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  • Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.
    Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

    Top Seven Misconceptions About the Gluten-Free Lifestyle

    Reviewed and edited by a celiac disease expert.

    Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Summer 2010 Issue. NOTE: This article is from a back issue of our popular subscription-only paper newsletter. Some content may be outdated.

    Top Seven Misconceptions About the Gluten-Free Lifestyle - Image: CC--theilr
    Caption: Image: CC--theilr

    Celiac.com 06/07/2019 (originally published 07/12/2010) - Most of the gluten-free community is thrilled by the rapidly increasing public and professional awareness of our diet and the increasingly wide range of gluten-free choices available to us in supermarkets, health food stores, and even in restaurants. These are exciting times for those of us who avoid gluten. However, there are a few problems associated with the increasing public profile enjoyed by our diet. Members of the Press, and some health care professionals who have not kept up with the research, continue to voice false and faulty perceptions of our diet. The net result of these misinformed, often authoritative, statements, cautions, and prohibitions is that many individuals who might benefit from the diet are dissuaded from trying it or are encouraged to abandon it prematurely.

    While few health care professionals (there are some) contest compliance with a gluten-free diet for those with celiac disease or dermatitis herpetiformis, many more are resistant to non-celiac gluten sensitivity as a cause to follow the diet. Others assert that the gluten-free diet lacks the necessary vitamins, minerals, and calories to sustain good health. Still others decry the lack of fiber in many gluten-free diets or they claim that it lacks the complex carbohydrates provided by gluten grains or alternative whole grains. One prominent gastrointestinal researcher even advocates consumption of breakfast cereals that contain malt flavorings. He asserts that our diet is so restricted that patients may abandon the diet altogether if they are not given the latitude to consume small amounts of gluten. Similarly, foods made from oats are increasingly advocated as “safe”, while the research is less than conclusive on this issue. To add to the confusion, many health food clerks and naturopaths are advocating spelt and kamut as being “safe” for those who avoid gluten. Over the past year, there has been a rash of publications in the popular press that depict the gluten-free diet as a passing fad because some individuals have been using it to lose weight.



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    This cornucopia of misinformation is more than an inconvenience for people who follow a gluten-free diet. In some cases, their health is at risk. In other cases, dismissals or misinformation will lead them back to eating gluten and all the health hazards it poses. Still others, many of whom already feel marginalized by their diet feel discredited and dismissed. Let’s examine each of these claims in light of the peer reviewed medical literature:

    An overwhelming majority of researchers recommend a gluten-free diet for those who suffer from dermatitis herpetiformis. Many researchers consider dermatitis herpetiformis to be a skin manifestation of celiac disease. To that end, authoritative reports in the research literature recommend treatment with a strict gluten-free diet and the use of Dapsone as a drug that can offer the patient temporary relief while the diet takes effect (1). However, one drug usage evaluation of Dapsone makes no mention of the diet (2). This is congruent with the recommendations of many dermatologists who believe that Dapsone is the only realistic treatment for dermatitis herpetiformis and that the gluten-free diet is a foul-tasting, alternative that will be eschewed by most patients. I have listened to one such dermatologist spout his condemnation of the diet in a presentation to a group of celiac patients. He went on to indicate that those who comply with the diet are members of a radical minority who are driven by fanatic zeal (3). Although the presentation took place in 1999, I frequently hear from people with dermatitis herpetiformis who have more recently been offered similar medical advice by their dermatologists.

    Only a couple of weeks ago, I heard from a lady I had encouraged to seek testing for celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. She quoted the gastroenterologist she visited for an endoscopy, etc. as saying “Either you have Celiac Disease or you don’t, this office does not believe in those other tests.” This is a blatant denial of a report from Ireland in which early mortality among those with gluten sensitivity has been found to be greater than in the general population (4). Similar findings have been reported from Sweden (5). In a comment on these publications, Dr. Peter Green wrote (in part) the following:

    Until recently, gluten sensitivity has received little attention in the traditional medical literature, although there is increasing evidence for its presence in patients with various neurological disorders and psychiatric problems. The study by Ludvigsson and colleagues reinforces the importance of celiac disease as a diagnosis that should be sought by physicians. It also suggests that more attention should be given to the lesser degrees of intestinal inflammation and gluten sensitivity (6).

    Those who wrongly impugn the gluten-free diet as nutritionally inadequate have been with us for some time. Our culture seems to have developed an almost religious fervor about the health benefits of grains, particularly whole grains, yet the evidence to support such claims is sparse at best. Yes, they do contain some vitamins and minerals that are valuable to human health, but these same nutrients are abundantly available elsewhere. In fact, despite our very long-standing tradition of valuing various dietary carbohydrates, reductions of carbohydrate consumption may well lead to significant health improvements (7). There are several cultures, most notably the Inuit, that survived and thrived for millennia eating diets that were substantially free of carbohydrates and completely bereft of grains (8) and Europeans who adopted their life ways continued to enjoy robust health (8). Demonstrations of this dynamic were closely monitored and reported by physicians at New York’s Bellevue as early as 1929 when two explorers, V. Stefansson and K. Andersen were reported to have improved or maintained their good health during more than one year of eating a diet comprised of raw and cooked meat only (9, 10). Surely a diet that excludes only gluten grains is not lacking in necessary nutrients if an exclusively meat diet provides adequate nutrition.

    It is less than rational for physicians to recommend gluten-free diets that allow breakfast cereals that contain malt flavorings. This is a little like recommending salted peanuts as part of a salt free diet. One of the physicians recommending malt flavorings to celiac patients is also a very vocal advocate of including oats in the gluten-free diet.

    Oats have long been a contentious issue in the gluten-free community. Most members of the gluten-free community are aware of the debate. Some opt to eat oats while others prefer to avoid them, and some report that they experience symptoms of gluten ingestion when eating oats. Presumably to clear up this issue, the professional advisory board of the Canadian Celiac Association published a position paper in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2007 (11). Like many other such publications, this group acknowledges that “There are case reports of individuals with celiac disease relapsing with the consumption of pure uncontaminated oats.” They also acknowledge that “When adding oats to the diet, individuals may experience a change in stool pattern or mild gastrointestinal symptoms, including abdominal bloating and flatulence. These symptoms should resolve within a few days.”

    For those of us who spent years in search of an accurate diagnosis, such statements are fraught with problems. First, many celiacs are asymptomatic. How can we know whether oats are really safe? Endoscopies sometimes fail to reveal celiac-associated intestinal damage, when too few intestinal biopsies are taken due to patchy intestinal lesions (12). This clearly demonstrates that one or a small series of biopsies is not adequate to ensure that oats are not causing intestinal damage. Please recall that this group acknowledges that some celiacs do develop intestinal damage due to oats ingestion. We don’t know how many are missed because of “patchy lesions”, and even those who are supposedly safe eating oats must expect celiac-like symptoms for an initial period of eating them. Of course, no consideration is given to the possibility that those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity may also be harmed by oats. I would want a stronger argument from a car salesman than the oats advocates are offering in this paper. When it comes to my health, these assertions are just too flimsy for me.

    There are a number of reports of celiac patients who cannot tolerate oats (13, 14, 15, 16). In a recent conversation with Dr. Rodney Ford, he suggested that the number of celiacs who need to avoid oats is about 1 in 20. The challenge here is to ensure that we are not the twentieth celiac. And all of this ignores the issue of cross contamination. How many places do you know where they grow oats and only oats? Do they cultivate, seed, harvest, transport, and mill it in equipment that only handles oats? If not, then it is almost impossible to avoid getting some contamination from other, unquestionably gluten-containing grains.

