Ask the Doc: Can a little gluten affect my blood test?

Posted on August 14th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Ask the Doc, Gluten Intolerance | Comments Off on Ask the Doc: Can a little gluten affect my blood test?

questionmarkgreen1.jpg Q. Can one or two recent “glutenings” create a positive TTG test even if I’ve been really compliant for 4 years?

A. It depends on how intense were your “glutenings”! A few crumbs here and there, or a huge serving of pasta, with several slices of bread, or a piece of cake, can make the difference between a positive anti-tTG and a negative test. The truth is no one really knows for sure. In certain research protocols, 7 grams of gluten are used in challenges to bring a normal intestinal biopsy in a proven celiac patient who has been gluten-free to an abnormal one, but I am unaware of any data about tTG levels. Besides, each individual may respond differently to the same amount of gluten; if your test has turned positive after only a little gluten intake, then you know that you are more sensitive and vulnerable.

Health and happiness,
Dr. Aron

Have a question for the doc?


It’s not all in your head. It could be gluten.

Posted on August 3rd, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Emotions, Gluten Intolerance, Symptoms | Read 12 Comments - Add Your Own »

“It’s all in your head” is the response more than one patient has received from a doctor after hearing about the patient’s health problems. I have heard this story from people who write to me looking for answers, and the fact that a doctor could be so dismissive of one’s health braincomplaints is frustrating and upsetting. Those that write me an email like the one I am sharing below have already taken the steps to find out what is wrong, and have discovered that by cutting out gluten, many if not all of their symptoms have resolved. I wonder how many others end up believing that it is in their heads, that there is no cure for their ailments, no hope to feel better. Gluten can indeed affect the head — with anxiety, depression, migraines, seizures, ADD and OCD, and even schizophrenia, but I doubt that’s what those doctors meant.

Here is an email I received recently:

“I’m sure you’re extremely busy, so I understand if you cannot respond to this email immediately, but I am desperate and would love your advice. I’m 27 years old.  I endured some abuse about a year into my marriage. I’ve been divorced about a year and a half, so my life is in a calm, peaceful place now. My body, on the other hand, has been rebelling.

I was suffering night sweats, joint pain, belly bloat, terrible gas, and recurrent mouth sores that absolutely cover my mouth making it impossible to eat. I went on a gluten free diet about 8 months ago, and I found relief from almost all of those symptoms. If I go back on wheat, the symptoms return. My doctor tested me for celiac disease and the results came back negative. I had been on a gluten-free diet for quite some time I thought it was possible that could’ve affected the outcome of the blood test, but my doctor refuses to look into the matter any further. She blames my problems on anxiety and post-traumatic stress. I agree that stress is a factor, but is it possible stress sparked the digestive issues? I’ve had problems with IBS, specifically constipation, since the day I was born, and have also been lactose intolerant all my life. So digestive complications are nothing new.

She acts like it’s all in my mind, which makes me feel so defeated. I don’t know where to go from here, but as someone with so much knowledge on the subject, I would value your advice more that I can tell you.”

In my answer to her, I told her that it is not in her mind, but rather her stomach! I also told her that her doctor sounds dismissive and ignorant and that she on the the other hand, sounds like she knows exactly what is going on. If she feels better off the gluten, that is her proof.

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance can indeed be triggered by stress, although it sounds like she already had symptoms long before. The stress could have turned it up a notch, or due to her radical lifestyle change she may have altered her diet to have more gluten in it, thereby making her symptoms worse.

“Where do I go from here?” she asked at the end of the email. Where do you go from here? You stay gluten-free if you feel better, you tell people you have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity or gluten allergy or whatever you want to call it, and you say it with confidence! It really doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about it — do what is right for you.

I wish this reader well, and I hope that her email touches someone else out there struggling with the same obstacles. If anyone else has advice for those that are wondering if it’s all in their heads, please add your comments!


What’s for gluten-free breakfast?

Posted on July 21st, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Food Ideas, Gluten Intolerance, Products | Comments Off on What’s for gluten-free breakfast?

Did you know that breakfast cereal was invented only a little over 100 years ago? What was intended as a health food has become, for most Americans, a meal of sugary processed grains devoid of real nutrition. Bright unnatural colors, marshmallow or chocolate bits and prizes are Happy Breakfastwhat define our boxed cereals of today. Even choosing healthy, natural cereals can mean a lot of gluten, as most cereals are made from wheat, and if you are one of the 7% of Americans who have celiac disease or are gluten intolerant (some doctors suspect the number is closer to 30%!), this big dose of gluten at the beginning of the day can really affect the rest of your day.

So, what are your breakfast options if you need to be on a gluten-free diet? Don’t worry – there are many! Head over to Attune Foods, the makers of Erewhon cereal, to read my list of gluten-free breakfast ideas, and add your own in the comments!


The Body and Its Wisdom – Don’t Accept What’s “Normal”

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Asthma, Emotions, Gluten Intolerance, Healthy Living | Comments Off on The Body and Its Wisdom – Don’t Accept What’s “Normal”

Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.  We give it orders which make no sense. ~Henry Miller

attunefoodsbrandam_buttonWhen did we become a society of people who think it’s normal to have discomfort and pain? We take medications for everything, without questioning whether we are really solving the problem or simply masking the symptoms. It seems like the more that people are affected by daily health issues, the less likely we are as a society to figure out what’s really wrong.

For most of my 20s, I suffered from stomach problems. One night in Boston, after I enjoyed some clam chowder, I wound up in a stall of the restaurant’s bathroom clutching my stomach. My friend suggested that I was lactose intolerant. I had not heard that term before. I wasn’t a picky eater – in fact, I enjoyed just about any kind of food, and I had never done any dieting of any kind. This was the first time I considered that there might be something I could not eat. Lactose intolerance made sense because it was fairly common as I was to learn. After all, they sold Lactaid (lactose-free mik) in the stores. My friend was wrong about the lactose intolerance diagnosis, but I believed it for 10 years. My body continued to tell me that something was wrong, but I didn’t listen – lactose intolerance seemed normal so I stuck with that idea, avoiding a lot of dairy and taking Lactaid pills.

To read more about not accepting what’s considered normal, go to my post at Attune Foods.