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food allergies

  • ADHD, Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, has become more common in recent decades, likely because of our new, high-tech world. It is more common in children, three to one in boys over girls, and becoming more common in young and older adults. Though genetics and personality may be factors, there are definitely strong correlations with poor diet and the overuse of salt, sugar, sodas and other beverages containing caffeine, refined foods, and food chemicals. There may be food allergies or hypersensitivities, and often there are deficiencies in minerals, such as potassium, zinc, magnesium, and manganese, as well as some of the B vitamins.

    Most books on clinical ecology and pediatric allergy include some discussion of hyperactivity and suggest positive results with nutritionally-based treatments. Hyperactivity is usually viewed as a positive stimulatory reaction of the food addiction phase of allergy, as a response to repeated intake of foods or chemicals. During withdrawal phases, there is a temporary, further stimulation or depression; with clinical improvement, the hyperactive state can be duplicated with positive food tests to “challenge” the child. I believe that most, though not all, hyperactivity problems are related to these allergy-addiction states.

    The late Dr. Benjamin Feingold, a pediatric allergist, was astute enough to pick up the presence of poor diet and allergies in many of his cases of hyperactivity in children. His evaluation of food allergies, nutrient deficiencies, lead and other metal toxicity, and sensitivity to sugar, food colorings and preservatives, and salicylates gave him the insight to create his special diet plan, which has been effective for many of his and other doctors’ patients. When parents of hyperactive children have fed their kids the Feingold diet, they have seen some positive results; however, the Feingold program does not work for all of them.

    Common food allergy reactions associated with hyperactivity are to wheat, corn, milk, and eggs, and sometimes the other gluten-containing grains, including rye and barley. All of these foods are avoided with the Feingold diet, as are soft drinks; sugar and processed foods; foods containing chemicals, especially coloring agents and in particular yellow dye #5 (contains tartrazine, chemically related to a salicylate); and fruits and vegetables that are high in natural salicylates, which include peaches, plums, prunes, nectarines, grapes, raisins, cherries, apples, apricots, strawberries, tomatoes, and cucumbers. This special diet also calls for an increase in quality protein and a decrease in refined carbohydrates along with “orthomolecular” nutrient therapy.

    The nutritional approach to hyperactivity focuses on the B vitamins, particularly niacin, pyridoxine, and pantothenic acid, along with extra vitamins C and E, zinc, manganese, magnesium, calcium, and chromium. L amino acids may be helpful. Herbal texts suggest red clover blossom tea as a good calming herb for children with this condition; chamomile may also be helpful. Ritalin, a stimulant drug, apparently has a paradoxical calming effect in hyperactive children, but it has many side effects and is definitely the treatment of last resort. Still, the stimulant drugs like Ritalin, Adderall, and Concerta appear to work well to improve focus and brain function while calming down the children and adults.

    Overall, a healthy lifestyle can be beneficial in balancing mood and energy and improving health overall. We mention a good, balanced, and hypoallergenic diet as a basis. Physical activity also helps. If we can gather the motivation to exercise regularly, it is usually energizing and helps bring about an improved sense of peace and optimism. Beginning with nature hikes, walking with the head up and the shoulders back, along with deep breathing of fresh air will definitely change our energy. Learning relaxation and meditation can also help people with ADHD.

    TESTING TO CONSIDER

    • Food Reaction Tests—Antibody Levels or Cell Reactions
    • Stool Test for Yeast—with Culture and Sensitivity
    • Digestive Analysis for proper Function and Ecology
    • Urine Test for Yeast and Bacterial Metabolites
    • Blood Cell Mineral Measurement for Magnesium, Potassium, and more
    • Hair Analysis as Screen for Lead and Mercury Toxicity

    HERE’S A NATURAL TREATMENT APPROACH TO ADHD

    AVOIDS & POSITIVE ACTION

    What to avoid:

    • Refined Sugar—Cane and Corn Syrup
    • Cow’s Milk
    • Wheat and Wheat Products as a Trial
    • Craved and Habitual Foods
    • Other Possible Food Reactions—Peanuts, Citrus, Eggs, Soy, and Chocolate
    • Artificial Coloring Agents
    • Additives that affect Neurological Function
    • MSG (Monosodium Glutamate)
    • Aspartame
    • Artificial Flavors

    What to include as diet and supplements:

    • Multi-Vitamin/Mineral
    • Magnesium
    • Fish Oils—EPA & DHA
    • Lecithin—Choline and Inositol
    • Vitamin C
    • Probiotics (Healthy Bacteria)
    • Elimination Diet
    • Food Challenges
  • Asthma is one of the most common medical conditions in North America. The prevalence of asthma has increased significantly over the past few decades. There are a number of possible reasons for the increase in asthma rates including increased pollution in the atmosphere. However, there is another cause that is often overlooked; food allergies. In this article we will discuss how food allergies can cause or exacerbate asthma.

