The following examples illustrate the high cost of ignoring gluten intolerance and represent just a fraction of the health issues associated with this condition.
Dairy and sugar are unwelcome. Lactase and sucrase, two enzymes found in the microvilli (hair-like fibers that cover the villi of the small intestine), digest lactose (the sugar component of dairy products) and sucrose (sugars). When the microvilli are damaged, these enzymes are no longer available in sufficient quantities to properly digest lactose and sucrose. Subsequently, if you are gluten intolerant, you run a high risk of being lactose/sucrose intolerant as well. This is why your doctor is likely to advise you to eliminate all dairy products from your diet and reduce sugar intake until the microvilli have recovered.
Multiple food allergies escalate.Gluten intolerance, in its tendency to inflame and destroy the gut lining—known as leaky gut syndrome—can allow food antigens to enter the bloodstream. Over time, this overexposure causes the immune system to react, and foods that would otherwise be tolerated can become allergenic. Along with avoiding gluten-containing foods, cow’s milk dairy, and soy, a four-day rotation diet will help reverse the damage.
The four-day rotation diet was first introduced by Dr. Herbert Rinkel in 1934. The idea is to structure your food intake to allow your body a period of recovery between subsequent exposures to specific foods that may be causing cyclical food reactions. This practice helps reduce the chance of developing new allergies, encourages diet diversity by providing a wide range of nutritional choices, discourages the overindulgence of one food to compensate for the removal of another, and aids in identifying foods that could be causing problems.
When following the rotation diet, a specific food is eaten on a particular day of the rotation and is not eaten again until that day of the rotation comes around again. Four days is generally long enough, but people with chronic constipation may need to cycle longer, until regular bowel movements are achieved.
Good fats and oils are wasted. Inability to properly digest fats and oils results from damage to the microvilli. Microvilli contain lacteals that release a milky substance, which breaks down fats and oils into fine droplets so your body can absorb them. Healthy fats and oils are critical to the function of your entire body, especially the brain, heart, and musculoskeletal system.
Infectious organisms are protected. When weakened by inflammation, the villi collapse onto one another, creating deep pockets in the mucosal barrier’s tissues. Mucus that normally flows through the gastrointestinal tract then fills these pockets and creates mucus plugs. Organisms including bacteria, parasites, and fungi can thrive under the cover of these plugs. The mucus plugs also make it difficult, if not impossible, for the immune system or antibiotics to effectively eradicate these organisms.
Nutrients are not absorbed. Gluten intolerance results in severe malabsorption of nutrients, which, if unchecked, leads to all varieties of illnesses associated with malnutrition and especially deficiencies in B12, folate, and iron. Additionally, ongoing irritation and inflammation results in a phenomenon called hypermotility, meaning that food passes through the intestines too quickly. This occurs because everything that enters a damaged small intestine is treated as an irritant, so the body acts to remove the irritation by quickly moving the food through.
Rotting protein contributes to cancer risk. Inadequate digestion of protein, carbohydrates, and fats results from eroded mucosal surfaces. Of particular concern is putrefaction, the enzymatic decomposition of nutrients, especially of proteins, with the production of foul-smelling compounds, such as hydrogen, sulfide, and ammonia compounds. Putrefaction occurs from anaerobic bacteria and fungi acting on incompletely digested proteins that reach the large intestine. The byproducts of putrefaction are known to produce more than 30 carcinogens.
Yeast proliferates and adds to the stress. Because of compromised mucosal barriers, most gluten-intolerant individuals experience a Candida (yeast) problem. Candida, an opportunistic organism, is normally found in the large intestine of a healthy individual in small amounts. When gluten intolerance sets the stage for GI dysfunction, Candida proliferates and invades the mucosal lining of the intestines. Clinical feedback has repeatedly validated that this Candida connection may be a contributing factor to conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, brain disorders, intestinal disease, chronic pain, digestive disorders, and infertility, among others.