There has been controversy for years as to whether it is okay, or not okay, to eat oats if you are gluten-sensitive.
Dr Rodney Ford
Food allergy and Gluten expert
Some of you say you are “gluten-free newbies” and asked for advice. I have written several books on this. Hear are my 10 thoughts.
1. Diagnosis: get a clear diagnosis if you can.
2. Mind Set: declare yourself a gluten-free person
3. Accept that your gluten-free journey will have ups and down
4. Aim for a ZERO gluten diet.
5. Find a gluten-free buddy
6. Take care of yourself – vitamin, minerals, probiotics
7. Learn to eat a wide variety of foods (gluten-free).
8. Be proud to be gluten-free.
9. Learn what you can eat.
10. Enjoy the gift of being gluten-free.
Dr Rodney Ford
See full article on "Gluten Free Planet" facebook page:
It is alarming. When you read down this long list of brain and nerve problems, it is staggering that so many neurological problems can be caused by gluten. The dismal news is that, currently, most neurologists and medical practitioners remain unaware of that these diseases/symptoms are commonly linked to gluten harm. The standard (old school) thinking is that gluten can only be a factor in the gastrointestinal symptoms of celiac disease. End of story. Obviously this is mistaken.
Marios Hadjivassiliou, in his 2010 paper says: “Most patients who present with neurological manifestations of gluten sensitivity have no gastrointestinal symptoms. Gluten sensitivity is shown to manifest solely with neurological dysfunction. To improve diagnosis rates, the perception of physicians that gluten sensitivity is solely a disease of the gut must be changed.”
“The early detection of cases of gluten sensitivity with neurological manifestations and subsequent treatment with the gluten-free diet could provide remarkable benefits to the patients.”
Wow! So many nerve diseases can activated by gluten. The big concern is that once your nerves have been damaged enough to cause you symptoms, it might be too late to get a benefit from a gluten-free diet. Damaged nerves are slow to heal … if ever.
You can read even more about the “grain-brain” connection in my book “Full Of It! The shocking truth about gluten”
The inescapable conclusion is to avoid gluten before you get sick. That means going gluten-free now. That means everyone adopting a gluten-free lifestyle. This is one of the reasons that I eat gluten-free. What about you? What about your family? That means a Gluten-Free Planet.
Next we will explore glutened minds.
Dr Rodney Ford
Diet not drugs is my mantra. This is the philosophy of my clinic. It is clear that many illnesses are gluten-induced. However, doctors usually treat the symptoms of their patient's with drugs. Although it would be better to treat the underlying condition, which is often celiac disease or gluten sensitivity (gluten syndrome). Of course, the treatment is a gluten-free diet.
The weird thing is that even when the gluten-illness is eventually diagnosed, some people still want to take drugs instead of diet. How odd!
I have just had a phone call from Julian who lives in a far-away city. He has recently been diagnosed with celiac disease and he is wondering whether to look at vaccines or drugs for celiac disease. He is wanting an easy fix for his illness without really trying out gluten-free.
I told him quite bluntly that he should stick to 100% gluten-free rather than trying to immunologically change his body. He is so addicted to gluten and this lifestyle that he is overwhelmed buy the thought of turning his food and social life upside down.
In my opinion, celiac disease with its serious gut damage, is only a minor part of the gluten problem. It is the anti-gluten immunological response, body-wide, which causes the long term damage. This includes neurological harm and autoimmune disease triggering.
I have stated this before. I suggest changing your food, rather than changing your immune system.
I do hope that Julian heeds my advice.
Cheers, Dr Rodney Ford
“We don't know a millionth of one percent about anything”. Thomas Edison
Your first thoughts about the gluten-free planet idea might be to dismiss the concept as ridiculous. Maybe crazy or whacky. However, I challenge you to answer the question: “Why not?
This apparently crazy concept has got me intrigued. The practical question we are posing is “Under what circumstances could a gluten-free planet become a reality?”
This book is being created by the collaborative effort from the amazing people/friends on our facebook group “Gluten Free Planet”: https://www.facebook.com/groups/100433633347630?ap=1
Modify the food, or modify the people?
There are two schools of thought about celiac disease: 1) Modify the food and avoid gluten (lifelong), or 2) modify the people so that they can tolerate gluten. The default option is do nothing – just leave millions to suffer unknowingly from the deleterious effects of wheat/gluten.
The first approach is to use drugs and/or vaccines to modify your immune response to gluten. The idea is to force your immune system to react differently to gluten, so you will not get sick.
Prof Bob Anderson (http://www.wehi.edu.au/faculty_members/dr_bob_anderson), a celiac disease researcher in Australia, has set up “The Coeliac Research Fund” (CRF) which he says is the first organisation in the world to actively seek to solve the problem of celiac disease. He believes that to do this, it is just a matter of working out the molecular basis for celiac disease, which will then revolutionize treatment and prevention.
I understand this to mean giving us drugs and vaccines, and making alterations to our immune systems so that we are able to tolerate a potentially toxic food (that is the gluten and other wheat proteins) that without this immune-protection make us sick.
I am totally opposed to such an interventionist research program. This research is centered on the idea of creating commercially successful new pharmacology products. Many patents have already been applied for. Vaccines are already in the early testing phases. The pharmo-commerce machine is already being created.
This is like saying that smokers should be given drugs and vaccines to allow then to continue smoking, rather than making it easy for them to quit. And it would be easy to quit smoking if we lived on a tobacco-free planet.
One of the CRF researchers, Dr Jason Tye-Din, wrote in the Coeliac Link magazine (2011): “As to why people with coeliac disease get symptoms is not well understood … we believe that certain chemicals are released by the body after eating gluten, and these can lead to adverse symptoms.”
