What is Gluten?
By Richard Helfrich
Gluten is a protein found in certain grains: wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, semolina and triticale. Gluten is particularly resistant to digestion, and can play havoc with our digestive lining when your pancreas is not producing the proper enzymes to break down these proteins.
When people with celiac disease eat foods or ingest gluten through cross contaminated food containing gluten, their immune system responds by damaging or destroying villi—the tiny, fingerlike protrusions lining the small intestine. Villi normally allow nutrients from food to be absorbed through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. Without healthy villi, a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food one eats. However, typically, distestive upset is just one element of celiac disease.
How Do You Get Celiac Disease?
Nearly everyone with celiac disease has one of two versions of a cellular receptor called the human leukocyte antigen, or H.L.A. These receptors, the thinking goes, naturally increase carriers’ immune response to gluten.
There are two factors when looking at celiac disease — one a protein, another genetic. Celiac disease is an exclusively genetic disease, meaning that in order to have the disease, one must have a genetic predisposition to it. Roughly 30 percent of people with European ancestry carry predisposing genes. Yet more than 95 percent of the carriers tolerate gluten just fine.
We know that an estimated 1 in 133 Americans have celiac disease, of that 1% of the population, it is estimated that 83% of them are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed with other conditions. Not only is celiac disease difficult to diagnose based on the vast array of symptoms associated with the disease, but there are other factors that can make diagnosis very difficult:
1. One of the biggest reasons for lack of diagnosis and misdiagnosis is that testing for celiac disease is not a simple process. Firstly, testing can be expensive and many insurance carriers will not cover the cost. To help diagnose celiac disease, physicians first test blood to measure levels of certain antibodies. These antibodies are: The anti-tissue transglutaminase (tTG), The anti-endomysium(EMA), and The anti-deamidated gliadin peptides (DGP). A positive antibody test suggests that a person might be Celiac, but this is not always considered a conclusive test; a biopsy will be needed to confirm the diagnosis. Note that all of these tests can return a false negative if a person has ceased to ingest gluten for a sufficient amount of time before taking the test. This can be very challenging for someone who has felt dramatic relief by subscribing to a gluten free diet, prior to be officially diagnosed.
2. Another widely-believed reason that celiac disease is grossly under diagnosed is that there are no pharmaceutical treatments for the disease. A gluten free diet in combination with proper ongoing naturopathic supplementation, are the only ways that a person with celiac disease will find recovery. With no drug remedies, celiac disease often gets cast aside by diagnosing physicians, and instead, drugs are prescribed to treat the symptoms of celiac disease instead. The process of treating symptoms (that would most likely resolve on their own if a gluten free diet was adhered to), can go on for a long time before the patient and/or doctor makes a correct diagnosis.
3. Celiac Disease is a genetic condition, but the gene can lie dormant. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Many times, for reasons that are unclear, the disease emerges after some form of trauma – an infection, physical injury, stress of pregnancy, severe stress or surgery”. Many Celiacs will live their life with zero aversion to gluten, and following some kind of physical or emotional trauma (such as a car accident or child birth), will suddenly find that they display symptoms of celiac disease. Not all people with this disease actively have it since birth.
4. The asymptomatic, or ‘silent’ Celiacs make diagnosis difficult. In the landmark prevalence study (provided by the University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center) on celiac disease, investigators determined that 60% of children and 41% of adults diagnosed during the study were asymptomatic.
5. Even though Celiac Disease is genetic, a fist degree relative does not have to have it. Only 1 in 22 people with Celiac Disease have a first-degree relative (father, mother, brother) with the disease. 1 in 39 people have a second-degree relative (aunt, uncle, cousin) with the disease. It can become difficult to obtain a complete family history that reveals whether or not someone is genetically predisposed to celiac disease.
6. Environmental factors triggering celiac disease. Over the past three decades, researchers have made significant headway in identifying both genetic and environmental factors that they believe contribute to celiac disease, and have concluded that celiac disease most likely results from an interaction between the two. Gluten is a well-known environmental factor for celiac disease. Dr. Peter Green of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, believes that the enhanced amounts of gluten in our diets and, especially, the excess exposure to heavily processed forms of gluten may contribute to the increasing rates of celiac disease. There is even speculation that natural vs. cesarean birth could be a contributing factor in the development of celiac disease. This field of research, while vastly growing, is still inconclusive and therefore leaves a big question mark when trying to understand exactly why an individual has celiac disease.
According to a 2009 study, celiac disease touches more than four times the number of people it had in the 1950s. It is also estimated that the celiac disease diagnosis rate may reach 50-60% by 2019, thanks to efforts to raise public awareness of celiac disease. (Source: Datamonitor Group, 2009). As the medical community and those who are affected by celiac disease, continue to spread awareness of the disease, the demand for gluten free food, better diagnostics and more readily available information, will continue to grow.
