What Is Wrong With Gluten?

April 23, 2022

In the past 30 years, reams of research have been published about the damaging effects of gluten. Many people have cut out gluten because of their joint pain, heartburn, blood sugar issues, cravings for gluten-containing products, skin conditions, chronic diarrhea and other digestive problems, like intestinal permeability (also known as leaky gut). While only 1% of people have been diagnosed with the genetic disorder of celiac disease, there are more folks with a gluten sensitivity, which can be challenging to diagnose. In this show, join three of our nutritionists as they discuss the research on gluten and insight into why eliminating gluten from your diet might be a good experiment for your family.

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CASSIE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. This show is brought to you by Nutritional Weight and Wellness. My name is Cassie Weness. I'm a registered and licensed dietitian, and I have been for about the past 24 years. And I tell you that not to make myself feel old, but to let you know that I have quite a few years of experience and knowledge, and I'm really excited to be here to share that with all of you today. I'm also excited to have not one, but two very knowledgeable cohosts in studio with me. And with that, I'd like to say first, good morning to nutritionist, Jolene Carlson. Welcome Jolene.

JOLENE: Good morning, Cassie. It's nice to be with you. We haven't had a chance to do a show yet.

CASSIE: Yes, this is our first time in studio together. This is going to be a great show. And I'd also like to say a big good morning and welcome to registered dietitian, Alyssa Krejci.

ALYSSA: Yes. Good morning, Cassie. It's nice to be here. And again, first time in the studio with you too.

CASSIE: Yes. Yeah. So we we're going to have a great show. We are ready for this show. Before I tell the listeners what the topic is I have just a short personal story to lead us into the topic if you'll bear with me for a bit. I, I know some listeners can relate to this. So if you're listening live, the Easter holiday was just last weekend. And as I expected, inevitably; this happens whenever there's a large family gathering. Very oftentimes it's one of my uncles; sometimes it's one of my cousins that'll sort of corner me and say, okay, now tell me again. What's so wrong with gluten? In fact, I'll never forget a couple of years ago when one particular uncle went into this long monologue about how he's been eating gluten for decades. It doesn’t bother him. So why should it bother me? And you know, why should it be bothering so many people?

And I always just have to take a deep breath first to calm myself; center myself. And then I explain again, that both of my kids have been diagnosed with a genetic autoimmune reaction to gluten. It's called celiac disease. And for any of you listening who have celiac, you know full well that you need to avoid gluten 100% or you're going to be very sick. Either you'll be sick immediately, or you'll be sick in the long run, depending on your own body's particular response.

And just to let listeners that aren't really familiar with celiac or eating gluten free, know what, what our life looks like in a nutshell, we need to avoid all foods made with wheat, rye, barley. There are also two ancient grains called spelt and kamut that contain gluten. So we need to avoid those as well as most oats because it's highly contaminated.

What are some hidden sources of gluten?


ALYSSA: And Cassie, what about like hidden sources of gluten? Are those kind of around? Do you have to watch out for those? I know, I always think about myself because I have younger kids is Play Dough because Play Dough is something that has gluten in it. What other things do you have to look out for?

CASSIE: Well, that's a great question because it is in a lot of hidden sources. I'm going to just back up a, a thought here and, and say probably by now the listeners have guessed, our topic is centered all around gluten. And I'm just going to let you know specifically the title of today's topic is basically my uncle's unrelenting question of “What's so Wrong with Gluten?” So we're going to go through quite a bit of research over the upcoming hour. There are reams of research that have been published about the damaging effects of gluten.

So we'll have no problem answering this question of “what is so wrong with gluten?” But I think Alyssa, you pose a really great question in terms of what about hidden sources? Because certainly it might sound easy to some people when I say, oh, we just need to avoid wheat and rye and barley, most oats.

But when you really get into the lifestyle of celiac disease, or even if you have a gluten sensitivity and you need to avoid gluten, it's in a lot of hidden things. Like if you go to the grocery store and walk down the soup aisle, pretty much any canned soup contains gluten. Soy sauce, many soy sauces contain gluten; hot dogs, not all of the brands, but some of them can as well as deli meats. One that really threw me off when we first got diagnosed was ice cream, especially the cheaper brands of ice cream. I don't know if it's a filler or a binder, but oftentimes you'll find gluten in those cheaper store-bought ice cream brands.

And for us with celiac, we even need to check our supplements, our medications, our shampoos, our makeup, because that can cause a reaction too, if those you know, get into our body, if gluten gets into our body from those sources. Let's see, just peeking at my notes here. I'll also tell the audience only about 1% of the world's population has the genetic disorder called celiac. It's not a lot of people when you look at the world's population, right? But still if you or your child is that one person out of a hundred that has celiac, then it becomes a really relevant health concern. And then like is the case for both of my teenagers, you need to avoid gluten 100%.