This is such a vague comment to base the drive to create a vaccine. It is my hypothesis that the main pathway for gluten-harm is through the neurologic pathways.
The other approach is to modify your food. This is the current and only way that people with celiac disease have been able to manage their gluten-sensitivity. This has been the standard approach for the last 60 years.
This has meant eliminating every speck of gluten from our diets, and replacing it with other (more) nourishing foods. The gluten-grains of wheat, rye and barley have to be completely avoided. However, our big problem is that of cross-contamination. In this food-processing-world, wheat and wheat derivative are either purposefully added to foods, or it creeps (gallops) in by accident. Consequently, this makes it difficult to completely eliminate gluten from our lives.
Thus, if all foods and food-manufacturing activity could be transformed into being gluten-free, the problem would be solved.
Over the last decade, there has been exponential increases in the availability of excellent gluten-free products. It has never been easier to adopt a gluten-free diet. But the cross-contamination problem remains unsolved, and is likely to be getting bigger.
Request; This is the first part of my new book - you can contribute to it by writing feedback in the comments - next post will lay out the proposed structure.
Cheers and thanks
Dr Rodney Ford http://www.drrodneyford.com
Tom asks: “I am wondering whether or not my neurological symptoms from gluten will heal on a gluten free diet (left temple ache, left arm pain, right leg weakness, muscle twitching, etc)
Years ago, I noticed dizziness that seemed connected with allergy season. The more significant symptoms above started about six years ago--although some arm pain occurred before then.
I'm a 49 year old male. I've been gluten/casein free for about eight months with no improvement.
Please let me know your thoughts on this question. Thank you.”
My reply: Hi Tom, Good question. The longer that gluten damage has gone on, the slower any healing.
Did you get anti-gliadin-antibody tests?
Why do you suspect gluten might be a problem?
Do you feel any better on a gluten-free diet?
If you are happy on your current diet, keep going.
You also need to have an adequate micronutrient intake.
Also, taking a probiotic might help.
Let me know progress.
Cheers, Dr Rodney Ford
I have just seen a boy Joseph in my Clinic. He is ten years old. He is gluten sensitive (diagnosed by high gliadin antibodies and a good clinical response to a gluten-free diet).
He complains of a sore tummy, he is tired and irritated. He has a degree of reflux and constipation.
In the past, he went gluten-free with good effect - all his symptoms disappeared. However, he has been eating gluten for the last year again and is now sick again.
Both he and his parents are reluctant for him to go back on a gluten-free diet because it is somewhat complicated for them, it is inconvenient and it costs more.
He has a choice of three outcomes: Disease, Drugs or diet?
1. DISEASE He can continue with disease probably getting more symptoms, and having a significant impact on his health, particularly in the future.
2. DRUGS He can take drugs for reflux, constipation and pain. This means he still has the ongoing disease and also the potential of harm from chronic medication.
3. DIET He can choose dietary changes. He needs to be on a gluten-free diet and eat more healthy food.
The third option is the most complicated for his family but would give him the biggest benefit. The choice seems like a no-brainer intellectually, but when you apply these thoughts to the real life, many people chose drugs and disease.
My call: diet not drugs. Eat better food for better health.
Cheers Dr Rodney Ford
When we are unwell, we look for a diagnosis for our illness/disease. Say we have been diagnosed with the ‘flu’. We get better and so we no longer have the flu. We are well.
In my question on facebook I asked, Why are you Gluten free? In the options I wrote "I had celiac disease". I used the past tense because when you go GF you should no longer be diseased. I want to talk about health, not disease.
Why do people use the description “celiac disease” when they are now fully recovered? Yes, they need to be gluten-free life-long. Yes, if they eat gluten they will get diseased again.
People could say “I am a healthy celiac”
What do you think?
Cheers Dr Rodney Ford
Celiac disease is defined as “small bowel mucosal damage, which is reversible on a gluten free diet, in genetically predisposed people (who carrying the DQ2/DQ8 HLA gene)”. Gluten can trigger your body’s immune response that can then go onto cause this tissue gut damage.
However, this damage is slowly progressive: the longer you have been eating gluten, the worse the damage. Of course, when you have this gluten-gut-damage, you do not absorb your food nutrients very well, and this leads to many other health problems. But, with any on-going gluten ingestion, the gut damage is perpetuated.
The good news is that as soon as gluten is (completely) removed from your diet, the bowel at last has a chance to recover. In children, who have had a shorter time of gluten exposure, their bowel usually recovers very quickly (within weeks their symptoms go away, and within months their gut is completely normal). It is rare for a child to not have complete gut recovery.
The bad news is that as we get older, and have had this gluten assault for a lot longer, our gut damage can be more severe and more extensive. Consequently, you can take a lot longer to get better. You might take weeks and months to begin to feel better and sometimes it takes years for the gut to fully restore to normal.
Of course, if you still eat small amounts of gluten, or your diet is not scrupulously purged of gluten, then this small amount of gluten-toxicity can keep causing you ongoing damage to your gut (and other organs, especially nerves and brain).
To check if your gut has properly healed, you can either have second endoscopy (which is often scheduled about a year after you have started a gluten free diet), or you can see whether or not the tissue-damage-markers (tTG, DGP, and EMA) are coming down. There is a good correlation between blood test results and endoscopy.
The lesson from this: diagnose celiac disease as early as possible, and once diagnosed remain strictly gluten free without exception, lifelong. If you have ongoing gut disease and ongoing symptoms, there may be other things going on and you may need to have other strategies to help gut healing.
The Gluten Syndrome is now available (in next 24 hours) as an eBook (only $4.99) revised new edition, 2011: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/58338