Gluten is the main protein found in wheat. In many people the body reacts to gluten as if it was a virus and attacks it and the surrounding tissue. This immune response damages surrounding tissue and has the potential to set off, or exacerbate, MANY other health problems throughout your body, which is why gluten can have such a devastating effect on your overall health. Gluten sensitivity seems to exist on a spectrum from full blown Celiac Disease, which affects one in 133 Americans, to sub clinical sensitivity. Even the most severe Celiac Disease is frequently misdiagnosed, and many of those with Celiac Disease don’t have the classic GI symptoms of abdominal bloating, gas and cramping diarrhea. However the effects of gluten sensitivity range far beyond the gut and include low energy, fatigue, brain fog, skin rashes, numbness in the extremities, fibromyalgia, muscle and joint pain — even problems with coordination. The long term consequences of having a gluten allergy can be devastating.
Here is where it gets interesting. Gluten sensitivity is not just a disease of the gut. It is a multi organ, multi symptom disease. These antibodies can cause a lot of harm by increasing inflammation and autoimmune reactions. Autoimmune disorders shown to be adversely affected by gluten include insulin dependent diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel and hypothyroidism. In fact it has recently been clearly shown that gluten causes autoimmune antibodies to be made that latch onto thyroid tissue leading to thyroid tissue damage. 9 months after the cessation of gluten in the diet no more antithyroid antibodies could be found.
On rare occasions an individual may experience significant improvement within weeks of eliminating gluten from their diet. However, most people don't feel better immediately after eliminating gluten from their diets as it may take 30 to 60 days for the inflammation to subside, and up to 9 to 12 months for the lining of your small intestine to heal. For most people with gluten intolerance, by around 6 to 9 months of being gluten free, noticeable physical and mental/emotional changes will have taken place
Gluten Free Links:
The Gluten Free Page
Gluten Free Girls Links
Gluten Free Cooking for Kids
Gluten Free Goddess (one of my personal favs because I love food blogs and there is some wonderful food photo's here)