Gluten has been such a hot topic for the last few years and still holds a prevalent position in the most talked about food groups. In this blog I’m going to discuss:
• What exactly is gluten?
• The difference between Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity
• Some other gut issues may be misdiagnosed for a gluten sensitivity

Gluten is the latin word for ‘Glue” due to its ability to literally glue grain molecules together. It gives breads and pastas their chewy texture and is pivotal in allowing bread to rise. The grains it is present in are : Wheat, Barley, Rye and Spelt.

Gluten can be harmless enough in the majority of the population but for those who mount an allergic reaction the diagnosis is labelled as Celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder which can destroy the small intestine. Several Symptoms of this disease include:

• Abdominal bloating & Pain
• Chronic diarrhoea
• Vomiting
• Constipation
• Weight loss
• Fatigue
• Irritability
• Depression
• Infertility

The list can be quite tireless (`~200) but if you have any doubt you can get a standard blood test and have the diagnosis within days.

Non Celiac Gluten Sensitivity has very similar symptoms to celiac disease but tests negative in the laboratory blood examination. Even though it is not as severe, it does, as its name suggests, cause sensitivities to the body which can be very debilitating. These include:

• Abdominal pain
• Bloating
• Diarrohea
• Constipation
• Joint pain
• Anxiety
• Brain fog
• Headaches

Again the list can go on. Basically gluten is an irritant to our bodies. By that I mean it promotes inflammation (the root of most ailments). In most people this inflammation may be dissipated by other natural anti inflammatory nutrients we ingest but in others it retains a stronger pro inflammatory stance causing heat and pain in the body. Once you get a negative celiac test the next step is to eliminate gluten from the diet for at the very least 2 weeks and reevaluate the situation. There are plenty of gluten free options wherever you go!

Misdiagnosis of Gluten Sensitivity is thought to be quite prevalent also. When patients are testing negative for gluten but are still experiencing the symptoms other factors such as:

• A reaction to glyphosate (key ingredient in Round Up), the pesticide that all wheat is sprayed with, could be the culprit. It is still currently used in Ireland and most EU countries but is under review by the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) whether to ban it due to trials done by the International Agency for research on Cancer findings that it was carcinogenic. There is a massive international debate over this product but we’ll be awaiting the result of the European review November ’18.
• Dysbiosis or microbial imbalance in the gut. There are 10 times more bacterial cells in our body then our own cells…. Thats a lot of bacteria. The composition is made up of our good bacteria that maintains a healthy gut flora and the more menacing or benign bacteria. Once the good bacteria are dominant they maintain an environment for optimal health, when the bad bacteria override our bodily systems suffer, this is called dysbiosis. When it happens in the gut we get bloating, pain, unusual bowel movements, nausea etc. An example of the is SIBO-Small intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth.
• Fodmaps- Fodmaps are short chain carbohydrates that tend to be poorly absorbed in the small intestine. Although they are naturally present in the diet eg. Cauliflower, onions, apples they tend to have 2 negative modes of action on the gut:
1. Due to their malabsorption in the gut they tend to hang around in the small intestine and pull water back into it from the body
2. These unabsorbed molecules get fermented by bacteria in the gut and get pushed into the large intestine where they produce gases such as hydrogen, methane and carbon dioxide…..this makes for a lot of wind!

Both steps 1 & 2 i.e.drawing water back into the colon and then filling it with gas stretch the wall of the large intestine and stimulate its pain receptors. This results in cramping, bloating and nausea.
Trials have shown that implementing the fodmap diet (see link) decreased symptoms of IBS in 3 out of 4 people. Please see the link to pinpoint which foods are high and low in formats. The elimination of foods that contain high amounts of fodmaps should only be practised for a short period before they get reintroduced slowly.

• Intestinal permebility or Leaky gut as the Americans call it.This is a process where a weakened gut will allow food molecules escape into the bloodstream causing a multiple issues such as joint ache, thyroid issues etc. This subject requires a whole blog to itself so stay tuned!

Above is a snapshot of some nutritional sensitivities that can be acquired. Please contact me if you have any questions regarding this topic.