Dear Pharmacist,

My brother is on a gluten free diet now and lost a lot of weight. He’s razzing me to join him in his gluten free diet, but I don’t see the point unless you have irritable bowel syndrome (that’s why he did it). I really like my pizza and beer too! I read you every week, are there other health benefits?

--M.J., Hollywood, Florida

Answer: My husband and I keep a very strict gluten free diet. We think of gluten, the protein found in many grains -like wheat, barley, and rye- as if it were an unnecessary food additive. Digestive problems are typically associated with gluten in those who are intolerant, but for every one person with classic digestive symptoms, there are eight with no GI symptoms. It’s the other “diseases” that you will get medicated for, until you learn of your gluten intolerance, and then get it out of your diet (assuming it is the cause of your troubles).

This will shock you but gluten sensitivity and/or Celiac disease can cause or contribute to: psoriatic arthritis, Lupus, Type 1 Diabetes, dermatitis, ataxia, schizophrenia, anxiety, depression, attention deficit, peripheral neuropathy, muscle pain, headaches, bipolar, brain fog, fatigue, Hashimoto’s, elevated TPO antibodies, hypothyroidism and more. What are the odds that your physician will test you for gluten sensitivity before prescribing medication for these conditions?

One problem is that gluten testing is frequently inaccurate. Blood tests like IgA anti-transglutaminase or anti-endomysial antibodies may come back negative, and many doctors say if your GI symptoms are not severe, then don’t bother avoiding gluten. Gluten is in anything made with all-purpose flour, which I think should be renamed “no-purpose flour.” Gluten’s in salad dressings, soy sauce, muffins, bread, pizza, pretty much everything. Gluten acts like glue in regular flour.

I interviewed Dr. Tom O'Bryan, an internationally recognized speaker specializing in gluten sensitivity and Celiac disease. He explained, “Eating gluten will cause an inflammatory response in the intestines, and throughout the body.. Testing for gliadin antibodies is not thorough enough to detect an immune reaction because these tests basically detect Celiac at its end stage of intestinal deterioration, and many gluten sensitive individuals are not end stage when they take their blood test.”

I recommend a brand new blood test, by Cyrex Labs, which evaluates 12 peptides of gluten (not just gliadin) therefore increasing the detection rate while also testing for cross reactivity with other foods that spark an immune reaction. Get more information, videos and articles from the gluten guy himself, Dr. Tom O’Bryan at HYPERLINK "http://www.theDr.com" www.theDr.com

Up to 75 percent of people with persistent symptoms improve after going gluten free, and I mean no detectable gluten, not even a teeny bit. If you feel better, don’t ever reintroduce gluten again. A Gastroenterology study found that 25 percent of gluten sensitive people who eliminated all symptoms by going gluten free, went on to develop an auto immune disorder within 3 years of eating gluten again!

Suzy Cohen

Suzy Cohen, is known as America’s Pharmacist. She has been a licensed pharmacist for 24 years and is a Functional Medicine practitioner. She’s the author of 6 books, including her most recent Amazon #1 best-seller, “Thyroid Healthy: Lose Weight, Look Beautiful and Live the Life You Imagine.”

She was the host of The Thyroid Summit which broadcast worldwide in June 2014. Suzy has been a syndicated columnist for 19 years reaching 20 million in circulation each week. She is a Huffington Post writer, and also hosts her own syndicated medical minute on TV. Suzy has been featured on The Dr OZ Show 6 times, and has appeared on The View, Good Morning America Health, The Doctors and hundreds of other networks. She is a member of The Institute of Functional Medicine, also the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine, The American Pharmacists Association and ILADS, the International Lyme and Associated Diseases Society. You can read free articles and receive your free newsletter by visiting her website, SuzyCohen.com

Books authored by Suzy Cohen include:

  • Thyroid Healthy
  • Headache Free
  • Drug Muggers
  • Diabetes Without Drugs
  • The 24-Hour Pharmacist
  • Eczema: Itchin’ for a Cure (kindle only)
  • Understanding Pancreatitis & Pancreatic Cancer (kindle only)
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