BugsThere are two dirty “G” words in the integrative nutrition world. These two words make the food list of “no-no’s” by many holistic doctors. Many practitioners have found that in order to help take stress of their beloved clients’ bodies and assist with calming their immune response, there are two nasty substances have to be removed.

The first is gluten and the second is GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms). (Ugh, I hate those words!) Although I have written on both of these topics in the past, recently, I was inspired by a comment by a BreakFree reader. Then, I read a really cool connection between these two dirty words in my research. So now, it’s time to revisit the subjects of gluten and GMOs.

First, let’s review why these foods are so despicable to many of my functional medicine and naturopathic doctor friends and not helpful in your body.



To the distress of this Italian-Irish-pasta-bread-loving woman, the sensitivity to wheat and gluten is becoming more and more prevalent. I have noticed that an increasing number of my clients are showing a negative response to gluten and report feeling better on a gluten free diet. Once gluten is removed, they note a decrease in headaches, hormonal balance, better moods, or less digestive distress.

I’ve also noticed that my clients’ conventional labs are showing evidence of elevated antibodies to gluten in a traditional celiac blood panel. Granted, most are not diagnosable celiac disease. This is because the levels of antibodies aren’t high enough. Still, the fact that they have antibodies (immune complexes to fight off an invader) to this grain protein is indicating their immune system is being triggered negatively.

The testing for gluten sensitivity differs from autoimmune celiac disease. The conventional test is only looking for one type of one immune reaction. There are actually four different immune responses someone can have to gluten ingestion and many more proteins that can cause a response than is tested for in the traditional celiac test. You can read more about the differences here. (Cyrex labs gives a good visual in their lab array on the many different components in gluten and cross reactions with other foods that can be considered).

So, why such an issue with gluten lately?

According to some experts, one of the reasons is because wheat bread has been manufactured to have 10x the amount of protein content than if produced in its natural state. This is in order to increase the fluff, market value, and taste of bread. Our body just isn’t set up to digest that kind of protein profile.

Other issues for why I believe people are so sensitive to this seemingly previously innocuous trigger are the rise in processed foods, environmental exposures, stress, and epigenetics being passed on from previous generations.

Watch the video below that summarizes some of the major characteristics of gluten and why it causes so many issues. (Note of caution, when you remove gluten, make sure to exchange it for a whole food diet and not a “junk-gluten-free diet“).

Part of my job as an integrative doctor is to teach a person that just because they don’t have digestive distress after eating a certain food, doesn’t mean that they aren’t affected by it. Your digestive tract is not only responsible for absorption and digestion, but it’s the home of the GALT (Gut Associated Lymphoid Tissue) and the ENS (Enteric Nervous System). In other words, your gut contributes to the health of your immune system, nervous system, hormones, brain, and overall body processes.


Gluten Ingestion Linked to Depression in Gluten Sensitive

Here’s a new study that shows how symptoms in the brain can relate to the gut.

A recent small trial of twenty-two subjects with irritable bowel syndrome who had celiac disease investigated the notion that the major effect of gluten in non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) affects mental state and not necessarily gastrointestinal symptoms. The participants actually agreed to gluten ingestion in the name of science. They were given a three day trial of each food followed by three day washout period between each challenge that included a gluten free food, gluten, whey, and placebo. The authors concluded:

Short-term exposure to gluten specifically induced current feelings of depression with no effect on other indices or on emotional disposition. Gluten-specific induction of gastrointestinal symptoms was not identified. Such findings might explain why patients with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity feel better on a gluten-free diet despite the continuation of gastrointestinal symptoms.

(I love European researchers. They spell celiac as “coeliac.” Cool.)

Source: Peters SL, Biesiekierski JR, Yelland GW, Muir JG, Gibson PR. Randomised clinical trial: gluten may cause depression in subjects with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity – an exploratory clinical study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2014 May;39(10):1104-12. Epub 2014 Apr 1. doi: 10.1111/apt.12730.


THE OTHER DIRTY “G” WORD(s)-Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

Another reason for the increased gluten sensitivity may be the rising prevalence of genetically modified organisms. It’s even been suggested that in Europe, where GMOs and mass devaluing of grains is less prevalent, there is less grain sensitivity.

