According to a recent study in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, it is estimated that 2 million Americans complain of celiac disease (CD), which is a gluten sensitivity condition. Gluten is a hard-to-digest protein that can trigger an overzealous immune response in the small intestine. Folks diagnosed with this condition experience relief when they stop eating gluten. (2)
Interestingly, out of the 7798 persons tested in this study, most of the folks with a confirmed diagnosis of celiac disease were not previously diagnosed, suggesting that while they had CD, their related symptoms were not severe enough for them to seek medical attention. Perhaps more surprising was that the majority of the group that were on a gluten free diet did not actually have CD.
Today, there is a new condition on the rise called Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS), which refers to folks who are not celiac but feel better when they do not eat gluten.
In a new study, gluten turned out not to be the culprit of much of their perceived gluten-based indigestion. (1) Peter Gibson, a professor of gastroenterology at Monash University in Australia, performed a fairly sophisticated, randomized, controlled trial comparing gluten against other potential digestive irritants.
The group went on a baseline diet for 2 weeks with all known dietary irritants including gluten removed and, as expected, they all felt better. Then the group chose one of three treatment diets, from a high-gluten diet to a no-gluten diet and low-gluten in between. After the subjects moved off the baseline diet and went onto one of the three treatment diets, they reported more intestinal pain, bloating, gas, and nausea, regardless of whether the treatment diet was high-gluten, low-gluten, or a no-gluten placebo diet. (1)
What was interesting was that the group that ate the no-gluten diet, which was the same as the 2 week irritant-free baseline diet, reported a worsening of digestive symptoms. (1) Researchers suggest that it was due to the nocebo effect, which is the opposite of the placebo effect. In other words, the suggestion that they were eating gluten and that it is a “bad food” predisposed them to intestinal reactivity – even though the gluten itself was not present.
The Ayurvedic Perspective
Gluten is a hard-to-digest protein that comes from a grain that was traditionally only harvested in the fall for winter eating, when the digestive strength is much stronger and more capable of digesting denser foods. It is believed that the real culprits regarding the epidemic of gluten intolerance are:
- Overeating it – every day, 3 times per day.
- Eating it out of season.
- The global weakening of digestive strength due to stress and a diet of processed and impossible-to-digest foods.
- The processed nature of most wheat or gluten products.
All four of these causes are fixable. Gluten intolerance is not a life sentence, unless perhaps you have CD. Resetting digestive strength is our main focus at LifeSpa. We regularly watch folks with NCGS recover and begin to enjoy gluten once again. I invite you to check out over 450 free videos and articles in the education section of lifespa.com that touch on and delve into all aspects of health and resetting digestive strength and function.