I can’t count the times I’ve been assured something is gluten free only to discover 20 minutes later that it wasn’t. This post is for those of us who have celiac disease, gluten intolerance, or gluten allergy … practical advice from Functional Medicine doc Amy Myers on what to do if you’ve accidentally consumed some gluten. These are Dr Myers’ recommendations for what to do when you realize you’ve been zapped:
If you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease you know all too well about accidentally ingesting gluten — otherwise known as getting “glutened.”
The outward manifestation of getting glutened may be different for everyone, and can cause a variety of symptoms such as brain fog, diarrhea, constipation, headache, rash, weakness, joint pain, swelling, vomiting, and fatigue. However, inside your gut the effects are essentially the same; gluten is wreaking havoc. Gluten causes inflammation and damage to the intestines. Ridding yourself of this inflammatory protein, reducing inflammation and healing your gut from the damage are essential to recovering as quickly as possible.
3 Steps To Recover After Getting Glutened
1. The more quickly you can get the gluten out of your system, the better you’ll feel.
These three things will help you do that promptly and effectively:
Digestive Enzymes. Digestive enzymes help speed up the breakdown and absorption of macronutrients. Be sure to take an enzyme that includes dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP-IV), which helps break down gluten specifically. In fact, I recommend that those with celiac and gluten intolerance take enzymes with DPP-IV when dining out.
Binding agents. Activated charcoal and bentonite clay bind toxins and help reduce gas and bloating. It’s best to increase water intake when taking either of these to avoid constipation, which will only delay healing.
Hydration. Fluids will help flush your system and keep you hydrated if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea. In addition to regular water, you can try coconut water, which contains electrolytes that may have been lost through vomiting or diarrhea.
2. Decrease inflammation.
Inflammation occurs naturally in our body when there has been an insult or injury to it. Decreasing this inflammation is essential to healing your gut. These three things will help you reduce inflammation quickly:
Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oils, flax and chia seeds are full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. I recommend 1-2 grams of omega-3 oils daily. You can go up to 4 grams a day for a week after accidental gluten ingestion.
Gingerhas high levels of gingerol, which gives it a natural spicy flavor and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body. It also has potent anti-nausea properties and can ease stomach cramping. I like to drink warm ginger tea as a comforting, anti-inflammatory beverage.
Turmeric is a member of the ginger family that contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. My anti-inflammatory smoothie with turmeric is a great drink to help you quickly recover from getting glutened.
3. Heal your gut.
Nearly 70% of our immune system is in our gut. Having a healthy gut is crucial for optimal health. The six things below will help you heal your gut.
Probiotics. Routinely, I recommend taking a highly concentrated probiotic (25-100 billion units) a day. I advise my patients to “double-up” on their probiotic dose for a week after a gluten exposure.
L-Glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that is great for repairing damage to the gut, helping the gut lining to regrow and repair, undoing the damage caused by gluten. I recommend 3-5 grams a day for a week after exposure.
Slippery elm. Slippery elm contains mucilage, which stimulates nerve endings in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract to increase its secretion of mucus. Mucus forms a barrier in the gut to protect it and promote healing.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL). DGL is an herb that’s been used for more than 3,000 years in the treatment of digestive issues, including ulcers and indigestion. DGL also supports the body’s natural processes for maintaining the mucosal lining of the GI tract.
Marshmallow root is a multipurpose supplement that can be used for respiratory or digestive relief. Like slippery elm, it contains mucilage, which eases the inflammation in the stomach lining, heals ulcers, and treats both diarrhea and constipation by creating a protective lining on the digestive tract.
Bone brothis very high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline. The gelatin in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract that may get disrupted by being glutened.
Once you realize that you have been glutened, implement this three-step approach as soon as possible. If you are not seeing any improvement in your symptoms after three days or you’re getting worse. I would advise you to follow up with your physician.
Gluten is a protein composite comprised of gliadin and glutelin, conjoined with starch, in the endosperm of various grass-related grains, such as wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is what makes bread dough elastic, helps it rise and keep it’s shape, and gives it a pleasantly chewy texture. Gluten is also used now in a large numbers foods as a thickener, binder, flavor enhancer and protein supplement.
Along with the obvious sources such as breads, cakes and pasta, you’ll encounter gluten hidden in many processed foods – salad dressings, soups, beer, some chocolates, some licorice, flavored coffees and teas, imitation bacon bits and seafood, sausages, hot dogs, deli meats, sauces, marinades, gravies, seasonings, soy sauce. See Hidden Sources of Gluten: How to recognize gluten that’s not obvious on the label for a fairly comprehensive list.
Gluten is also found in a variety of pharmaceuticals (National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, 2014).
THE ARTICLE THAT WAS THE IMPETUS FOR THIS POST ON GLUTEN
Michael Specter’s article about gluten in TheNew Yorker‘s food issue (11/3/2014) so irritated me I felt compelled to address the misinformation in it. The article is called Against the Grain: Should you go gluten-free? . (Specter, 11/3/2014)
Specter has been a staff writer at The New Yorker since 1998. His writings focus on science and technology as well as global public health. He has also written for The Washington Post and The New York Times.