A Gluten Free Diet
When a person has received a diagnosis of celiac disease, it can be exceedingly challenging and overwhelming. While it may sound simple to eliminate gluten from ones diet, it often comes with a large learning curve. Celiacs are told to eliminate all foods that contain wheat, barley, oats (other than specifically gluten free oats), rye, spelt, kamut, triticale and semolina. Where it becomes increasingly difficult is in identifying hidden sources of gluten. Often gluten will hide in processed foods, alcohol, sauces and beauty products — places many new Celiacs wouldn’t think to look. Many new Celiacs may not know that the first ingredient in soy sauce is wheat. Or that gluten is used on the glue of postage stamps and envelopes, and in many brands of lipstick.
Cross contamination is another big problem for people with celiac disease. For example, a person with celiac disease can not toast a piece of gluten free bread safely, if the toaster they are using has had gluten-based breads in it prior. Understanding how to effectively eat a gluten free diet takes time. There is not one person with celiac disease out there who has legitimately been ‘gluten free’ since starting a gluten free diet! This is because cross contamination accidents happen, and the learning curve with this disease is steep.
In addition to learning about how to protect your diet from gluten, most Celiacs will eat at restaurants that offer gluten free options. While today it is substantially easier than it was even five years ago to eat gluten free in a restaurant, it is still not entirely safe. Unless a gluten free meal is being made in an exclusively dedicated gluten free kitchen, there are opportunities for cross contamination. Even the most vigilant Celiacs will most likely be accidentally ingesting gluten a few times a year by mistake.
Healing from Celiac Disease
The most extreme form of gluten sensitivity is celiac disease, a chronic autoimmune problem that is sometimes called gluten enteropathy. An enteropathy is a disease of the intestines. In celiac disease, the body creates an attack response against gluten that winds up destroying the tiny, hairlike villi and microvilli that help absorb nutrients in the intestines (learn more about what celiac disease is here). Unchecked, the disease can lead to anemia, nutrition deficits and cancer (see more information on symptoms here). Some people don’t have the disease, but they can still be sensitive to gluten and experience similar symptoms of discomfort, such as bloating and diarrhea.
Subscribing to a gluten free diet will stop the advancement of celiac disease, however, often there is a lot of residual damage in the body that needs to be properly addressed for optimal recovery and sustained health. Additionally, as a person with celiac disease accidentally ingests gluten, damage continues to happen.
So what can you do to support ongoing health? Richard Helfrich has specifically formulated three products to address intestinal damage and promote gastrointestinal healing:
White Chia seed flour, a gluten-free, a high-fiber, natural wholefood, is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids beneficial for heart health. Additionally, Chia’s high antioxidant content means that it also provides long shelf life and unlike Flax Seed does not oxidize when exposed to oxygen.
For anyone suffering from Celiac disease, IBS, Chrones Disease or Colitis — or for those looking for an enhanced nutritional profile, Chia offers many benefits.
The “Cold Fracture Process™” (CFP™) unlocks all of the nutrients, protein, Omega-3 oils, fiber and antioxidants by fracturing the seed hull barrier. Thus, unlocking the nutrition contained inside by creating higher bio-availability as compared to the raw seed. By using the CFP™, none of the dense nutrition or any of the Omega-3 oil is lost.
Chia is the edible seed of the Salvia Hispanica plant, a member of the mint family native to South America.
*Although Chia is gluten-free, it is said that it may not be suitable for sufferers of sesame or mustard-seed allergies.
THE BENEFITS OF CHIA FLOUR FOR THOSE WITH CELIAC DISEASE: Chia flour’s nutritional profile of fiber, phyto nutrients such as lignans, protein, vitamins and minerals make it a perfect choice. Chia is an extremely beneficial food for those diagnosed with celiac disease because it provides a large dose of much needed fiber, vitamins, and minerals that are usually lacking in a gluten free diet.
The lignans aspect of Chia is effective in reducing systemic inflammation, especially in the intestinal lumen. The dense fiber in Chia seeds account for 38 percent of Chia seed’s nutritional composition. This fiber is made up of non-digestible carbohydrate and plant lignan.
It is this lignan that when ingested, can be metabolized by intestinal bacteria to the enterolignans, enterodiol and enterolactone, in the intestinal lumen. Enterodiol can also be converted to enterolactone by intestinal bacteria. Not surprisingly, antibiotic use has been associated with lower serum enterolactone levels. Thus, enterolactone levels measured in serum can reflect the activity of intestinal bacteria in addition to dietary intake of plant lignans.
