by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
- The gluten spectrum — from sensitivities to celiac disease and beyond
- The inside story — gluten sensitivity and what’s going on in the body
- Real help for gluten-sensitive women — the Women to Women approach
- Looking beyond labels
I recently returned from a conference on gluten sensitivities, and am truly amazed by the new research and its implications on our health.
While “overt” celiac may manifest with cramping, bloating, gas, and diarrhea, the reality is that most cases are “silent,” meaning there are no obvious symptoms, digestive or otherwise. Even larger numbers of people have the “latent” form, meaning their immune systems are predisposed to develop a response to gluten when triggered by certain conditions. Gluten sensitivity is so common now that we even have a CPT (Current Procedural Terminology) code for it.
We are now understanding that gluten has many more far-reaching effects than previously believed, and indicators of gluten sensitivity and celiac disease can show up in the form of low energy, fatigue, brain fog, skin rashes, numbness in the extremities, fibromyalgia, muscle and joint pain — even problems with coordination. And all forms, whether overt or silent, can have devastating long-term consequences all over the body.
As with leaky gut, dysbiosis, and other digestive disorders, poor nutrient absorption is just one concern. Over time, gluten-sensitive women who continue to eat gluten increase their risk for a host of inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, including osteoporosis, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and more. I am a true believer that the secret to a long and happy life is a healthy digestive system, and these connections firmly underscore that belief.
What’s wonderful is that women suffering from any number of symptoms experience surprising relief from a gluten-free diet. And finding healthy, yummy foods that don’t contain gluten is not nearly as difficult today as it once was. It can take some time and attention, but I’ve seen so many women turn the corner on their health once they’ve investigated how gluten affects them.
So let’s take a closer look at how gluten — found in so many of our comfort foods — can affect our bodies if we are sensitive to it, and how we can learn how to live happily without it.