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    How Celiacs can Deal with Accidental Gluten Ingestion

    Kristen Campbell

    Celiac.com 01/03/2009 - Recently on a gluten-free forum, I found a post asking for advice on what to do after a woman had accidentally consumed a large amount of gluten.  After unknowingly eating from her daughter’s takeout box, the woman had realized her mistake and was simply devastated to have broken her diet and subjected herself to the old, too-familiar symptoms that were on their way.

    It was interesting reading the various responses, which resulted in a debate over whether or not to induce vomiting, drink pineapple juice, take enzymes or engage in a certain illegal activity.  In all the debate, the woman eventually disappeared off the forum, which probably meant that she took some action or another, though I never heard the final result.

    This whole subject inspired some research on my part.  I first consulted my extensive gluten-free library, which led me to one solitary, repetitive answer: do not eat gluten.  In a world where doctors and authors alike are so concerned that their advice on the subject will lead people with gluten sensitivities to forgo a gluten-free diet in favor of a “band aid” of sorts, that finding a documented recommendation is near impossible.

    These experts are right to reinforce the importance of maintaining a gluten free lifestyle, and the fact that there is no “cure” for gluten intolerance and celiac disease (other than complete avoidance of gluten from wheat, barley and rye).  But mistakes do happen, and from time to time people do get "glutened,” and when they do, which action is best?

    No matter what the size is of the offending dose of gluten, all experts agree, inducing vomiting is too dangerous and disruptive to the body to be considered.  But there is one option that at least two noted experts in field of celiac research agree upon: enzymes.

    When I contacted the renowned Dr. Kenneth Fine of EnteroLab, and asked him if perhaps a dose of enzymes that are designed to break down gluten might help, he had this to say: “The good news is that everyone will survive and recover from the gluten exposure.  The enzymes you mention might help, but not completely, unless they consumed at the same time (as the gluten) for best results.”  And like all good doctors, he did go on to warn, “Avoidance is still the best policy.”

    Shari Lieberman, PhD, CNS, FACN and author of The Gluten Connection very humbly admits that “gluten slips happen.”  She also devotes a couple of pages in her book to research conducted using digestive enzymes to help manage those occasions when gluten does make its way into your diet, citing a research example in which “The study demonstrates that enzyme therapy can substantially minimize symptoms in people with celiac disease who are exposed to gluten.” 

    The enzyme used in this study does not seem to be currently available, but other gluten enzymes are at your local health food store.  I contacted one company in regard to their product, which according to them helps to reduce inflammation caused by the introduction of gluten in an individual with celiac disease or gluten intolerance.  According to them their enzymes will not prevent all damage, but may reduce some inflammation and help the body to better digest the protein.

    Ultimately, gluten sensitive individuals should recover from one accidental “gluten slip” here and there, and keeping some digestive enzymes handy to help cope with such an accident is not a bad idea.  But do keep in mind that repeated offenses, even the most minute, will damage your body and prevent it from healing.  Enzymes help treat the symptoms, but only complete avoidance of gluten can treat the disease.


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    Great article, I am glad to see someone unafraid to touch on this subject. Too many authors are so afraid that we'll all go start eating gluten that they won't even touch it.

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    A very good article! Although general awareness of Gluten Free and Celiac is increasing, there are still too many times I have been the unwitting recipient of gluten at restaurants (sauce ingredients, dressings, etc). The dreaded symptoms normally show up after about an hour or so, and last a day or more...I would love to cut the side effects short, and feel like myself earlier!

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    Believe it or not, I have found that one shot of tequila within a few hours of ingesting gluten greatly minimizes my symptoms, almost to the point of negating any reaction! Just one shot, though!

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    Guest Jennifer

    Posted

    Hi,

    I just had an accidental slip-up about an hour ago. I am on vacation and ate from the double-dipped peanut butter jar instead of the one intended for me...

    Anyway, when I slip up, I immediately take a dose of a product called Glutagenics by Metagenics. (I'm not at home so can't get any more specific than that for now). It aids in restoring the intestinal lining.

    You mentioned enzymes, do you have a name brand? A lot of enzymes actually contain gluten, so I don't want to try anything without getting a name brand recommendation. Thanks for the article!

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    Guest Darci Frankel, Kauai, Hawaii

    Posted

    I found the article very informative, and I am so happy that there is more and more information about gluten intolerance in the world. I disagree with the bit about inducing vomiting being so gravely dangerous. When cats need to expel excess mucous from their stomachs, they instinctively eat a certain type of grass that makes them vomit. I don't have full blown celiac but I do get pain when I eat gluten, and the one time I ate a muffin that was assured to me to be gluten free, (well I only took a few bites) I realized that I didn't want to go through several days of discomfort, so I drank some water and stuck my finger down my throat and eliminated the few bites. Now I'm not advising that everyone eat whatever you want and then be bulimic, that is dangerous but I am saying we shouldn't be afraid of our bodies and its natural reflexive actions. Enjoy life and be well. Aloha!

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    This has been an ongoing question for us. Thanks for the research.

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    Guest No Gluten

    Posted

    What a great article - a wonderful resource for those who may accidentally ingest gluten. Bravo!

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    Great topic! In my own personal experience, it is best to cleanse the small intestine of the mucosal inflammation. I use apple cider vinegar for this. Dilute a tablespoon or two in water and drink. Do this a few times per day. I find the greasy and/or loose stools disappear within a day or so.

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    Guest michele

    Posted

    My son was diagnosed with celiac when he was 13. He is now 18 and has always stuck to his gluten free diet. However, today he accidentally ate gluten. Not just a small amount, but a very very large amount. An entire half of a 16' pizza! That was at 6:30 pm. He threw up at 8:30 pm then 9:30pm then 10:20 and now again at 10:54.

    I have been searching the internet for hours (while caring for him) trying to find out how serious it is to be glutened this badly.

    Thanks

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    Wow, the tequila shot is one which I've never heard before, does it help you minimize your symptoms? I was wondering what the name of these enzymes are as I never purposely ingest gluten, but it would be nice to be able to minimize

    the gut inflammation, even slightly after an attack.

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