    The gluten-free diet is a passing fad. Over the last year I read a number of articles published throughout the USA and the UK depicting the gluten-free diet as a silly fad. These articles could only have been written by journalists who have not followed the diet themselves. If they had experienced the inconvenience, added expense, and the social marginalizing that usually accompany the diet they would be much less likely to write such drivel.

    Some of these writers decry the use of a gluten-free diet as a weight loss strategy. Perhaps they haven’t noticed that we are in the middle of an obesity epidemic, and if the gluten-free diet helps people to lose weight, I don’t understand the objection. Other journalists have suggested that those who have non-celiac gluten sensitivity do not need the diet either. Yet these same people have, according to the only two studies I’m aware of that have investigated this group, a greater risk of early death than those with celiac disease. I don’t know about journalists, but I consider that a pretty good motivation to avoid gluten even in the absence of celiac disease.

    Perhaps the most egregious statement that is too often made by a variety of health care professionals and parroted by lay people is that the gluten-free diet is “nutritionally inadequate”. This is disturbing and utter nonsense. Most of the world’s populations survived and thrived before Europeans spread across the globe bringing gluten grains with them. Most of that spread has only occurred during the last few hundred years. From the Australian Aborigine to the Inuit of the Arctic, from most of Africa to the Americas, gluten grains are a new food. The suggestion that they are nutritionally necessary, or even important, is to reveal a very deep level of confusion about food, culture, and the evolutionary forces that have shaped human digestive systems.

    There are, of course, many other common misconceptions about the gluten-free diet. The common preoccupation with fiber ignores recent research data that debunks that myth. Some people imagine that the gluten-free diet must include foods that act as substitutes for the gluten-containing foods we grew up with. There are even some woefully misinformed individuals who advocate kamut and spelt as safe in a gluten-free diet. This is INCORRECT. There is no question that the diet is inconvenient and expensive, but the rest of the above misconceptions range from foolish to dangerous and are often the result of having been socialized into a culture that values gluten grains far beyond any rational understanding of their benefits to those who do not have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. I am sometimes tempted to suggest that such strong feelings appear more closely akin to the protestations of an addict rather than taste preferences. Such powerful beliefs could be argued to be rooted in the morphine-like properties of gliadorphins , also known as opioids, that are found in all the gluten grains.

    Sources:

    1. Caproni M, Antiga E, Melani L, Fabbri P; Italian Group for Cutaneous Immunopathology. Guidelines for the diagnosis and treatment of dermatitis herpetiformis. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2009 Jun;23(6):633-8. Epub 2009 Mar 10.
    2. G. Kannan,* J. Vasantha, N. Vanitha Rani, P. Thennarasu, K. Kousalya, P. Anuradha, and C. Umamaheswara Reddy Drug Usage Evaluation of Dapsone Indian J Pharm Sci. 2009 Jul–Aug; 71(4): 456–460.
    3. Pappas. Dermatitis Herpetiformis. National Conference, Canadian Celiac Association, Kitchener-Waterloo, May, 1999.
    4. LA Anderson, SA McMillan, RGP Watson, P Monaghan, AT Gavin, C Fox, LJ Murray Malignancy and mortality in a population-based cohort of patients with coeliac disease or ‘gluten sensitivity’ World J Gastroenterol 2007 January 7; 13(1): 146-151
    5. Ludvigsson JF, Montgomery SM, Ekbom A, Brandt L, Granath F. Smallintestinal histopathology and mortality risk in celiac disease. JAMA. 2009;302 (11):1171-1178.
    6. Peter H. R. Green Mortality in Celiac Disease, Intestinal Inflammation, and Gluten Sensitivity JAMA. 2009;302(11):1225-1226
    7. Pérez-Guisado J, Arguments In Favor Of Ketogenic Diets, The Internet Journal of Nutrition and Wellness 2007 : Volume 4 Number 2
    8. Phinney SD, Ketogenic diets and physical performance. Nutrition & Metabolism 2004, 1:2
    9. Lieb CW, The effects on human beings of a twelve months exclusive meat diet. JAMA, July 6, 1929, 20-22.
    10. Stefansson V. “Adventures in Diet.” Harper’s Magazine, November, December, 1935, January 1936
    11. Rashid M, Butzner D, Burrows V, Zakardis M, Case S, Molloy M, Warren R, Pulido O, Switzer C. Consumption of pure oats by individuals with celiac disease: A position statement by the Canadian Celiac Association. Can. J. Gastroenterol 2007; 21(10): 649-651.
    12. Green PH. Celiac disease: how many biopsies for diagnosis? Gastrointest Endosc. 2008;67(7):1088-1090.
    13. Ellis HJ, Ciclitira PJ. Should coeliac sufferers be allowed their oats? Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2008 Jun;20(6):492-3. Review.
    14. Silano M, Dessì M, De Vincenzi M, Cornell H.In vitro tests indicate that certain varieties of oats may be harmful to patients with coeliac disease. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2007 Apr;22(4):528-31.
    15. Kilmartin C, Wieser H, Abuzakouk M, Kelly J, Jackson J, Feighery C. Intestinal T cell responses to cereal proteins in celiac disease.Dig Dis Sci. 2006 Jan;51(1):202-9.
    16. Lundin KE, Nilsen EM, Scott HG, Løberg EM, Gjøen A, Bratlie J, Skar V, Mendez E, Løvik A, Kett K. Oats induced villous atrophy in coeliac disease. Gut. 2003 Nov;52(11):1649-52.