Looking him up after finishing the article, I was amazed to learn that he was also the author of a book published in 2009 entitled Denialism: How Irrational Thinking Hinders Scientific Progress, Harms the Planet, and Threatens Our Lives. Despite my hopeful reaction to the word ‘denialism’ in the title, I learned from its review on Amazon that the denial Specter was addressing in this book is Americans’ growing mistrust of science.
So now the focus of this New Yorker article makes sense – he’s a true believer in the gods of modern science, technology and ‘progress’. From the Amazon review of Denialism:
“In the United States a growing series of studies show that dietary supplements and ‘natural’ cures have almost no value, and often cause harm…. And pharmaceutical companies that just forty years ago were perhaps the most visible symbol of our remarkable advance against disease have increasingly been seen as callous corporations propelled solely by avarice and greed…. As Michael Specter sees it, this amounts to a war against progress.”
In the New Yorker article, Specter takes a belittling tone toward the many people who are finding their physicians unable or unwilling to help them track down the root cause of their various ill health symptoms so take over that search themselves.
But does it strike YOU as the least bit odd for people to look elsewhere when they realize they’re not getting adequate advice from their doctors, not being believed when they report noticing correlations between eating X and feeling Y afterwards, or – even worse – being given drugs for what ails them, only to develop other symptoms on top of the ones they already reported?
That was certainly my experience with the allergies I suffered with for 40 years. All my doctors ever offered me were various antihistamines and decongestants – and eventually surgery when my body had become so inflamed polyps were growing inside my sinuses making it difficult to breathe. I had horrible reactions to all the drugs and none of them stopped my allergies. After the second nasal polyp surgery, I told my ENT doc that I wasn’t willing to live like that anymore and was going to find a way to fix my allergies rather than just try to treat their symptoms. He was smart and a really good human being. His response was, “I believe you. Will you let me know when you’ve figured it out?” That conversation took place about 35 years ago and my journey to figure it out led to this website.
BTW, my other experiences over the years trying to get help with my own and my family’s autoimmune and other health problems were pretty much the same as the allergies tale above until I basically stopped seeing MDs and started working with so-called ‘alternative’ health care providers who knew about identifying and correcting underlying causes rather than treating symptoms.
So it makes sense to ME that many people have decided to eliminate gluten from their diets to see if that might help. We know something is wrong and we want help getting better and then staying healthy. If we were getting adequate guidance from our doctors, we wouldn’t be so inclined to look for it elsewhere.
Please note that I am NOT saying physicians are evil or stupid. What I AM saying is that too few of them understand much about nutrition or inflammatory processes in the gut and many of them practice exactly as they were trained, in a medical model focusing on identifying diseases after they’ve developed and then treating symptoms with drugs or surgery while ignoring what’s producing those symptoms – and this is not helping us get or stay well.
This Western Medical approach also costs a bundle of money and causes a lot of unnecessary suffering.
TESTS FOR GLUTEN SENSITIVITY AND ALLERGY
Specter writes, “At present, there are no blood tests, biopsies, genetic markers, or antibodies that can confirm a diagnosis of non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” This claim is incorrect.
CSS has developed the only gut health profile (GHP) that evaluates the GI tract on a genetic, antibody and cellular level. Nowhere else can you test specific genetic predisposition to celiac disease as well as antibody testing and immune system activation to food sensitivities. Understand your genetic based risk of celiac disease
Non celiac reactions to gluten, known as Test for Food Sensivity/intolerance
Determines genetic based risk for celiac disease
One simple blood draw
Comprehensive genetic, antibody, and cellular analysis
Celiac disease (CD) is an autoimmune condition affecting children and adults. When people with CD eat foods that contain gluten, it creates an immune-mediated toxic reaction that causes damage to the small intestine and does not allow food to be properly absorbed. Even small amounts of gluten in foods can affect those with CD and cause health problems. Damage can occur to the small bowel even when there are no symptoms present. Celiac disease affects about 1 in 133 people, or close to 1% of the population. However, few people – some estimates are as few as 5% of the total – know they have the condition.
Test for Food Sensivity, also known as non-celiac Test for Food Sensivity or sometimes gluten intolerance, has been recently recognized as a stand-alone condition by the medical community. Many believe that Test for Food Sensitivity involves a different immune system reaction than celiac disease. A team of researchers, led by Dr. Alessio Fasano, hypothesizes that a person with Test for Food Sensitivity experiences a direct reaction to gluten – i.e., your body views the protein as an invader and fights it with inflammation both inside and outside your digestive tract.
Food sensitivity/intolerance is a non-IgE mediated reaction involving the innate immune system’s response to foods that are otherwise safe. The Alcat Test is considered the, “gold standard” laboratory method for identification of non-IgE mediated reactions to over 400 different foods, chemicals, and other categories of substances. It is a functional response test and captures the final common pathway of many of the pathogenic mechanisms, immunologic, toxic, and pharmacologic, that underlie non-IgE mediated reactions to foods and chemicals.
