The Many Faces of GLUTEN… Masquerader of Disease and Symptoms (Part Three)

Continued from Part Two

Case Study: Osteoporosis and digestive problems

A 37 year old woman presents with weight loss, fatigue, intestinal cramping, intestinal gas and osteoporosis. He had visited a gastroenterologist and several nutritionists and holistic medical doctors. She was put on a vegetarian diet and a huge list of nutritional supplements. The diet and supplements did not help. Gluten intolerance was suspected as the young woman consumed gluten foods often, she noticed they worsened her gas. Most importantly, it is highly unusual for a 37 year old woman to have bone-density confirmed osteoporosis without a true malabsorption disorder. Gluten foods and other food allergies were identified and removed from the diet. Various other tests and evaluations were
performed to determine the extent of her nutritional and metabolic problems. The appropriate supportive nutritional interventions were recommended. She no longer suffers from her symptoms. The osteoporosis is expected to regress significantly.

Removing the Gluten

Removing the gluten once it has been identified as a problem will almost always result in dramatic improvement of symptoms – particularly those relating to the digestive tract directly such as diarrhea, gas and bloating and cramping. As we have stated throughout this paper, the symptoms of gluten intolerance expressed by many other cells, tissues and organ symptoms may not respond so readily to dietary manipulations. The primary reasons for a lack or sluggish response to gluten removal from the diet are:

  • Nutritional deficiencies may have resulted over an extended period of time and will take adequate time to be corrected – even after gluten removal.
  • Removal of gluten may remove the major cause (trigger) of malapsorption and cellular damage, but it may not be the only cause. Dairy products may also cross-react with gluten in some persons. Simply removing the gluten may not cause healing to occur to an adequate level until other allergens are identified and eliminated. Proper nutrition can then be prescribed for healing to occur.
  • Even if gluten, dairy or other related and reactive foods are identified and removed, nutritional deficiencies may have adversely affected the function of one or more tissues and organ systems (secondary effects). These secondary effects of gluten or related food sensitivities may be extensive and will require additional nutritional and medical attention to correct – extensive time may also be required.
  • As each individual responds differently to gluten healing time and response to therapy will vary widely based on these and other considerations: age of the individual; general state of health; intake of prescription and non-prescription medications, stress levels; and other lifestyle factors.
  • Correction of the diet without paying the proper attention to the quality of the nutritional interventions often results in incomplete or failed nutritional therapies. For example, even if the correct nutritional factors are identified (i.e., protein and B-12 deficiency), and given orally once gluten and gluten-related foods are removed, they still may not be fully absorbed. Intramuscular and/or intravenous administration of nutrition may be required to bypass faulty intestinal absorption until the gut itself is healed.

Potential Disease Conditions Caused and/or Precipitated by Gluten Intolerance (sensitivity)

  • Celiac Disease (CD)
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA)
  • Psoriasis
  • Neurologic Disorders in children
  • Dermatotis herpetiformis
  • Autism
  • Diabetes
  • Oral lesions (sores)
  • Osteoporosis
  • Lymphoma
  • Nephropathy (kidney disease)
  • Anemia (iron, B-vitamin, protein)
  • Chronic uticaria
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Cerebellar atrophy (brain shrinkage)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Weight loss (muscle and fat)
  • Addison’s disease
  • Shogrum’s syndrome
  • Malabsorption disease
  • Dysmenorrhea
  • Pelvic pain
  • Chromosomal diseases: Down’s syndrome, Turner’s syndrome and William’s Disease

Note: this least is probably far from complete. These conditions are not necessarily caused by gluten, but may be exacerbated by gluten. In either case, gluten removal and appropriate nutritional-healing attempts are essential.

A limited list of foods containing gluten

  • Barley (flours, rolls, bread), rye, oats, wheat, kamut, spelt
  • Beer
  • All commercial bread mixes
  • Pancakes, muffins, biscuits, waffles, crackers
  • Commercial ice creams
  • Cookies, doughnuts, pies, pastries
  • Breaded meat, poultry, fish, patties, croquettes and loaves with bread crumbs
  • Dishes with cold cuts and frankfurters (unless guaranteed pure meat)
  • Creamed sauces, gravies, cheese spreads
  • Instant coffee (if wheat flour is added)
  • Spaghetti, noodles, macaroni, dumplings

Some conditions that can be worsened by the malabsorption of specific nutrition

Malabsorbed nutrient Condition
Essential fatty acids (omega 3 and 6) Multiple sclerosis, lupus, eczema, psoriasis
Selenium Autoimmune thyroid disease
Calcium and protein Osteoporosis
Protein Failure to thrive, increased susceptibility to infection
Allergies (dairy and gluten) Autism (may generate gluteomorphins and caseomorphins)
Chromium, protein, antibodies Diabetes
Antibody production Kidney disease
Iron, B-vitamins, protein Anemia’s
Antibody production Cerebellar atrophy

Summary of MedLine research pertaining to gluten and disease

A French article found a high prevalence of antigliadin antibodies (IgA) in those with rheumatic arthritis. RA was positive in as many as 60% of those with positive Abs.

A study in the, American Journey of Kidney Disease examined the correlation between increased levels of immunoglobulins A against gluten in persons with IgA nephropathy. Study suggests a common pathogenics pathway for CD and IgA nephropathy and concluded that persons with this type of kidney disease should be screened for gluten and a gluten free diet attempted.

Summary of actual case-studies of patients who improved with gluten removal and appropriate nutritional interventions

Nutrition Spotlight:

Laboratory tests to consider in addition to antibodies

  • CBC
  • Chemistry
  • Methylmalonic acid
  • Ferritin
  • Thyroid panel
  • Serum B12
  • Gliadin AB (IgA, IgA)
  • Transglutaminase AB
  • Serum folic acid
  • Reticulin AB
  • Thyroid peroxidase AB
  • RBC folic acid
  • Thyroglobulin AB
  • Homocysteine

Nutritional Considerations


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Copyright American Health Gastroenterology 2001


One Response to “The Many Faces of GLUTEN… Masquerader of Disease and Symptoms (Part Three)”

  1. The Many Faces of GLUTEN… Masquerader of Disease and Symptoms (Part Two) | Healing Base on December 12th, 2011 18:13

    […] Persons with any of the symptoms or health conditions listed in Part Three […]

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