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    Diagnosed with celac disease for 15 years and personally i prefered it when it was less well-known - no one joked about it, no one rolled their eyes when you explained your situation and restaurants were so terrified of an allergic reaction in their establishment they made sure no gluten was in your food. Yes, it meant less alternatives on the menu and in the grocery store but honestly, I feel my disease has been made into a joke. I feel shamed when comedians joke about it and when "wierd" people in shows demand gluten-free alternatives (note: little big lies season 2 - first episode). No one would joke about a diabetic in this way... 

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    Thank you for this excellent article! It's sad that 2 glutenous foods (spelt & kamut) are recommended by those who don't realize that both spelt and kamut are ancient forms of WHEAT, and both spelt and kamut have plenty of gluten in them!

    My husband is one of those who has non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and his health is way better when he totally avoids glutenous foods. He was tested (stool sample testing) by Dr. Fine's EnteroLab (sent stool sample to Dr. Fine's Texas office).

    I also hate it when eating gluten-free is falsely accused of being a "fad"! Thank you again for your great article!

    Sincerely, Carol Sidofsky (retired RN/nurse, and they didn't mention gluten when I was a nurse way back when--we had to learn about gluten-sensitivity on our own--thank goodness for the internet!)

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    3 hours ago, Guest montreal girl said:

    Diagnosed with celac disease for 15 years and personally i prefered it when it was less well-known - no one joked about it, no one rolled their eyes when you explained your situation and restaurants were so terrified of an allergic reaction in their establishment they made sure no gluten was in your food. Yes, it meant less alternatives on the menu and in the grocery store but honestly, I feel my disease has been made into a joke. I feel shamed when comedians joke about it and when "wierd" people in shows demand gluten-free alternatives (note: little big lies season 2 - first episode). No one would joke about a diabetic in this way... 

    I could not agree more. 

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    I'll be honest (and I almost never do this): I didn't read the full article before writing this comment. But the thing that struck me on the portion that I did read is that YOU'RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR.  Instead, spread these ideas OUTSIDE the Celiac community.

    I know, I know: the average reader doesn't want "science", they want a feel-good article about puppies and how their kids are going to be doctors and astrophysicists.  To that I say: FRAK the average reader!  But also find a way to bring them into the fold.  (Religions do it all the time, for godsake.) 

    There are always folks who are going to be closed-minded toward science-based information. But we don't need to focus on those people, because just like in politics, there's a certain segment of the population on which your message will be lost due to willful ignorance. So forget them. 