COMMON SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH GLUTEN INTOLERANCE AND SENSITIVITY (Camp, 2012) (EnteroLab, 2014)
This table from the Wall Street Journal differentiates between gluten sensitivity, wheat allergy and celiac disease.
GLUTEN FREE PROCESSED FOODS
Specter expends some energy attacking the gluten free foods industry. I have to agree with him here. Of course trying to replace gluten-containing foods with a bunch of seemingly familiar gluten-free substitutes isn’t going to improve anyone’s health. As he points out, processed foods loaded with sugar, fats, non-gluten-containing refined carbohydrates and salt are quite just plain unhealthy.
What’s needed is a return to eating real, unprocessed, nutrient-filled, non-GMO foods grown without a load of toxic pesticides.
WHAT COULD IT BE IN GLUTEN THAT’S CAUSING SO MANY PEOPLE TO REACT BADLY TO IT?
Specter poses the reasonable question, “How could gluten, present in a staple food that has sustained humanity for thousands of years, have suddenly become so threatening?” After going through some possible clues to answering his question, he ends up focusing on what he calls “gluten anxiety” and classifies it as a food fad.
He says, “Doctors rarely diagnose non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and many don’t believe that it exists.” He goes on to quote Joseph A. Murray, a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic and president of the North American Society for the Study of Celiac Disease: “Everyone is trying to figure out what is going on, but nobody in medicine, at least not in my field, thinks this adds up to anything like the number of people who say they feel better when they take gluten out of their diet. It’s hard to put a number on these things, but I would have to say that at least seventy percent of it is hype and desire. There is just nothing obviously related to gluten that is wrong with most of these people.”
Specter also interviewed Peter H. R. Green, MD, Director of The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University and Professor of Clinical Medicine at Columbia University, and Attending Physician at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr Green is recognized as a prominent celiac doctor. Green told Specter, “In the absence of celiac disease, physicians don’t usually tell people they are sensitive to gluten. This is becoming one of the most difficult problems that I face in my daily practice.”
Dr Green then goes on to rail against chiropractors and psychiatrists who suggest giving up gluten to their patients to see if their symptoms reduce.
It seems both Specter and Dr Green are unaware that many chiropractors are highly trained in diagnosing and treating a wide variety of health problems – including digestive issues, allergies and food sensitivities, autoimmune conditions, chronic inflammation, migraines, sinus and respiratory problems, insomnia and other sleep problems, thyroid conditions, elevated cholesterol, fertility problems, PMS, PCOS, and symptoms that are unresolved after repeatedly seeking help from MDs.
Specter and Dr Green also seem oblivious to the existence of research on the connections between the probiotics in our intestinal microbiota and mental health. Here are a few examples, including one specifically about gluten and mental health:
In fact, it’s likely that the future of psychotropic medicine will be diet and microbes like probiotics, not pharmaceuticals. We’re learning that what we eat and the micro-organisms living inside our guts strongly influence both our mental and physical health.
Pharmaceuticals given for problems like depression and anxiety work this way:
Symptom suppression certainly doesn’t address the underlying causes of anything. Correcting imbalances in the gut microbiome does. And also, as anyone who’s ever taken pharmaceuticals knows, they’re sort of poisonous – producing “side effects”. Working to get your gut bacteria and the other micro critters in there to work well addresses your health problems directly and doesn’t involve introducing any poisons.
Stay tuned – there’s some exciting research underway now on the gut microbiome and all that it influences.
Kelly Brogan, MD, is a psychiatrist who has looked extensively at the literature on gluten’s effects on the brain. She points out that gluten produces considerable inflammation in the body. It is well known that chronic inflammation leads to all sorts of autoimmune diseases and other serious problems. Her excellent and informative article This Is Your Gut (and Brain) on Wheat lays out a clear explanation of what happens in the body when it consumes gluten. Specter and Green’s annoying comments about psychiatrists who talk about gluten with their ailing patients aside, I highly recommend taking a look at this short article. (Brogan, 2013)
So back to Specter’s question from the beginning of this section: What could have turned gluten into a widespread, serious health problem in the US in recent years.
Here’s a likely answer: the widespread use of the toxic chemical glyphosate.
Even though wheat is not a genetically modified crop, Monsanto’s glyphosate-containing weed killer, Roundup, is widely used on wheat fields before harvests to ‘dry down’ the wheat and even organic wheat fields are often contaminated with glyphosate from poor farming practices. (Shilhavy, 2014)
In fact, beer brewers are having a problem with glyphosate. A few years ago, when one of my colleagues wanted to get more Abraxis test strips for testing materials for glyphosate residue, he was told that they had a 3 month backlog. He asked, what was causing this? He was told that every load of malt barley coming out of North Dakota has to be tested, because the glyphosate levels were so high that it kills the yeast in the brew mix.
The graph below plots celiac incidence against the use of glyphosate on wheat crops between 1990 and 2010. You can see the two rising in tandem. In fact, the connection between glyphosate and celiac disease correlates to a greater degree than glyphosate usage on either corn or soy, crops which are largely genetically modified to be able to tolerate heavy applications of Roundup.
