In this article, we discuss how gluten in your food may cause or worsen your neuropathy symptoms.
All of us can remember at some point in time, walking into a bakery or kitchen and enjoying the wonderful aroma of fresh baked breads and pastries. But these baked goods contain high amounts of carbohydrates. In fact a sandwich can have 40 to 60 grams of carbohydrates! And, most baked goods also contain gluten grains of wheat, oat, rye or barley.
Now once upon a time when human beings were extremely physically active, bread was in fact the staff of life. There was no problem consuming massive amounts of carbohydrates as long as it was consumed during physical activity.
Well Flash Forward 300 years and the situation is now, entirely different. Not only are we less active but grains are often heavily processed, grown on nutrient deficient soils, or perhaps even GMO. Recent news articles also report application of toxic herbicides just before harvesting.
And this has had an effect on the incidence of neuropathy and our health in general.
With neuropathy, however, the stakes are higher. Gluten can and does cause celiac disease.
What is Celiac Disease?
The Celiac Disease Foundation lists the various symptoms of celiac as:
Classical, Non-Classical and Silent Celiac Disease
In classical celiac disease, patients have signs and symptoms of malabsorption, including:
- pale, foul-smelling, fatty stools
- weight loss or growth failure in children.
In non-classical celiac disease, patients may suffer:
- abdominal bloating and pain
- iron-deficiency anemia
- chronic fatigue
- chronic migraine
- peripheral neuropathy (tingling, numbness or pain in hands or feet)
- unexplained chronic elevated liver enzymes
- reduced bone mass and bone fractures (osteopenia or osteoporosis)
- vitamin deficiency (folic acid and B12)
- late onset of menstrual cycles in teens/early menopause and unexplained infertility
- dental enamel defects
- depression and anxiety or phobias
- itchy skin rash
In Silent celiac disease also known as asymptomatic celiac disease, patients who don’t think they have symptoms still have small intestine damage. Studies show that patients thought they had no symptoms. But, after going on a strict gluten-free diet they reported better health. They also had less acid reflux, less abdominal bloating and flatulence.
First-degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) , whether or not experiencing symptoms, should always be screened. This is because there is a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease.
The number of ways celiac disease can affect patients, combined with a lack of training in medical schools and primary care residency programs, contributes to the poor diagnosis rate in the United States. Currently it is estimated that 80% of the celiac disease population remains undiagnosed.
Read more at https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/celiacdiseasesymptoms/#j42ljT0AlX4mj3BW.99
More about gluten
Sometimes in celiac disease, the only presentation is a gluten neuropathy.
Most of the time, however, it’s a simple fact that gluten can at least aggravate our bellies and yes even worsen our aches and pains, including neuropathy.
You see gluten is a gooey protein. That’s what gives bread that wonderful texture.
But most of us who stop eating gluten find out quickly how much better we feel.
This is because those of us who don’t have celiac disease and even test negative for allergy to gluten, may still be “sensitive”.
In patients suffering from gluten neuropathy, as well as in other patients, it appears that gluten may actually trigger inflammatory reactions. This adds to pain, stiffness, and possibly neuropathy symptoms.
However the evidence is not conclusive, and there are many that would argue this point.
What I can tell you, as a clinician, is that many patients feel so much better we feel it’s worth trying a gluten free diet. You may experience a little learning curve as you read labels to find the surprising foods containing added gluten. However in this day and age most grocery stores carry gluten free offerings of breads, cookies, and pastas, etc.
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