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The GRAIN of PAIN - National University System Center for by wuyunyi


									                                                              Why do some people think of wheat, the staff
                                                              of life, as the grain of pain? To answer that
                                                              question, we need to understand gluten. Gluten
                                                              is the protein found in wheat, barley, and rye,
                                                              and it is everywhere. Gluten is not only in your
                                                              bread; it is in your soy sauce, broth, vitamins,
                                                              and even your pharmaceuticals.

                                                              Wheat is a staple of the global economy. More than 600 million
                                                              tons of wheat was harvested worldwide in 2007. Wheat futures
                                                              are as important in the world of stocks and bonds as they are on
                   By, Jacqueline Townsend Konstanturos, MS
                                                              the dining room tables across the U.S. and Europe. Americans
    Co-Author Gluten Nation and CEO of Restorative Remedies
                                                              consume more wheat than any other single food, and wheat
                                                              accounts for 20 percent of the calories of the world’s population.

                                                              But there is a dark side to wheat. For the many millions who are
                                                              gluten intolerant, consumption of wheat may lead to many serious
                                                              health problems. And this is not a small number. It is estimated
                                                              that over 20 percent of the population is gluten sensitive.

                                                              What does it mean to be gluten intolerant? Humans lack the
                                                              necessary enzymes to break down the gluten proteins into amino
                                                              acids, the building blocks of protein. And we don’t have the
                                                              genetic information necessary to build gluten-digesting enzymes.
                                                                                       Center for Integrative Health eZine

                                                 For the lucky ones, these undigested gluten protein fragments just
                                                 pass through without causing any problems, but for those who are
                                                 gluten intolerant, they can cause serious health issues.

                                                 What happens when we digest gluten-containing bread or wheat
                                                 products? We can partially digest gluten, breaking it down
                                                 into large fragments, but that’s all. In many people, these large
                                                 gluten fragments provoke an immune reaction, an inflammatory
                                                 response. The focus of the inflammation is the lining of the
In many people, these large gluten               gastrointestinal tract, specifically the lining of the small intestine.
fragments provoke an immune reaction,            Many serious problems can develop if the intestinal inflammation
                                                 becomes extensive, even though the inflammatory changes of
an inflammatory response. The focus
                                                 most people are low-grade and do not cause symptoms, the
of the inflammation is the lining of the          inflammation in those who are sensitive escalates.
gastrointestinal tract, specifically the lining
of the small intestine.                          As the inflammation of the small intestine worsens, the person is
                                                 less able to absorb nutrients, including vitamins and minerals –
                                                 basically they are being robbed of the nutrients in their food. So
                                                 even though they may have been eating a healthy diet, they are
                                                 not able to benefit from the nutrients they need – they suffer what
                                                 is known as malabsorption syndrome.

                                                 Gluten intolerance is also associated with a variety of serious
                                                 autoimmune disorders, such as celiac disease, which may
                                                 be linked, in susceptible individuals, to the immune reaction
                                                                                                             Center for Integrative Health eZine

Americans consume more wheat than any other single food...

provoked by gluten. A person with an autoimmune disease makes           In many cases, persons with gluten intolerance do not have
antibodies that destroy his or her own tissues. These antibodies        gastrointestinal-related symptoms. Instead they have symptoms
directed against the “self” are called autoantibodies. Whatever         of the related diseases, such as attention deficit disorder or
these autoantibodies attack can lead to heath problems – not            rheumatoid arthritis. For this reason it can be difficult for a
just in the gut. These autoantibodies can attack the kidneys, joints,   physician to correctly identify the underlying cause of a person’s
muscles, thyroid, and even your brain.                                  serious and ongoing complaints. At present, most affected
                                                                        individuals go undiagnosed.
Gluten intolerance may also play a role in autism, attention deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and schizophrenia, although these        Unfortunately this condition is not well understood and many of
links are not yet fully understood. Gluten intolerance may also         these people bounce from doctor to doctor with deteriorating
be responsible for many unexplained complaints such as chronic          health. Of course, if the real cause isn’t corrected, symptoms will
fatigue, weakness, frequent colds and infections, chronic low-grade     continue and may worsen. And the side effects of inappropriate
diarrhea or constipation, frequent headaches, and mood disorders        medication can create additional problems.
including apathy and lethargy often described as a ‘brain fog.’
                                                                                            Center for Integrative Health eZine

Quality of life is a day-to-day concern for those affected
by gluten intolerance. Some people suffer from debilitating
diarrhea. Others have bloating and abdominal pain. The fatigue,
weakness, muscle aches, and joint pains often associated with
gluten intolerance may be profound. Such a person may dread
getting up in the morning because they know the day will bring
prolonged periods of discomfort, pain, and stress.

Heightened awareness of gluten intolerance and celiac disease is
the key to effective diagnosis. Generally, primary care physicians
– as well as specialists in all fields – see what they look for and
recognize what they know. Habits of thought are useful, but also            There is a dark side to wheat. For the
restrict the ability to create new associations and correctly identify    many millions who are gluten intolerant,
a situation that doesn’t fit into previously established patterns.        consumption of wheat may lead to many
Correctly identifying gluten intolerance and or celiac disease as the
                                                                                         serious health problems.
cause of various serious rheumatic, immunologic, and endocrine
diseases will have wide-ranging benefits for millions of people.

The good news is that awareness of gluten intolerance—and
its close association with a wide variety of serious conditions—
is developing critical mass. There are dozens of well-written
websites focusing on gluten intolerance and many more offering
lifestyle tips and gluten-free recipes. A number of good books on
gluten intolerance have been published recently. Articles on gluten
intolerance and a gluten-free lifestyle are appearing regularly
in newspapers and healthy living magazines. The gluten-free
revolution is happening now.

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