I have to admit, during the early years of my practice, I consistently overlooked one of the most powerful tools to help my patients who were suffering from chronic disease – eliminating hidden food allergies and sensitivities.
Maybe it was just because it was so much easier to pretend it wasn’t an issue than it was to really educate and motivate people to make a difficult lifestyle change. Whatever the reason, I’m sure glad that I was continually reminded by my colleagues of the critical relationship between the foods we eat and our digestive, immune, nerve, and hormonal systems.
Most of you know that I am continually researching and learning from many of the top holistic practitioners around the country about what it takes to really balance and heal ourselves in this crazy, toxic world that we live in. Two doctors, in particular, have helped shape my understanding of food allergies – Dr. Thomas O’Bryan www.thedr.com and Dr. Mark Hyman www.drhyman.com. Dr. O’Bryan is a world-renowned clinical expert in the area of gluten sensitivity and autoimmune diseases and Dr. Hyman is a leading voice in the functional medicine community and teaches how the function of the gut and its interaction with our immune system plays a huge role in our overall health.
Several years ago I took an advanced certification course through Dr. O’Bryan that taught the emerging understanding that gluten sensitivity went far beyond merely diagnosing people with Celiac disease. That certification course has proven to be incredibly valuable to the hundreds of patients that have been helped by our in-depth analysis of their gut function and their sensitivity to gluten and other food reactions.
What is Gluten Anyway?
For those of you who don’t know, gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. These grains have been the staple of human diets for 10,000 years or more so you might ask, “How could they be dangerous?
To be truthful, there are many facets to that answer that are far beyond what could be covered in this blog (Dr. O’Bryan has a great video interview that goes into the details if you’re ready for a deep dive.)
Suffice it to say that over the past several decades our world has changed significantly. Not only have the food engineering practices changed but our own bodies have changed in response to the many stresses we experience. These changes have uncovered a sleeping giant. A huge number of people have a specific genetic predisposition to allergy or sensitivity to gluten.
Many of these people would never express that gene were it not for a breakdown in other areas of their health – like their digestive system and their immune systems. Once that gene is expressing, however, each bite of food containing gluten is like squirting lighter fluid on a fire. It causes severe inflammation of the gut wall and excitation of the immune cells throughout the body. As Dr. Hyman suggests in his book The UltraMind Solution, when the gut is inflamed, the brain is inflamed.
Bizarre as it may seem on the surface, through this complex relationship of the gut, immune system, hormone system, and nerve system, the intake of gluten and other food sensitivities can cause a host of serious illnesses including neurological disorders like:
- Parkinson’s disease
- peripheral neuropathies
- learning disabilities
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- rheumatoid arthritis
In addition, the research points that over 59% of gluten intolerant people had been misdiagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome and a host of other digestive disorders such as Crohn’s disease. I could go on and on with what the literature says about this but maybe this last statistic will be enough – for every 1 person who knows that they are sensitive to gluten there are at least 14 people who don’t know that they are and it is estimated that it takes over 10 years for the average sufferer to get an accurate diagnosis. WOW!!
In my little corner of the world, we’re going to change that! In fact, I need your help. If you or someone you know has any chronic disease – from cardiovascular disease to asthma and everything in between – you need to send them to our office. We will help them safely and sanely eliminate the major food allergens for a period of time to discover how much of an impact they are having on their health. We will help them understand the relationships between their food choices and their level of health. We have solutions and support. It can’t be overstated, you really may be saving their life.