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Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


Gluten Sensitivity Getting you Down? Get Tested

Sep 01, 2011 04:52PM ● By Betty Murray

Gluten, a protein found in wheat, spelt, kamut, triticale, rye and barley, has been implicated in autoimmune conditions, as well as digestive complaints,including celiac disease andas acontributing factor in other neurological and behavioral conditions.Testing for levels of reaction to gluten is not foolproof, but recent advances in laboratory science has made some much needed improvement in detecting immune reactions earlier in the disease progression.

For celiac disease, the gold standard since the 1950s has been an intestinal biopsy, showing a complete destruction of the shag-like surface of the small intestine, resulting in a Berber carpet-like surface, reducing absorption of nutrients. An intestinal biopsy is a surgical diagnostic test that extracts a tissue sample of the small intestine, looking for complete destruction of the shags. Some people do not get destruction of the shags, so they will not earn the celiac disease moniker. In these gluten-sensitive people, the brunt of the reaction either affects the intestine, causing symptoms without damage to the shags, or it affects other body tissues, or both.

The secondmost common diagnostic tests are blood tests of antigliadin IgA, and IgA, endomysialor anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies. These testsare fraught with false negatives;only appearing positive when destruction of the shags of the small intestineiscomplete.Therefore, if you have advanced celiac disease, it is likely youwill test positive. If you do not have advanced celiac, you will likely test negative. Here is another problem: If you have a positive blood testand a small bowel biopsy comes back nearly normal, you are likely to be told that gluten is not your problem,and gluten is safe to eat,only to continue advancing the disease.

Recent research has revealed that testing for antigliadin IgA antibodies in stool samples or saliva may find early immune reactions before disease development.With the early detection in the intestines and saliva of immune reaction, the number of people reacting to gluten may be significantly higher than the current estimates. Some scientistsbelieve that upwards of 29 percent of the normal population of the U.S. show an intestinal immunologic reaction to gluten. These tests offer a non-invasive way to screen for immune reactions before full-blown celiac disease develops.

Family members of those diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity should also be tested, as well as those suffering with digestive issues; any autoimmune disease; asthma; osteoporosis; iron deficiency anemia; female infertility; seizures, and other neurologic syndromes; depression and other psychiatric syndromes such asautism, ADD and depression.

Betty Murray, C.N., H.H.C. is a certified nutritionist, health counselor, author of Cleanse: Detox Your Body, Mind and Spirit, speaker and found of Living Well Health & Wellness Center, an integrative medical center in Dallas and education chair for the Greater Dallas Gluten Intolerance Group. Murray specializes in working with digestive disorders, autoimmunity and weight loss. For more information about food sensitivities and diet, read her new book. To contact Betty Murray email [email protected]. Visit and



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