ALYSSA: And if you're teenagers, I, I can think about mostly, you know, school situations with your friends and you're out or you're facing peer pressure, like, oh, just have this cookie. What happens if they cave into that pressure? And they choose to have gluten and they take that bite of their friend’s chocolate chip cookie that they just made in home ec class?

CASSIE: Oh, a mother's biggest fear when you're a mom of kids with celiac. I've been blessed with kids that up until this point, knock on wood are, are very careful and, and know to look out for themselves. But I've heard many stories, yeah, of teenagers cheating on the diet, whether it's peer pressure, just because they want to see what it…

ALYSSA: They want to fit in, right?

What are some symptoms that can result from celiac disease?


CASSIE: They want to fit in. Yes. So if someone with celiac eats even just a crumb of gluten from a cookie or a slice of bread, their body starts attacking itself. Remember I mentioned that celiac is an autoimmune disease. That's part of the definition of autoimmune. Your body starts attacking itself. Specifically with celiac, the body will start attacking the small intestine. And for some people that will cause abdominal pain. For some people like my oldest child, they will get terrible acid reflux or heartburn if they ingest that gluten. For some people they might get… and for some people, they won't have any immediate symptoms.

We sometimes call this silent celiac, but over time, a lot of health problems will crop up because over time, if your body is constantly attacking the lining of the small intestine, you can imagine you're going to stop efficiently absorbing all of the vitamins and minerals and other nutrients that food provides.

And then this can create a variety of health problems in the long run. And while I'm thinking of it, I just want to interject that I think it's beneficial to get a diagnosis of celiac disease from your child's doctor or from some health professional if you suspect that they have it. With adults, very often when I was in clinic, I would just recommend that the adults do a gluten free trial. Specifically, I would say, give it up for six weeks. And by the end of that six weeks, your body will tell you if that's your problem or not. But with kids, that can be a really hard request. And you know, Alyssa, you brought up school lunch table for example.

ALYSSA: Oh yes.

CASSIE: So if you have the right documentation from your child's doctor saying that they have celiac, then the school has to work with you.

ALYSSA: You get more support from teachers, the school nurses, everyone else to make sure your child is safe when they're outside the home.

CASSIE: Yep. Because they legally have to, you know, abide by that diagnosis because it's considered a disability. So there is a big benefit of having that documentation. I will say 12 years ago when I was trying to figure out my then toddler’s terrible acid reflux, I got so much pushback from doctors who didn't want to test him; in part, because he was taller than average for his age. And they said he can't have celiac. Look at how he’s growing. Well, we know don't we, that stunted growth is not…

ALYSSA: It doesn't happen for everyone.

CASSIE: No, no. So I ended up going through Dr. Kenneth Fine at EnteroLab, which at the time anyway, was considered a little more alternative by some, but still I got that doctor's signature. Hopefully parents won't have to go to those lengths anymore. I do think doctors today are more aware of the many ways celiac can present itself. And so they're more willing to run the proper tests.

ALYSSA: They're looking for it more checking for it.

CASSIE: Yes. Yep. And now Jolene, I want to turn it over to you for a little bit, because I know you have a personal story that fits into today's topic.

JOLENE: Well, thanks for that, Cassie. I always appreciate your expertise. I can't imagine navigating a world that is a hundred percent gluten free because a world doesn't exist to make that easy for us. Like you said, I mean, just almost everything we think about from drinks to beauty products, to hygiene products, to salad dressings have gluten in it. So it's, it's always amazing to hear your story. I appreciate you sharing it. Before I tell my story, we're going to take a break. When I come back, I'll kind of give you a different approach of how I became gluten free from a different perspective.


ALYSSA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you have decided to ditch the cereal and toast and you want to start your day with a real food breakfast, join Marianne, our culinary nutrition educator, on May 19th or May 24th by Zoom to learn a new beneficial food habit that is gluten free and energy producing. This is a fun class that may just change your life. To register for the class, call us at (651) 699-3438 to get signed up. Now, Jolene, I think before we spoke or before we went to break, you were going to tell us a little bit about your story. Is that correct?

Cooking Classes

JOLENE: Yeah. Thanks Alyssa. So Cassie and Alyssa did a great job of introducing gluten and the seriousness of having celiac disease and having any exposure to gluten. I don't have a disease where I don't, can't have a hundred percent off gluten type of diet, but I did realize when I was growing up always being overweight because I grew up on processed foods for those of that whole heard my story before.

And by the time I was in my twenties, I was morbidly obese. And that's when I decided to go on a health journey and, and change my life and, and lost a significant amount of weight. And what I really noticed was that most of the foods that were causing problems for me, like my fat storage and my insulin resistance and prediabetes were foods that had gluten in it. It'd be typical for me to have six, eight pieces of bread a day. Cereal was my best friend. I thought of it as a breakfast, lunch and dinner meal.

ALYSSA: So if you looked at your whole diet, most of it was all bread, bread, grains, grains, and more grains.

JOLENE: Exactly, I think, I mean, you could literally break down my nutrients to sugar, grains, starches which also equates a lot of gluten. So for me, it was just kind of a natural transition when I started to take those things out of my diet, knowing that they were causing problems with my blood sugar and preventing me from losing weight. And when I went to real food, I realized that real food doesn't have gluten in it. So you know that we talk about that with our clients all the time, right? The best way to stay gluten free is eat real food. So you can almost do two things at once; make that transition towards real food, which we all talk about and know is the best option.

ALYSSA: And when we say real food, we're talking about the fruits, the vegetables, the meats.

JOLENE: Exactly.

ALYSSA: Healthy fat.

CASSIE: Anything you can grow in your garden, pick from a tree or grandma and grandpa could raise on their farm. That's what I always tell my kids.

JOLENE: Exactly.

CASSIE: And unfortunately for my kids, my kids would say, unfortunately, we don't have a tree that can grow bread. It's not real.

JOLENE: Right. Right. And that's such a great way to look at it and it, and it makes it easier. So even if you are like me and have to, you know, watch your, your gluten or your carbohydrates, or if you're Cassie and your kids and have to be a hundred percent gluten free, that's a great place to start, right, is just really focus on that real food.

ALYSSA: Simplify the food options and just go back to the basics.

JOLENE: Exactly, exactly. So yeah, my journey kind of took me there. And then just over time, it's been 20 years since I kind of started that, that journey of eating real food. And now my body doesn't even want to have gluten products or starches because I just don't feel good.

ALYSSA: It’s not happy if you give that to them.

JOLENE: Yeah. Yeah. I always say like, your body will tell you when you're eating well, you know, it responds well to good food and you feel better with good food. And it's just kind of nice that both gluten free is also typically a good balanced diet or a nice diet to help with your blood sugar. And that's how it kind of came across for me where it helped both with my blood sugar as well.

ALYSSA: It didn't feel restricting necessarily because it was really just giving your body the food that your body wanted and needed.

Gluten and dairy can trigger the opioid response


JOLENE: And then just like with sugar, and we've talked many times on podcasts about sugar being addicting, right? And I, as I said before, I can completely relate to that. Both gluten and dairy can also trigger that opioid response we've talked about before brain that causes addiction, not for all people, but for some people The opioid created by the digestion of milk protein is called casomorphin and the gluten opioid is called gluteomorphin. Alyssa, can you tell us a little more about that?

ALYSSA: Well, so if you think about it, we always love everyone loves pizza night. Even at my house. We love pizza night, right? But who can stop at just one slice of pizza?

JOLENE: Not me.

ALYSSA: Since pizza, if it's not a gluten free, you know, if we're not, you know, making a gluten free pizza, the pizza crust typically will have that gluten in the crust. And then we put the cheese on the top. So we're getting the gluten and we're getting the dairy all in one and that can really create that opioid response, as you were saying, Jolene, which makes it difficult to stop with just one slice of pizza. It can be really addicting for some. And before you know it, you've eaten half or the whole pizza.

JOLENE: And like you said, Alyssa, everybody loves their pizza nights, but is it possible that everybody loves their pizza nights, or needs to have them because it is addicting, you know? So maybe just looking at it from that perspective.

ALYSSA: So delicious.

JOLENE: And we know that gluten and dairy for some people are the most common causes of food sensitivities. Some people can tolerate some dairy. Gluten might not be as sensitive for others as it is for some people. But if you feel like you have food sensitivities, one of the first things that we do with clients is to try to eliminate that from their diet. At first, it might feel a little hard just because we have habits that we've created around these foods. And sometimes it can cause a little discomfort and that's really the withdrawal, which kind of tells you that it's an addiction. At first, for some people, when you go off gluten or dairy or some sort of addictive food, sugar too, anxiety or depression might increase temporarily.

ALYSSA: Or feeling restricted or like their favorite foods are being taken away.

JOLENE: Yep. Yep. But we usually give people a couple weeks and I think, do you guys notice too, that it really just does take a couple weeks to see a difference?

ALYSSA: It takes a little bit to sink in and be like, oh wow. I'm feeling better.

CASSIE: It's so individual though, isn't it? You know, and I just hearing you say, and I agree with everything you've just said Jolene, but it you're, you're depressing me.

JOLENE: I'm sorry Cassie.

CASSIE: It's good to let people know what they're in for. But I will say I've had clients that have had this experience, not all of them. And then for us too, overnight, my son's heartburn went away. And this was, I mean, you just don't even know. We sat up in the chair for how many nights, just to try to keep that reflux down. It was so horrible how bad his acid reflux was.

ALYSSA: It was probably just so nice to be like, we have an answer.


JOLENE: One night, one night of being off of gluten.

CASSIE: One night; it was hugely better. It took a few nights to get him 100% and we had to get him off dairy too. So there there's a little bit more to the journey.

ALYSSA: A little bit of a transition.

CASSIE: A huge difference. And then I will say for me, and I was so scared to give up gluten because I loved bread and I loved pasta. And I was, long time listeners know this, but when the kids got diagnosed with celiac, I had been tested too, and I didn't have the autoimmune reaction, but I had a reaction. And so they, they diagnosed me with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. So I have been 100% gluten free along with the kids for the past 12 years. My cravings went away overnight. So when I realized I didn't have cravings anymore, I'm like, well, then this is easy.

ALYSSA: It makes that choice a lot easier to go into. Yeah. So for some people with that non-celiac gluten related sensitivity, it can lead them to experience a variety of symptoms, whether it be digestive problems or extra symptoms such as the fatigue, the headache, the anxiety. There was one recent study that I read that was from Columbia University in New York, and they had 80 individuals all with non-celiac gluten sensitivity and all of them reported experiencing these types of, of symptoms, whether it be the bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, the heartburn, or having things like the headaches, the fatigue, brain fog, even numbness in the extremities.

Most importantly, with this research though, what was really interesting is they found that the people with the non-celiac gluten sensitivity like those with celiac disease, they produced a high level of anti-gluten antibodies. They differed from the patients with celiac and the kinds of the antibodies produced and the inflammatory responses. However, the good news for the study subjects is that after six months of completely eliminating wheat and other gluten grains from their diet, they all reported that the symptoms either greatly improved or were completely gone.

The funny thing is the moment they brought them back, guess what happened? The symptoms came back. So it was kind of one of those light bulb moments where for those individuals with non-celiac gluten related sensitivity, that elimination of gluten was the only treatment for their condition.

CASSIE: Isn’t that amazing?

JOLENE: Yeah. And I like that you said the six months thing. I know six months might feel daunting.


JOLENE: But I, a lot of time talk to clients about, look at where we're at. Are you 40 years old, 30 years old, 20 years old, and you're having these problems? And so if you spent, however long up to this point in your life dealing with this, six months doesn't feel like much of an ask.


JOLENE: You know, and like you said, Cassie, you can even start to feel better in a day or two days or two weeks or four weeks, depending on the person.


JOLENE: And that is amazing.

CASSIE: Yes. Yeah. And I always say, mark it on your calendar. You know, if you have that end date, you can do this. There's a light at the end of the tunnel. And then let your body tell you, you know, what your answer is. And we are going to go to another quick commercial break and come back and talk about some more research to back up what is so wrong with gluten?

So you are listening to Dishing Up Nutrition, but before we head to commercial, I want to remind you of an online class that you might be interested in if you want even more information about the gluten free lifestyle once this program ends today. As longtime listeners know I've been gluten free, my kids have been gluten free for the past 12 years. So by trial and error, I have learned what works and what doesn't work.

And a couple of years ago, we put together a prerecorded online class to teach some of those tricks and tips that I've learned over more than a decade of living this lifestyle. So if you're interested, I invite you to join me in this class. It's only $25. So it's a steal of a deal. And what I love about these prerecorded online classes is that you can watch them at your own convenience when it works for you from the comfort of your home, if you'd like. So if you're interested in learning more, or if you want to sign up, you can call the office at (651) 699-3438. The class is called Going Gluten-Free the Healthy Way. You can also sign up online at weightandwellness.com and we'll be right back.

