GLUTEN INTOLERANCE by Prof. Oladapo Ashiru
Gluten is a protein present in many processed foods. It is found in wheat, barley, and rye. Gluten is present in pasta – spaghetti, noodles, bread – both wheat and white flour cakes, pastries such as meat pies, sausages, doughnuts, pizza, puff-puff, buns, among others, biscuits, cereals and granola, semolina swallow, beer, whiskey, malt drinks and many flavours.
In Nigeria, more than 100 thousand cases of gluten intolerance are seen every year. It is fast becoming a common condition in a lot of people, apparently without regard to age or sex.
Gluten intolerance affects the body in several ways. When a person who has gluten-intolerance exposes himself to gluten by eating the types of food mentioned earlier, an inflammatory reaction is triggered off in the intestines. This damages the intestinal lining and prevents the absorption of essential nutrients from foods consumed.
It leads to various deficiencies and reactions that have a negative impact on the normal body physiology. In the long run, it also leads to many medical complications and makes disease management of pre-existing conditions difficult.
Many people display symptoms of gluten intolerance, but they link it to several other conditions. Unknown to them, their suffering is directly connected to the contents of their meals.
Gluten intolerance can be so severe as to cause an autoimmune disorder, which means that the body will begin to attack itself because of irritation from gluten, instead of protecting itself as it usually would. This is called Celiac disease.
The symptoms of gluten intolerance include, but are not limited to the following:
Diarrhoea alternating with constipation; Unusually foul smelling faeces as the intestinal lining becomes damaged; Poor absorption of nutrients, resulting in significant digestive discomfort; Bloating or too much gas in the abdomen; Abdominal pain
Headaches – Gluten intolerant individuals seem to be more prone to a migraine and headaches than people, who have no problem metabolising gluten.
Fatigue – General mal-absorption present in gluten-intolerant individuals can predispose to deficiency of iron, which causes anaemia. People with iron deficiency anaemia usually lack energy and get easily tired.
Depression – The happiness hormone, serotonin, is decreased in people with gluten intolerance due to poor absorption of nutrients.
Besides, specific end-products of gluten also interfere with the normal functioning of the central nervous system. These issues increase the risk of depression in such individuals. Furthermore, gluten-intolerant individuals suffer a change in the composition of gut flora such that there is an increase in the population of harmful ones and a reduction in the community of beneficial ones. This can predispose to depression.
Anxiety – Gluten intolerant individuals are prone to feelings of worry, nervousness, unease and agitation.
Joint and muscle pain – From the mal-absorption problem arising from gluten, vitamins like vitamin D, all the B complex vitamins and calcium are deficient and lead to weak bones called osteoporosis, as well as an over-sensitive nervous system resulting in tingling sensations and numbness in the arms and legs.
Unexplained weight loss may be a sign of severe gluten intolerance called Celiac disease from severe malabsorption.
Brain fog – Difficulty in thinking, mental fatigue and forgetfulness.
Skin Rashes called dermatitis herpetiformis, which is an itchy, blistering, burning skin rash located around the elbow, knees, scalp, back and buttocks and very unpleasant condition to live with.
Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is traditionally diagnosed by process of exclusion, and tests are available for wheat allergy and Celiac disease. In recent times, diagnosis can be made through Bioenergetic testing, a non-invasive and sensitive method that aids faster diagnosis.
Furthermore, Mayr-type detoxification of the body has proven effective in helping the body regulate normal physiological activities in sufferers of gluten intolerance. Usually, the intestines and other organs of excretion are tasked with the function of detoxification. However, enhancing the function of these organs by employing the Mayr-type detoxification programme has been found to be very helpful in the holistic management of gluten intolerance for long-term relief of this severe condition.
Mayr-type detoxification teaches the basic principles of modern Mayr medicine in the management of many forms of illnesses, including gluten intolerance, to reverse abnormal functioning and promote physiologic balance. The use of bioenergetic testing, appropriate medical therapies, nutritional re-education and orthomolecular supplementation has yielded surprising results in managing this condition.
There are several alternatives to wheat that can be explored if you have gluten intolerance. For instance, our local garri produced from cassava is an excellent alternative to wheat in making bread. The Tiger nut is also good.