Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease revisited: have you ruled out gluten causing problems in your life?

I read a recent New York Times article on celiac disease and so I thought I’d mention once again the importance of ruling out celiac for many people who are diagnosed with psychiatric illness.

Besides the gastrointestinal problems for which it is mostly known, celiac can manifest in numerous other ways including, “neuropathic pain, headaches, psychiatric disorders, iron deficiency, vitamin D deficiency” and more.

What’s more, even some people who don’t have celiac can often do better on gluten free or grain free diets. I found that my glucose levels and my lipids, including cholesterol are all much lower and at healthier levels when I do not eat most grains. In my case this includes some non-gluten containing grains as well.

The best way to find out if this applies to you is to stop eating all gluten for a few weeks. You’ll know if it makes a difference relatively quickly in most instances. For me some lab work, specifically glucose, lipids and cholesterol made it clear. This is about total well-being. For some the proof may be in blood work. For others it may be in how you feel.

I wrote the below post a couple of years ago. I thought I’d share it again with some edits.

Living without this stuff isn't so bad
Living without this stuff isn't so bad

Celiac disease among other illnesses that can be fairly easily treated without psych drugs is one physical illness that sometimes gets people diagnosed with mental illness including schizophrenia and bipolar. All sorts of mental health issues can arise from someone with Celiac who is still actively eating gluten. It’s worth ruling it out if you have any sort of mental health issues. You can do research on gluten free diets by googling “gluten free diet.” If you are a symptomatic person with Celiac disease it’s likely you’ll know within a couple of weeks of being gluten free. There are lab tests that can be done too, but they are not always reliable and an elimination diet is generally recommended if there is any question after testing.

I currently eat gluten free. I don’t believe I have celiac but I am sensitive to gluten containing grains without question. Most specifically wheat which causes diarrhea within 24 hours.  Some people do find they feel better without gluten whether or not they can establish they actually have celiac disease.

From the Boston Globe:

Celiac disease is one of the most common causes of chronic inflammation of the digestive system. It’s triggered by gluten, which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and myriad foods made with these grains. But because its classic symptoms of abdominal pain and weight loss resemble many other conditions, celiac disease is often unrecognized and untreated, although health specialists believe it is becoming more prevalent.

Dr. Alberto Rubio-Tapia and his colleagues from the Mayo Clinic looked back more than 50 years, hoping to determine whether celiac disease has become more common. To do that, they tested blood both old and new.

The researchers evaluated blood samples drawn from more than 9,000 healthy adults in Wyoming and stored since 1954. They wanted to know how those samples would compare with blood taken from 12,000 adults currently living in Minnesota.

By looking at the decades-old blood, they found undiagnosed celiac disease in 1 in 652 people. They also discovered that the people with undiagnosed celiac disease were substantially more likely to have died at a younger age.

But they found that the condition was strikingly more prevalent in people alive today, ranging from 1 in 121 among older people to 1 in 106 among younger study participants.

This piece is republished from a couple of years ago. I’ve since learned that there is good reason to think grains in general are problematic for a lot of people. I’ve found that my gut is happier without grains. But not just my gut, my glucose, cholesterol and lipids too improved greatly when I stopped eating grains.

If you’re interested in gluten free diets that can heal your body and often help improve numerous sorts of chronic illnesses I’ve experimented with some success with both the GAPS diet and The Body Ecology Diet. Both these diets (at least at first) eliminate many other foods that can cause sensitivities too. This allows for a thorough understanding of what your body particular body needs. Most foods are added back in as you tolerate them, some gluten containing grains are not added back in for the duration.

At this point I do a combination of the two above diets that I’ve created for my body. Experimentation is good. No one knows your body like you do.

I have posts on this blog about these diets here:


Heal the gut — heal the body and mind

And more posts on gut health in general here.

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