• Celiac/Gluten Intolerance: Are We Chasing The Wrong Villain?

    Posted November 3, 2011: by Bill Sardi

    The current craze in natural medicine is gluten free. Shops have opened up in my community featuring nothing but gluten-free foods. Gluten is the current phobia. Medically the problem is called celiac disease and it involves the deterioration of the mucus barrier in the small bowel as a result of the innate immune system over-responding to an allergen.

    The disease is triggered by consumption of dietary wheat-, rye- and barley-derived gluten and it often manifests with intestinal symptoms such as diarrhea and mal-absorption of nutrients. Part of the problem is the hybridization of grains as explained by William Davis MD in his book entitled Wheat Belly (Rodale Books 2011). His book was preceded by many other damning wheat and grains, such as Life Without Bread by Christian B. Allan and Wolfgang Lutz, Dangerous Grains by Drs. James Braly and Jonathan Wright, and numerous gluten-free cookbooks.

    However, celiac disease genetically involves only 1-2% of human populations. You couldn’t sell all those gluten-free foods to such a small group. It’s like every unexplained health problem now is being blamed on gluten and grains. People are avoiding whole grains like Dracula avoided a ring of garlic.

    Avoidance is one strategy to overcome gluten intolerance but defensive maneuvers may be more practical. Some doctors in Europe are on a different track to conquer this seemingly widespread but certainly growing problem. They explain that life-long avoidance of gluten is burdensome and probably not achievable given trace amounts in other foods via contamination.

    These researchers point to an overlooked study published last year where researchers obtained biopsies from patients with celiac disease and added some ascorbate (vitamin C) to lab dishes containing gut tissue. The effects were dramatic. See the charts below showing tissue where gliadin (the agent in gluten that provokes the immune response) and then gliadin + vitamin C were added to lab dishes. The various inflammatory markers (INF-a & y, TNF, IL-13, 16, 17) were abolished in the vitamin C-treated dishes!

    Gliadin vs Gliadin + Vitamin C: chart

    These researchers go on to say: “As we humans are not able to synthesize vitamin C ourselves, we depend on our diet as a source of vitamin C to maintain general health. Vitamin C is known to be able to modulate immune responses in several ways, for instance by stimulating leukocyte (white blood cell) function. Moreover, vitamin C may also play a significant role in the regulation of the inflammatory response. It has also been suggested to be useful for the induction of tolerance to auto-antigens. The implication of vitamin C in tolerance induction is extremely interesting.”


    These researchers conclude: “For all the above reasons a diet completely devoid of gluten is probably impossible to maintain and a search for alternative treatment options or dietary supplements is thus called for.”

    Other researchers say: “Considering the residual amounts of gluten that some ‘free gluten products’ still have, ascorbate could be a necessary supplement to the dietary treatment of celiac disease.”

    Apparently this message is slow to reach the gluten phobics.

    I hate to pour rain on the gluten-free party but this phobia is no way to live. It all started when dermatologists began elimination diets by testing for individual food sensitivities, never to explain why others have no such problems. Avoidance therapy needs to be minimized and defensive strategies need to be maximized

    What can we conclude from the evidence showing a shortage of vitamin C may reduce natural defenses against gluten?

    Dare we say the obvious, that the evidence presented here points to another conclusion: mankind is suffering from yet another manifestation of scurvy.

    The blinders against nutrient origins of disease are so prevalent what with every disease now being treated as if it were a drug deficiency, that the prescription of anti-inflammatory drug may quiet the disease but is actually inappropriate. Anti-inflammatory agents are akin to dousing a fire by pointing a fire extinguisher at the smoke rather than the flames. Vitamin C is essential for life, so critical that animals produce it internally all day long (more during periods of emotional or physical stress), but a few species (guinea pigs, fruit bats, humans) exhibit a gene mutation that has resulted in the inability to synthesize vitamin C internally and are completely dependent upon the diet for this indispensable vitamin.

    Given that gorillas in the wild consume many times more vitamin C (4500 mg per day) than modern humans and their diet is supplemented with 5000 mg per day in captivity, is it any wonder Americans who consume about 100 mg of vitamin C from their daily diet and have a vitamin requirement of 60 milligrams, suffer from so many allergic disorders?

    For those with sensitive digestive tracts, the buffered mineral ascorbate forms of vitamin C may be better tolerated or even the fat-soluble ascorbyl palmitate form of vitamin C.

    If celiac’s origin is truly a vitamin C deficiency then this disorder would produce symptoms similar to scurvy. Here are common symptoms of celiac, with those known to be co-associated with scurvy in bold type.

    • Abdominal cramps, gas and bloating
    • Anemia
    • Borborygmi (stomach rumbling)
    • Cutaneous bleeding
    • Diarrhea
    • Easy bruising
    • Epitasis (nose bleeding)
    • Failure to thrive
    • Fatigue or general weakness
    • Flatulence
    • Fluid retention
    • Foul-smelling or grayish stools that are often fatty or oily (lack of bile flow due to vitamin C shortage)
    • Gastrointestinal symptoms
    • Gastrointestinal hemorrhage
    • Hematuria (red urine)
    • Hypocalcaemia/ hypomagnesaemia
    • Infertility
    • Iron deficiency anemia
    • Muscle weakness
    • Muscle wasting
    • Nausea
    • No obvious physical symptoms (just fatigue, overall not feeling well)
    • Osteoporosis
    • Pallor (unhealthy pale appearance)
    • Panic Attacks
    • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve damage)
    • Stunted growth in children
    • Vertigo
    • Vomiting
    • Voracious appetite
    • Weight loss
    • Obesity

    It is sad to peruse the internet and realize so many people with celiac are suffering with overt symptoms of scurvy and no one suggests vitamin C.

    And dare we go further in suggesting the rising incidence of peanut allergies followed another aversion brought on by sun-phobic dermatologists? Examine the medical literature yourself by clicking the provided link and see that food allergies appear to be related to the season of birth. Children born in autumn and winter when vitamin D levels are typically low have more food allergies than children born in spring and summer. Does the lack of vitamin D early in life predispose children to food allergies via imprinted genetic mechanisms? Low blood levels of vitamin D are associated with food allergies.

    But hey, this sun phobia advice is not only good for the medical business — it even helps the optical trade.

    The overriding aversion is nutria-phobia. Doctors don’t practice nutritional medicine and the public is ignorant about it. There are no pharmaceutical representatives who pander vitamin C pills and hand out scratchpads and pens and free lunches for doctors’ offices. How do you change doctors who are trained to prescribe drugs and to look down their nose at dietary supplements, and patients who want a “miracle drug” that insurance will pay for? © 2011 Bill Sardi, Not for posting on other websites.

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