usually either steroids or other medications that suppress the entire immune system.  These drugs aren’t specific, and because they affect the whole immune system, not just the area of the disease, the immune system as a whole is weaker than it should be.  This can result in the person being more susceptible to infections.

     While we don’t know exactly what causes autoimmune diseases, a critical part of treating them is healing the digestive system.  Every patient I’ve seen with an autoimmune disease has been helped to some extent by adopting a specific diet to heal the gut.  Some patients who undertook very restrictive diets, like the Autoimmune Protocol Diet, enjoyed dramatic improvement.  This is because new research is finding that the gut is very important in regulating the immune system.  Good bacteria in the gut actually communicate with the immune system cells there by exchanging chemical messages.  When the gut gets balanced and there is no inflammation there, the immune system benefits regardless of what part of the body is affected by an autoimmune disease.

     For example, researchers in Israel and Germany have noted that the increases in autoimmune diseases have occurred in too short a time to be caused by genetic changes.  Focusing instead on other causes, they discovered a strong correlation between the skyrocketing use of industrial food additives in processed food and the increase in autoimmune diseases.  The studies revealed that processed foods damage the intestinal lining, increasing the likelihood of developing an autoimmune disease.

     Other stressors on the immune system include pollution, exposure to toxins, and lack of sleep.  People who work night shifts long term have a higher risk of developing autoimmune diseases and cancer, as well.  When we don’t get enough sleep, our bodies are missing out on a major time when it repairs damaged cells or fixes mutations in DNA.

     While I have found that pharmaceutical medications are often still needed in managing autoimmune diseases, using diet and natural remedies to regulate the immune system  can bring major improvements and in some cases even lead to remission.  I typically focus on working with patients to develop a healing diet as a foundation.  I will also recommend certain types of probiotics and natural remedies to help heal the gut and regulate the immune system, along with regular acupuncture.  The acupuncture helps reduce pain and inflammation and strengthens the internal organs.  Over time, patients with an autoimmune condition are usually able to live healthier, happier lives with less dependence on medication.

 

Yale Scientists Link Salty Processed Foods To Autoimmune Diseases

Yale Scientists Link Salty Processed Foods To Autoimmune Diseases

     A team of researchers from Yale University discovered an important link between refined salt and the rise of autoimmune diseases, where the immune system attacks the body other cells.  Scientists suspect two factors.  One, salt seems to affect the behavior of certain cells that help battle infections.  It made them act more aggressively and actually increased inflammation.  Two, salt never used to be refined.  It came along with many other minerals.  Today’s salt is mostly refined, processed and bleached. 

     The lack of balancing minerals may be the other side of the coin causing the immune system to malfunction.  With all of the refined salt products in the supermarkets and at fast food restaurants, surprisingly, bread–yes, bread–turns out to be the number one source of refined salt in the American diet.  To safeguard your health, reduce the amount of processed and packaged, and fast foods.  For home use, choose a mineral salt such as Himalayan or Celtic.  It’s what our bodies were designed for.  Click on the photo to read the report.

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