What is Gluten and Gluten Intolerance?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye, and, through cross-contamination, oats. It is gluten that gives bread its spongy, fluffy texture and pizza its doughy stretchiness.

If you have given up wheat for 4 weeks and feel better but have not seen much weight-loss, still suffer with digestive issues, joint pain, skin or other health problems there is a strong possibility you are gluten intolerant (or have an autoimmune disorder, more on that later).

Gluten Sensitivity

Once wheat is out of the body (the main source of gluten), gluten intolerance is very easy to pin-point. Signs of intolerance will show up within 10 to 48 hours after having rye, barley or oats (or wheat), or foods containing them. Symptoms can range from bloating, fatigue, stomach cramps, indigestion, skin eruptions, headaches, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, constipation or diarrhoea.

Food sensitivities are defined as having an adverse reaction to a food or a food group. Sensitivities may be caused by different types of food reactions, such as true allergies, intolerances or some other type of reaction, such as food poisoning.

Food allergies show up quickly, either immediately or within hours
Food intolerance show up slowly, normally within 10 to 48 hours


The most common misconception with gluten sensitivity is that if there are no bowel problems then there cannot be a problem with gluten, when in fact gastrointestinal symptoms are the least common presentation of gluten intolerance.

According to Dr. Tom O’Bryan, known as the Sherlock Holmes of chronic disease and metabolic disorders who specializes in gluten sensitivity and celiac disease, as many as 7 out of 10 are gluten sensitive and most are unaware that their niggling health problems could have anything to do with gluten.

O’Bryan’s testimony is becoming more recognised and accepted as many are finding their health problems clear up when they give up gluten (or just wheat). At this time the best way to discover if you are gluten sensitive is through elimination because blood tests are unreliable and inconclusive.

Dr Richard Hagmeyer from the Naperville Institute claims that at least 70% of gluten sensitivities and celiac disease go undetected. The reason for this is the tests used by the majority of healthcare practitioners for both intolerance and celiac are inaccurate and here’s why:

In gluten intolerance tests, only one or two factions (proteins) of gluten are tested when there are many others that the human body will react to negatively (in fact gluten is 1 of 23’000 different proteins found in wheat. Wheat is a huge molecule when it comes to its protein structure). It is for this reason many get falsely told they are ok to eat gluten or wheat, when it is destroying their health and severely reducing their life expectancy!

The best way to diagnose a gluten intolerance is through abstinence. After doing the 4 week wheat elimination, most sources of gluten will have been eliminated from your diet and, as already mentioned, when you eat barley, rye or contaminated oats (you can get gluten-free oats), or if you consume wheat, you will get a negative reaction, if you are intolerant, usually within 48 hours.

The most commonly known disease associated with gluten is coeliac disease (celiac in USA), which is an autoimmune disease of the gut. Coeliac goes hand in hand with a leaky gut. A leaky gut means that certain proteins (like gluten) only get partially digested before leaking out of the gut into the bloodstream, causing major health problems. The way coeliac is diagnosed is by testing damage done to the gut, but unless the damage is severe, the blood tests will be inconclusive and the patient wrongly told he/she can carry on eating gluten. It has been said that because testing is so imprecise it can take up to thirteen years to get a correct coeliac diagnosis

Hagmeyer believes  most illness can be stemmed back to gluten intolerance. And one of the most common misconceptions people have is: if they don’t have bowel problems they don’t have a gluten intolerance. When, in fact, gastrointestinal symptoms are the least common presentations of gluten sensitivity. The most common symptoms are neurological symptoms such as: depression, migraines and chronic headaches, vertigo, epilepsy, Parkinsons, ADD and ADHD. The second most common symptoms are hormone related problems and thirdly autoimmune disease.

If you are intolerant, your body sees gluten as an invader and produces antibodies to attack it. However it won’t just attack the gluten. Other proteins that seem similar in structure to gluten, including the glands of the body, are also attacked and this is how autoimmune diseases develop.

Autoimmune disease means your immune system is attacking its own body and can show up in traits such as joint problems, psoriasis, fatigue, alopecia, arthritis and inflammation.  Any part of the body and any organ can be attacked by the immune system, when one has a gluten sensitivity.

One of the only, or first, places a gluten sensitivity/intolerance may show up is on the skin. As the skin is the largest organ of the body, gluten intolerance and thus autoimmune disease can wreak havoc with it. The most common symptoms of gluten intolerance is in psoriasis or acne but it can also be something as simple as dry skin or lips.

There are at least 55 diseases associated with gluten sensitivity and hundreds of symptoms, which can manifest in many ways. These symptoms may come and go over the years but with each passing year the worse these symptoms will become, which is why people don’t recognise the link between their health problems and having gluten (wheat) in their diet.

Once you have established you have a gluten intolerance, like wheat, you must never eat it again.

If you want to try the 4 week elimination challenge click here

©Diane Brown



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