Going Gluten-Free the Healthy Way - Online


JOLENE: Welcome to Dishing Up Nutrition. When I cut out the gluten, I had no idea that I would also experience fewer cravings. For me because I was working on insulin resistance and weight loss, it was my goal to cut out all the sugar and processed carbs like pasta, bread, cereal, pizza. But what I realized is I was all also cutting out most of the gluten in my diet and not only did I lose weight, but more importantly, I had more energy, experienced fewer aches, pains and just overall not feeling good. And it all took changing one nutritional habit to feel better. We invite you to just try it, try no gluten and/or no dairy for three weeks and let us know how you feel.

CASSIE: Right. And it's not the answer for everybody, but a lot of people have a gluten sensitivity. And I think for a lot of people they don't even know.

ALYSSA: And that's where a nutrition consult can help where meeting with us individually, and we can go over if there's symptoms and what's going on. And if they have other things that would may point that, well, we're not going to do an elimination right at this time, cause that's not the best option for you. So kind of going at it with that support system from a dietitian, nutritionist, is a great option.

Nutrition Counseling

CASSIE: That can really help.

JOLENE: Yeah. I like that you said that Cassie, because I think that's always our goal is we just want people to know what it's like to feel good.

CASSIE: Right.

JOLENE: It's almost like you don't know what you're missing until you try.

ALYSSA: You don't know what you don't know.

JOLENE: Exactly. And that's, and that's what we're here for. And we want you to feel good, feel healthy, and have that quality of life that you want.

CASSIE: Right. And, and great energy. And I mean just, yeah. Imagine the things you could get done if you felt your very best and had great energy. I just want to bring it back and remind listeners too, about that study that Alyssa was talking about before we went to break, because I find that to be fascinating that these were people with some obvious symptoms. You talked about a variety of things from abdominal pain to joint pain, diarrhea, fatigue.

ALYSSA: Brain fog.

CASSIE: Yeah. They didn't have celiac, but yet they had damage to their intestine, and they had the markers when they tested their blood to show that they had a lot of inflammation throughout their body. And then they gave up the gluten and all that inflammation and that damage resolved itself. And I just find that amazing.

ALYSSA: The body healed.

CASSIE: Yeah, no over the counter medication, no prescription medication. It was just getting the gluten out of their diets and they healed and, and the symptoms went away and that just takes me back, you know, 12 years ago when my kids were diagnosed and, and because of them, I really feel like they were the angels in my life that led me then to my diagnosis, to get the gluten out. Because even though supposedly I don't have the autoimmune response, can you imagine with the intestinal damage and the inflammatory response.

ALYSSA: Your life would be completely different now.

CASSIE: I would be a very sick person.


CASSIE: And yeah, no, I, I, who knows, you know, joint pain, maybe all over pain. We know that gluten can eventually affect the brain too. So it could be depression, could be anxiety. Who knows what I would look like. So I, I'm just really thankful that I found out I have a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I'm thankful my kids, you know, found out they had celiac and we could get it out early before long-lasting damage.

Some foods to eliminate for autoimmune disorders


ALYSSA: Definitely. And you know, for some people with like the aches, the pains, the memory problems, it can be beneficial to just find some good reading material too. I know Dar recently recommended a great read to me recently. It was by Dr. Elroy Vojdani and he's also known as Dr. V. And he's a pioneer in the field of functional medicine. He recently came out with the book titled When Food Bites Back: Taking Control of Autoimmune Disease. And in this book, Dr. V. discusses food related autoimmunity, basically how some of the foods we eat your chronic symptoms that turn into autoimmune issues. So I definitely encourage people to check out that book. It is very interesting. And one thing, you know, he does recommend, you know, eliminating certain foods. The first one: do you think it was gluten?

CASSIE: You would think cause that’s our topic.

ALYSSA: Surprisingly, it was not gluten. The, for first thing he recommended in eliminating from the diet was food like bacon with nitrates, hot dogs, lunch meats, and meats fried at high temperatures. The second food group though, that was on his list for elimination was, you guessed it: gluten.

JOLENE: I mean, that does make sense cause those, those foods are high, highly processed. You know, he's probably coming from the perspective, like you talked about, clean up the diet. That inflammation, those toxins. And of course, you want to get that processed stuff out as well as…

ALYSSA: Like take it tier steps, baby steps. How can we improve this diet?

JOLENE: Exactly.

ALYSSA: But the gluten was the second thing that he looked at and you know, as dieticians and nutritionists, we work with clients in clinic every single day when we're seeing people struggling with digestive issues, neurological, autoimmune diseases. And one of the first number one things we look at when considering trialing different eliminations for food sensitivities is gluten. And in our clinical experience, after removing gluten, oftentimes we do find patients are put into remission and they feel better.

