I was talking with one of our members yesterday, who has had three rounds of chemotherapy for his non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and we got to talking about Dr. Rodier's penchant for gluten-free and dairy-free diets for anyone suffering from a serious or chronic disease.
Thus, I'm going to take on the topic of gluten-free diets today, as it also seems like everyone in my inner circle has some sensitivity to gluten. Gluten sensitivity is different from celiac disease. With celiac disease, intolerance of gluten is often detected after as so-called stomach or bowel problems don't respond to treatment and may only be diagnosed when some kind of disease like diabetes or Parkinson's or a malignant tumor is found.
Symptoms of gluten problems range from easy-to-dismiss fatigue, bloating, headaches, allergies, and skin rashes to more serious symptoms associated with leaky gut, autoimmune disease, depression, neurological dysfunction, and, yes, even lymphomas
According to Peter H. R. Green, MD and director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, "None of us digests gluten very well."
An evolutionary approach looks at the fact that wheat was not commonly used until the age of agriculture, some 10,000 years ago, while human DNA evolved much earlier without gluten proteins to digest and assimilate. That explains why so many people do end up being gluten sensitive, or even positive for celiac disease, even if they don't know it.
When you're sensitive or outright intolerant of gluten, you have to be careful not only about wheat, rye, spelt, barley, and other obvious sources of gluten but also about hidden sources of gluten. Soy sauce, miso soup, imitation seafood (often in sushi rolls), gravies, barley malt (used as a sweetener in breakfast cereals and snack foods), malt vinegars, maltodextrin, commercial seasoning packets, sausage products, chocolate bars, and all sorts of processed foods are likely to contain gluten. Even French-fried potatoes often have gluten from gluten-infused seasonings or from other batters fried in the same vat of oil (think: battered calamari, onion rigngs, zucchini, etc.).
What I found disturbing was that, according to an article called Gluten-Free Made Easy in the March 2009 edition of Natural Solutions:
"Unlike celiac disease, gluten sensitivity can also be linked to non-gluten factors like environmental pollution, pesticides in our foods, and the use of antibiotics and anti-inflammatory drugs that can alter our digestive system's immune function and reduce our ability to digest gluten."
It's back to Dr. Rodier's theory that most ailments can be traced back to "TOILing" cells (cells that are "toxic, oxidized, inflamed, or lacking in mitochondrial energy from the right nutrients").
And, while environmental toxins can make us more sensitive to gluten, gluten can also make our systems more inflamed and deficient in nutrition, so the factors of cellular TOIL go both ways.
My take? More folks should ditch the gluten, especially folks suffering from any chronic disease. Please share your thoughts in a comment below if you have struggled with gluten-free living.