    Instead, let's focus on EDUCATING the rest of the population. Yes, we will have to pitch it to everyone, unconditionally, because it effects every family in every social sphere.  Do the approachable intro... but DO NOT DUMB DOWN THE SCIENCE so that others may misquote you. We need to preach the SCIENCE of CELIAC DISEASE to everyone. Not just the anecdotal evidence.  

    Publishing only in "Celiac Journals" will never fix the problem. It's time to STEP IT UP, gang!
    . . . 

    Having now read the full article, I stand behind my initial assessment. WE ABSOLUTELY NEED TO TAKE THIS TREASURE-TROVE OF KNOWLEDGE AND GET IT INTO THE COMMON PARLANCE and stop treating Celiac-related sufferers as some sort of "IN-GROUP".  It's time to demand that other folks step up to the plate... just like they have with homosexuality and other social taboos. 

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    As a celiac sufferer, I don’t just get a little ‘uncomfortable’ after mistakenly eating gluten, I am in the bathroom expelling the gluten from both ends and am sick and sometimes incapacitated for several days after. I would love some of these naysayers to live in my body for a single gluten reaction and then suggest this is basically ‘nonsense’!  It is an ‘inconvenient and expensive’ but a NECESSARY one if I want to live a normal, healthy lifestyle and not be stuck in the bathroom or feel nauseous and sick every day. To say nothing about how it’s destroying my gut!  Thank you for the article and yes, get this info out there in the mainstream! 

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    Guest I have celiac disease too!

    Posted

    12 hours ago, sc'Que? said:

    I'll be honest (and I almost never do this): I didn't read the full article before writing this comment. But the thing that struck me on the portion that I did read is that YOU'RE PREACHING TO THE CHOIR.  Instead, spread these ideas OUTSIDE the Celiac community.

    I know, I know: the average reader doesn't want "science", they want a feel-good article about puppies and how their kids are going to be doctors and astrophysicists.  To that I say: FRAK the average reader!  But also find a way to bring them into the fold.  (Religions do it all the time, for godsake.) 

    There are always folks who are going to be closed-minded toward science-based information. But we don't need to focus on those people, because just like in politics, there's a certain segment of the population on which your message will be lost due to willful ignorance. So forget them. 

    Instead, let's focus on EDUCATING the rest of the population. Yes, we will have to pitch it to everyone, unconditionally, because it effects every family in every social sphere.  Do the approachable intro... but DO NOT DUMB DOWN THE SCIENCE so that others may misquote you. We need to preach the SCIENCE of CELIAC DISEASE to everyone. Not just the anecdotal evidence.  

    Publishing only in "Celiac Journals" will never fix the problem. It's time to STEP IT UP, gang!
    . . . 

    Having now read the full article, I stand behind my initial assessment. WE ABSOLUTELY NEED TO TAKE THIS TREASURE-TROVE OF KNOWLEDGE AND GET IT INTO THE COMMON PARLANCE and stop treating Celiac-related sufferers as some sort of "IN-GROUP".  It's time to demand that other folks step up to the plate... just like they have with homosexuality and other social taboos. 

    I agree!! Bring awareness to gluten free living! 

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  • About Me

    Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D.

    As co-author of "Dangerous Grains" and "Cereal Killers", the study of the impact of gluten continues to be a driving passion in my life. I am fascinated by the way that gluten induces illness and impedes learning while it alters mood, behavior, and a host of other facets of our existence. Sure, the impact of gluten on health is an important issue, but that is only the most obvious area of impact. Mood disturbances, learning disabilities, and the loss of quality of life due to psychiatric and neurological illness are even more tragic than the plethora of physical ailments that are caused or worsened by gluten. The further I go down this rabbit hole, the more I realize that grains are a good food for ruminants - not people. I am a retired school teacher. Over the last decade, I have done some college and university level teaching, but the bulk of my teaching career was spent working with high school students. My Web page is: www.DangerousGrains.com


