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Gluten & Arthritis

June 1, 2012

By:  Maria

We all know that eating fast food (french fries!) and drinking soda (yes, even diet soda) all the time will have an effect on your health and can actually shorten your life span – right?
What about enjoying that nice piece of hearty, crunchy slice of whole grain/whole wheat bread?  It’s healthy, right?  I mean, it’s WHOLE grain!

That piece of bread contains a hardy protein called Gluten and it is present in pasta, bread, rolls, wraps, pizza, and just about all processed foods.  Gluten can also be in things like stamps and envelopes, children’s stickers, toothpaste and mouthwash!

For many people, exposure to gluten causes significant health implications and many do not even realize that their health issues are a direct consequence of gluten exposure.  The problem is that the testing for gluten intolerance is so broad, many people that test negative for an actual gluten allergy, can actually still have gluten intolerance and/or sensitivity that require some specialized testing and most physicians simply are not aware, do not order these tests or do not know which labs to use for the appropriate tests.  Often times, a person walks out of the office thinking gluten is not the culprit to their nagging health problems and continue to eat foods that trigger symptoms.

This one hardy protein is the cause of a multitude of problems and has been the triggers for autoimmune diseases; one of them being Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).

When a person has an autoimmune disease, the body’s immune system literally does not differentiate between diseased and healthy tissue. In the case of RA, the immune system targets and attacks healthy tissue, believing it is an invader.  If there is any gluten intolerance/sensitivity, the immune system will also attack the grains containing gluten, which end up damaging intestinal lining, which allows gluten particles to enter the bloodstream and into the joints, which then attacks those joints that are now seen as invaders.  It’s a vicious cycle.

A growing community of advocates have turned to dietary therapy instead of relying on prescription drugs, since more often that not, they end up causing more problems and simply do not target the real problem.  By eliminating the autoimmune triggers, RA symptoms have been reduced and has also slowed progression of disease.
Therapy protocol calls for elimination of trigger foods for 3-4 weeks, reintroducing one food item at a time, waiting 1-2 days between food introduction to see if RA symptoms react.

Common foods that have been known to trigger RA symptoms include:

Gluten (barley, rye, oats, spelt, kamut, wheat, triticale.  See this link for a complete list of foods that contain gluten, as well as surprising hidden sources of gluten.)

A few hidden sources (soup mixes, salad dressings, sauces, as well as lipstick, certain vitamins, medications, stamps and envelopes you have to lick, and even Play-Doh.)

Other less commonly known and possible triggers:

Eggs
Oranges
Beef
Milk
Peanuts
Malt
Soy

For this test to work you MUST eliminate 100 percent of the gluten from your diet–no exceptions, no hidden gluten.  Even the slightest crumb of bread can trigger symptoms (p.s. all recipes on this blog are legitimately gluten free!).
After the 3-4 weeks (the longer you go without exposure, the better), eat it again and see what happens. If you feel bad at all, you need to stay off gluten permanently. This will teach you better than any test about the impact gluten has on your body.

If you want more than your body’s incredibly adept way of showing you that gluten is a no-no, LabCorp or Quest Diagnostics will test for ALL forms of allergy/intolerance/sensitivity to gluten or wheat.  They will look for:

IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
IgG anti-gliadin antibodies
IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
Tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA and IgG in questionable cases)
Total IgA antibodies
HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genotyping for celiac disease (used occasionally to detect genetic susceptibility).

ANY elevation of antibodies will indicate an issue that is worthy of a trial of gluten elimination.

Your health is certainly worth it.

Resources:
British Journal of  Rheumatology
PubMed Health: Rheumatoid Arthritis
PubMed Health: Celiac Disease

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