Celiac Incidence/ Glyphosate Applied to Wheat 1990-2010
Celiac disease, and, more generally, gluten intolerance, is a growing problem worldwide, but especially in North America and Europe, where an estimated 5% of the population now suffers from it. Symptoms include nausea, diarrhea, skin rashes, macrocytic anemia and depression. It is a multifactorial disease associated with numerous nutritional deficiencies as well as reproductive issues and increased risk to thyroid disease, kidney failure and cancer. Here, we propose that glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide, Roundup(®), is the most important causal factor in this epidemic. Fish exposed to glyphosate develop digestive problems that are reminiscent of celiac disease. Celiac disease is associated with imbalances in gut bacteria that can be fully explained by the known effects of glyphosate on gut bacteria…. Deficiencies in tryptophan, tyrosine, methionine and selenomethionine associated with celiac disease match glyphosate’s known depletion of these amino acids. Celiac disease patients have an increased risk to non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, which has also been implicated in glyphosate exposure. Reproductive issues associated with celiac disease, such as infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, can also be explained by glyphosate. Glyphosate residues in wheat and other crops are likely increasing recently due to the growing practice of crop desiccation just prior to the harvest…. We conclude with a plea to governments to reconsider policies regarding the safety of glyphosate residues in foods.
AND BTW, THERE’S EVIDENCE THAT SIMPLY AVOIDING GLUTEN DOESN’T SUFFICE FOR HEALING CELIAC DISEASE (Reasoner, 2014)
Here’s a shocker that challenges current medical advice for celiacs –
The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, one of the US’s leading treatment and research center for Celiac Disease, reports:
“While healing may take up to 2 years for many older adults, new research shows that the small intestines of up to 60% of adults never completely heal, especially when adherence to the diet is less than optimal.”
I have a problem, the doctor figures out what the problem is, and gives me a conventional prescription generally supported by Doctors, researchers, and the FDA.
This prescription is supposed to be relatively safe and effective in accordance with the laws in the United States and most modern countries.
But what if the conventional prescription doesn’t work?
Like people with Celiac Disease that follow a strict gluten-free diet and don’t get better….
Only 8% of Adult Patients Healed on a Gluten-Free Diet…
A 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at 465 Celiac Disease patients and found only 8% of adult patients reached “histological normalization” after following a gluten-free diet for 16 months, meaning their gut tissue completely recovered to that of a healthy person. The authors stated:
“Complete normalization of duodenal lesions is exceptionally rare in adult coeliac patients despite adherence to GFD”
These people followed a strict gluten-free diet for 16 months and most didn’t heal their gut. The success rate of the conventional Celiac Disease prescription isn’t working… and the research is exploding the truth.
Another 2010 study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology looked at 381 adults with biopsy-proven Celiac Disease. The authors found small intestine mucosal recovery occurred in only 34% of participants following a gluten-free diet for 2 years. They concluded:
“Mucosal recovery was absent in a substantial portion of adults with CD after treatment with a GFD.”
65% of Gluten-Free Celiacs Still Have a Raging Fire in Their Gut
The same 2009 study in The Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics of 465 Celiac Disease patients 16 months gluten-free found that 65% still had “persistent intraepithelial lymphocytosis,” a.k.a. inflammation in the gut.
This is highly significant. It is well known that gut inflammation is associated with a huge variety of health issues, including all the autoimmune diseases and cancer. So if celiacs follow their doctors’ advice and only avoid gluten but are still at high risk for chronic gut inflammation, they are definitely not healed and will never achieve good health.
Again from Reasoner’s article:
56% Have Poor Vitamin Status After 10 Years Gluten-Free
A 2002 study in the of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics looked at the vitamin status of 30 adults with Celiac Disease showing “biopsy-proven remission,” after following a gluten-free diet for 8-12 years. They found that 56% had poor vitamin status, suggesting that proper nutrient uptake is not occurring. The authors concluded that:
“It is generally assumed that coeliac patients adhering to a strict gluten-free diet for years will consume a diet that is nutritionally adequate. This is supported by the demonstration of a normal bone mineral density up to 10 years of dietary treatment. Our results may indicate otherwise. We found signs indicative of a poor vitamin status in 56% of treated adult coeliac patients.”
Even after following the conventional Celiac prescription for 10 years, 56% still showed signs of poor nutrient uptake – meaning their digestive system still isn’t working like it’s designed to.
That means after 10 years of being gluten-free, HALF of all Celiacs are likely starving for the critical nutrients required for health and longevity. It’s no wonder we have a 77X increased risk for lymphoma.
The Gluten-Free Diet Doesn’t Fix Leaky Gut
Reasoner discusses the role of gliadin (gluten is comprised of gliadin and glutenin in equal parts) in initiating leaky gut* by increasing the zonulin** protein in celiacs. Zonulin levels do fall in celiacs following a strict gluten free diet – but a gluten free diet doesn’t eliminate leaky gut. Gluten free celiacs continue to have elevated levels of zonulin compared to non-celiacs.
