Monday, April 11, 2011

Gluten Intolerance Discussed in the Wall Street Journal

Some of of you who have been reading for awhile may recall that I am gluten free. I cut all wheat out of my diet about two years ago after having an myriad of strange health issues which included migraines, severe bloating, intestinal distress (along with very loud stomach noises, possibly the most embarrassing issue). I had a hunch that the symptoms were somehow related to sugar and possibly wheat, and then after doing a lot of research, I discovered something called Fructose Malabsorption. Basically, my body can't break down fructose. There's fructans in wheat, which break down to fructose, so people with Fructose Malabsorption can eat varying amounts of wheat. I cut it out entirely for about a year and now I have some once and a while.

In my research, I found that the vast majority of people who believe they have Fructose Malabsorption (sometimes referred to as Fructmal - read more about it here or here.) are self diagnosed. Most doctors I speak to have never heard of it, and even in the hospital (when I was having Zoom) there was a lot of confusion around what it meant to be gluten free - and this was with dietitians!! One day the mysteriously were giving me meals without any ... dairy... because someone got confused in the kitchen.

It's been a real delight and relief to see gluten free products go mainstream over the last year. Target carries an amazing array of gluten free foods, and even Bisquick has made a gluten free version! Let me tell you, that caused a ripple of excitement in the gluten free community :)

My Mom noticed this very cool article in the Wall Street Journal, "Clues to Gluten Sensitivity". New research has been done around people who have problems digesting gluten and they've discovered there is a distinctly different physiological response to gluten amongst those people who are intolerant. And, it's different from those with Celiac, and different from those in the "normal" population. What's even more fascinating is that they've discovered that there is also a different immune response towards gluten amongst those with a sensitivity.

Here are some of the key points of the story:
- As many as 1 in 20 Americans may have some form of gluten sensitivity.
- Common symptoms are "IBS-like stomach problems, headaches, fatigue, numbness and depression, but more than 100 symptoms have been loosely linked to gluten intake, which is why it has been so difficult to study."
- It appears that gluten sensitivity triggers an immune response where the body attacks gluten, causing inflammation, which can migrate and spread, even to the brain.
- Some people with a sensitivity may be able to tolerate small amounts of gluten.
-  The story ends in saying gluten sensitivity is a real medical issue, and people with it aren't crazy.

I find the study and its findings to ring true with what I've experienced. I had severe migraines for a couple of years before I gave up gluten, and I haven't had more than couple in the last 15 months (after I gave up gluten). I often wondered if there was a link to inflammation, as I seem to be very sensitive to it. I'm really pleased that there seems to be more research going on around the issue, and I'm super hopeful that more will be found out about gluten sensitivity.

Here's the video that goes along with the Wall Street Journal story:



4 comments:

Mel said...

That's an interesting study. And they say wheat is supposed to be good for you. I have a lot of stomach sensitivities to many foods. I do occasionally eat wheat products. When I eat them in larger quantities I notice stomach issues. Of course, I have to eat everything in moderation due to a sensitivity to many foods and medications.

Sheri said...

I'm also g-free, with celiac disease which I figured out I had too. Thanks for the post and you are so not alone being g-free there are many of us out here. :)

Paula said...

Mel - have you tried an elimination diet? That's how I figured out that it was wheat that was causing a problem. It's not hard, I ended up eating rice and chicken for a couple weeks, and then slowly added stuff back to see what caused a reaction.

Sheri - thanks! It's so amazing that many of us figure this out on our own and then have a doctor confirm it!

Liz said...

I have been hearing more and more about people having problems with gluten. I am also seeing more products that are gluten free in our grocery store as well! So glad that you have been able to self diagnose and make the necessary changes!