Today’s hottest food trend is one I’ve actually be following for years — “gluten free.” And I’m proud to have led the way. Because the truth is, gluten sensitivity IS a real problem. It can wreak havoc on your everyday health. Causing an endless list of frustrating symptoms.
But buyer beware! The current trend in solving this problem is ALL WRONG.
Fortunately, I’ve got an incredibly simple solution that breaks down this complicated mess, and takes care of all the mystery and frustration. And will have you feeling better — and having more fun eating — than you have in decades.
Big problems hiding inside tiny grains
A lot of my patients are very interested in going gluten-free. But hardly any of them actually know what gluten is.
So here are the basics.
Gluten is the main form of protein found in grains. There are probably close to 100 (if not more) foods that contain gluten. I listed some of the most common and most surprising ones in the box on page 4. (For a more comprehensive list, you can search online. Or head to your local library and check out some of the many books available on gluten-free diets.)
But grains have been around for thousands of years. So why is gluten suddenly such a big problem?
Well, the truth is, there’s nothing “sudden” about it…
The modern epidemic 1,000 years in the making
The reason you’ve been hearing so much about gluten sensitivity lately is largely because doctors are looking for it more often. So, obviously that will increase the number of people who get diagnosed.
But chances are, gluten has been a problem for humans since we first began eating it. That was about 1,000 years ago. Which seems like a long time. But “modern” humans have been on the planet for 200,000 years. When you look at it that way, in the grand scheme of things, we actually haven’t been eating grains all that long. And our bodies still haven’t really figured out how to process them. Especially not in the staggering amounts many people consume today.
To make matters worse, the grains that we eat today are genetically modified. They don’t even remotely resemble the wheat that our ancestors ate 1,000 years ago.
So as far as your body is concerned, wheat — or anything that contains gluten — is a foreign substance. And every time you eat it, it sets off an immune response.
The other reason it has become such a prevalent problem is that gluten, like sugar, is in almost everything we eat. Or at least in almost all the packaged foods that account for the bulk of the standard American diet.
One cause, hundreds of effects
One of the biggest challenges with gluten sensitivity is that it’s different for every person who has it.
There are so many symptoms that can be traced back to gluten sensitivity that it would be impossible to list them all here. But the most obvious one is stomach distress of any kind. Indigestion, GERD, stomach ache, bloating, gas, constipation, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome. They’re all strongly associated with gluten.
But there are also many other symptoms that have nothing to do with digestion. Things like inability to lose weight, fatigue, brain fog, allergies, asthma, ADHD, behavioral problems, learning delays. The list is literally endless. Because if you are sensitive or intolerant to anything, your body responds by creating inflammation. And that inflammation can manifest itself in hundreds of ways.
So if you have a nagging symptom you just haven’t been able to explain, there’s a good chance that gluten might be the culprit.
So how do you find out for sure if you’re officially gluten sensitive?
Persistence pays off
If you want to be tested for gluten sensitivity, it’s probably going to take some insistence on your part.
Most conventional doctors really only test for celiac disease. Celiac disease is the most extreme form of gluten intolerance. And many mainstream physicians still operate under the assumption that if you don’t have full-blown celiac disease, then you don’t have a problem with gluten.
Unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. In fact, there’s a huge spectrum of gluten intolerance, with degrees ranging from mild to severe.
It’s tough to pinpoint the specific degree of each person’s problem. But it’s relatively simple to uncover the problem itself.
In my practice, I use blood tests to help me determine whether a patient is sensitive or allergic to gluten or gliadin (another protein in grains).
It’s important to test for both. And to do a variety of tests. Why so many? Well, the immune system is complex. And it doesn’t always respond exactly the same way in every person. So it’s always good to cover as many bases as possible.
I start with a test called the ALCAT, which screens for food sensitivities. You can actually order the ALCAT testing kit yourself either online at www.alcat.com or by calling 1-800-872-5228. They will send someone to you directly to draw your blood sample then overnight it to the lab. Then they will help you find a doctor in your area to review the results or provide a wellness advisor. At the very least, get the “100 Food Panel”. But of course if you can afford it, go for a more comprehensive test panel.
