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Posts Tagged ‘gluten’

gluten depression anxiety brain fog

Do you suffer from depression, anxiety disorders, brain fog, memory loss, or other brain-based issues? While conventional medicine turns to drug treatments, recent research points to poor gut health as the root of mental illness. This is because inflammation in the gut triggers inflammation throughout the body, including in the brain, bringing on depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss and other neurological symptoms. Although many factors affect gut health—and hence brain health—one of the more profound is a sensitivity to gluten, the protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and other wheat-like grains. In fact, a gluten sensitivity has been found to affect brain and nerve tissue more than any other tissue in the body.

Gluten sensitivity once was thought to be limited to celiac disease, an autoimmune response to gluten that damages the digestive tract and is linked to depression. However, newer research has confirmed the validity of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, an immune response to gluten that causes many symptoms, including digestive problems, skin rashes, joint pain, and neurological and psychiatric diseases. Recent research shows gluten degenerates brain and nervous tissue in a significant portion of those with gluten sensitivity.

 

How Does Gluten Affect Mental Health?

 

Gluten can affect mental health in a variety of ways.

For instance, gluten sensitivity can lead to depression, anxiety, brain fog and other brain symptoms by irritating the lining of the small intestine, resulting in “leaky gut,” a condition in which the intestinal wall becomes overly porous. This allows undigested food, toxins and bacteria into the bloodstream where they trigger inflammation throughout the body and brain. Also, certain harmful bacteria that travel through a leaky gut into the bloodstream release toxic molecules (lipopolysaccharides) that are linked to depression and various psychiatric disorders.

Another way gluten can trigger depression is through gluten cross-reactivity. Because gluten is similar in structure to brain tissue, when the immune system attacks gluten in the blood, it can confuse brain tissue with gluten and accidentally attack brain and nerve tissue as well.

Gluten is also known to disrupt the balance of good and bad bacteria in the digestive tract. There is a relationship between gut bacteria and the brain, and an imbalance in gut bacteria has been linked with psychiatric disorders.

The gut damage caused by a gluten sensitivity can also prevent the absorption of nutrients essential for brain health, especially zinc, tryptophan, and B vitamins. These nutrients are critical for the synthesis of brain chemicals that prevent depression, anxiety and other brain-based disorders.

 

What Steps Can You Take?

 

If you are experiencing depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss, or other unresolved brain-based issues, testing for gluten sensitivity can be a valuable tool in knowing how best to manage it. Addressing leaky gut is also paramount.

Ask my office for more information on leaky gut and the connection between gluten and depression, anxiety, brain fog, memory loss, and other brain-based disorders.

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Do you have a hard time getting your kids away from a breakfast full of gluten? We’ve got a a GREAT waffle recipe, gluten free, from the Paleo Parents. You’ll be amazed that you can turn an apple and banana (with some other ingredients) into a very tasty waffle.

First let’s get to know a little bit about the Paleo ParentsStacy and Matthew. These two authors of “Beyond Bacon, Paleo Recipes that Respect the Whole Hog” and “Eat Like a Dinosaur, recipe and guidebook for gluten-free kids”, are parents to 3 adorable boys: Cole, Finian, and Wesley. Together they made a decision as a family to eat paleo, all because mom Stacy made the first move.

Stacy, who had been obese for most of her life, felt miserable, exhausted and defeated, decided enough was enough. She found the “Paleo Diet” and committed to it. Matthew, along with all their friends and family, began to see the physical, mental, and emotional changes in Stacy, so Matthew jumped on board. After both parents saw and felt the changes in their self, they thought “Well, if it’s good for us…”, and so the Paleo Parents came to be.

Now that you know a little bit about where today’s recipe is coming from, let’s get to it:

Paleo Parents Waffles (Frozen Waffles)

Ingredients

  • 1 medium banana
  • 1 medium apple, peeled and cored
  • 1 C smooth almond butter (or a grainy-brand of sunflower seed butter for nut-free)
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 TBSP arrowroot powder
  • 1 TBSP vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • oil for greasing waffle iron (melted coconut oil with a silicon pastry brush works best)

Instructions

  1. Puree apple and banana in a food processor.
  2. Use the whisk attachment on your electric mixer and whip almond butter on high for 2-3 minutes until smooth and fluffed.
  3. Add puree and remaining ingredients to whipped almond butter and continue to whip until combined.
  4. Grease your hot waffle maker (for each waffle you make).
  5. Use about 1 ladle of batter per 8-by-4-inch waffle onto hot waffle iron for 3-5 minutes until browned. Do not fill up entire waffle maker, leave about 40% unfilled so that the batter can spread. If your waffle is soft or floppy,  it’s not ready yet – keep cooking for another minute or two!
  6. Eat immediately or store flat in freezer and make your own breakfast by reheating in toaster – the waffles will be firm enough!