Now in that, you know, trial elimination, when we say six weeks, we often do retrial it back. So then clients can figure out, okay, listen to their body. Was it just that they needed to clean the clean and make some better choices of getting more of the vegetables and fruits in? Or was it the gluten? I do have a lot of clients that find, oh, it was the gluten. And then once they reintroduce it, that light bulb goes off and they're like, oh yeah, this choice is a lot easier now. And so then they'll keep it out after that.

JOLENE: Yeah, I like to describe it as a bucket. I, I feel this is just my perspective.

ALYSSA: I love the bucket idea. I use that a lot.

JOLENE: We all have a gluten bucket, just like we maybe have any kind of food sensitivity bucket, toxins, whatever. And when that bucket gets full and starts to overflow…

ALYSSA: It overflows and goes outward.

JOLENE: Yeah, so if we can just kind of get that bucket from overflowing and causing kind of this flooding response to your body.

ALYSSA: We're going to have a happier system.

JOLENE: We tame down that inflammatory response. And then like you said, Alyssa, that's where we get to work with clients and figure out, okay, so what is your normal to keep your bucket from overflowing?

ALYSSA: Yes. Cause that's the main issue. We want to keep everyone as energized, healthy and happy individuals as possible.

CASSIE: Right. Right. Because for most people you don't have to be perfect in terms of a clean diet, but yeah, keep the amount in your bucket really low. But then of course there are of families like mine where we have celiac. So then we do in terms of the gluten piece, we do need to be perfect. You can’t have a hot dog here unless it says gluten free on the package, but we, we do need to be gluten free.

That reminds me, this is a quick on the side story. But when, when the kids were little and I used to babysit the neighbor’s kids for them and the kid came over and I said, I'll feed them lunch. You know, you don't have to pack their lunch. What does, Dominic was the oldest. What does Dominic like? Cause I knew he was kind of picky and the mom said hot dogs. I'm like, oh, okay, great. So dinner time, let's crawl up kids. I made hot dogs and he, Dominic runs over all smiles. And then he looked at his plate and just this big frown. And then I realized a hot dog to other kids means there's a bun.

ALYSSA: And you didn’t have a bun.

CASSIE: It never crossed my mind I needed to have a bun. So the next time he brought his own little cooler with his own lunch.

JOLENE: Well at least he came back.

CASSIE: At least he came back. Right, right. So I'm going to repeat too to listeners that the, the studies show that about 1% of the world's population has the genetic autoimmune condition called celiac. But then what about these other people like me that still need to be avoiding gluten for their best health?

Prevalence of non-celiac gluten sensitivity


There are a variety of different research studies I found out there trying to determine how much of the population has a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. I took a study that's kind of middle of the road here to share because the, the percentages can vary, but this comes from Maryland University. And this research study found that about 6%, at least about 6% of the population has a non-celiac gluten sensitivity. So not autoimmune necessarily, but still very serious. You know, and then start adding up 1% of the population, plus at least another 6%. There's a lot of people out there.

ALYSSA: 7% then.

CASSIE: …that would do, yeah, a lot of people that would do well not eating gluten. And there are some researchers that speculate it's more like 40%.

JOLENE: Yeah. I've seen that too.

CASSIE: Yeah. Like I said, it just kind depends. So I, I pulled one that kind of fell a little more moderately cause we, we don't know yet. It's an area of ongoing research. This same study though, what I find very interesting as well; the same study out of Maryland University found that when they looked at patients with IBS or irritable bowel syndrome, 30% of those patients had a non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

They had the markers for it. And 25% of patients with inflammatory bowel disorder, sometimes called IBD, 25% of those patients had a gluten sensitivity. So are you connecting the dots? Take gluten out if you have one of those digestive disorders, because there's a pretty significant chance that you might be able to get rid of your symptoms or maybe even put your digestive condition into remission.

We'll talk a little bit more about that when we get back from break. You're listening to Dishing Up Nutrition. While I'm thinking of it, before we head to commercial, I want to let all of the listeners know after a lot of hard work, a lot of digging through the research, we've completed our new and improved version of the Menopause Solutions six-class series. And this series has been prerecorded and we now have it available to take online.

So, so if you're experiencing any menopausal symptoms, you're going to want to check this out. Maybe you've started having hot flashes. This series will give you solutions or maybe you're struggling with poor sleep. These classes have solutions for that too. Or maybe you're just not yourself. Maybe you went from being calm and kind to more uptight and crabby much of the time. These six menopause classes have solutions. You can call us at (651) 699-3438 if you want to learn more or if you know you want to sign up or you can also sign up online at weightandwellness.com. Don't go anywhere. We'll be right back.

