Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Connection Between Gluten Intolerance And Autism, Depression, Brain Fog, Migraines And More. Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo's Inspiring Lecture At Raw Health Expo In Sebastopol!

Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo (left) inspired me to learn more about gluten and health. Stay tuned for more gluten free recipes!

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A Pleasant Surprise
I initially wasn't even going to go to the Raw Health Expo last weekend. I'd been to several in the past and didn't know how much more I was going to get out of it. Boy, was I wrong!
I have never really focused that much on gluten intolerance other than to make as many of my recipes gluten free as possible. My husband and I eat a lot of wheat products so I probably didn't want to learn something that would make me have to avoid one of my favorite foods. But this year I learned that my beautiful grand niece was diagnosed with autism and I had recently read several short articles about the possible connection between autism and gluten intolerance. So when I saw Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo on the agenda discussing "The Magic of Gluten Free", I was excited about going and getting the latest information!

It's Not Just About Celiac!
When you think about gluten intolerance, you may immediately think about celiac disease, a disease where  your small intestine is attacked by antibodies to gluten. This condition leads to the mucosal lining of the intestine being damaged resulting in nutrient malabsorption, gas, bloating and diarrhea leading to more serious symptoms resulting from malnutrition. So I was surprised to learn from Dr. Loscalzo (both from her lecture and her website) that gluten intolerance may actually effect the brain, pancreas and other places BEFORE it effects the small intestine! So even if a person is not showing any gastrointestinal issues, this does not mean that they do not have a sensitivity to gluten!  Dr. Loscalzo claims that gluten intolerance is now linked to many non-digestive disorders such as:
* Autism 
* Schizophrenia
* Dermatitis
* Brain Fog 
* Autoimmune thyroid disorders like Hashimoto's disease
* Depression
* Migraines
* Early Onset Alzheimer's
* Diabetes
* Arthritis
She feels that it's possible that 30% to 60% of the population may have a problem with gluten!

Why we can't stop Eating Pasta 
One of the reasons people lose weight when on a raw food diet is that they eat until they are full. Then they stop! 
Those of us who occasionally enjoy pasta and baked goods are familiar with the feeling that you can eat these foods until you are way passed being full. Personally, I can eat my weight in pasta. My husband's addiction is freshly baked bread. Why does this happen?
According to Dr. Loscalzo, when the body breaks down gluten, 20 endorphin like, opiate peptides are produced which are similar to cocaine and opium. Normally these peptides get split into amino acids to be used by the body. But for many people who's digestion has been impaired, for whatever reason, these gluten peptides cannot break down and bind to the opioid receptors in the brain. This causes "addiction" and craving for gluten foods like pasta and bread. 

Autistic Kids' Behavior and Opioid Peptides
Some autistic kids will demonstrate self abusive behavior like hitting their heads into a wall. This behavior has been linked to the opioid peptides from gluten and from milk protein. Because their opioid receptors in their brain is activated, they don't feel pain. Studies have shown a decrease in this activity when gluten and dairy was removed from the diet.

Experience with Clients
Dr. Loscalzo has seen people with brain fog get clarity almost immediately after eliminating gluten from their diets. One of her clients was able to significantly decrease her antidepressant medication after going gluten free. After 6 months, a client with Hashimodo demonstrated the disappearance of thyroid antibodies. (Ironically, the thyroid medication Synthroid, contains gluten!) Gluten free clients with severe sensitivities would revert back to their issues with the ingestion of a single crouton! Dr. Loscalzo herself conquered migraines with a mostly raw food, gluten free diet.

What has Gluten?
Taking gluten out of your diet takes a great deal of effort but if you have any of the disorders mentioned, it is certainly worth trying it. Grains that contain gluten include:
* Wheat
* Rye
* Barley and 
* Kamut 
But many other things also contain gluten. I had a friend whose wife had celiac disease and was extremely ill. Despite her strict gluten free diet, she continued to have serious problems only to fine out that her lip gloss contained gluten!
Sign up for Dr. Ritamarie's Gluten Free Diet Resources to find out about the Hidden Sources of Gluten, Articles and Recipes.
Gluten free grains include:
* Quinoa
* Millet
* Amaranth
* Teff
* Buckwheat
* Corn
* Rice
* Sorghum
* Certified gluten free oats
However, many grains can be processed in plants that process wheat so make sure your grains are certified gluten free.

Are you Sensitive to Gluten?
Dr. Loscalgo recommends a $99 test from EnteroLab to test for gluten sensitivity. Of course you can save the money and just try going gluten free for 1 to 6 months and see if your condition improves!

You Don't have to give up Wheatgrass but Put Away the Nama Shoyu!
Many of us enjoy a good shot of wheatgrass now and then and the good news is that we don't have to deny ourselves this healthful drink. But, make sure the grass is cut above the seed because the seed contains gluten. 
Nama Shoyu, commonly used in raw cuisine, is not gluten free but there are a number of gluten-free soy sauces on the market. Bragg liquid aminos is also a good gluten free substitute for soy sauce.

A big thanks to Dr. Ritamarie Loscalzo! I'm going to try going completely gluten free for a month so that I'm inspired to develop more gluten free recipes and to see how the change effects on my health. It should be easier to do in the summer when my diet is already filled with gluten free raw fruits and veggies. I'll let you know how it turns out. Stay tuned!

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