Years before an international symposium of doctors got together to declare gluten sensitivity a legitimate disease with its own set of symptoms, Drs. Vikki and Richard Petersen were compiling case studies of patients who clearly manifested such sensitivities to gluten.
In 2009, they published The Gluten Effect, a compendium of the far-reaching and dangerous effects of gluten, beyond celiac disease.
Most people know that celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that doesn’t allow the body to process gluten. But did you know that there are other autoimmune disorders associated with gluten?
Also, most people are aware that gluten intolerance can lead to digestive distress. But did you know that “more than 75% of gluten sensitive patients have no digestive complaints”?
In addition to the more obvious manifestations of gluten intolerance, there are a numerous other diseases and disorders associated with gluten. Not only can gluten affect your intestines, it can also affect your brain, nervous system, immune system, and hormones.
Gluten can cause depression, obesity, weight loss, fibromyalgia, and memory loss. Gluten has also been linked to autism, ADHD, ADD, and skin disorders, including the serious dermatitis herpetiformis.
Plus, there are non-celiac autoimmune disorders associated with gluten, including hypothyroidism, autoimmune cardiomyopathy (a form of heart disease), lymphoma (cancer of the blood), rheumatoid arthritis, insulin dependent diabetes and osteoporosis.
This litany of diseases and symptoms requires anyone with chronic conditions to take a serious look at their diet.
My favorite aspect to the book is the individual case studies highlighted. There’s the 75-year old man who had been suffering for a decade with ataxia (imbalance), poor sleep, fatigue and high blood pressure, all of which improved or disappeared after following a gluten-free diet.
There’s the middle-aged insulin dependent diabetic woman who was able to get off insulin entirely after 5 months on a gluten free diet. And most surprisingly, was the elderly woman who’s bone density actually improved after following a gluten-free diet!
There are many more case studies, all real people who saw major improvements in their health after following a gluten-free diet: allergies disappeared, eczema cleared up, migraines went away. And the list goes on. But the Petersen’s don’t rely on anecdotal evidence alone to make their point. Their book is highly referenced with studies from leading medical journals, as well.
Their book is easy for the layman to read and they are very good at detailing the science behind how gluten does what it does. They get into the “anataomy of a grain” so as to explain just how gluten and your body interact, and why your immune system considers gluten to be a toxin.
They mention that the timing of when gluten is introduced to a developing child has an important role to play, and that many diseases that show up in adulthood actually began in childhood.
They also note that once an autoimmune disorder has been triggered by gluten, it is not always possible to completely reverse the disease. Which is why Drs. Petersen are urgent in their pleas for you to test yourself and your family for gluten sensitivity as soon as possible, if you experience any chronic conditions that haven’t been solved.