For toppings I recommend: butter, warm blueberries (or any berry); coconut milk (from a can, because of it’s fat content). No maple syrup necessary.

Want to see how easy these tasty waffles are to make? Watch this video of Nom Nom Paleo in action making these tasty breakfast treats! 

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gluten-cavities-tooth-decay

While childhood is full of surprises, some parents are unprepared for the staggering dental bills and persistent cavities children get, even when they brush and floss regularly. Parents know to restrict sugar, but what they may not realize is that a hidden gluten intolerance and poor gut health, not a fluoride deficiency, may be the cause of those cavities.

Fortunately, help can be just a meal away. Many have witnessed a near-miraculous halting of dental decay simply by putting their child on a gluten-free diet and restoring gut health.

Gluten intolerance causes wide range of dental defects

Defects in dental enamel are common in children who cannot tolerate gluten. In some children, dental problems may be the only symptom of a gluten intolerance or celiac disease (an autoimmune gluten intolerance). In addition to tooth decay, one may see enamel defects: white, yellow, or brown spots on the teeth; mottled or translucent teeth; pitting or banding of the teeth. Unfortunately, the majority of dentists peg these problems on excess fluoride or an early illness, missing an opportunity to alert parents to a possible gluten intolerance.

Going beyond gluten to repair the gut and stop cavities

For many children, simply transitioning to a gluten-free diet works wonders for halting decay and improving dental health. Others may need more intensive dietary restrictions and nutritional therapy. This is because gluten damages the lining of the small intestine, causing it to become inflamed and porous. As a result, the small intestine cannot properly absorb nutrients from food, causing malnutrition. This also allows undigested food to escape into the bloodstream, triggering an immune reaction and intolerances to foods other than gluten, most commonly dairy, eggs, soy, corn, and other grains.

The inflamed and damaged intestinal walls also disturb the balance of bacteria in the gut, allowing bacterial and fungal infections to take root. The overall result is a chronically inflamed, poorly functioning gut. Sometimes (but not always) other digestives issues, such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation, or acid reflux, are also present.

Gluten and food intolerances cause inflammation, which may lead to cavities

Together these conditions can cause not only tooth decay and poor dental health but also other inflammation-based conditions, such as eczema, allergies, or behavioral issues. Taming the inflammation and allowing the gut to repair may require your child follow a diet that eliminates foods in addition to those containing gluten. Parents can run a lab test to screen for problematic foods or have their child follow an elimination diet for several weeks before reintroducing potential problem foods, one at a time, every 72 hours to see whether they trigger a reaction.

Although these diets can be a challenge to implement in our fast-food, sugar-addicted society, many parents find the pronounced improvement in dental health and other conditions makes it worthwhile. Bonus: as inflammation subsides on this diet, many parents say the palate of their normally picky eaters grows to include a wider variety of healthy foods, making meal times less of a struggle.

Ask me for tips and strategies to help improve your child’s dental health.

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gluten-intolerance-celiac-disease-infertility

Couples trying to conceive may want to add a gluten-free diet to their regimen. Research shows a clear link between celiac disease (gluten intolerance) and infertility in both women and men.

Infertility affects about 10 percent of couples wanting to have children, or more than 6 million Americans. Several studies have shown the prevalence of celiac disease is higher in women with unexplained infertility. Also, women with celiac disease are three times more likely to miscarry and four times more likely to experience complications in pregnancy.

Gluten’s effect on the reproductive system extends beyond fertility. In a 2011 Russian study, women with celiac disease generally began menstruating a year or more later than their peers, and suffered significantly more menstrual irregularities and amenorrhea (lack of menstruation).