A total of 21 percent of a Chia seed’s nutrition comes from amino acids, the building blocks for protein synthesis in humans. Chia seed is a good source of Omega-3 fatty acids, especially ALA, an “essential” acid that the body cannot produce but must obtain by eating foods containing it.
C-Butyrate (Butyric acid) is the main food source of the colonocytes, which are cells in the lining of the colon. C-Butyrate therefore supports the colonocytes, helping them to function properly and maintain the integrity of the intestinal lining. C-Butyrate may also prevent and reverse the colon inflammation experienced by people suffering from Celiac Disease, IBS and Chrones Disease or Colitis — the two types of inflammatory bowel disease.
Apoptosis – programmed cell death – is a normal process in cells. For example, cells may be stimulated to undergo self-destruction if their DNA is damaged so severely that it can’t be repaired, or if there are too many cells in an area. Cancer cells, however, do not undergo apoptosis, and continue to multiply. Research is finding that butyric acid has been found to inhibit multiplication of cancerous colonocytes and stimulate apoptosis in the cells.
Butyric acid (butanoic acid) belongs to a group of short-chain fatty acids and is thought to play several beneficial roles in the gastrointestinal tract. Butyric anion is easily absorbed by enteric cells and used as a main source of energy. Moreover, Butyric acid is an important regulator of colonocyte proliferation and apoptosis, gastrointestinal tract motility and bacterial microflora composition in addition to its involvement in many other processes including immunoregulation and anti-inflammatory activity. The pathogenesis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), the most commonly diagnosed functional gastrointestinal condition, is complex, and its precise mechanisms are still unclear.
Butyric acid is a short-chain fatty acids (SCFA) that promotes the growth of tissue lining the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Short-chain fatty acids are produced in small amounts when dietary fibre is fermented in the colon. There are several different SCFA including Formic acid, Propionic acid, Acetic acid and Butyric acid. Of the SCFA, Butyric acid is considered one of the most efficient energy sources for intestinal cells. Butyric acid is a main energy source to intestinal epithelium, particularly for colonocytes. Providing energy for the cells in the form of butyrate may lead to improved performance due to improved gut function.
Research has shown Butyric acid is essential for proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis of epithelial cells. The absorptive epithelial cells found on the intestinal villi use the energy provided by Butyric acid to stimulate villi growth — This is hugely important for a person with celiac disease. Increasing the growth of the enterocytes can increase the ability of villi to absorb nutrients.
C-IP6 is a naturally polyphosphorylated carbohydrate found in cereal grains, beans, brown rice, corn, sesame seeds, wheat bran, and other high fiber foods. It aids in the metabolism of insulin and calcium, hair growth, bone marrow cell metabolism, eye membrane development, and helps the liver transfer fat to other parts of the body. The health benefits of C-IP6 are due to the fact that it is a powerful antioxidant, immune enhancer, and source of cardiovascular support. Research has shown C-IP6 to have significant protective and growth regulating effects on various cells and tissues including those of the colon, breast, and prostate. C-IP6 in the diet may even help reduce the risk for kidney stones.
This is why IP-6 is such an important contributor to addressing Celiac Disease, IBS, Chrones Disease or Colitis and the secondary issues that can develop from these diseases and conditions. Chronic inflammation experienced by most people who suffer from Celiac disease, IBS, Chrones Disease and Colitis creates the environment for cell differentiation that can potentially lead to more chronic digestive upset and damage.
What Is Celiac Disease?
An estimated 1 in 133 Americans has celiac disease today. That is about 1% of the population, or 3 million people living in America. These figures are estimated to be on the rise as diagnostics and disease awareness become more prevalent in the United States. While not a terribly complex disease to understand physiologically, celiac disease can be an incredibly challenging disease to manage.
Celiac disease is a genetic autoimmune disease that damages the villi of the small intestine and interferes with absorption of nutrients from food. Every time we eat, our pancreas secretes digestive enzymes that have the ability to break down our foods into molecules that our cells recognize. These enzymes are manufactured from proteins and need to be continually replenished. Each enzyme has a specific job, and works on a specific type of molecule. The main types of enzymes are lipases for digesting fats, carbohydrases for digesting carbohydrates, and proteases for the digestion of protein.
The pathology can be different for the various forms of Celiac disease, IBS, Chrones Disease and Colitis, but there are overlaps between them. C-IP-6 inhibits the rate of cell differentiation (mutation) and in the process lowers the risk of secondary issues like colon cancer.
C-IP6 has been reported to promote anti-cancer activity against numerous tumors, such as colon cancer, prostate cancer, breast cancer, liver cancer, chronic myeloid leukemia, pancreatic cancer, and rhabdomyosarcomas. C-IP6 can help fight bacterial and fungal infections,