Pros And Cons Of A Gluten
With a dramatic increase in the diagnosis of celiac disease and gluten intolerance in recent years, mainstream grocery stores, restaurant chains and bakeries are introducing more and more gluten-free products.
Following a gluten-free diet requires you to become educated on all the hidden sources of gluten, as well as educating loved ones. To avoid all gluten, you must read labels carefully . You need to avoid not only wheat but its derivatives: durum, graham, kamut, semolina and spelt. The same goes with barley derivatives: malt flavoring and malt vinegar, as well as rye, MSG and soy sauce. Remember, just because a food is labeled wheat-free doesnât mean itâs gluten-free.
Some manufacturers add sugar, saturated fats and preservatives to their gluten-free offerings to make them taste better, but they also add calories. Just because a diet is gluten-free it does not mean itâs calorie-free. You still need to apply the principles of a balanced diet.
On the other hand, says Jerry Bagel, M.D., director of the Psoriasis Treatment Center of Central New Jersey in East Windsor and a member of the National Psoriasis Foundation medical board, if someoneâs skin improves as a result of a gluten-free diet, itâs likely the patientâs digestive system is improving as well, and absorbing more nutrients.
What If You Havent Been Diagnosed With Celiac Disease
If you think you might have celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, its best to see your healthcare provider before you go gluten free. Once a person has avoided gluten for a while, it becomes more difficult to establish if he or she has celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or neither.
If you dont have celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, eliminating gluten from your diet can cause nutritional deficiencies. Fortified breads and cereals have become a major source of B vitamins in the United States. Although breads made with white rice, tapioca, and other gluten-free flours are becoming more common, theyre generally not fortified with vitamins.
In addition to nutrient deficiencies, gluten-free products tend to be more expensive than traditional products, so you could be needlessly wasting money on foods you dont need in order to eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Gluten And Rheumatoid Arthritis
With rheumatoid arthritis , your immune system attacks joint tissue commonly found in your hands, wrists, and knees. Swelling and inflammation occur, which leads to joint tissue damage. The tissue damage ultimately causes chronic pain, stiffness, and sometimes deformity.
Several studies have linked RA with celiac disease. And researchers have even suggested that it may start in the gut and be triggered by food antigens, such as gluten.
In this case report, a 50-year old man presented with chronic diarrhea for two months. He also lost weight and his feet and legs were swollen. Antibodies for gluten proteins were found in his blood and damage to the lining of his small intestine was confirmed.
The patient was diagnosed with celiac disease and treated with a gluten-free diet. After three months, his initial symptoms improved significantly. However, he soon started to experience pain in his joints and laboratory tests confirmed he had RA.
In this study, 42 children with juvenile RA were tested for celiac disease even though they didnt have the usual symptoms. And it turned out that almost 43% of the group had antibodies for gluten proteins in their blood, which means their immune systems were reacting to gluten.
Sixteen of the children with gluten protein antibodies had intestinal biopsies performed and celiac disease was confirmed in all cases. So the children were treated with a gluten-free diet, which reduced their joint-related symptoms as well as improved their growth.
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The Connection Between Gluten And Joint Pain
It turns out, researchers have long known that people with autoimmune forms of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis, are at higher risk for celiac disease,1,2 an autoimmune disorder triggered by gluten.
More recently, medical experts have begun to acknowledge the connection between gluten and joint pain described as non-pathologic .
Both my orthopedist and primary care provider agree that my gluten-free diet is probably keeping my joint pain and other symptoms of inflammation in check.
Celiac Disease Vs Non
Celiac is an autoimmune disease. For those with celiac, eating gluten triggers an immune response in the body that attacks the lining of the small intestine, causing GI symptoms such as diarrhea and bloating as well as dangerous nutrient deficiencies from not absorbing vitamins and minerals from your food. Celiac disease patients are treated with a strict gluten-free diet.
On the other hand, theres another increasingly recognized condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity . These patients come in with fatigue, joint pain, swelling, muscle pain. The diagnosis is one of exclusion. The doctor runs labs for celiac when the results are negative but the patient improves from eating a gluten-free diet, thats what we call NCGS, explains Dr. Yu.
It may be the case that some people who have inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
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What Is Rheumatoid Arthritis
Rheumatoid arthritis is the second most common form of arthritis after osteoarthritis. Did you know that there are over 100 types of Arthritis? I didnt either until I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis and started researching about the disease that stopped my life in its tracks.
Ask any warrior of Rheumatoid Arthritis and they will tell you that they would not wish RA upon their worst nightmare. The symptoms are debilitating. Why? Rheumatoid arthritis is an auto-immune condition that affects the joints in the system.
More specifically, the immune system will attack the lining of the joints . When the synovium becomes inflamed, the synovium will thicken causing swelling, stiffness and joint pain. The most common areas of pain are the hands, wrists and ankles but larger joints such as the hips and knees can also be affected. As the inflammation progresses, those with RA will also experience extreme fatigue.
What Are The Symptoms Of Celiac Disease
Symptoms of celiac disease can be different in each person. Common symptoms are diarrhea or constipation, vomiting and weight loss, malnutrition, anemia , tiredness or fatigue, bone or joint pain, depression, stomach bloating and pain, and short stature in children.
People who suffer from irritable bowel-like stomach problems, headaches, fatigue, numbness, and depression may have gluten sensitivity.
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Psoriatic Arthritis And Gluten: Are They Connected
What is psoriatic arthritis?
Psoriatic arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that causes joint pain and stiffness. Its often related to psoriasis, a condition that causes red, raised, and scaly patches on your skin. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, 85 percent of people who develop psoriatic arthritis experienced psoriasis first.
If you have psoriatic arthritis, your immune system mistakes healthy cells in your joints and skin for foreign invaders. As a result, your immune system attacks those cells. This can cause joint inflammation, skin symptoms, and fatigue.
Psoriatic arthritis has no cure, but your doctor may prescribe medications to help treat your symptoms. In some cases, they may also recommend lifestyle changes. For example, if they suspect that gluten triggers your symptoms, they may advise you to avoid it. According to the National Psoriasis Foundation, up to 25 percent of people with psoriasis may also be sensitive to gluten. When they eat foods that contain gluten, a type of protein found in certain grains, their immune systems overreact.
Gluten is a form of protein found in:
- wheat, including ancient forms of wheat, such as spelt and Khorasan
If your doctor suspects you have a gluten sensitivity that triggers the symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, they may advise you to follow a gluten-free diet. Before you make any change to your diet, talk to your doctor. They can help you understand the potential benefits and risks.
What Is The Fastest Way To Reduce Inflammation In The Body
Inflammation is a natural and normal response of the body to injury and infection, but it can be overzealous.
Inflammation is a condition that occurs when the bodyâs tissue is damaged by outside agents or by the body itself, such as the removal of a skin graft.
While it may sound like a minor problem, inflammation can lead to a host of issues, including a host of health conditions .
The best way to reduce inflammation in the body is to eat healthy foods and not eat fast food.
The fastest way to reduce inflammation in the body is to eat a diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
This helps your body fight inflammation by reducing the production of pro-inflammatory compounds by your cells.
These omega-3 fatty acids also help make your cells more flexible, which will help your body repair itself more effectively.
What type of foods you eat has a direct impact on how your body responds. Foods that promote inflammation in the body are the worst culprits.
Processed foods and sugar are to blame, but also the modern lifestyle, lack of exercise, stress, sedentary behaviors, and other factors can all contribute to inflammation.
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Gluten Induced Nutritional Deficiencies
Because gluten causes gut damage, digestion and nutrient absorption are commonly hindered in those with gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. Which is why nutrient deficiencies are common. And not getting an adequate supply of certain nutrients can contribute to poor joint health, weak muscles, and pain.
For starters, amino acids are the building blocks of protein. They are used to build muscles as well as collagen, which is the most abundant protein in your body. Its found in your tendons, ligaments, cartilage, bones, skin, and blood vessels among other places. So if your body isnt efficiently digesting and absorbing protein, joint and muscle-related problems are possible.
Does Gluten Cause Inflammation Or Joint Pain
The short answer is possibly, but no one knows for sure why this could be the case.
Its first helpful to understand what causes inflammation in people with celiac disease when they eat gluten. The human leukocyte antigen complex is important here. HLA is a group of genes that helps the immune system distinguish your bodys own proteins and ones made from foreign invaders, such as bacteria and viruses. If the latter happens, it triggers inflammation.
There are many different variations of HLA genes, which are involved in various immune-related diseases, including celiac, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and others. For instance, people who carry two specific variants of HLA are at an increased risk of celiac those who carry different HLA variants are more at risk of developing other diseases. While having a certain HLA genetic variant doesnt guarantee youll get an autoimmune disease, it does increase your risk.
Its thought that these HLA genes play a role in what happens to people with celiac when they eat gluten. During digestion, gluten breaks down into proteins called peptides, which enter the superficial layer in the small intestine, explains Gauree Konijeti, MD, a gastroenterologist with Scripps Clinic Torrey Pines in La Jolla, California explains. When people with celiac disease eat gluten, their immune system recognizes the gluten peptides as foreign and mounts an attack that causes inflammation in the intestine.
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Some Arthritis Patients Swear That Ditching Gluten Has Helped Their Joint Pain Others Havent Seen Any Impact So What Does The Research Say About Gluten Inflammation And Arthritis
Ask people with inflammatory arthritis their thoughts on following a gluten-free diet, and youll hear some strong opinions.
For some, the results of following a gluten-free diet have been impressive: Ive given up my handicap placard and my cane. My psoriasis has gone completely as well. When I eat gluten, my pain comes back as does my psoriasis, Kelly G. told us on Facebook. Marjorie W. says that her hands feel much better since eliminating bread, cake, and pastries. When I indulge, swelling, stiffness, and pain return, she says, noting that shes also filling her diet with ample fruits and vegetables.
While many CreakyJoints members have been pleased with a switch to a gluten-free, just as many reported that cutting out gluten hasnt improved their arthritis symptoms. Eliminating gluten made no difference for Sue D., whose friend suggested she start a gluten-free diet. Pam E. says that going gluten-free was the best thing Ive ever done for myself but only because it decreased her GI distress it didnt seem to affect her joints.
Gluten has earned a reputation for promoting inflammation and causing a host of health problems. In turn, going gluten-free has been perceived by many in the chronic illness community as a panacea particularly because its a natural approach. As such, many arthritis patients have adopted a gluten-free diet, though to mixed success.
Testing For Gluten Sensitivity
Doctors can test for celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity using a blood test. Generally, having higher levels of certain antibodies indicates that a person has celiac disease or is sensitive to gluten.
If the blood test comes back positive, the person may find that cutting out gluten from their diet makes them feel better overall.
In some cases, the doctor may need to take a biopsy of tissue in the small bowel to confirm the diagnosis. It is necessary to consume gluten before the biopsy to avoid getting a false negative test result.
People with a gluten sensitivity will benefit from removing foods that contain gluten from their diets. This may seem difficult at first, but it should become easier over time gluten-free alternatives to common foods are becoming much more widely available.
Most major food groups contain no gluten, including:
- nut flours such as almond, hazelnut, or acorn
However, many manufacturers package these grains and flours using the same equipment as they do to package grains containing gluten, which may lead to contamination.
People who are severely allergic to gluten should always read the label. The label may say that the product comes into contact with gluten or may contain gluten.
Those who are especially worried about gluten may want to only choose certified gluten-free products.
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Where Does Inflammation Come From
The stress that causes this inflammation can come from a number of sources. These include:
- Physical stress.
- Chronic low grade bacterial, viral and fungal infections.
- Chronic low-level food allergies or food sensitivities.
- Emotional stress which raises cortisol levels.
- A toxic environment: metals and other contaminants in the water and air.
- Toxicity in our diet: too much fat, sugar, protein, and alcohol.
How To Follow A Gluten
If your doctor has recommended that you remove gluten from your diet, you will need to get rid of all products that contain barley, rye, or wheat from your diet. You should also avoid oats as they are usually not certified as being completely gluten-free. You can ask your doctor or visit a dietitian to get a better understanding of how to follow a gluten-free diet. They will also provide you with a list of foods and ingredients that usually contain gluten. For example, you will need to check food labels for malt as that is made from barley and is a common ingredient in many prepackaged food products.
It is always better to read the ingredient list and ask about certain items at restaurants. When you start with a gluten-free diet, it may feel like a significant change, but there are still plenty of foods and ingredients you can include in a gluten-free diet. Here are some of the things you can include in your gluten-free diet:
- Red meat, poultry, seafood
- Gluten-free grains like rice, quinoa, and corn
- Dried legumes like chickpeas and lentils
- You can also eat dairy products provided you dont have a lactose or dairy intolerance.
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