Dr. David Brownstein,  editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health newsletter, is a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; and The Guide to Healthy Eating. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their teenage daughters, Hailey and Jessica.

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Could I Be Allergic to Gluten?

Thursday, 06 May 2010 05:52 PM


Question: I suspect I am allergic to wheat, but I wonder if that’s likely, or if it’s something else.

Dr. Brownstein's Answer:

Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten sensitivity is extremely common. There are estimates that nearly one in 133 Americans suffer from celiac disease, and that one in six experience gluten sensitivity. About 1 percent to 3 percent are properly diagnosed, which means that up to 99 percent of people with either the disease, or gluten sensitivity, don’t even realize it.
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A gluten allergy can damage your long-term health. People who are unable to properly digest gluten face a potential disaster when it comes to their immune system. Food that is correctly digested in the stomach moves down the small intestine, where the actual process of absorption occurs. Tiny, finger-like strands called villi take in all the vitamins, nutrients, and other minerals.

Undigested food, like gluten, creates an immune system response (your body literally thinks the food is an invader), and antibodies damage the villi, inevitably leading to poor nourishment. The result of this continual damage can be bloating and diarrhea, and potentially leaky gut syndrome.
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