Menopause Solutions - Online


ALYSSA: Welcome back to Dishing Up Nutrition. If you feel as though a gluten free plan would be the best for you to try, we'd be happy to help you get started and write out a plan personalized just for you. So give us a call at (651) 699-3438. And we can set up an appointment for you. Again, our number is 651-699-3438.

Nutrition Counseling

CASSIE: It can be really beneficial to get that, you know, that starting place; like a place like how do I do this?

ALYSSA: Oh yeah. It can be daunting to think about and just like how, how, especially if you have little kids it's at the house. It's like, if you're dealing with picky eating, how do we sort through the different emotions.

JOLENE: And what we really, what people really need help with is, like we said before, it's hard to navigate the grocery store if you're trying to…

ALYSSA: So many people say, I know what to do. It's just, how do I make it happen? That's our job help with the how to make it happen.

JOLENE: Yeah. Yeah. And, and so just given ideas of where they can shop and what to look for and how to find things because it's, it's I say the grocery store's a battlefield.

CASSIE: I love that you brought that up Jolene because it reminds me that my first trip to the grocery store, and I was a dietitian working here, counseling people with food allergies, but then we got that diagnosis of celiac and that is a whole new world. And I cried, I, I, it took me hours to get through the grocery store, trying to figure out what I could use in, in my recipes. So yeah, we can help. And we were talking about what that research study, right, from, is that out of Maryland?

ALYSSA: Yes, I believe you’re talking about the one from Maryland.

CASSIE: Yeah. So the, the people with irritable bowel syndrome, inflammatory bowel disorder, a lot of them had a gluten sensitivity. So at Nutritional Weight and Wellness, we really believe that for many people, the treatment of choice for any type of intestinal disorder or intestinal distress is first start with the removal of gluten. And let's see if that doesn't clear it up. And if you fall into that, at least 6% of the population who have that non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and we know many studies say even more than that, but at least 6% has this non-celiac gluten sensitivity. We know that many studies have found an increase in intestinal permeability in people who are gluten sensitive.

JOLENE: Yeah. That's a big word. We'll make that our word of the day. So let me talk a little bit more about intestinal permeability.

CASSIE: I wonder if that is the Wordle word for today.

JOLENE: Oh, if it was, we would win, we would win.

ALYSSA: You'll win.

What is intestinal permeability?


JOLENE: So intestinal probability is often known as leaky gut, which maybe people are more familiar with, but what happens with leaky gut or intestinal permeability is the passage of those food particles or antigens, they don't stay in the digestive tract. They cross the intestinal mucosa or lining and get into the bloodstream. And like we talked about before, if anything gets into your bloodstream that's not supposed to, this is going to really cause that inflammatory response.

So all those signs and symptoms we talked about before: the bloating, the diarrhea, the constipation, IBS, fatigue, headaches, foggy mind, aches, pains, that is really your body experiencing that inflammation. And if we know if we can remove the gluten, then some of those or most of those symptoms will go away.

ALYSSA: Yeah. And sometimes it's not just the, the, like the inside the GI symptoms, but we see a range of dermatological features also that's associated with celiac and gluten related disorders. A few of them include that dermatitis herpetiformis, the eczema, psoriasis, you know, sometimes it can be difficult to connect that a skin rash you have are experiencing is connected to the bread or the pasta that you're eating. But there can be a connection. I, I can actually think of a client of mine that I had in clinic several months back who had non-celiac gluten sensitivity. We didn't know it initially, but she did end up try eliminating gluten for about six weeks at first. And she noticed her symptoms cleared up. She reported back. She's like, I feel great. And then she wanted to try all that gluten back in because she had really also added more vegetables, the fruits, tried getting more of the protein in. So she chose to try gluten again, lo and behold, symptoms came back and she's like, well, you know what, this is my answer.

CASSIE: Not worth it.

ALYSSA: She was like, it's not, it's not worth dealing with this. She wanted to feel confident in her skin. And so taking that gluten out was what's going to, what was going to help her.

CASSIE: Yeah. And sometimes it, it is a very obvious outward sign like that skin rash, but sometimes it's more of a silent inward problem. And I have some research here to share on that note. This study I found showed that 25% of patients who had a non-celiac gluten sensitivity had osteoporosis.

ALYSSA: There's so many clients I see with osteoporosis.

JOLENE: It’s so common.

Some gluten-sensitivity related health problems


CASSIE: Yeah. Yeah. And even more serious, we could say when they looked at either undiagnosed or newly diagnosed celiac patients, 40% of those patients had either osteoporosis or osteopenia, which isn't good, either. Osteopenia is that step before osteoporosis. So both of these studies were looking at subjects that had not yet gotten the gluten out. So obviously gluten was interfering with the absorption of calcium and magnesium and other critical nutrients.

