Monday, January 2, 2012

What! There's No Such Thing As A Gluten Free Grain?

That can't be right!!!" you say. But indeed it is; it's true! ALL grains contain gluten.

There is much confusion surrounding the enigma that we call 'Gluten'. This is largely because almost all of the data that the majority of the medical community is going on has not been revisited or updated in as much as 60 YEARS. Now that's some old information! And from the looks of it there are no plans to update that anytime soon.

So before we move on, let's try to define gluten. If you look up 'gluten' in the dictionary, you will find that webster's definition is ALSO based on that old and outdated information; referring ONLY to wheat, rye, barley and oats. However, what we now know from modern studies is that "gluten" is actually a mixture of proteins found in ALL grains. It is composed of two primary 'subfractions' known as Prolamines and Glutelins.  

The prolamine known as "gliadin" is the most studied in medical literature; primarily as it relates to Celiac Disease. Many people, including doctors, do not understand that the prolamine, "gliadin" is not the ONLY type of gluten out there, nor is it the ONLY one reeking havoc in peoples bodies. It is, however, the ONLY one that is routinely tested for and since recent studies have identified least 400 other gluten proteins out there, you may not be getting the right test done!

So, let's take a look at some of the other 'prolamines' out there...

The Prolamine Fraction of Proteins in Grains 
Grain           Prolamine        % Total Protein
Wheat              Gliadin                 69
Rye                    Secalinin             30-50
Oats                  Avenin                 16
Barley               Hordein              46-52
Millet                Panicin               40
Corn                  Zien                      55
Rice                   Orzeni5                5
Sorgum             Kafirin                 52

As you can see, the total amount of gluten protein in wheat is quite high. This is just one of the reasons why we see such strong reactions to it when a person is sensitive or allergic to that type of gluten. But look at the sorgum and corn; if someone is allergic to one of those glutens, it could reek just as much havoc on them as the wheat does.

So what does this mean for the "gluten" intolerant or allergic person?

Well, since someone suffering from a "gluten allergy" (intolerance or sensitivity) may have issues with one or MORE types of gluten proteins, we really need to expand our understanding of the 'gluten issue' all together. According to Dr. Peter Osborne (gluten specialist), a gluten allergy/intolerance, IS the cause of Celiac Disease but it is NOT Celiac Disease itself. As a matter of fact, Celiac Disease is not even the most common problem to arise from a gluten allergy/intolerance. There are a whole host of other aliments including migraines, thyroid disease, eczema, ADHD, some cancers and an array of autoimmune diseases.  Digestive problems may or may NOT be present with any of the gluten allergy/intolerance induced diseases (though in regards to Celiacs, it is a very common symptom further fueling the confusion for those who have other issues but no obvious signs of intestinal distress)

If you are someone who has been diagnosed with Celiacs but despite your gluten free lifestyle, have still found it hard to heal, you may want to consider that you might be allergic/intolerant to more than one form of gluten.  Others of you may have been told that you are NOT allergic/intolerant to gluten at all, but yet your health continues to fail you. You might consider going grain free for awhile just to see how you do. More importantly, look into having 'genetic testing' done. It is the most reliable diagnosing tool available today.

I know this can be a lot to take in; it was for me as well. Fortunately, I am blessed to have a doctor who already understood these things and he was able to recognize the signs when my own gluten 'allergy' related issues started to manifest .

 I encourage you to watch this video by Dr. Peter Osborne(at the bottom of the post) and read a few of the articles below. They will greatly inform and equip you to either get your doctor on board with you, or to help you find the kind of doctor you need. He gives a much more exhaustive list of potential ailments than I've listed here. Also if you would like to know more about the difference between a gluten allergy, sensitivity or intolerance, again please watch the video. He explains this in detail and it can be VERY helpful in better understanding you symptoms.

Most importantly: For those of you who are struggling with  this confusing and difficult issue, please just let me tell you that you are NOT crazy and it is NOT all in your head. There is very real help out there, and you CAN get your life back!

Here are some more great articles to read on this subject: