It is important for all of us to recognize that gluten or wheat, barley, oat intolerance can be the cause behind many of our chronic illnesses. Although estimated to be a disease affecting 1-2% of people I suspect many more of us to be effected.
In an earlier alert entitled “Screening For Celiac Disease or Gluten Intolerance” I reviewed Celiac Disease and you may want to review that material. As patients of mine you remember my always emphasizing that food is the greatest stress to the human body. I also reminded you that for 300,000 years our ancestors ate nothing but what they hunted and gathered- basically meats, vegetables, berries, seeds and nuts. Agriculture did not develop until just 10,000 years ago when grains and dairy were introduced into our diets. It should come therefore as no surprise that milk and wheat may be the greatest problem for us as it takes a very long time for evolution to catch up to us.
I often tell patients that there are three levels of health- true well-being, relative well-being, and sick. In my career it is rare to find individuals who have true well-being. Most of us if lucky have relative well-being. It is amazing, none the less, how many of us are sick. What I am working up to is the basic philosophy of the Center: We do not just become sick, we are being made sick. The practice of Environmental Medicine does have answers to the questions- “Why me?” and “Why now?”
So let us continue where we began. I strongly urge all of us who are chronically ill to consider gluten intolerance as a possible cause of our malady. In a recent issue of Dr. Shallenberger’s newsletter he states if you have Rheumatoid Arthritis and or depression, gluten intolerance can be the cause. Rheumatoid Arthritis is an autoimmune disease and patients with Celiac Disease are extremely prone to autoimmunity. For every case of Rheumatoid Arthritis I would bet there are a hundred cases of depression; a disorder with multiple manifestations and not just an alteration in mood.
That acquired Celiac Disease could be the cause of depression and the many autoimmune diseases is very exciting especially when all you need to do is stop eating gluten grains. Over the last few years almost every new patient has been screened for Celiac Disease using a simple and reasonably inexpensive blood test. During this period we found three patients with the disease. But, I suspect elimination of grins would yield a higher incidence.
There are many resources for people wishing to go on a gluten-free diet, I especially recommend the book, The Super Allergy Girl Allergy & Celiac Cookbook by Lisa Lundy.
It’s time for us to return to the diet of our ancestors- once again becoming hunter gatherers.
To Your Health,
Allan Lieberman, M.D., F.A.A.E.M.
The Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine