There are news reports out today on all forms of media stating there’s a 14% increased risk of getting type II diabetes from eating a gluten free diet. A long-term observational study. “An observational study draws inferences from a sample to a population where the independent variable is not under the control of the researcher because of ethical concerns or logistical constraints”. Understand this this isn’t an experiment to test a hypothesis, this study draws conclusions from a sample of the population that at a gluten-free or gluten-limited diet. So, where’s the problem?
The problem has to do with the general knowledge of a gluten free diet and gluten free life-style rather than knowing the issue in-depth. Most people who go gluten free do so with the attitude that they are free from harm now that they’ve rid themselves of gluten in their diet. So let’s go into this with our eyes wide open rather than our eyes “wide shut”.
There is a small percept of people that can tolerate gluten. Their physiology has adapted where others have not. With all the research out there, for a physician to state that “unless you have Celiac’s disease, you don’t have a gluten allergy/sensitivity” is utterly irresponsible. As a matter of fact, it simply means the physician is not keeping up with the latest in science. There is an entire class of “extra-intestinal” gluten allergy/sensitivity out there and a lot of science to back it up.
The reason most physicians aren’t aware of “extra-intestinal” or non-Celiac gluten intolerance is they aren’t looking for it. Zig Ziglar, the famous motivational speaker once said “you can’t hit a target that you can’t see”, and this is exactly the case here. That’s because classic test for gluten intolerance is the classic Celiac’s disease test and it ONLY tests for an immune reaction against TG-2 and sensitivity to something called “Alpha Gliadin”.
TG-2 (transglutaminase-2) is an enzyme that helps bind proteins together that are involved in the digestion of wheat. Unfortunately there are hundreds of thousands of patients out there that have gone to their primary care physician as a last resort with symptoms that just don’t respond to anything else, have a negative result for TG-2 and were told they have no gluten issues at all.
While TG-2 targets “gut tissue”, what if I told you there was also TG-3 and TG-6 that effect the skin (TG-3) and central nervous system (TG-6) AND there are blood tests for these as well. When the tests for transglutaminase-3 and 6 are positive, this is known as “extra-intestinal” gluten intolerance. But it doesn’t end there. Wheat and wheat like substances are very complex, so have a seat and get yourself ready. If your doctor hasn’t tested you for reactions to the following, then they have no clue about your level of intolerance to “gluten”:
So, your “gluten sensitivity” test only tests you for 2 out of the 24 possible substances you could react to. To say the typical Celiac test are missing the boat isn’t even close. It’s more like not knowing what a boat is. Why? Take a look at what wheat looks like from the inside. There’s more to it than gluten:
How bad is the problem? I’ve had dozens of patients who’ve come to see me that have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s that were unaware they should be on a gluten free diet. Why? Because Hashimoto’s isn’t a thyroid problem, it’s an autoimmune disease that effects the thyroid. Not understanding this little fact makes a huge difference in the patient’s physiology and their overall outcome.
Now you understand that gluten allergies, sensitivities and intolerance is a much more complex issue than simply being diagnosed with Celiac’s disease or not. You understand that there’s more to finding out if you react to the standard medical gluten sensitivity test and that the standard test is SEVERELY lacking. So why then did the researchers find a 14% increase in type II diabetes? Well, we have to define the gluten free diet.
What exactly is a “gluten free diet”? A gluten free diet is simply a diet free from products that contain gluten. I absolutely 100% assure you that you can eat a very unhealthy gluten free diet or you can eat an extremely healthful gluten free diet. I have seen people eating gluten free pizza, crackers, cookies, cakes and other stuff that is technically gluten free but not “healthy”.
My type of gluten free diet is 50%of my calories come from plants and 50% comes from animal protein. Since animal protein is concentrated with calories, my typical lunch/dinner plate looks like a pile of veggies and a small piece of chicken or beef or a medium size piece of fish. The fruit I eat is limited to berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), small apples and an occasional banana. I also eat raw nuts and seeds. On occasion, I’ll indulge in a gluten free muffin or sandwich. But the rules are still the same for health. Cut out sugar, cut out refined grains, eat more veggies and good sources of meat (grassfed/finished red meat, free range poultry and wild fish).
Eating a crappy diet no matter what you call it will raise your risk of the top-4 disease categories we see in the U.S., namely heart disease, stroke, cancer and yes, diabetes.
Bottom line: The study failed to examine the type of gluten free diet its subjects ate.
Dr. Todd Narson
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