What do we think at Gluten Free Cookies? We make our cookies with all gluten free ingredients because we reviewed and understand the research that demonstrates the negative impact gluten has on our health.  To learn more, read below.

If someone asked you what gluten is, would you be able to answer? Most people have just heard that gluten free is the way to go, but many do not know why.

Gluten is a protein found in the grain of wheat, rye and barley, and through time has become an increasing problem to our health.  Gluten intolerance is an issue that occurs in people whose bodies cannot digest gluten.  The undigested protein triggers the immune system to attack the lining of the small intestine, causing a variety of issues such as osteoporosis or osteopenia, diarrhea, nausea, tooth enamel defects, vitamin K deficiency (clotting vitamin), central and peripheral nervous system disease and dementia (studies have since shown gluten sensitivity destroys brain and nervous tissue more than any other tissue in the body and is linked to a number of other neurological disorders. 2)  It also triggers impairments in mental functioning that could cause or aggravate autism, Asperger’s syndrome, and ADD or schizophrenia (a newer study shows that a gluten sensitivity may more than double your child’s risk of developing schizophrenia later in life. 1).  Other issues include dermatitis herpetiformis (DH)—a skin condition that causes intense itching and blistering—anemia of various types, infertility and early menopause, organ disorders, depression, fatigue, weight loss or gain, and abdominal pain. This is not even a complete list, and sadly, the list is growing every day as new research comes to light.

Gluten has become a problem because of the need for cheap food fillers.  As a result, in the last 50 years, these grains have been hybridized which has increased the gluten content exponentially.  Not only that, hybridization has created up to 14 new strains of increased gluten producing grains.

The Mayo Clinic research team tested blood samples from Warren Air Force Base (AFB) in Wyoming between 1948 and 1954 for the antibody (a protein produced by body that is used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign invaders or pathogens) that people with celiac disease produce in reaction to gluten.  The blood test results were compared with those from two recently collected sets from Olmsted County, Minn.  Researchers found that young people today are 4.5 times more likely to have celiac disease than young people were in the 1950s.

Coeliac disease or celiac disease or celiac sprue. Signs and Symptoms. Human silhouette with highlighted internal organs
Coeliac disease or celiac disease or celiac sprue. Signs and Symptoms.

Joseph Murray, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic, a gastroenterologist who led the study, states, “It now affects about one in a hundred people.  We also have shown that undiagnosed or ‘silent’ (no symptoms) celiac disease may have a significant impact on survival.  The increasing prevalence, combined with the mortality (death rate) impact, suggests celiac disease could be a significant public health issue.”

The findings contradict the skeptic’s thoughts that the dramatic increase in diagnoses of gluten intolerance has come about because of greater awareness and detection.  The American diet has played a role.  Gluten is almost everywhere.  It can be hiding in foods that you regularly eat. Processed foods are notorious for hiding gluten as it reduces production costs as a filler.  Make sure to check your ready-made soups, soy sauce, candies, cold cuts, and various low and non-fat products. Here are a few things to look for that have gluten hidden in them:  malts, starches, hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), texturized vegetable protein (TVP), and natural flavoring (there are many more).

I hear the comment, “I eat pretty much gluten free all the time.” That is like saying you are a little bit pregnant. You are either 100% gluten-free or you’re not gluten-free.  Choosing to eat gluten-free only when it is convenient is not a gluten-free diet.  If you are not strict about your food being 100% gluten-free when you eat out and you continue to consume condiments that have gluten, regular beer, and foods fried in fryers that use the same oil for breaded foods, then you are still being exposed to gluten.  This can affect your immune response for 6 months or more, and can cause unrepairable damage to your body.  Gluten is a big issue for autoimmune patients, especially a thyroid disease called Hashimoto’s (an illness that occurs when the body tissues are attacked by its own immune system).

A normal health intestinal wall compared to a intestine with celiac disease.
A normal health intestinal wall compared to a intestine with celiac disease.

How do you know if you are gluten intolerant or have celiac disease?  It all starts with testing.  The majority of doctors perform simple tests to determine if you are gluten responsive.  Typically, this usually consists of a lab test that looks at 2 or 3 items. This type of testing is not thorough enough.  There is a lot more to look for than these obvious markers.  When I test a patient for gluten, the test evaluates 24 different immune responses.  If this test should prove positive, I then run a new test that looks at cross reactive foods.  These cross reactive foods are other foods that mimic the response of gluten in your body.  They have a very similar protein structure.  The cross reactive foods that are most common are milk, rice, corn, and sesame.  There are many more.

1 Blomström A, Karlsson H, Wicks S, Yang S, Yolken RH, Dalman C. Maternal antibodies to infectious agents and risk for non-affective psychoses in the offspring–a matched case-control study. Schizophr Res. 2012 Sep;140(1-3):25-30. doi: 10.1016/j.schres.2012.06.035. Epub 2012 Jul 21. PubMed PMID: 22819777.

2 Kharrazian, Datis. Why Isn’t My Brain Working? Elephant Press Books. June 2013.