Knowing whether gluten intolerance is a pregnancy risk can be difficult as symptoms aren’t always obvious. Studies have shown women with undiagnosed celiac disease often do not have digestive complaints, the symptom most associated with celiac. This is consistent with findings in the general population: the majority of those with celiac disease do not, in fact, suffer from digestive problems.

Gluten intolerance also affects male fertility

Women aren’t the only ones whose reproduction is affected by gluten intolerance. Male fertility is also at risk. Newer research shows that 20 percent of married men with undiagnosed celiac disease have infertile marriages. Semen analysis has shown problems with both the structure of sperm and its motility. Another study showed men with undiagnosed celiac disease tend to have hormonal imbalances that may lead to infertility. There is good news, however. Sperm function and hormone balance were both shown to improve on a gluten-free diet.

Studies look at narrow segment of gluten-intolerant population

These studies, while illuminating, look at celiac disease only, which accounts for a small minority of people with a gluten intolerance. Celiac disease is an autoimmune reaction to gluten. “Gluten intolerance” is a broader category that includes people whose health is compromised by gluten, although their reaction may not be autoimmune. If studies were expanded to include the full range of those who have an immune reaction to gluten, the rates of infertility and birth complications due to gluten intolerance could be found to be quite a bit higher.

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You could eat a “heart-healthy” diet, exercise regularly, and maintain a healthy weight and still be at risk for heart disease.

heart disease inflammation hypothyroidism gluten

Why? Because the root cause of heart disease is inflammation, and managing inflammation goes beyond standard prevention advice.

The whole grain diet, inflammation, and heart disease

Are you following popular guidelines by eating a whole grain diet? Opting for whole wheat bread may seem like a healthy choice; however research suggests that as many as one in five people have a gluten sensitivity.

For the gluten-intolerant person, even whole wheat products cause inflammation, increasing the risk of heart disease. In fact, more and more people are discovering that they can significantly reduce inflammation by eliminating grains all together.

Other foods—such as dairy or eggs—may also cause sensitivities and increase inflammation. An anti-inflammatory diet can help ferret out which foods increase inflammation.

Whole grains and blood sugar

A grain-based diet may also be too high in carbohydrates for some, causing blood sugar to swing dramatically between extreme highs and lows. This leads to a drop in energy, sugar and/or caffeine cravings, sleep issues, and most importantly, inflammation. High-carbohydrate diets—even those high in fibrous whole grains and legumes—can prove too inflammatory for some people. Leafy, colorful vegetables and mildly sweet fruits (such as berries) are a better choice.

Gut health and heart disease

Other causes of inflammation include: an overgrowth of harmful bacteria in the gut, poor function of the digestive organs, and gastric irritation. All play a role in increasing the risk of heart disease.

Studies suggest that the overgrowth of one strain of gastric bacteria in particular—“H. pylori”—increases the risk of heart disease. Caused by insufficient acidity in the stomach, the usually symptomless H. pylori is responsible for peptic ulcers—a condition estimated to affect many Americans.

How inflammation increases the risk of heart disease

Inflammation creates lesions on arterial walls, thus contributing to the formation of plaque within the arteries—a process known as “atherosclerosis.”  In order to quickly repair the lesions, the body “patches” them up with cholesterol. Although an effective short-term fix, this eventually leads to the creation of artery-clogging plaque, and drives up the risk of a heart attack.

Hypothyroidism and heart disease

Whenever I see high cholesterol in a patient, I immediately screen for hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism increases triglycerides, cholesterol, and “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Most people in the U.S. with hypothyroidism have it as a result of Hashimoto’s disease—an autoimmune disease that attacks and destroys the thyroid gland. An unmanaged autoimmune condition is another factor that can lead to chronic inflammation, increasing the risk of heart disease.

The source of inflammation is different for everyone

You can see why reducing inflammation is “at the heart” of reducing your risk of heart disease, and why statin drugs do not address the root cause for most people. The source of inflammation can vary for each individual, but typically it involves evaluating one’s diet, immune health, and digestive function.

This explains why I look at more than just cholesterol when evaluating the risk of heart disease. I examine other markers on a blood chemistry panel, including fasting blood sugar, homocysteine, C-reactive protein, immune markers, and thyroid values.