    About 3½ years ago Vincent came into the office with a chronic hacking cough that had been present for over 10 years. It was the kind of cough you could hear outside the building. He had been through a battery of tests and his doctors had concluded that it was due to his asthma. He had been taking inhalers for over 10 years but no matter how much or how often he used them the cough just wouldn’t go away. Asthma typically involves inflammation in the lungs and constricted airways in the bronchioles. The cause is often unknown and unfortunately most conventional treatments involve merely trying to decrease inflammation and dilate the bronchioles with inhalers. Unfortunately, the inhalers which typically contain corticosteroids do not treat the actual cause of the inflammation.

    When I first met Vincent we went through an assessment as part of the initial consultation. We found that he had chronic constipation, heartburn, hives, and eczema. This immediately made me suspicious of food allergies.

    The naturopathic approach to treating asthma involves identifying the possible causes of inflammation in the body. One of the most common causes of inflammation is food allergies. The type of food allergy that is most likely to be overlooked is called a Type II Delayed Sensitivity Reaction. This type of allergy involves the production of an immunoglobulin called IgG, which attacks the offending food. The symptoms of Type II allergies are usually chronic and present slowly over time, which makes it very hard to determine their presence. The symptoms can be highly variable but typically involve inflammation somewhere in the body.

    The best way to identify Type II Delayed Sensitivity Reactions is to run a blood test for IgG. This test identifies how much IgG is produced by your white blood cells when they are exposed to specific foods. For example, if a person is allergic to milk their white blood cells will produce high levels of IgG when they are exposed to milk. However, they will not produce high levels of IgG when they are exposed to other foods if there is no allergy to those foods.

    When I explained the potential connection between food allergies and asthma to Vincent he decided to have the IgG test. When the results came back from the lab we learned that Vincent had a number of allergies to various foods. Vincent immediately decided to avoid these foods to see what would happen. I am happy to report 3½ years later Vincent’s cough has not returned.

    If you have been diagnosed with asthma but are not happy with your treatment you may want to consult a physician who is trained to identify Type II food allergies. Like Vincent, your asthma may have a hidden cause you have not looked for in the past.

  • I have often said that detox is the missing link in western nutrition and I have written extensively on this topic both in my books, such as The Detox Diet, and here in TotalHealth Magazine as in my January 2018 article on Seasonal Detox and my October 2017 article, Toxins Too Close for Comfort, on the hidden dangers in some of our personal care and home cleaning products—an often overlooked area of concern.

    Toxins might be defined as chemicals and metals that get into our bodies from the air, food, water, even what we wear and we put on our bodies. These are not natural or needed by our body, so removal or avoidance of such substances is the simplest version of detox. However, this important therapeutic method has a number of different approaches, goals and potential healing outcomes so I want to explore it a little more deeply, which begins with my thoughts about the real causes of disease.

    Cell Health Compromised by Deficiency and Toxicity
    Optimal Cellular function is at the core of our health and so a primary cause for most disease is cellular dysfunction, which arises from two main sources: Deficiency—not getting all (or enough of) the nutrients our body needs, and Toxicity—intake of and exposure to toxins that affect enzymes and cell function.

    Our cells require literally thousands of molecules that are part of the foods we eat and the beverages we drink. When bodies do not receive adequate supplies of high quality essential nutrients, the cells become deficient, which impairs function and can cause a decline in the health of tissues, organs and ultimately our entire body. This is why good nutrition is a cornerstone of great health.

    We must also address Toxicity—the exposures of our cells to environmental factors such as mercury or lead, smog, cigarette smoke and damaging chemicals (e.g. pesticides, preservatives, cleaning agents and myriad consumer products) that come into our bodies from multiple sources. In addition, our cells create their own toxic chemicals, some of which are called oxidants or free radicals. Our cells have developed ways to remove these elements, but we need to provide them with appropriate antioxidants (vitamins C, A, E, and more) to facilitate the process of detoxification, which brings us back to essential nutrients. (See below.)