* Leaky Gut Syndromes are clinical disorders associated with increased intestinal permeability. These disorders include inflammatory and infectious bowel diseases, chronic inflammatory arthrititis, cryptogenic skin conditions like acne, psoriasis and dermatitis herpetiformis, many diseases triggered by food allergy or specific food intolerance, including eczema, urticaria, and irritable bowel syndrome, AIDS, chronic fatigue syndromes, chronic hepatitis, chronic pancreatitis, cystic fibrosis and pancreatic carcinoma. (Galland, undated)
** Zonulin is a protein that modulates the permeability of tight junctions between cells of the wall of the digestive tract. (Wikipedia, 8/21/14)
I highly recommend looking at Reasoner’s site for information on what, besides avoiding gluten, is necessary to fix Leaky Gut Syndrome.
Dr Galland’s piece on LEAKY GUT SYNDROMES: BREAKING THE VICIOUS CYCLE is a bit technical and was apparently posted in the early 1990s but even if you skip over those parts, you’ll learn a great deal about how to protect or restore your health.
It tells the stories of how two groups of mothers, Moms Across America and Thinking Moms Revolution, discovered that the serious health problems their children suffered from were linked to exposure to the chemical glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.
When these moms had their sick children and the rest of their families’ glyphosate levels checked, the tests revealed high, unsafe levels in their children’s urine, in the families’ drinking water, and in the mothers’ breast milk.
This turned them into activists who are now taking action to get the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recall Monsanto’s Roundup, the most widely used herbicide in the world.
The stories of their children’s suffering from entirely preventable illnesses are heart breaking – their stories of how they brought their children back to health by removing all GMOs from their diets are inspiring.
I’m also reprinting the article here because it contains links to the plentiful scientific research findings that demonstrate the serious harm being done to humans, animals and the environment by glyphosate. I’ve added a Source list after the article.
Glyphosate is the active chemical in Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, which is sprayed on crops grown from its Roundup Ready seeds. Roundup Ready seeds have been genetically engineered to be resistant to glyphosate – allowing farmers to douse their crops with Roundup herbicide without killing the crops themselves.
Since Monsanto introduced Roundup in 1975, it has become the best-selling herbicide in the world. Its prolific use has led to the emergence of glyphosate-resistant weeds – inducing farmers to spray ever heavier amounts of Roundup on their crops.
Note: I’ve added a list of sources to the bottom of the original article.
The Organic Consumers Association’s article:
Moms to EPA: Recall Monsanto’s Roundup By Alexis Baden-Mayer Organic Consumers Association, May 29, 2014
Now is the time to do it, they say, because the EPA is conducting a registration review of glyphosate.
Representatives of the two groups contacted the EPA to request a meeting. When the EPA ignored them, they rallied supporters. In just three days, about 10,000 moms from all over the country rang the phones off the hook at the EPA.
A week later, five Moms Across America leaders were sitting around a boardroom table with nine EPA employees who have the power to recall Roundup. The moms brought lawyers, scientists and advocates from Organic Consumers Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, Consumers Union, Beyond Pesticides and the Truth-In-Labeling Coalition as back-up.
What was supposed to be a one-hour meeting turned into two. The EPA’s Dana Vogel, director of the Health Effects Division in the Office of Pesticide Programs, and other EPA staff stayed glued to their seats as one mother after another shared heart-wrenching stories of parenting children with life-threatening allergies, severe gastrointestinal problems, mysterious autism-spectrum disorders, and major nutritional deficiencies.
The common thread in those stories? Exposure to glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup.
Wrenching tales of preventable illnesses
The activist moms had long suspected pesticides might be behind their children’s health problems. So they had their families tested for glyphosate. The tests showed unsafe levels of glyphosate in their drinking water, in their breast milk and in their children’s urine.
That’s when they resolved to get in front of the EPA. And when they did, they told their stories.
Moms Across America co-founder Zen Honeycutt recounted how when she learned of the link between glyphosate and autism, she had her middle child, who had been exhibiting autism symptoms, tested for glyphosate. His urine had 8.7 parts per billion glyphosate—eight times more than is allowed in drinking water in the E.U. She immediately eliminated all potential sources of glyphosate from his diet. After six weeks, the glyphosate was out of his system. And so were the autism symptoms. He stopped hitting people, and his grades went back up from D’s to A’s.
After a year of eating organic, her eldest son’s walnut allergy went from a 19 to a 0.2. It’s no longer life-threatening.
In fact, all of the mothers’ children suffered from deteriorating conditions until they put them on all-organic diets. When they figured out that going organic was the only thing that helped ease their children’s symptoms, they started investigating the food they had been eating for possible causes of their children’s poor health.
Each mother began to suspect glyphosate.
Zoe Swartz, leader of East Coast Moms Across America and founder of GMO Free Lancaster County told the EPA, “I’m really angry that I didn’t know that there was glyphosate in the food I was feeding my daughter.” She described her toddler’s problems with “leaky gut syndrome” which has been linked to glyphosate exposure. After three weeks of an organic diet, the child’s symptoms began to disappear.
Megan Davenhall of Thinking Moms Revolution, mother of an 11-year-old boy with autism, told the EPA, “It’s going to be a long road for us.”
She began her research when her son was diagnosed at age three. As she turned to organic foods, and eliminated chemicals, he started to grow—something he hadn’t done for two and a half years. He weighed only 38 pounds at age six. Now, Davenhall told the EPA, “He’s doing better. He’s not off the spectrum. … It’s a long road for us, because my son was so very damaged. … He was skin and bones and it’s taken us years to recover his gut health.”
“The damage didn’t need to happen to him,” Davenhall said. “And I don’t want to see it happen to one other kid out there, not one. What we feed our kids, what we put into our bodies, is the most important thing. Healthy food should be available for everybody. It needs to happen. It needs to happen today.”
Sarah Cusack of Thriving Family Health talked about her daughter Claire who at 12 months, changed from a happy, easy-going baby to a miserable, constipated baby who was literally starving. She was emaciated. She had a huge bloated belly. At 20 months, she was diagnosed with celiac disease. But the turning point came when she switched to an organic diet. Claire is now a healthy six-year-old. Her mom is a health coach. Cusack says that an all-organic diet is the centerpiece of her practice. She’s seen improvement in clients with myriad health problems, including migraines, eczema, rashes, gastro-intestinal conditions, mood disorders like anxiety and depression, constipation and auto-immune conditions.
Swaying decision-makers with Science
After the testimonials, It was time to hit the EPA with hard science.
Honeycutt delivered a 20-minute presentation on how glyphosate figures as an environmental cause of so many of the diseases impacting our kids today. She left behind a binder, prepared by Moms Across America volunteers, packed with scientific articles supporting her assertions. Zen’s presentation and the materials she presented to the EPA covered the following points.
• Exposure to glyphosate correlates with chronic illness. Chronically ill people have significantly higher levels of glyphosate in their systems than healthy people.
• Glyphosate makes vaccines far more toxic than they would otherwise be. When children are overexposed to glyphosate, they are more likely to react badly to vaccination. There’s an intricate connection between the gut and the brain, such that an unhealthy digestive system translates into pathologies in the brain. Aluminum, mercury and glyphosate work synergistically to create severe deficiency in sulfate supplies to the brain. This may be what’s causing the epidemic levels of autism and other diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
Will the EPA consider this evidence and move to protect our children from glyphosate?
We’re about to find out.
For five years, the EPA has been collecting and analyzing data. This year (2014), the agency will publish a risk assessment and open a 60-day public comment period. Then it will publish a proposed registration and provide another opportunity for public comments.
Finally, the EPA will make a registration decision to either continue business-as-usual, place new restrictions on the use of glyphosate, or to take it off the market.
Moms want it off the market.
Moms Across America and Thinking Moms Revolution are currently working with the EPA to develop protocols for an independent scientific study of glyphosate in breast milk for inclusion in the agency’s review.
Alexis Baden-Mayer is political director of the Organic Consumers Association.For more information on this topic or related issues you can search the thousands of archived articles on the OCA website.Organic Consumers Association · 6771 South Silver Hill Drive, Finland MN 55603 ·
Activist or Media Inquiries: 218-226-4164 · Fax: 218-353-7652 ·
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Glyphosate is an endocrine disrupter: Gastnier, C. et al. (2009). Glyphosate-based herbicides are toxic and endocrine disruptors in human cell lines. Toxicology, 2009, 262:3, 184-91. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19539684
cause breast cancer: Thongprakaisang S. et al. (2013). Glyphosate induces human breast cancer cells growth via estrogen receptors. Food & Chemical Toxicology, 2013, 59, 129-36. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23756170
chickens: Shehata. A. A. et al. (2013). The effect of glyphosate on potential pathogens and beneficial members of poultry microbiota in vitro. Current Microbiology, 2013 66:4, 350-8. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23224412
Crohn’s disease: Samsel, A. & Seneff, S. (2013). Glyphosate’s Suppression of Cytochrome P450 Enzymes and Amino Acid Biosynthesis by the Gut Microbiome: Pathways to Modern Diseases. Entropy, 2013, 15:4), 1416-1463. See: http://www.mdpi.com/1099-4300/15/4/1416
exposure to glyphosate doubled the likelihood of contracting B cell lymphoma: Schinasi, L. & Leon, M.E. (2014). Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and occupational exposure to agricultural pesticide chemical groups and active ingredients: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2014, 11:4, 4449-527. See: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24762670
Gluten intolerance is no longer considered to be a fringe medical concept. Researchers around the world are fully aware that methods of modern wheat cultivation pose a serious health problem to humans, other animals and the environment. (Batalion, 2013)
Rates of gluten sensitivity, including gluten allergy and celiac disease, are on the rise around the world. And more people are becoming aware of the adverse, inflammatory and addictive effects of consuming modern wheat and wheat products so are eliminating gluten from their diets to protect their health. The global market for gluten free foods is expected to reach $4.3 billion USD by 2015. (Brown, 2012)
Knowing how much wheat is part of the modern Japanese diet, I took a lot of care to stay healthy and avoid gluten while in Japan recently. It wasn’t easy and I got ‘glutened’ a few times in spite of my best efforts.