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    The women sat down to a warm meal together and gossiped about their Lehigh University professors' bad jokes and the new romantic comedy in nearby Lehigh Valley theaters. Cooking and chatting: a girl's perfect way to unwind at the end of the day. But days of cooking with her roommates are gone. Early in the fall of 2011 after months of stomach pain, Hembarsky visited a doctor and received the answer to her suffering.
    The culprit, celiac disease, which is a condition in which one's body cannot digest gluten and eating it damages the small intestine. Because many of the foods Hembarsky and her friends often used to make contained gluten, like pasta and bread, that meant no more pasta nights with her friends. In October 2011 she gave up foods with gluten, the killer protein found in many grains and flours. Being diagnosed with celiac forced a change to the social calendar. "It's something you learn to live with and you learn what healthy decision you need to make," said Hembarsky. Hembarsky is not alone. For many celiacs in Bethlehem, social opportunities are hindered by dietary restrictions such as not being able to eat a hamburger bun or drink beer at a tailgate because they have gluten. Instead of going out with friends, they cook individualized meals at home. Now with more people being diagnosed as gluten-intolerant or celiac – in fact one out of 133 people in the United States is affected by celiac disease, according to the celiac disease Foundation – the choices of where to buy groceries and whether one should go to a restaurant taking the chance of feeling like a burden are at the forefront of people's minds.
    Take Tabitha Echavarria, a senior at Lehigh University, who was diagnosed with celiac last July 1. "The biggest change in my life has been taking charge of my diet," said Echavarria. "I know 100 percent of the ingredients of everything I eat because I most likely made it from scratch. I never eat anything without asking what is in it. " Echavarria said senior year of high school she experienced persistent migraines, numb feet, chest pain and stomach aches – symptoms that other celiacs often suffer as well. After constantly changing her diet hoping to find the trigger to the pain and receiving negative blood tests, she visited every doctor she could find. "The previous year I had cut out bread from my diet ‘cause I knew something was wrong," said Echavarria. "Then eventually I just really couldn't eat ever and went to like every different doctor available to figure it out. " Now on a Friday night when her rugby teammates go out to hibachi or Sal's starving for a delicious meal, Echavarria makes herself dinner beforehand so she can still tag along to the restaurant. Going to meals with friends is no longer about the eating, it's about the company. While Echavarria still goes out to restaurants for the social aspect, other celiacs avoid eating out as much as possible.
    Three weeks ago, Andrew Bench was sitting at his desk at King, Spry, Herman, Freund & Faul Law Firm in Bethlehem, Pa. , with a stomach ache when he decided to stop eating out as much as possible because of the potential cross contamination. He said many restaurants in the Lehigh Valley have cross contamination even though the waiters told him that the kitchens were being careful. Flash back to when he was diagnosed as celiac a year ago. He described the feeling as a concussion mixed with sinus pressure. Cross contamination could result in the same thing, or worse. Bench recommends Tapas on Main on North Side as a safe gluten-free option. Echavarria likes Red Robin for their protein-style burgers and La Lupita for the corn-based options while Hembarsky prefers salads at Bravo and sushi at Asian Bistro.
    While restaurants are introducing gluten-free menus, Bench said that one slip-up in the kitchen can mean hours of stomach pain. Echavarria recalled getting sick after ordering eggs, a naturally gluten-free dish, at a restaurant. Later she found out that the eggs had pancake batter in them. Restaurants may not think about the danger to celiacs by adding gluten to a naturally gluten-free food. "I think what I am most looking forward to in the future is restaurant activism," said Echavarria. "I would just like to have the option of eating with my friends knowing I'm not going to get sick or that I'm not annoying the people that work there. "The Lehigh Valley is embracing the gluten-free movement, slowly but surely.
    Wegmans, Giant Food and ShopRite have gluten-free aisles that provide a wide range of options. As he was giving granola samples at Wegmans, Calvin Virgillo, operations and sales at The Granola Factory, recognized a need for gluten-free, nut-free granola, which will be available in 2013. "It doesn't matter how good our granolas if there are people who won't buy it because they're gluten free or have a nut allergy," said Virgillo. With increasing options of places to purchase groceries and dine out, the community is recognizing the gap for this niche market of gluten-free consumers. A day will come when gluten-free diners won't have to worry about missing out on social life because of their diets. Until then, Hembarsky must deal with biting into a dry, hard piece of bread and baking her own treats when she wants to socialize with her roommates. "I think bread is the hardest to be gluten-free because it [the gluten-free version] doesn't taste like bread, but a majority of them aren't that great and they come frozen," said Hembarsky. "But everything else, I feel like you don't have to sacrifice at all. "