    So at the most basic level the detox process is about avoiding toxins or working to remove them, but in addition to the more obvious environmental toxins we also need to address intoxicants. Alcohol and tobacco are probably the first things that come to mind, but many other common substances alter our physical, emotional and mental state and can have negative health consequences in the long term if over indulged. Caffeine is in this category, but so is sugar and processed sweetening agents like corn syrup, or artificial ones like aspartame, which the "food" industry seems to put in countless products.

    Therefore, another type of detox is clearing from any substance habits or abuses, even addictions for some, which are a serious type of imbalanced relationship to one's true nurturing needs. This process encourages you to take a break, which may be temporary or lifelong, from such common habits as the daily intake of what I call the SNACCs—Sugar (as refined sugar and corn syrup), Nicotine, Alcohol, Caffeine and Chemicals, both in foods and our environment. To me, this is often the first step in health liberation, freeing ourselves from the emotional dependence on certain items to stimulate or sedate us. Related to this, I am launching my online course called Regain Your Natural Energy: Breaking the Stimulation-Sedation Cycle. This offers a guided one-week break from caffeine, alcohol and sugar and help rediscovering quality sleep and natural, high-level energy.

    Food Reactions—The Sensitive Seven

    All of these various methods are essentially forms of cleansing. The second level of the detox or purification process is identifying and addressing food reactions, which typically occur from the foods we eat most often and those most commonly available in our society. I call these the Sensitive Seven—Wheat, Cow's milk, Sugar, Eggs, Corn, Soy, and Peanuts. My book on this topic, The False Fat Diet, is about the many ways we react to foods and the great variety of health conditions caused by these reactions. I call it False Fat because many of us carry a surprising amount of extra "weight" that is actually bloating and swelling caused by our body's reaction to certain foods. Once we identify and eliminate these foods we can lose that weight in addition to feeling better overall. By following the healing dietary and supplement programs of specific avoidance and careful reintroduction of particular foods (an elimination diet) you can help uncover your specific reactions and individual needs. This personalization of our nutritional program is one key to optimal health.

    Food reactions are generated through multiple systems in our body—digestive, immune, biochemical, and hormonal— causing bloating and swelling in the body and gut as mentioned, plus many other possible problems. These reactions caused by an allergic or depleted system also make us more sensitive to environmental toxins. Food reactions are surprisingly common and often result from digestive dysfunction as well as inherent allergy and over-consumption (regular/habitual use) of the particular foods. They can also change over time, so you can develop a new reaction or cease to react to a certain food. There are many factors that cause the breakdown in optimal function of the gastrointestinal tract. Overeating, too many different foods at once, incomplete chewing, drinking too much while eating which dilutes the digestive juices, and chronic stress, all of which weaken our ability to digest foods thoroughly.

    Furthermore, many people have an imbalance of intestinal flora, because they have killed off their healthy bacteria from an overuse of antibiotics, which is common in modern medicine. Other irritating bacteria may flourish, or fermenting types of yeast organisms, or even parasites will take up residence within our intestines. These cause an irritation of the membranes, and this affects our proper absorption of nutrients, causing abnormal absorption of larger molecules, often referred to as "leaky gut" syndrome. Allowing 'toxins' to enter the blood stream can affect our brain function, mood, and energy level, and cause secondary immune and biochemical reactions to these toxins.

    Note: Testing is available for both food reactivity and intestinal flora from various labs usually ordered by naturally-oriented physicians as well as some chiropractors, naturopaths and acupuncturists who have studied nutritional medicine, gastrointestinal ecology and function. Most conventional medical doctors haven't had the training in this area of health knowledge to be able to help in these more subtle and preventive (not-yet-diseased) states.

    The Elimination Diet
    Allowing these reactions to quiet and clear can help those suffering from them to feel much better rather quickly. This means following an elimination diet, avoiding our habit foods, or commonly eaten foods, as well as the most reactive ones like the Sensitive Seven. As part of this article I have provided a simple elimination diet plan from my book, Staying Healthy with the Seasons.

