Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Why Am I Gluten Sensitive? -- By Dr. Robert McCarthy

Today's guest post is written by a Dr. Robert McCarthy, founder of McCarthy Family Chiropractic  in Greenville, North Carolina. Dr. McCarthy is an advocate for those who are gluten sensitive in the Eastern NC region. 

By: Dr. Robert McCarthy

More and more people these days are hearing about gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. However, it is still a poorly understood health condition, even among traditional health care providers. I recently had a patient tell me that his family doctor scoffed at him when he shared the fact that he was diagnosed with gluten sensitivity. The doctor replied by saying he doesn’t think gluten sensitivity is a “real disease”. He went on to say that there just isn’t enough research to prove it.  If any of you have suffered from accidental gluten exposure, I’m sure you’d beg to differ. The problem lies in the fact that the research has been around for decades, but the doctor just hasn’t read it.

Gluten sensitivity and its wicked stepmother, celiac disease are very real entities that can be diagnosed with scientific lab tests. However, you need to use the right test or you may wind up with a false negative. I’ve had patients wind up on anti-depressants because no one could identify the cause of their symptoms. The doctor then says, ”It’s all in your head”.  The most accurate and sensitive test is a stool sample. You also need to have the genetic test done to see if you have 1 or 2 genes for either gluten sensitivity or celiac disease.

Gluten is a sticky protein made up of glutenin and gliadin. When water is added, as in cooking, the two bind together forming gluten. If you are genetically predisposed, it’s just a matter of time before symptoms appear. Symptoms can range from mild bloating and cramping all the way to disabling abdominal pains. Another problem with proper diagnosis is that many gluten sensitive people have no abdominal symptoms at all. They may have a reaction to gluten that triggers an autoimmune attack inside their body. Whatever tissues or organs are attacked will determine their symptoms. One of the most common effects of repeated gluten ingestion in susceptible individuals is Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. Other very common symptoms include aches and pains, lack of energy, brain fog, altered immune system function, depression, and other autoimmune reactions.

Gluten is a problem for these people because they lack the enzyme DPP4, which is necessary for complete digestion of gluten. This leaves a large molecule called gluteomorphine floating around inside your intestines. In time it will disrupt the inner lining of your intestines leading to another condition called leaky gut syndrome. You actually wind up with holes in your intestines allowing all sorts of pathogens to directly enter your blood stream. This leads to a whole cascade of events that fire up your immune system, which in turn can lead to autoimmune disease. Some different body tissues that then fall under attack are the thyroid gland (Hashimoto’s), the pancreas, the lining of your stomach, and even your brain and nervous system.

This information has been well documented going back to the 1920’s. In fact, during WWII in Denmark, there was a grain shortage and people with celiac disease became better. The Roman physician, Galen, described a condition in which the digestion was upset by gluten containing foods as early as the second century BC. If your doctor is not up to date with the latest research, it’s time to find a new doctor.


From Dr. McCarthy's website:

Dr. McCarthy graduated from the prestigious S.U.N.Y.@ Stony Brook with a bachelor’s degree. He then attended New York Chiropractic College in Seneca Falls, NY, graduating with a Doctorate in Chiropractic. After graduation Dr. McCarthy accepted an appointment to the NYCC faculty where he was a distinguished instructor in orthopedics, neurology and radiology.

Dr. McCarthy moved to Greenville and established his private practice, McCarthy Family Chiropractic in 1996. Having a focus on meeting the health needs of entire families, Dr. McCarthy offers unique treatments for children, adults, and elderly patients. He has a passion for helping people who have “been everywhere” and “tried everything”. Chronic conditions that destroy people’s lives are given special attention in his office.

Currently, Dr. McCarthy serves as the chairman of the Research Committee for the North Carolina Chiropractic Association. He lectures regularly on posture, nutrition, fibromyalgia, and chronic pain.

As an active member of the Greenville community, Dr. McCarthy attends Covenant UMC with his wife and 5 children. He is also the founder and head coach of the Pitt County Youth Lacrosse League and the President of the East Carolina Youth Lacrosse League.

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