Since 2009, I’ve been discussing the impact of GMOs in our food supply. According to the Institute for Responsible Technology, by definition,

A GMO (genetically modified organism) is the result of a laboratory process of taking genes from one species and inserting them into another in an attempt to obtain a desired trait or characteristic, hence they are also known as transgenic organisms. This process may be called either Genetic Engineering (GE) or Genetic Modification (GM); they are one and the same.

This process of inserting genes from one species into another has caused many to be leery of the negative biological results.  Furthermore, the unintended downstream effects of potential errors during this genetic insertion process has resulted in many physicians raising their eyebrows in concern.

The Economic & Health Impacts of GMOs

A recent 48 page report on the economics and health consequences of GMOs was released by Friends of the Earth International. For the love of time and my sanity, I’ll spare you going over the details, but it’s a great skim. Check it out.

Source: Friends of the Earth International. Who benefits from gm crops? An industry built on myths. April 2014 Report. www.foei.org


Avoiding GMOs

One way to avoid them is to buy organic, which some are still disputing as beneficial.

Below gives the counter-disputes that explain why organic foods are a better choice.

  • The Organic Trade Association responded to an American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) study disputing the health benefits of organics here, and another site discusses why the AJCN study was wrong can be found here.
  • There are no GMOs in organic, which in itself could be a benefit. In fact, 300 scientists and doctors from around the world signed this letter which expresses there is no consensus on safety of GMOs.

Source: Hamerschlag, K. More Spin Than Science: The Latest Efforts to Take Down Organics. CivilEats.com.May 8, 2014.


Voice Your “No to GMOs in NYS” on Friday

Vermont’s governor recently signed a bill into law to go into effect July 16th that could make the state the first to require labeling of foods containing genetically modified organisms. A BreakFree reader, Maria, commented on one of my blogs about an opportunity she hopes to start this upcoming week.

Source: Hallenbeck, T. Vermont gov signs law to require labels on GMO foods. USA Today: The Burlington (Vt.) Free Press. May 8, 2014.


Onto our belly bugs…

  • Could it be that our gut bugs could come to our gluten tolerance rescue??
  • What if you just aren’t emotionally ready to give up the spaghetti?

Read more about these topics here.


water drop






Essential Oil Tip: The Antiviral Property of Oregano

A recent study showed oregano and it’s main constituent, carvacrol, in inhibiting murine norovirus in cell cultures.

Source: Gilling, D.H., Kitajima, M., Torrey, J.R. and Bright, K.R. (2014), Antiviral efficacy and mechanisms of action of oregano essential oil and its primary component carvacrol against murine norovirus. Journal of Applied Microbiology, 116: 1149–1163. doi: 10.1111/jam.12453


1. Do You Believe-The Power of the Placebo?

You are the Placebo by Dr. Joe Dispenza is a must read for those who want to explore how to take control of their health by the power of their beliefs. This book documents numerous cases of those who reversed many diseases including cancer, heart disease, depression, crippling arthritis, and Parkinson’s disease by believing in a placebo. Similarly, this book highlights how others have gotten sick and even died due to negative beliefs or being misdiagnosed with a fatal illness.

You Are the Placebo combines the neuroscience, biology, psychology, hypnosis, behavioral conditioning, and quantum physics to validate the power of placebo.



2. Book

Editing is in the works and the manuscript is getting ready for final submission within the next few weeks. Stay on the lookout! Within the next few months, the book website will be launched and you can follow the excitement. Thanks for all the encouragement on this dragged out process.


3. The Thyroid Sessions

I am learning so much and taking notes to share with you all! Hope you’ve tuned in. Thanks Sean!


3. Fee Update for Clients

Did you know that liking your doctor and compassionate care from them is vital for the health of our society and for every individual? This is for a variety of reasons. Read my previous blog for more details.

Therefore, current clients and readers, please stay in touch with the updates on my website in the future. There will be a slight increase in monthly hourly consults and fees but also more options for length of visits starting in June.


Images courtesy of istockphotos: istockphoto.com