My gluten allergy symptoms include: A body temperature spike about 20 minutes after consuming even a tiny amount of gluten, followed by the feeling of having been hit over the head with a shovel that renders me feeling exhausted and dumb for an hour or more – in addition to the longer term inflammation gluten produces in my body. Gluten affects the whole body, including the brain, skin, endocrine system, stomach, liver, blood vessels, smooth muscles and cell nuclei. These effects are serious and have long term adverse health consequences. (Kresser, 2014)
Many of you probably are also reacting adversely to gluten and are being treated by your doctors to suppress the various symptom it causes instead of addressing its underlying inflammatory response that’s responsible for your skin conditions, allergies, autoimmune diseases, etc.
ORDER GLUTEN FREE MEALS FOR YOUR FLIGHTS
I was flying on United and was able to request gluten free meals for all four of my long flights. While the meals I received were indeed GF, they were also completely tasteless. While people around me were eating things that looked somewhat interesting, I got plates of dried up chicken with no seasoning or sauce of any kind and unseasoned steamed veggies. Apparently the United chefs equate GF with boring or nearly inedible. I had almonds and dried fruits with me on the long San Francisco-Osaka flight and also some GF mochi cakes and Japanese chocolates on the return flight but there’s a limit to how much of these a person can consume during a trans-Pacific flight and snacks aren’t entirely nutritious.
ALLERGY FOOD CARDS
Part of my preparation for this trip was to order some food allergy cards in kanji and English from Select Wisely, a website offering translation cards for a wide variety of food and drug allergies, special diets and medical needs.
On one side, my cards say in English and Japanese kanji characters:
I am allergic to wheat, rye, barley, oats, soy sauce, malt, flour and gluten including sauces, gravies, breads, cereals and foods made with these ingredients.
On the reverse side, they say in both languages:
Please prepare a meal for me that does not contain these foods. Thank you.
I had the cards laminated in plastic at a local copy center so they would look official and also increase the chances of their being returned to me. What happened the few times I was ordering a meal somewhere I couldn’t make myself understood in English was that the chefs themselves came out of the kitchen to speak with me. The waitress and chef examined the card and conferred between themselves in Japanese, I spoke English to them since my Japanese is limited to simple words like arigato, a delicious meal arrived with something else substituted for the miso soup or other gluten-containing dish and it all turned out quite well.
I also took along many packets of gluten free organic tamari to use in lieu of soy sauce (soy sauce is traditionally brewed with wheat) for sushi and sashimi. Amazon sells it – 12 boxes of 20 individual packets each for around $40. Those 240 packets will last you a good long time. That the tamari contains no GMO anything in addition to being GF is a big plus. See http://www.amazon.com/Organic-Gluten-free-Non-GMO-Tamari-Packages/dp/B003FSX1X2
KANJI FOR GLUTEN-CONTAINING INGREDIENTS AND FOODS
It may also be helpful for you to be able to recognize the kanji characters for things you can’t eat if you’re avoiding gluten – translations thanks to an online English-to-Japanese translating site:
Wheat Flour: 麦粉
Soy Sauce: 醤油 , 正油 , むらさ
Miso: 味噌 (most probably contains gluten)
Tempura: 天婦羅 (most probably made with wheat flour)
MAKING JAPANESE FOOD GLUTEN FREE
While there, I became aware that I could have eaten much more broadly in Japan if a few easy substitutions had been made.
After some days on my own in Kyoto (during their spectacular cherry blossom time), I met up with my small group for a 12-day tour part of my Geographic Expeditions group for a 12-day tour called Journey Through Ancient Japan with Don George. We spent some days in and around Kyoto then continued on to rural Shikoku Island to the south.
Don George is a seasoned travel writer and everything you’d want in a traveling companion and guide – knowledgeable, smart, funny, generous, open to people and experiences, and fluent in spoken Japanese.
Akihiro Kasagi, who’s from Kobe and is a Government Certified Tour Guide based in Kyoto, was our excellent local guide for the whole trip.
When I signed up for the trip, I asked GeoEx if gluten free eating in Japan would be possible. They checked, said yes and I was well taken care of by Hiro. When we stopped for snacks along the road, he read the labels of numerous packages of mochi sweets to tell me which were wheat flour-free so were safe for me to eat. Mochi is made from sweet, glutinous rice so I’d never even thought they might contain gluten. He also arranged for excellent and interesting GF substitutions at our various hotels, ryokans and restaurants, sometimes sending a small dish back to the kitchen to be exchanged for another dish I could eat. I learned much about Japanese food from him.
One of the most enjoyable places we stayed was an informal, family-oriented eco-resort called Kaiyu on the semi-tropical south west side of Shikoku Island. It’s near scenic Cape Ashizuri and has its own onsen (hot springs bath) overlooking Ooki Beach on a lovely section of the Pacific Ocean.