ALYSSA: And long term it affected their bones. So they didn't feel any outward things, but it was doing damage on the inside long term. I wonder how likely it is then to have that celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity remain undiagnosed.

CASSIE: Well, that's a great question. And unfortunately, a lot of people are walking around undiagnosed; and this study comes out of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. They found that between 80 and 83% of people who have celiac disease are not yet diagnosed. That's a lot. And wow, Dr. Joseph Murray, who I, I just love; he is from the Mayo Clinic. He was one of the authors of this research that shows that 80 to 83%. He focuses his research on both celiac and esophageal disorders at Mayo.

This is what he said and I’m quoting directly: “If we detect one person for every five or six who have it, which is what we're doing now, we aren't doing a very good job detecting celiac disease.” And that's the end of his quote. And this is in large part why Dr. Murray says intestinal biopsies should not be the gold standard for diagnosing celiac because we're just missing too many people. And when we miss the diagnosis, it's so detrimental to that person’s health.

ALYSSA: And they just think, oh, gluten's not my issue. And they move on.

CASSIE: Oh, I mean, mean then it's just one problem after another that that starts to happen. Yeah. You know, again, to think back to our problem, my oldest had that terrible acid reflux. By the age of four, the doctor wanted to put him on a double; he was already on an adult dose of prescription Prevasid, and the symptoms were just getting worse and worse. And the gastroenterologist wanted to double that adult dose.

For whatever reason, he just didn't think acid reflux was a symptom of celiac and, and boy was he wrong. So, you know, if any mothers or fathers for that matter are listening and you think that, that you have a child that might have celiac or a gluten sensitivity, from personal experience, I just encourage you to go with your gut and don't give up until you get to the root cause of that problem. Cause like I said to that doctor, Prevasid is, you know, he's not deficient in Prevasid. This, this isn't our answer. We got to get to the root cause.

ALYSSA: You're a great advocate for your kids.

JOLENE: And it's so important, you know, that we do find better measures. And that's one great thing about science technology is hopefully we'll get better at that. And especially as we see this increases more and more in the population, there'll be a demand for that as well. In addition to the osteoporosis, another thing that's related to gluten and that people might not know, and I, I know that we see a lot of people that experience neuropathy. So neuropathy is like chronic nerve pain and people that have it, it is awful. I mean just painful. It doesn't go away.

CASSIE: And it's hard to sleep, you know, you lay down and your toes and your feet just that, that pain and that tingling.

JOLENE: Yeah. And there was another good study in the UK where they worked with people that were gluten sensitive and they put them on that gluten free eating plan. And when they followed the plan, they had less neuropathy pain, but here is what's amazing. It was like 50% less.

CASSIE: That's huge.

JOLENE: I mean, how many people out there in pain will give anything to reduce their pain in half?

ALYSSA: By 50%. Yeah. Yeah.

JOLENE: I mean, and that was just during the time of, of the research. So when you think about that and if it's as easy and we're saying it's not easy, but if you can give up gluten for, you know, that three or four week trial period and see if your pain reduces, it's so worth it.

CASSIE: It's so worth it.

ALYSSA: Exactly.

CASSIE: Isn't it amazing how many parts of our body gluten potentially can negatively affect? I talked about osteoporosis a few minutes ago. Now Jolene just shared with us the research on neuropathy. And I have some interesting research that I have kept. I read it back in 2020 when it was published and, and I've kept it because I just find this connection fascinating. So I want to share with the listeners, this study showed that there is a strong connection between celiac disease and several other autoimmune diseases. And I'm not going to go into all of those, but I'll tell you a couple of the top ones. This research study looked at 122 patients with celiac and they found, first of all, that 72 of the 122 had other autoimmune diseases. 39 patients had Hashimoto's thyroiditis and that's an autoimmune form of hypothyroid.

So that's a big number. 16 of them, which is also a big chunk, had asthma. So I just want to share that because if you know you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or you or your child have asthma, it might be that gluten is the source of the problem there. Something to think about. Also, if you want more reading, as we wrap up today's show, I just want to share two of my favorite books: Gluten Freedom by Dr. Alessio Fasano is a great read and also The Autoimmune Solution by Amy Myers. And as our show comes to a close, I just want to remind our listeners that our goal at Nutritional Weight and Wellness is to help each and every person experience better health through eating real food. Yes, it's a simple message, but it's a powerful message. Eating real food is life changing. Thank you for joining us and have a wonderful day.

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