Dr. David Clark, DC - Functional Neurologist in Dallas, TX - helps you see beyond the hype and shares the truth about a gluten-free diet, it's power and limitations.
Is a gluten-free diet just a temporary trendy fad?
The short answer:
Being gluten-free is probably the single most important thing you can do to improve your health, especially if you're suffering from any number of autoimmune conditions, but especially Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroiditis.
I'm sick of hearing "it's just a trend, it's just a fad."
Let me tell you a quick story...
Righ before Thanksgiving I had a patient come in with Wegener's Granulomatosis, which is an autoimmune condition. She was recounting to me a story where she was talking to their big University specialist about if foods she was eating could have an impact on her Wegener's.
She asked him "Could gluten have anything to do with this autoimmune condition?"
This big time expert doctor pooh-pooh'd that idea right away and said,
"Oh, that's just a fad. That's just a trend."
That doctor doesn't know what he's talking about.
(There's really no other way to put it. He clearly hasn't read much.)
Pretty much no matter what autoimmune conditions you think of, I can pull out of the research literature some information connecting gluten sensitivity with that autoimmune condition.
Just to follow up: The lady suffering with Wegener's Granulomatosis did fantastic on a gluten-free, milk products free, soy free diet -- plust some other things to dampen her autoimmunity.
Gluten is certainly not the cause of all disease or the cause of all autoimmune diseases, but man, it is linked to darn near every one of them (if not all of them.)
Most of the people I talk to I tell them "Hey, just go gluten-free." You'll probably lose weight....you'll probably feel better.
So, is being gluten-free just a trend? Of course it's trendy. People have figured out a way to make money off of it.
That lady from "The View" has written a book... Seems lik everybody and their dog is talking about going gluten-free and how much better they felt and blah, blah, blah, blah. Like it's some kind of Infomercial miracle product. It slices, it dices....
The gluten-free diet has been around a lot longer than these fleeting media stars. The gluten-free diet is a powerful force that you can use to improve your health. I'm really sick of doctors of all kinds dismissing it without understanding it.
The doctors that are saying a GF is a fad...they don't read. That is a common problem that you'll find with doctors in any field. They stopped reading once they got their diploma, once they got their license they stopped reading. What they do read is pretty much supplied by pharmaceutical companies.
Now, by the way, I'm not letting all of our alternative practitioners off the hook because pretty much what they read is what the supplement company reps give them. (similar?)
You may have heard me tell the story of a couple years ago when I sat in a Continuing Education seminar.
A revered, famous supplement company had a speaker up there telling a room full of healthcare providers that , "Gluten is no big deal. Yeah, there's some in our products, but there's not enough to be a problem. All my gluten-sensitive patients don't have a problem with it,"
That guy was a moron. He either assumes that a lack of obvious symptoms = okay. Or, he was trying to CYA. I think a bit of both.
A lot of people eat bread and if they don't have a GI symptom then they think, "Well, I don't have a gluten problem." Bad conclusion.
Gastrointestinal symptoms are the least common manifestation--the least common presentation of gluten sensitivity. Neurologic and endocrine symptoms are much more common presentations.
- Peripheral Neuropathy
- Low Thyroid
They don't necessarily present with GI symptoms.
When I hear hundreds of patients say, "Well no one ever told me that gluten could be a problem for me." It makes me mad.
It makes me angry that no doctor is reading, because all you have to do is read a little bit and you'll see the connection.
Having a gluten problem is not the same thing as Celiac, by the way. I'm gonna do a post on that here probably next.
Celiac is one kind of gluten sensitive, not the only kind. However, that seems to be the only thing that any doctor wants to test for. "Well, you don't have Celiac disease so gluten can't be a problem." Wrong. Again, they don't understand. I give them kudos, a little bit of credit for trying to do the test, but they don't understand.
So is gluten-free a trend? Sure, it's a trend. It's a trend because people can write books about it, and have magazines about it. And they can make some money.
But the high public awareness of the gluten-free diet does not make it "stupid" or invalid.
I always tell people, if I was on a deserted island and I only had one thing to tell all the sick people in the world, it would be, "Get off of gluten forever."
Gluten is not the cause of all disease... and going gluten-free is not necessarily going to cure any disease. And a gluten-free diet may not make you feel better. Why?
Sometimes a gluten-free diet is not enough.
Things get complicated, especially when you have autoimmune diseases. There's so many other things you have to look at...
- Vitamin D (definitely NOT as simple as simply supplementing. The wrong dose can make you worse).
- GI infections --whether you know it or know, or have GI symptoms or not.
- Functional brain weakness (many cases of malabsorption are brain-based)
- And 50 other factors...
The best place you could start is by going gluten-free. It's actually pretty cheap, just don't start trying to replace all your regular gluten-y foods with gluten-free foods. That's how you save some money.
Gluten sensitivity is definitley on the rise---not just better detected (much like Autism). A gluten-free diet is going to be here forever because it's so simple and powerful. People will live the gluten-free lifestyle and they'll experience first-hand just how much better they can feel.
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© 2012 David Clark. All Rights Reserved.
THE PLACE FOR ANSWERS™
Dr. David Clark, DC
Functional Neurologist (FACFN)
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist (ACNB)
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