Finally, gluten sensitivity is considered real

Posted on March 20th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, News & Research | Read 7 Comments - Add Your Own »

For years I have been talking about gluten sensitivity, encouraging people to Think Outside the Celiac Box. I have witnessed my own family members test negative for celiac disease but clearly have a sensitivity to gluten. All research up to the present has focused solely on celiac disease, an autoimmune condition in which the body mistakenly attacks its own tissue, specifically targeting the villi of the small intestine, making it difficult to absorb nutrients. I tested positive for this disease, but many others have struggled to find the validation that they too are suffering from the effects of gluten.

Finally, a new study highlighted in the Wall Street Journal acknowledges the condition of gluten sensitivity! Researchers found that there was indeed some immune response happening in a group of people that was different from those with celiac disease, but also different from the control group. They still aren’t sure how a reaction to gluten can cause so many varied symptoms in people — headaches, fatigue, neurological problems, IBS symptoms, ADHD — and the list goes on, but Dr. Alessio Fasano speculates that “once immune cells are mistakenly primed to attack gluten, they can migrate and spread inflammation, even to the brain.”

The article states that 6% of the population may be gluten sensitive. I believe the number is higher, and that this will be discovered as more studies are conducted on gluten sensitivity. But the recognition of the existence of gluten sensitivity is a great first step, so rejoice you gluten-sensitive people! You are not crazy, as doctors and family members and maybe even you believed!

Other articles that address gluten sensitivity:


Low Vitamin D linked to allergies

Posted on March 5th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Babies & Kids, Food Allergies, News & Research | Read 8 Comments - Add Your Own »

Vitamin DChildren with low vitamin D levels were found to be 2.4 times more likely to be allergic to peanuts than children with adequate vitamin D levels, researchers discovered, according to a new study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. This was just one of 17 allergens tested in kids with vitamin D deficiency. These children were also more likely to be allergic to 11 of the 17 allergens tested, which included both environmental (such as oak and ragweed) and food (such as shrimp) allergens.

What does this mean? Researchers aren’t quite sure what the link means, but there has been a lot of emerging research about vitamin D deficiency and also about the role of vitamin D in protecting against various health conditions. Food allergies, like many other immune conditions, are on the rise, as is vitamin D deficiency.

In 2010 the Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) for Vitamin D were raised to 400 IU/day for infants, 600 IU/day for people age 1-70, and 800 IU/day for those over 70 years old. In addition, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL), meaning the dose at which there are no known adverse effects, was set at 4,000 IU/day for people age 9 or older, with gradually lower amounts for lower ages. See the National Institutes of Health Vitamin D fact sheet for more information.

These new RDA levels for vitamin D, though higher than before, are thought to be still too low, according to many researchers, doctors and health practitioners. I personally supplement with vitamin D (my levels tested low) and give my kids vitamin D supplements on the advice of a nutritionist and based on my own research. My experience is not meant to be taken as medical advice. I suggest that you see a health professional for his/her recommendations on vitamin D supplementation, especially if you suffer from any chronic health condition.

If you have undiagnosed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, you may be at greater risk for vitamin D deficiency. Dr. Vikki Petersen explains the correlation very well in this video:

Research continues, and there’s a lot more to learn about vitamin D and its crucial role in our health.


Raising awareness about food allergies at school

Posted on January 10th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Dairy Allergy, Egg Allergy, Food Allergies, News & Research, Peanuts/Nuts Allergy, Uncategorized, Wheat Allergy | Read 10 Comments - Add Your Own »

schoolhouseI recently encouraged my daughter’s elementary school to put a food allergy program in place after the peanut butter incident. The principal liked my proposed ideas and I was able to address the entire school in an assembly on food allergies. It was well-received. In fact, my daughter told me today that whenever her classmates are eating something she is allergic to, they warn her: “Be careful, I’ve got peanut butter today.” These are first graders — it warms my heart! I have definitely sensed a heightened awareness since the assembly. I am working on the rest of the program which will be put to use at the beginning of the next school year. It is inspired by the ideas put out by The Food Allergy and Anaphylaxis Network (FAAN), but with my own twist and with a more age-appropriate message for elementary school kids.

Any program that raises awareness at school is greatly needed. I have not advocated for a peanut or nut free school, CONTINUE READING »


Vitiligo and gluten intolerance

Posted on December 14th, 2010 by Alison | Posted in Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance, News & Research, Symptoms | Read 209 Comments - Add Your Own »

Vitiligo and celiac disease is a topic I have been meaning to write about for a while now. I have both, and believe there is a connection between vitiligo and gluten intolerance. I have found out more on this topic from the readers of this blog than any other source out there, and hope that this incredible information reaches those with vitiligo who are told there is no known cause.

Vitiligo is a skin disorder characterized by smooth, white patches on various parts of the body that occur due to loss of pigment. This loss of pigment often starts on the hands, feet and face, and then can progress to other parts of the body. Hair can turn white where there is a vitiligo patch. Vitiligo is not physically painful, but can be quite emotionally devastating as it affects one’s appearance.

The picture below is of me as a child with vitiligo on my face. It appeared symmetrically below my eyes, but asymmetrically on my legs — 8 spots on only one side of my body.

vitiligo1

The spots on my face re-pigmented with the treatment at that time (1973) which was psoralen pills and UV light treatments at Stanford. The spots on my legs remained into adulthood, never getting any bigger or smaller. When I was diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002, I didn’t think about the vitiligo, but over the past years since being on a gluten-free diet, CONTINUE READING »