    After two or three weeks of removing foods you can then reintroduce them by eating one of the restricted foods at a time, giving it a while to check your experience of any untoward effects. Usually I have my patients watch three different time periods for these food reactions, since many responses can be delayed.

    • First, watch immediately and over the first hour after eating the food.
    • Second, pay attention later in the day, several hours up to six hours later.
    • Third, observe how you are when you wake up the next morning.

    Do you feel a little foggy or like you have a hangover? If you had any reaction to the food or substance, if you feel worse (fatigue, irritability, itchy skin, digestive upset, and mood or energy changes are some possible reactions) or have any of the symptoms you had previously experienced, you are likely reactive to that food.

    How Do You Begin This Process?
    First, make an honest self-assessment.

    • What are you dependent on?
    • What do you mostly not want to give up?
    • Where's the most resistance? (that's often the culprit in not feeling optimal.)
    • How ready are you to take a break from your habits/abuses?

    Once you've made your decision, set up a plan and write it down, stating what you will do, for how long, and what you wish to achieve. Use a program you know or can read about clearly, as in The Detox Diet. It helps to find someone you know and trust who has done it before and talk to them. It's also great if you can find a friend or family member to do it with you, to help each other get through any hard times, and to have someone with whom you can share your success.

    As I have noted each time I have written about detox, this isn't just something I offer my patients, but a fundamental part of my personal health plan. I know it has helped me to stay youthful and healthy, and definitely younger than my actual years. I hope it will provide the same benefits for you.

    Stay Healthy!
    Dr. Elson

    Essential Nutrients For Avoiding Deficiency

    Macronutrients:
    Proteins and amino acids, carbohydrates, fats and essential oils

    Micronutrients:
    Vitamins: A, C, D, E, K, B1, B6, B3, B12, CoQ10, Lipoic acid (Most must come from our diet, and a few the body makes, like CoQ10 and lipoic.)

    Minerals: all must come from diet and include calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, zinc, copper, iron, manganese, selenium, iodine, traces of boron and others. And our soil must contain these minerals to be in our food, and much soil is depleted.

    Phytonutrients: hundreds of plant substances, such as flavonoids and carotenoids, which give our fruits, vegetables, herbs and basically all foods their color, aroma, and add to their flavor.

    Antioxidants: these nutrients protect us from "free radicals," the unstable molecules that can cause inflammation and damage; these nutrients include Vitamins A (and betacarotene), C, D, and E plus some B vitamins; minerals zinc and selenium, with protective activity also from iron and magnesium; coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid; and amino acid L-cysteine, which helps support glutathione.

    Elimination Diet To Test For Food Reactions

    Use this as a guideline. The number of days this process actually takes you will depend on how you set up your schedule and which foods you are currently consuming.

    Make your own plan and write it down.

    Keep a daily journal to track your reactions to foods as you let them go and then add them back to your diet.

    For the days when you are adding foods back into your diet, test at least three different foods each day, and give yourself 3–4 hours to experience each one's effects. It is best if you eat one food at a time during these days so you can be clear about your reaction. However, if you need to include the previous day(s) foods, you may, but still do your testing.

    Consume a moderate amount of any food you try. For example, eat 3 whole carrots, 4 oz. sunflower seeds, a bowl of brown rice, 4 oz. of cheese or a glass of milk at their appropriate times. And have a good time.

    Day 1 Eat your normal diet.

    Day 2 Eliminate all chemicals from diet e.g., food additives, drugs (non-prescription), as well as alcohol, caffeine, nicotine (tobacco).

    Day 3 Eliminate all processed foods—refined sugar, white enriched flour and any products containing them (check food labels).

    Day 4 Eliminate meat, poultry and fish products.

    Day 5 Eliminate dairy foods—all cow and goat milk based products plus eggs.

    Day 6 Eliminate nuts and beans.

    Day 7 Eliminate seeds.

    Day 8, 9, 10 Eliminate grains, eating only fruits and vegetables. Eat fresh fruits and vegetables in raw, steamed, or juiced forms.

    Day 11, 12 Fruit and vegetable juice or broth only. No concentrates or cans—juices should be fresh or bottled, naturally squeezed.

    Day 13, 14 Water only—spring or well—not tap water. These may be rest days.

    Day 15 Add back fruit and vegetable juices.

    Day 16 Fruit—one kind at a time (3–4 hours between kinds), one large or two small fruits.