Kaiyu-Inn is run by a charming couple, Mitsuhiro and Tae Okada. Mitsu builds the hotel’s furniture and stokes the onsen’s furnace with recycled wood. Tae is an inventive, natural cook who turns local organic produce and fish into gorgeous food for her family and the hotel’s guests.
There were a number of delicious-looking dishes Tae served that contained soy sauce or dashi so I couldn’t try them. As our GeoEx group was leaving, she asked me what I can eat. At the time, I couldn’t think of a short answer that would be relevant to her so said something vague – and have been thinking of a better, fuller answer ever since.
Here it is, geared for Tae’s Japanese cooking:
Use gluten free tamari in place of soy sauce (it’s readily available in Japan) and tastes just like soy sauce).
Substitute rice flour for wheat flour in dishes like tempura.
Use a gluten free miso (ie, a miso made with rice (kome or genmai), buckwheat (sobamugi), or millet (kibi) instead of one made with gluten-containing barley (mugi ortsubu), wheat (tsubu) or rye (hadakamugi).
Check the ingredients lists for other ready made sauces and products to make sure they don’t contain wheat, barley or rye.
I don’t think these changes would sacrifice any of the inventiveness and yummy taste of Tae’s – or anyone’s – delicious cooking.
Brown, A. (2012). Gluten Sensitivity: Problems of an Emerging Condition Separate from Celiac Disease. Expert Review of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 6:1, 43-55. See MedScape: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/757916_5
During my recent trip to Japan, I noticed many people of all ages wearing surgical masks to screen out spring pollens and lower their chances of catching airborne viruses – and wondered if the heavy consumption of gluten in wheat and wheat-based products in the Japanese diet has been a significant factor in weakening people’s immune systems, making them more sensitive to pollens and contagious illnesses.
Japanese politeness and consideration of other people are traits foreigners are struck by when we visit there. This concern for others even extends to wearing a face mask to protect other people from catching one’s germs. Until 2003, the typical mask was cotton with a pouch the user could line with gauze. The gauze was discarded at the end of the day and the mask was washed between uses. These masks were worn only when people were ill and couldn’t take off from work or school.
In 2003 a Japanese medical supply company called Unicharm released a new kind of mask designed specifically for hay fever sufferers. The Unicharm mask is made of a non-woven material, is completely disposable, cheap to buy in bulk and more effective in blocking out pollens.
Sales of Unicharm masks more than tripled since their introduction in 2003. In 2009, Japanese fear that an H1N1 (swine flu) outbreak would spread there from elsewhere in Asia, worries about micro-particulate matter after earthquakes and the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in 2011 all produced large spikes in sales.
And now that the wearing of surgical masks is a common sight in Japan, young people have started wearing them for another reason: To make it less likely that people will try talking to them in public. (Baseel, 2014)
So back to the question of gluten intolerance among the Japanese: The answer seems to be yes, it’s on the rise.
A 2013 article presenting results from a Japanese study published in the Journal of Gastoenterology concludes: “Despite the increased incidence of IBD and high positivity for serum celiac antibody in Japanese IBD patients, no true-positive celiac disease was noted, suggesting the presence of gluten intolerance in these populations.” (Watanabe, 2013)
In the early 1900’s the Japanese consumed small quantities of wheat in udon noodle dishes and in Western-style cafes serving pastries and cakes.
Japanese civilians began consuming a bit more wheat out of necessity during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). And during World War II in the Pacific, rice crops went to feed Japanese troops while Japanese civilians resorted to eating even more wheat in the form of breads, dumplings and udon noodles just to fill their stomachs.
The postwar period in Japan saw the population on the edge of mass starvation. American emergency aid delivered large amounts of wheat flour and lard. Breads became popular along with cheap, stomach-filling Chinese-style foods made from wheat.
In the mid-1950’s, the U.S. signed a series of deals with Japan to provide surplus American wheat to the Japanese. In return, we loaned money to the Japanese weapons industry. That was followed by greatly intensified American efforts to get the Japanese to trade their rice for bread. American scientists told Japanese citizens that not only was a rice-based diet nutritionally incomplete, but that it actually led to brain damage!
Then the coup de grace in the wheat-for-rice conversion was a school lunch program the U.S. initiated during our post-war occupation of Japan from 1945-1952. We provided their school children a daily lunch that included bread made from America’s surplus wheat, powdered milk and a meat-based stew. (Arumugam, 2013)
And now you see all sorts of mostly insipid-looking wheat breads, cookies and snacks for sale all over Japan.
AND MODERN WHEAT IS EVEN WORSE
Modern wheat is now being made even more problematic for human and animal consumption by a Monsanto-produced wheat seed that has been genetically modified to be glyphosate-resistant (often called Roundup Ready – ie, a seed that has been genetically engineered to be resistant to Monsanto’s popular herbicide, Roundup) – like their widely used genetically modified corn, soybean, canola, cotton, sugar beet and alfalfa seeds. Even organic wheat fields have become contaminated with Monsanto’s genetically modified seeds that have spread from other farmers’ fields. Japan is very concerned about the health dangers posed by genetically modified wheat so has taken the step of canceling its contract with American wheat farmers to avoid this additional threat to its population. (Connealy, 2013)