    Yvonne (Vonnie) Mostat, RN
    Celiac.com 10/26/2018 - Did you know that a new study shows people with celiac disease are more likely to suffer nerve damage? Jonas E. Ludvigsson, a clinical epidemiology Professor in Sweden, discovered that women with celiac disease are 2.5 times more likely to develop neuropathy or nerve damage. There is a real association between celiac disease and nerve damage. "We have precise risk assessments in a way we haven't had before" he stated last year. Yet even Sweden has its quandaries. 60% of women in Sweden who have celiac disease have neuropathy and they do not totally know why! Statistics vary from country to country, and even vary between specialists within that country. Nerve damage is no laughing matter, it presents with numbness and tingling of exterior areas (extremities).
    Basically, numbness in the nerve endings of the fingers and toes and other frustrating areas. Just try picking up pencils, or something hot out of the oven. If you do not feel the heat you will know that you may have nerve damage. Following a rigid gluten-free diet, however, can alleviate this problem to a certain degree, and that is why we keep repeating the mantra: “Eat Clean & Gluten-Free!” However, sometimes accidents happen, and people who have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or dermatitis herpetiformis get exposed to gluten.
    How to Recover From Accidental Gluten Exposure
    Kathy Holdman, M.S., R.N. and Certified Nutritional Therapist lists numerous ways to recover after gluten exposure. You need to take into account  the amount of gluten exposure, length of time from last exposure, degree of gluten intolerance present, health of the digestive tract, existing inflammation or infection in the body and overall health status. Some  people say they can recover in a few days, others say they may experience significant setbacks in their health that lasts weeks to months. For those with positive celiac disease it may take years for complete healing of the small intestine after gluten exposure, although "outward symptoms" may resolve sooner. 
    Nurse Holdman suggests the following 10 tips to help alleviate symptoms from gluten exposure, and hopefully speed up recovery:
    Drink plenty of water, and this cannot be emphasized enough. Water is an essential nutrient for every cell in the body for proper function. Many people live in a state of chronic dehydration, which of course results in constipation. Then they take something to rid themselves of constipation and take too much and lose potassium, magnesium and throw out the balance of the salts in their body. When you have celiac disease you learn something new every week. Last week an Internist told me, after incurring my second bladder infection in eight weeks, that it could possibly be from the diarrhea following being glutened, and not totally washing myself. That made me a little sick just thinking about it. But, she told me an interesting fact about urinary tract infections and celiac disease. Celiacs do incur more frequent urinary tract infections due to more frequent diarrhea, no matter how meticulously clean we are. Taking four or five "Craisins" with each meal several times a day can limit the amount of bladder infections. I told her that I was also taking Cranberry tablets and she told me to throw them out because they are "useless."  She said that you do not need to buy fresh cranberries, as they are  "sour and expensive." Just buy a bag of the dried Craisins and eat some either before or after meals. Ingredients in the pure dried cranberries helps prevent bladder infections from occurring. Studies done in several Nursing Homes where many incontinent patients lived were given five Craisins either alone or in a salad twice daily and the decrease in urinary tract infections was nothing less than amazing. Get extra sleep and rest. Sleep is the time your body repairs itself. Avoid strenuous exercise, (the type that causes you to sweat). Exercise in moderation is what I think she wants to tell us. Drink bone broth. It is rich in minerals and gelatin and other nutrients that are soothing to the digestive system and nourishing to the entire body.  Another health benefit of bone broth is hydration, and the more liquid intake the better. You can dress up bone broth with onions and garlic to improve the taste.  