It’s expensive, but the information you’ll get is priceless. It doesn’t just tell you whether or not you’re gluten sensitive. You’ll get a complete rundown of ALL the foods that are problematic for you. Eliminating them from your diet can quite literally transform your health. I’ve seen it happen. But, I digress.
I also have each patient’s blood tested for a few specific antibodies.
- Gliadin IgG
- Gliadin IgA
- Endomysial IgA
- Transglutaminase IgA
- Reticulin IgA
- Gluten IgG
- Gluten IgE
If you test positive for any of these, then you have some degree of gluten sensitivity.
These are tests any laboratory can do. But most labs require a referral or prescription from a doctor.
Your best bet is to take the list above to your doctor and tell him these are the tests you want to have done. Keep in mind you may have to pay out of pocket.
If you aren’t able to get these tests done, or can’t afford to, there is another way to determine whether or not you’re gluten sensitive. But fair warning: It’s more complicated — and time consuming.
When in doubt, cut it out
I’m talking about an elimination diet.
An elimination diet is exactly what it sounds like. You eliminate all the foods that contain gluten from your diet. Not just the grains but everything.
Some of the most common sources of gluten include:
- Bread crumbs
- Cracker meal
- Matzoh/matzoh meal
- Wheat (in all forms bran, flour, germ, and starch)
And sometimes gluten makes its way into foods you might not expect. Like baby food, chocolate bars, licorice, flavored coffees and teas, bottled salad dressings, soy sauce — even canned soup. Yet another reason to avoid packaged, processed foods as much as possible!
Keep them out of your system for three full weeks and see if you feel better. Just keep in mind, you may actually feel worse before you feel better. That’s your body going through withdrawal. Stick with it though, and you’ll likely notice a huge difference.
After 21 days, you can reintroduce one new food every 72 hours and see how you feel. If your symptoms return, you know that particular food is one you’ll have to eliminate for good.
I’ll admit, I don’t know many people with the resolve to carry out an elimination diet. Luckily, there’s a much easier way…
Taking the guesswork out of going gluten-free
No, I don’t mean stocking your pantry with all those “gluten-free” products that are taking supermarkets by storm. In fact, the best thing you can do is to stay as far away from this stuff as possible. It’s just the latest gimmick food manufacturers are using to make a buck (or billion). They did it with fat and carbs and now they’re doing it with gluten. The problem is, what they create is never actually good for you.
But it’s possible to go “gluten-free” without the help of these overhyped products. There are many, many foods that are naturally gluten-free.
In fact, my New Hamptons Health Miracle is essentially a gluten-free way of eating. I’ve taken the guesswork out of it completely. If you follow my program, all the work is done for you. (You can learn more about my New Hamptons Health Miracle eating plan by searching my website, www.drpescatore.com.)
You get all the benefits of a gluten-free diet without putting forth a tremendous amount of effort. And without shelling out tons of money on those “gluten-free” toxic bombs manufacturers call food.
In fact, once you start following my New Hamptons Health Miracle, those nagging symptoms will most likely start to fade within the first few days. They’ll disappear entirely in a matter of weeks. And better yet, they’ll never return.
If you stick with it, you can completely heal your body from the ravages caused by gluten intolerance in about 6 to 12 months. Every once in a while it does take a bit longer. But the results I’ve seen in my patients are truly incredible. And yours will be too.
Dr. Fred Pescatore is the author of the New York Times best-selling book, The Hamptons Diet and the No. 1 best-selling children’s health book, Feed Your Kids Well, amongst others. He is the President of the International and American Associations of Clinical Nutritionists, a member of the American College for the Advancement of Medicine, and belongs to many other professional organizations. Earlier in his career, Dr. Pescatore served as the Associate Medical Director of The Atkins Center for Complementary Medicine, working as the right-hand-man to the late, great Dr. Robert C. Atkins. Today he sees patients at his own practice in Manhattan and writes a monthly newsletter called Logical Health Alternatives, as well as a free e-letter called The Reality Health Check.