    Day 17 Add vegetables

    Day 18 Add grains

    Day 19 Add seeds

    Day 20 Add nuts and beans

    Day 21 Add dairy foods as listed above

    Day 22, 23, 24 Add meat, only one kind per day and only if desired—you are now more sensitive.

    Day 25 Add any processed foods—only if desired—hopefully you won't want to

    Day 26 Add any chemicals or drugs—only if desired—hopefully you won't need to

    Congratulations! How do you feel?
    From my book Staying Healthy with the Seasons

  • In many older detective stories, the punch line famously is, "the butler did it." In the minds of many contemporary Americans, gluten is the "butler." Increasingly, when individuals experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches and gastrointestinal distress, including gas, bloating and diarrhea, gluten is called out as the culprit. The passage of partially digested or undigested gluten through the intestines and the gut barrier may also contribute to additional symptoms not limited to those involving the development of food sensitivities and intolerances. The answer in this paradigm is to avoid all gluten-containing foods, such as wheat, oats, rye, barley and spelt. The problem with this paradigm is that other than for a quite small percentage of the populace, there is little evidence that gluten per se is the culprit or that gluten avoidance will solve all or even most gluten-associated issues. This topic often leads to heated debates. Readers should be aware that the gluten-as-villain story has quite serious skeptics.1,2

    Who Reacts to Gluten?
    Gluten, a protein, is a large, complex molecule that contains thousands of folded amino acid sequences composed of globulans, albumins, glutenin and gliadin, with the gliadin fraction believed to cause most of the symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity. Gluten's exceptionally rich proline content contributes to resistance to digestion. When this big ball of peptides is insufficiently broken down, amino acid bonds within each molecule remain resulting in a partially-degraded protein that can lead to an array of symptoms. Some authorities suggest that if gluten is a sufficiently rich component of the diet (a rare situation), it will lead to reactions even in those otherwise tolerant as a result of these difficulties in digestion.

    There is a spectrum of gluten-related disorders, including celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, and wheat allergy, the latter affecting only on the order of 0.1 percent of individuals in Westernized countries.3,4 Non-celiac gluten intolerance involves heightened immunologic reaction to gluten in genetically susceptible people whereas celiac disease involves a complex autoimmune response in the small intestine to gluten ingestion.5,6 The estimated prevalence of celiac disease is approximately one percent of the populace.7

    This is where things start to become very interesting in ways that suggest that the "gluten did it" scenario may be a bit misleading. As summarized in a fine article a few years back in the New York Times, "roughly 30 percent of people with European ancestry carry predisposing genes, for example. Yet more than 95 percent of the carriers tolerate gluten just fine. So while these genes (plus gluten) are necessary to produce the disease, they're evidently insufficient to cause it."8

    This observation becomes more intriguing in light of recent blood serum studies. In one, an examination of 9,133 frozen blood samples taken from US Air Force recruits between 1948 and 1954 for the antibody that people with celiac disease produce in reaction to gluten found that only about one in seven hundred tested positive, or 0.2 percent. This was compared to rates of celiac disease among 12,768 people who either had similar years of birth (i.e. were born around 1930) or who were of a similar age to the original donors at the time of sampling (i.e. young adults today). The rates of celiac disease were 0.8 percent and 0.9 percent respectively, or a 4 to 4.5-fold increase. In other words, in populations that genetically were virtually identical, celiac rates had increased more than 400 percent in a mere 50 years.9 Another study that analyzed blood serum from more than 3,500 Americans who had been followed since 1974 found that by 1989 the prevalence of celiac disease in this cohort had doubled.10

    More recent studies have confirmed the rising risk of developing celiac among otherwise similar groups in the past. So have cross-national comparative studies. The populations in adjacent Russian Karelia and Finland are equally exposed to grain products and share partly the same ancestry, but live in completely different socioeconomic environments. The two study populations are culturally, linguistically and genetically related with predisposing gene variants are similarly prevalent in both groups. Examination of 5,500 subjects yielded a prevalence of roughly one in 100 among Finnish children whereas the same diagnostic methods indicated only one in 500 among their Russian counterparts.11

