The Gluten And Gallbladder Connection
The interesting thing I’ve found talking to so many people with gallbladder problems is that many of them already know they have gluten intolerance or have had symptoms of gluten sensitivity all of their lives: colic in infancy, tummy aches in childhood, learning difficulties, and now memory problems, foggy brain and joint pain even as early as in their 30’s. What they may not know is that they can have reactions to gluten in their brains or on their skin and not have any digestive symptoms at all. So who would test for celiac or gluten intolerance in that case? No one. Yet these symptoms are frequently gluten-related. If you have gallbladder disease of one type or another, know that the digestive symptoms of a gluten-intolerant person can mimic those of gallbladder with bloating, gas, indigestion, diarrhea, constipation, and even severe pain. Gluten has been shown to contribute to gallbladder attacks and discomfort, so at least until you are free of gallbladder symptoms, you don’t want to take that chance. Eating any foods you have a sensitivity to can make matters worse.
What Does It Mean To Be Gluten Intolerant?
A person who is intolerant to gluten reacts in some way to a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, barley, etc. One can have an allergy or just gluten sensitivity, but the reactions can be devastating to one’s health with or without a true allergy such as celiac disease.
Why Are So Many People Becoming Gluten Intolerant?
Wheat today is a genetically modified version of the original wheat. It has been developed to be insect resistant, drought resistant, cold resistant, heat resistant, and anything else that makes it more lucrative. It is now a completely different protein and a non-food. It causes immune reactions in the body – i.e. the body views it as a foreign substance and creates antibodies to attack it. Add to that the processing that it goes through to be water-insoluble and impervious to normal decay, and you realize that it’s no wonder we are reacting to it – it would be more appropriate to ask why are some people able to eat it without reacting? Or is it that they are simply not aware that the symptoms they are experiencing are a gluten reaction, or that they are not reacting yet?
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is what gives the chewiness or elasticity to dough and what helps it to rise. Gluten is a complex or composite protein found in most grains and is composed of the simple proteins glutenin and gliadin. Glutenin and gliadin are most commonly referred to collectively as gluten but people can be intolerant to one or the other, or to both proteins, and to any of 12 or more peptides present within them. Common lab testing today tests for only gliadin antibodies and not for glutenin. Cyrex Labs, however, does test for both. There is one peptide that is formed as part of the digestion of the gliadin molecule of the gluten protein that some people are allergic to, called gluteomorphin. It is addictive in nature and gives withdrawal symptoms to those affected when they remove gluten from the diet. These people tend to feel worse and can actually get new and different symptoms when they go off gluten. This may last from some days to several weeks. Just be aware of this as you embark on a gluten-free diet. Going off gluten does not make anyone worse except in the withdrawal stage, and only a few will have that reaction.
Symptoms Of Gluten Intolerance And Symptoms Of Celiac
- abdominal pain
- abdominal distention or bloating
- gas/flatulence – can be foul-smelling
- foul-smelling stools, possibly fatty and floating
- acid reflux
- concurrent lactose intolerance
- borborygamus (rumbling noises in the stomach/intestines)
- digestive-related fatigue
- failure to thrive in infancy and stunted growth in children
- headaches (especially migraines)
- foggy brain – difficulty focusing, concentrating, and remembering
- swelling and inflammation
- pain – joint, head, bone, muscle
- muscle cramping
- lack of motivation
- menstrual disorders
- nerve damage (peripheral neuropathy – tingling/numbness in hands and feet)
- clumsiness, lack of balance, difficulty walking (ataxia, also a nerve disorder)
- epileptic seizures
- respiratory problems
- skin problems such as eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, acne, and rashes (see dermatitis herpetiformis), and hives
- nose bleeds
- hair loss
- blood sugar issues such as hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, and diabetes
- night blindness
- ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder)
- mouth sores
- unexplained weight gain or weight loss
- nutritional deficiencies
- tooth and gum problems
- neuromyotonia or Isaac’s Syndrome – hyperexcitability of the nerves affecting the muscles
- myopathy or weak muscles
Other Autoimmune Diseases Associated With Gluten
It seems that one of the common causes of autoimmune diseases, in general, is gluten intolerance:
- Diabetes type 1
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Sjogren’s Disease
- Alopecia Areata
- Liver disease-autoimmune
- Dental enamel defects
- Raynaud’s syndrome
What Is The Difference Between Celiac And Gluten Intolerance?
