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Holistic Health Notebook: Another episode in the continuing saga

By Staff | Sep 16, 2010

Many of you know about my bout with vertigo that sent me to the hospital a few months ago. Turns out that was a good thing. Doctors found a potentially life-threatening condition and were able to avert further problems, so the spinning head may have saved my life.

However, I have continued to have episodes of vertigo. Doctors could find nothing wrong. I went to a physical therapist who tested for Benign Positional Vertigo. Negative. She suggested I see an ENT. But before scheduling the appointment, I thought about it…and thought…and thought. And just out of curiosity, I decided to REALLY tighten up on my diet. Could my old nemesis, gluten, be causing it?

You see, I am about 80 percent gluten free, but if I forget to pack a lunch, I run over and get a sandwich once or twice per week. Sandwiches are made from wheat and wheat contains a protein called gluten. Not a lot of gluten. Should be no problem, right?

But I decided to go 100 percent gluten-free — and the vertigo ended.

Three speakers at a recent scientific symposium addressed the issue of gluten intolerance at great length.

One session called “Predictive Antibody Arrays: Identifying Auto-Immune Disorders at the Earliest Stages” focused on the connection between gluten (and other sensitivities) and the later development of autoimmune disorders. Let me give you some tidbits from that session:

Autoimmune diseases are the third leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the industrialized world, surpassed only by cancer and heart disease. While genetics plays a role in the development of these disorders, there is another causal factor: loss of intestinal barrier function. In other words, the “wall” that keeps toxic materials (like undigested proteins and other digestive components and toxic materials) out of the blood stream develops holes (called leaky gut syndrome), setting up a hyperactive immune response. An intact intestinal tract is critical to health and the prevention of disease.

Intestinal permeability is increased in individuals with food allergy, suggesting that the uptake of food antigens is increased. Gluten and casein from dairy are two of the top three food allergens worldwide.

If you want to do more research about leaky gut, do an internet search on “tight junction.” You will learn a lot about the importance of maintaining a healthy intestinal tract.

Next week we will discuss new, inexpensive testing to see if you are at risk for developing an autoimmune disorder caused by food sensitivities.

Carol is a certified lifestyle educator. She can be reached at the Island Nutrition Center on Sanibel, at 472-4499 or at www.carolsimontacchionline.com.