    More Intrigue
    In line with a number of studies looking at the prevalence of asthma and other forms of autoimmune disease, the Finnish/ Russian data suggest modern sanitary and dietary practices are leading to poorer health in unexpected ways. For instance, three of four Russian Karelian children harbored Helicobacter pylori in comparison with one in 20 Finnish children. H. pylori can cause ulcers and stomach cancer, but mounting evidence suggests that exposure also reduces the incidence of asthma. The author of the New York Times article mentioned above notes that one author of the Finnish study suspects that Russian Karelians' microbial wealth (exposure to a much larger variety of microbes compared to more Westernized and metropolitan populations) protects them from autoimmune and allergic diseases by strengthening the arm of the immune system that guards against such illnesses. Similarly, Yolanda Sanz, a researcher at the Institute of Agrochemistry and Food Technology in Valencia, Spain, makes a compelling case for the importance of intestinal microbes. "Years ago, Dr. Sanz noted that a group of bacteria native to the intestine known as bifidobacteria were relatively depleted in children with celiac disease compared with healthy controls. Other microbes, including native E. coli strains, were overly abundant and oddly virulent."

    Quite a number of authors have noted a possible role for longer breast-feeding of infants in helping to confirm bifidobacteria in a more dominant role in the large intestine in children and later life as well as controlling E. coli growth. Other changes in Western practices similarly may influence the role of foodstuffs. For example, a study published in 2011 found that a specially fermented wheat flour-derived product did not lead to any sort of toxic reaction after being given to celiac patients for 60 days. This is in line with research indicating that the manufacture of wheat and rye breads or pasta with durum flours by using selected sourdough lactobacilli markedly decreases the toxicity of gluten. In Western countries, cereal baked goods typically are manufactured by fast processes. As noted by researchers, this avoids the traditional long fermentation by sourdough—a cocktail of acidifying and proteolytic lactic acid bacteria—and has replaced fermentation with chemical and baker's yeast leavening agents. Under these conditions, cereal components are not degraded during manufacture.12

    Again, a number of researchers have uncovered evidence that keeping bifidobacteria and lactobacilli at sufficiently high levels in the appropriate areas of the intestines strongly influences tendencies toward autoimmune diseases.

    Other Contributors to the Modern Gluten Intolerance

    Gluten has been in the human food chain for thousands of years, yet gluten intolerance has become widespread in recent decades. Along with some items already mentioned, here is an extended list of possible culprits:

    • Changes in baking techniques; to speed processing and reduce costs, modern breads almost never are fully yeast-raised as in the past, a process that makes gluten more digestible; similarly, the long steaming of wheat and rye breads typical of Central and Eastern Europe makes breads more digestible
    • Changes in the gluten content of wheat—since the 1950s the USDA, without public notice, has been involved in wheat breeding to increase gluten content
    • Novel processing techniques when using gluten-derived compounds in foodstuffs, such as deamidation involving removing an amino group (NH2); this makes the peptides more soluble and smaller, but also increases their chances of breaching the gut lumen and activating immune responses
    • Changes in refrigeration and storage, which, in turn, change our gut bacteria and lead to novel intolerance reactions to foods
    • Reduced breast-feeding and altered feeding and weaning practices; changes in infant formulas; suspected changes in mother's milk itself at the populace at large becomes more prone to overweight and obesity plus the foods consumed by mothers change
    • C-sections becoming more common, which tends to alter the bacteria babies inherit (or do not inherit) from the mother via the birth canal
    • Reduced exposure to various dusts and other challenges from the natural world that help train the developing immune system and reduce autoimmune overreactions
    • GMOs and the chemicals linked to these are ubiquitous in the food supply

    Although, as indicated above, heightened sensitivity to gluten extends back several decades, GMOs may be true game-changers for future generations. According to Jeffrey Smith and the Institute for Responsible Technology (IRT), a "possible environmental trigger [for gluten intolerance] may be the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) to the American food supply, which occurred in the mid-1990s," describing the nine GM crops currently on the market. In soy, corn, cotton (oil), canola (oil), sugar from sugar beets, zucchini, yellow squash, Hawaiian papaya, and alfalfa, "Bt-toxin, glyphosate, and other components of GMOs, are linked to five conditions that may either initiate or exacerbate gluten-related disorders." It's the Bt-toxin in genetically modified foods that kills insects by "puncturing holes in their cells." The toxin is present in ‘every kernel' of Bt-corn and survives human digestion, with a 2012 study confirming that it punctures holes in human cells as well.