Take epson salt baths. They contain magnesium, a mineral that can help the body to relax. The sulphate minerals found in Epson Salts are detoxifying, and they can stimulate the lymphatic system and support the immune system. Nurse Holdman also urges us to take digestive enzymes which can help modulate the symptoms of celiac disease. Take digestive enzymes. If taken immediately following the accidental consumption of gluten, some people believe that digestive  enzymes can help to modulate the symptoms of celiac disease. It is well known that digestive enzymes soothe the stomach lining and ease the abdominal pain. Drink ginger or peppermint tea. They are both known to help relieve nausea and can be soothing to the digestive system. Drink a cup if you are having nausea or other gastrointestinal symptoms. Take activated charcoal. It is an over-the-counter-supplement that may be beneficial if taken immediately after an attack. It helps by binding with the offending food and preventing it from being absorbed into the body. This supplement can bind with medications so be sure to consult your licensed health care professional prior to taking it, especially if you take medications for other diseases or conditions.  Eat fermented foods. Who knew!? Possibly the Koreans and their staple Kim Chi, or the Ukrainians/Romanians with their fermented red cabbage coleslaw of course! Fermented foods are high in nutrients that nourish the entire body. Start out with a small amount of fermented food and slowly increase it. Drink nettle leaf tea. It is an antispasmodic with antihistamine properties. It can help relieve muscle and joint pain, and relax your body naturally. Neither gluten intolerance nor celiac disease are mediated by histamine, but some people report that nettle leaf can help relieve symptoms of rash and itching following gluten exposure. It is a gentle diuretic and can be detoxifying. So if you experience dehydration symptoms it is time to drink more water. Get acupuncture treatments. It may relieve inflammation, especially in the abdominal area, and it can be relaxing. Only you can tell how many treatments are beneficial, and you need to take into consideration the cost factor because most health insurance plans do not cover acupuncture. Tips to Help People with Dermatitis Herpetiformis Recover from Accidental Gluten Exposure
    A suggestion from Me: If you have itching from dermatitis herpetaformis, try Scalpacin. I have been using it for years and nothing stops the itching in such a short time span. Once the sores start to appear, even just a slight "itch" is like a doorbell warning you ahead of time. I apply Scalpacin lotion, which is not a cream, but is a clear liquid. At first it stings but that is how I know that I have an impending outbreak. It is a non-fragrant liquid. You can use it on your scalp without totally ruining your hair style. Don't wash you hair with it, search out the spots, or, if you have a partner, they may be able to help you with the sores in your scalp, and you can point out itchy areas. 
    For dermatitis herpetiformis itch you can also try a mix of baking soda and water by making it into a paste. This is not great for your scalp and hair, but it will ease the itching. It can be a little messy when it dries and the white powder flakes off on your floors, but you do not have to use it for hours at a time; it is a temporary method for temporary relief.
    You can also ask your physician if he or she will prescribe the prescription drug "Atarax" for you. It is a strong allergy medication and must be taken exactly as directed. It really helps the itch, but it can be sedating, especially when first trying it. Don't over-use the prescribed dosage. I would not suggest driving a car while taking Atarax, but if the itching, scabbing and bleeding have become so severe it definitely is the one allergy medication that helps with the itching from dermatitis herpetiformis. I have tried Benadryl, Claritin and other over the counter  allergy medications, and nothing works as well as Atarax.  Talk to your family physician about a prescription and read the instructions carefully.
    Hopefully these tips will prove helpful in the unfortunate event that you ever get cross-contaminated by gluten. I certainly hope this never happens to you!


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