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Heartburn-acid-reflux-gerd-gluten-autoimmune

Call it acid reflux, heartburn, or GERD, but having stomach acid splash back up into your esophagus is painful and distressing. Although researchers cite various causes, one that many doctors overlook is gluten, the protein found in wheat, spelt, rye, barley, and other wheat-like grains.

Studies link gluten with acid reflux

Research shows acid reflux symptoms more commonly affect those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by gluten. One study found 30 percent of celiac disease patients had GERD compared to less than 5 percent of those not diagnosed with the disease. Another study found almost 40 percent of children with celiac disease suffer from esophagitis, inflammation of the esophagus and heartburn.

Gluten-free diet found to relieve heartburn

Fortunately, researchers also found a gluten-free diet relieved symptoms of GERD rapidly and persistently. Some people have found they also need to give up grains, processed foods, or other foods to which they are intolerant (such as dairy) to completely relieve acid reflux.

GERD could be autoimmune

Some research shows that stomach acid is not acidic enough to immediately damage the esophagus. Instead, it triggers an inflammatory reaction within the tissue of the esophagus, causing damage.

What does gluten have to do with this? Gluten has been shown to be very pro-inflammatory in many people, and has been linked with 55 autoimmune diseases. It’s possible acid reflux could be yet another inflammatory disorder triggered by gluten.

Antacids increase health risks

Most people relieve acid reflux by taking an antacid to neutralize stomach acid, with sales of the drug topping $10 billion annually. Not only does this fail to stop stomach acid from washing back up into the esophagus (one study showed protein-pump inhibitors actually induce acid reflux), it also impairs nutrient absorption.

Antacids may increase food poisoning risk

Stomach acid is vital to the absorption of minerals and vitamins, and protects the stomach from bacteria, fungus, and infection. Chronic use of antacids has been linked to increased risk for bacterial infections, candida (yeast) overgrowth, and food poisoning.

Antacids may increase osteoporosis risk

Chronic antacid use also impairs absorption of minerals, including calcium, which can increase the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

Proper testing for gluten intolerance vital

With one in five people now believed to be suffering from gluten sensitivity, it’s important to know whether you are too, and whether undiagnosed gluten intolerance is contributing to heartburn.

The conventional tests to screen gluten intolerance are notoriously inaccurate. For cutting-edge testing, please contact my office.

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Question

I learned I have intolerances and allergies to certain foods, and that I need to avoid those foods if I want to lose weight. Isn’t it just a matter of eating fewer calories?

Answer

Some people find they can’t lose weight through calorie restriction alone. When that happens several issues need to be investigated. One of the most important is food intolerances. Eating foods to which you are allergic or intolerant will prevent weight loss.

Food intolerances cause inflammation

Food intolerances and allergies create inflammation, and inflammation prevents weight loss. Every time you eat gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, corn, or some other food that may be a problem for you, you create inflammation in your body.

Leaky gut is a primary culprit

For many people today, a variety of foods trigger inflammation. This is due largely to intestinal permeability, or “leaky gut,” which allows undigested food particles to slip into the bloodstream through damaged and inflamed intestinal walls. Leaky gut is very common today due to poor diets, excessive sweets, chronic stress, and other maladies of modern life. Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are also common and cause leaky gut.

As these food particles circulate throughout the body the immune system responds by attacking and destroying them for removal, just as it would respond to a viral or bacterial infection. Unfortunately, if the food is eaten regularly, this keeps the immune system constantly at work, hence creating chronic inflammation. Symptoms can be obvious in the way of joint pain, skin issues, abdominal pain, or even brain fog, memory loss, or moodiness. Sometimes the inflammation is not obvious, yet a person finds she or he can’t lose weight.

Inflammation halts weight loss

Studies show the immune compounds that cause inflammation also make insulin receptors less sensitive, creating insulin resistance. As a result glucose can’t get into cells and blood sugar becomes too high. The body lowers blood sugar by converting it to fat for storage. Insulin resistance also hinders fat burning.

Inflammation also has been shown to cause leptin resistance, which stimulates hunger and promotes fat storage. Furthermore, excess body fat secretes immune messenger cells that trigger inflammation, promoting a vicious cycle that prevents weight loss.

Although moderating caloric intake and exercising are recommended for weight loss, effective and lasting weight loss depends in part on tackling chronic inflammation and food sensitivities.

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