Last week I wrote a post about a laboratory test for infections and auto-immunity that I like by a lab called Cyrex. This week I’m going to highlight another one of their tests – the Mucosal Immune Reactivity Screen. It helps to evaluate what stressors are at work in the body culminating in triggering of immune reactivity in the gut lining and the mucosal barrier. [Read more…]
I believe that people are becoming increasingly aware that gluten is not the best food ingredient for us – it can be very difficult to digest, and can promote significant inflammation both in the gut and in the body as a whole, resulting in chronic pain, fatigue, brain fog, skin irritation, mood imbalances and more. There are a variety of labs that offer testing for gluten intolerance- in fact, all the big commercial labs offer the tests. I have found, however, that sometimes those blood tests are not as sensitive as some others. In my view, the best test for gluten intolerance is a stool test offered by a lab called Enterolab.
The markers that are tested for gluten intolerance are anti-gliadin antibodies and anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies. Both are looking for auto-immune reactions in the body that are caused by the ingestion of gluten. These are the markers that are assessed in blood testing too.
Enterolab uses a stool sample to look for those markers. I have found this to be a more sensitive test than standard blood tests (one of the ways I know this is that a rep from one of those big labs offered 10 of my patients free testing with their lab to be able to compare the results with Enterolabs results (samples taken on the same day). In several of those cases, the bloodwork showed negative where the stool results showed positive. Can we rule out false positives 100%? No, we can’t, but I can say that the results were reflective of the health issues of those patients, and all those patients felt better when adopting a gluten-free diet.
One can be gluten intolerant without having Celiac disease. Celiac is the most severe form of gluten intolerance, where damage is at the extent of causing erosion of the villi of the small intestine. Celiac is typically diagnosed by a biopsy. Gluten intolerance can be much subtler in its presentation, but can also be insidious and cause many quite serious health issues.
I also think the stool test is ideal for kids – sparing them a blood draw. I’m getting ready to do the test on my daughter, because while I am gluten free, and we are gluten free at home, I don’t restrict her outside of the house. Recently, however, we’ve been noticing that when she eats wheat, she gets these anger outbursts that happen 10 minutes or so after ingestion, and only last a few minutes. It’s so out of character for her that I started observing what was happening around the time they occurred, and sure enough, eating wheat seemed to be the trigger. I talked with her about it and she can actually see the connection too. Even at age 4, kids know when something makes them feel bad and how uncomfortable it can be.
Getting the sample isn’t so hard either – an adult can simply put a clean container in the toilet bowl. I have found that that can be off putting for kids, so I advise parents to put saran wrap inside the bowl, allowing some length so that the sample call “fall in”, so to speak. It secures quite well around the rim of the toilet, then when you put the seat down it’s barely visible.
Enterolab is a lab that does not even require a doctor’s order – you could feasibly order a kit yourself, they ship it to you, you take the collection and send it in.
They also offer cheek swab testing for the genetic markers that predispose to gluten intolerance – that’s pretty cool too, especially for people who are going to have children to get an indication of whether their kids will have that gene too and subsequently be predisposed to gluten intolerance.
You want to have eaten gluten fairly recently to see an accurate result. If you’ve been gluten free for months or years, it may not show up. I took this task very seriously when I was testing myself – I was on holiday in Sydney at Easter time, and I ate Hot Cross Bun after Hot Cross Bun – at least one every day for a week! I felt pretty sick by the end of it mind you!
The panel I recommend with Enterolab is B1: Gluten Sensitivity Stool Panel. If you’re interested in the genetic test, you would also order the Gluten Sensitivity Gene Test, which is a molecular HLA-DQB1 analysis). They also offer more extensive panels to include other food intolerances, but the ones I’ve listed as the specific gluten ones.
I have rarely come across a person who didn’t feel better on a gluten-free diet. But some of us need to see the results of a lab test to motivate us to make dietary changes. If that’s you, then this test would be ideal.
For those of us in the United States, Thanksgiving Day is coming up on Thursday. I personally love Thanksgiving – it’s been my favorite holiday since moving to the U.S. in 1999. I love it because it’s not overly commercialized, we get to spend time with people we care about, think about what we’re thankful for, and eat a yummy dinner, which for us is roast turkey. There is lots of anticipation about the dinner part – lots of planning, lots of cooking; and it’s soooooo delicious in the moment. But then, an hour later, we can be sitting like a blob on the couch, or lying down in discomfort, because it all tasted so good and we overdid it. Here are 6 tips for surviving food overindulgence, and being able to enjoy Thanksgiving without eater’s remorse! If you are reading this outside of the U.S., please feel free to apply these tips and principles to any holiday meal, or occasion where you eat too much! [Read more…]
Reactions to foods are increasingly common it seems, with a large portion of the population experiencing some reactivity or sensitivity. There are several distinct types of food reactions, so I’m going to outline food allergy versus food intolerance to help distinguish. Often in Western medical circles, only a true food allergy is recognized, whereas many reactions may not fall into that category and ignoring other sensitivities can lead to ongoing symptoms that could be avoided.
Leaky gut is a condition that involves changes in the integrity of digestive tract, compromising its function and immune protection. It has a variety of different causes, but it is clear that eating gluten can contribute to leaky gut via increasing the production of a substance called zonulin.
Hydrochloric acid (HCl) is normally secreted by the stomach to enhance the breakdown and subsequent absorption of the food and nutrients that we consume. HCl also serves a protective function, killing various pathogenic microorganisms that might otherwise cause infection in the gastrointestinal tract. Hydrochloric acid impacts your digestion significantly through these two factors – break down of food, and protection from external threats.
People with low HCl (hypochlorhydria) or absent HCl (achlorhydria) may be asymptomatic, or more commonly, may experience symptoms of impaired digestive function including gas, bloating and excessive fullness after meals. Interestingly, what seems to be excess acid in reflux or GERD is often a sign of low hydrochloric acid, but faulty regulation of the valve that divides the esophagus and stomach. [Read more…]
Herbal teas are a great way to get water in without the caffeine of green and black tea, and they usually have medicinal properties that can be utilized for your health. There are many herbal teas for digestive health, that are beneficial whether you’ve just eaten too much dinner at your favorite restaurant, or if you have digestive ailments that need support. Here is a list of some of my favorites: [Read more…]
During this time of year it’s definitely easy to overindulge in all sorts of food and drink – eating larger portions than we normally would, and eating “treat” foods that wouldn’t normally make our menu. Having just done exactly this yesterday, I thought today I’d share five simple remedies for overindulgence, that can help you feel like your normal self again.
Well it’s that time of year again – the kids are going back to school, summer is coming to an end, vacations are now a collection of photos and good memories. For some this is a fun and exciting time, for others, filled with angst and dread. I’m still trying to figure out where the last year went – it seems like just yesterday we started Valentina in preschool, and now she’s moving up to the next class, with new teachers and a new classroom. I’m counting on sending her back to school with essential oils to help us with the transition. [Read more…]
Happy Monday everyone, let’s talk about parasites! Are intestinal parasites messing with your digestion? How would you even know? What could you do about it if they are?
I work with a lot of people who experience digestive difficulties. Sometimes they have been present for many years, other times they come on suddenly out of the blue. As part of my workup in these cases, I always test for intestinal parasites.