Even though Celiac Disease (CD) is an autoimmune disease and gluten intolerance has not advanced that far and may never do so, the symptoms are identical. In fact, the only way one can tell if it is celiac is by a test that shows major degradation of the villi of the intestinal wall. This is an advanced form of gut permeability or leaky gut. A compromised intestinal lining leads to food allergies, loss of self-tolerance, autoimmune reactions, and eventually autoimmune disease. Most people who have chronic intestinal symptoms have some form of gut permeability. With celiac, the destruction has compromised the absorptive ability of the intestine, which results in malnutrition and other problems. You may be on your way there, or almost there already, but if the test does not show a specific amount of destruction, you will not be given the label of celiac. So you can have antibodies attacking your intestinal tissue (and skin and brain for that matter) but if that degree of atrophy or destruction has not yet occurred, you will be told you do not have celiac. But you do have symptoms. “So, fine. What’s causing these symptoms then?” Good question. Answer: “Gluten intolerance that is not celiac disease, or not full-blown celiac yet.” Maybe you’d like to remove the gluten from your diet before it becomes so advanced?
How To Treat Gluten Intolerance
There are measures that can be taken to repair some of the damage done by gluten or other offending things such as drugs, viruses, bacteria, and environmental toxins. The success of your program depends on the amount of damage, compliance, and state of your immune system. Some people only need a few months; most need many months or even up to 3 years. And in some instances, with, for example, celiac or autoimmunity towards the lining of the intestine, the best you can hope for is to arrest the progression of the disease. The most important measure for all stages of damage is to remove gluten in all forms and from all sources from your diet. This is a learning process. You need to read, ask, keep a diary of your symptoms, even if you think they’re unrelated, and read some more. However, removing all possible allergens and finding you still have problems such as inflammation is frustrating. What’s important to know here, is that once the cascade of inflammation has been set in motion, it can perpetuate itself. In other words, you may need to break that cycle first or at least simultaneously remove the gluten and other offending foods or supplements.
What’s The Connection Between Gluten And Fatigue?
If you are gluten intolerant, eating gluten can set off inflammation anywhere or everywhere in the body – gut, brain, joints, neck, gallbladder, etc. When there is inflammation present, even undetectable, the body’s adrenal glands secrete cortisol in an attempt to reduce the inflammation. This extra work puts a strain on the body, resulting in low energy.
Gluten-Free Diets Reduce Pain And Inflammation
Reactions to allergies or intolerances can set off a cascade of inflammation. Sometimes people don’t notice the difference right away from a gluten-free diet. But if they try it long enough (along with removing other major allergens as well) they are quite surprised to notice the degree of pain they experience when they add it back in again. Over the years I’ve spent working with people, this is the most dramatic, revealing, and life-changing piece of information they can receive. Learning that a dietary change can make such a big difference in pain, puts you back in the driver’s seat of your own health. It gives you hope; it gives you control and it can give you your life back. Sometimes support is needed to put this all together. Consultations are available. What people are saying… “I just wanted to let you know that although having been diagnosed with gallstones, I decided to alter my diet as opposed to surgery. I felt better but was still ‘feeling’ my gallbladder every now and then. Wasn’t able to eat eggs for two years as it made me sick every time I ate them. Only after I stopped gluten I start to feel better, sleep better, not get tired during the day and now I can have up to two eggs per day and I don’t feel sick, nor do they bother my gallbladder. Gluten is a slow poison in today’s modern world. Yes, it needs some adjusting, but once you feel the benefits, every effort is so worth it!” –T.