    According to an IRT report, GMO-related damage is linked to five different areas: intestinal permeability, imbalanced gut bacteria, immune activation and allergic response, impaired digestion, and damage to the intestinal wall. The IRT release also indicated that glyphosate, a weed killer sold under the brand name 'Roundup,' was found to have a negative effect on intestinal bacteria. GMO crops contain high levels of this toxin at harvest. "Even with minimal exposure, glyphosate can significantly reduce the population of beneficial gut bacteria and promote the overgrowth of harmful strains."13,14

    Sometimes the Villains Aren't Bad Guys and How To Promote the Good Guys
    A word of caution is in order regarding gut bacteria. Just as gluten may not be the primary actor in its own drama, so, too, are some "bad" bacteria not so bad after all. Above, the case of H. pylori was presented as perhaps not quite as black-and-white as normally argued. Another example is E. coli. Which E. coli? Recent research has uncovered that small molecules produced by the microbiota and related to indole extend healthspan in geriatric worms, flies, and mice.15 According to the authors of this research, the term "healthspan" describes the length of time a human or animal, while aging, can stay active and resist stress. In this research, the focus is on whether the animals live healthier, but not necessarily longer. The study identified indole and related molecules as compounds released by E. coli bacteria. Indoles may be keeping the intestinal barrier intact and/or limiting systemic inflammatory effects. Moreover, there are specialty E. coli strains that are well-researched as excellent probiotics useful in treating a number of gastro-intestinal disorders and even helping to maintain remission in patients with ulcerative colitis.16,17 The trick is to encourage the presence of the right E. coli to limit the growth of the wrong E. coli.

    What about daily foods that boost good gut microbiome, including diversity in the gut? It is important to be able to promote gut health via daily food habits rather than relying on prebiotic supplements alone. Here are some everyday choices according to a 2016 survey conducted in Europe:18

    Good foods for boosting the gut microbiome

    • Fruit and vegetables
    • Yogurt
    • Coffee
    • Tea
    • Red wine
    Bad habits that hurt the microbial ecosystem
    • A high-calorie diet
    • A high-carbohydrate diet
    • Sugar-sweetened beverages
    • Frequent snacks

    Medications have the biggest influence on gut microbiome diversity. Antibiotics, proton-pump inhibitors and metformin (a common diabetes drug) all are linked to lower microbiome diversity.

    Conclusion
    Blaming gluten for GI-tract issues, allergies and even weight gain is akin to the pharmaceutical world's "magic bullet" approach once encapsulated as "one disease, one drug." In reality, in the modern Western world a host of changes have taken place in food growing and processing along with changes in personal habits and some of these changes have led to an otherwise and previously relatively innocuous protein, gluten, becoming a source of health issues. Eliminating gluten from the diet (along with wheat, oats, rye, barley and spelt) is not the answer to environmental mistakes, such as the growing prevalence of poor bread-making practices and the use of GMOs. A better approach is to learn the nature of the non-health- promoting practices and then to find alternatives.

    References:

    1. Gaesser GA, Angadi SS. Gluten-free diet: imprudent dietary advice for the general population. J Acad Nutr Diet. 2012 Sep;112(9):1330–3.
    2. Shewry PR, Hey SJ. Do we need to worry about eating wheat? Nutr Bull. 2016 Mar;41(1):6–13.
    3. Piezak M. Celiac disease, wheat allergy, and gluten sensitivity: When gluten free is not a fad. JPEN J Parental Enterol Nutr. 2012;36(suppl 1):68S–75S.
    4. Sapone A, Bai JC, Ciacci C, et al. Spectrum of gluten-related disorders: Consensus on new nomenclature and classification. BMC Med. 2012; 10:13.
    5. Hadjivassiliou M, Grunewald RA, Davies-Jones GAB. Gluten sensitivity as a neurological illness. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry. 2002;72(5): 560–3.
    6. Briani C, Samaroo D, Alardini A. Celiac disease: From gluten to autoimmunity. Autoimmunity Rev. 2008;7(8):644–50.
    7. Catassi C, Fassano A. Celiac disease. Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2008;24(6):687–91.
    8. Moises Velasquez-Manoff. Who Has the Guts for Gluten? New York Times. February 23, 2013.
    9. Rubio-Tapia A, Kyle RA, Kaplan EL, Johnson DR, Page W, Erdtmann F, Brantner TL, Kim WR, Phelps TK,
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