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Gluten Sensitivity

What is gluten sensitivity and how do I know if I have it?

I routinely recommend to my patients who have frequent migraines to try going gluten-free.  Often the first response is that they have been tested and they do not have Celiac disease. Well, that may be true but, unfortunately, that does not exclude the possibility that their frequent migraines are not from underlying gluten sensitivity.

So what is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in grains (wheat, barley, and rye). It is the component of wheat that makes it doughy. It is often added to foods to help foods maintain their shape. It is found in many foods but also in some other unexpected places.  For a list of where gluten is found, check out a recent post SOURCES OF GLUTEN.

What is Celiac disease?

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that is seen in a small number of people who have an inherited susceptibility. When people who have celiac disease eat gluten, their body mounts an antigen-specific immune response to their body’s own tissue. This response, in turn, causes damage to the small intestine so that their body has a hard time absorbing nutrients. If left untreated celiac disease can lead to additional serious health problems.

What then is gluten sensitivity?

Gluten sensitivity is much more common than celiac disease. Research estimates that 18 million Americans or 1 out 20 may have gluten sensitivity. People who have gluten sensitivity often report the same symptoms as those with celiac disease but lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in celiac disease. Gluten sensitivity is a normal response to the abnormal appearance of gluten in the body. It is not a true food allergy nor is it an antigen-specific immune response like celiac disease. It, instead, is a response of the innate immune system, i.e., it is nonspecific and does not have immunological memory to invading organisms.

What are some signs that you might have a sensitivity to Gluten?

  • Frequent migraine headaches
  • Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
  • Brain fog or lack of focus
  • Fatigue or lack of energy despite getting a good night sleep
  • Mood swings, anxiety, depression, or irritability
  • Autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis or Scleroderma
  • Hormonal imbalances such as PMS or PCOS
  • Inflammation, swelling or pain in joints
  • Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation

How can I find out if I have Gluten sensitivity?

There are blood tests that show the antibodies that are specific in celiac disease including; anti-gliadin, anti-tissue transglutaminase, and endomysial antibody.  However, since gluten sensitivity is not antigen-specific, these tests are often negative in gluten sensitivity.  Also, since it mediated by the innate immune system, it is not mediated by IgE; thus, most laboratory or skin tests will miss it. The test that I use in my office is the Mediator Release Test. It looks at the endpoint of the innate immune response or the hypersensitivity reactions, thus catching the food/gluten sensitivities that are not mediated by IgE.  This test is expensive, though it is cheaper through a physician’s office, but not widely available.

How do you treat Gluten sensitivity?

The best way is just completely eliminating it from your diet.  For best results I would recommend doing this in conjunction with a clinically proven safe detox such as the Ultimate Reset, to remove other toxins as well. Of note, gluten is a very large protein, meaning that it may take months to get it out of your system and, therefore, it may be months before you see any benefits with your headaches or other symptoms. I typically recommend being off of it for at least 2 months before you reintroduce it back into your diet.

So if you have frequent migraines or any of the symptoms listed above I would recommend a trial of several months of going gluten-free to see how you feel. What harm can it do and it just might help. You might be surprised just how great your body can once again feel and that’s worth any sacrifice you are making in giving up certain foods.

If you would like me to help you get off Gluten contact me I will be happy to help.

This information is for education only, it is not intended to replace the advice of your physician.


Inflammation And Your Brain

 What is INFLAMMATION and what it is doing to your Brain?

Inflammation is a vital process for the body.  The body uses inflammation to heal itself against something that it thinks is harmful.  You can recognize inflammation as the redness and swelling that occurs when you get a cut or sprain your ankle.  Inflammation also occurs internally when you are sick and the body needs to fight off the infection.  The problem occurs when the inflammation process is in excess to what is needed or becomes chronic meaning that it lasts for a longer time than it should.

It is easy to understand how chronic inflammation can be linked to conditions such as arthritis and autoimmune disorders since typically the treatment is an anti-inflammatory medication.  Chronic inflammation, however, is also linked to many chronic conditions that you might not think of including: coronary artery disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s dementia, multiple sclerosis, along with chronic pain syndromes such as migraines and fibromyalgia.

Chronic inflammation is not just confined to a particular tissue but involves different organs in the body including the brain.  Some signs that you have inflammation in your body are obvious such as joint pain and redness.  The problem, however, is when inflammation occurs throughout your body, the signs of inflammation may not be as obvious. Your body can have chronic inflammation occurring and you don’t even realize it.  Some of the symptoms that have been associated with chronic inflammation include:  fatigue or lethargy, somnolence, brain fog, weakness, anxiety, depression, irritability and headaches.

Why does inflammation cause damage?  Inflammation is a complex biological reaction. Basically, when the body is injured, white blood cells, which are the body’s first responders to a problem, are recruited to the site of damage.  They release chemicals, which are pro-inflammatory including histamines, cytokines (interleuking-6, interleukin-1B and tumor necrosis factor), prostaglandins, and leukotrienes.  These chemicals then cause an activation of pathways that leads to increased free radical production.  When there is an increased free radical production with decreased levels of antioxidants, it leads to oxidation stress.  Oxidative stress causes damage to the cells and proteins.  This damage causes more inflammation, which causes more free radicals and the cycle continues.  Since oxidative tissues and cells do not function normally, this leads to organ dysfunction and chronic health problems.

Causes of Inflammation

  1. Stress
  2. Trauma/injury
  3. Infections
  4. Pollution/toxins such as tobacco smoke
  5. Chemicals including some drugs and artificial sweeteners
  6. Obesity and adipose tissue (especially central fat)
  7. Food allergies and sensitivities (gluten, soy, nuts, shellfish, dairy, egg)
  8. Processed grains and refined carbs i.e. carbohydrates with relatively high glycemic index
  9. Trans-fatty acids and vegetable oils which contain omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids

So what can we do to prevent or decrease inflammation?

First is to remove any of the things listed above that can be a contribution to inflammation.   This includes removing processed foods, artificial sweeteners, vegetable oils, high GI carbs along with any food from your diet to which that you are sensitive.   You should also commit to decreasing stress, stop smoking and losing weight (decreasing body fat).

There are foods that have been reported to have natural anti-inflammatory properties including:

  1. Spices Turmeric, Garlic, Cayenne, Cinnamon and Ginger
  2. Foods that are high in fiber such as fruits and vegetables
  3. Food that are high in Omega 3 such as salmon, anchovies, flax seed, walnuts, chia seed and sachi inchi
  4. Food that is high in magnesium including dark greens and quinoa (for other good sources of magnesium click here)
  5. Super foods such as Ashwagandha, reishi mushroom, and holy basil

Ketones or Ketone bodies, specifically B- hydroxybutyrate, have been shown to decrease inflammation in your body.  Ketones including B- hydroxybutyrate are a naturally occurring by-product of burning fat when the body is low in carbohydrates or proteins. Ketosis or the production of ketone bodies occurs if you eat a very low carbohydrate diet such as the ketogenic diet or during times of starvation.   Up until recently this was the only way to feel the benefits of ketones, an alternative fuel source for the body.  Just in the last year a supplement became available that contains the ketone body, B- hydroxybutyrate.  When the supplement is taken, it will put your body into a state of ketosis in just 60 minutes, no matter how many carbohydrates you have eaten.

Exercise is also a great way to decrease inflammation. Exercise can  decrease stress and obesity which then can decrease inflammation.  Additionally, exercise directly lowers inflammatory cytokines. Population studies have shown that people who preform more frequent physical activity have lower levels of inflammatory cytokines, even after adjusting for obesity (BMI).  Lastly, there is also positive data from randomized controlled trials showing that increasing aerobic physical activity is effective in decreasing chronic inflammation.

In summary, if we don’t want inflammation and all the consequences of inflammation, we have to be more committed to more healthy living.  Including watching what we eat and what we should not eat, along with starting a regular exercise program. You and your brain deserve it.



Beavers, K. M. (2010). Effect of exercise training on chronic inflammation. Clinica Chimica Acta , 411, 785-793.

Gabay, C. M. (1999). Acute-Phase Proteins and other Systemic Responses to Inflammation. New England Journal of Medicine , 340 (6), 448-454.

Galland, L. M. (2010). Diet and Inflammation. Nutrition in Clinical Practice , 35 (6), 634-640.

Hunt, K. J. (2010). Inflammation in Aging Part 1: Physiology and Immunological Mechanisms. Biological Research for Nursing , 11 (3), 245-252.

Lucas, S.-M. e. (2006). The role of inflammation in CNS injury and disease. British Journal of Pharmacology , 147, S232-240.

Morgillo, F. e. (2007). Chronic inflammation and oxidative stress in human carcinogensis. Internation Journal of Cancer , 121 (11), 2381-2386.

Youm, Yun-Hee. (2015). Ketone body β-hydroxybutyrate blocks the NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated inflammatory disease. Nature Medicine, 21 (3), 263-269.

This site is purely informative and should not be considered medical advice. It is not intended to be used to diagnosis or treat any disease.  Please consult your physician before starting any fitness program or new supplement.