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Ghostly Gluten – You May Think You Know, But We Bet You Don’t

gluten is bad

By Mila McManus, MD and Nancy Mehlert, MS

Gluten can seem like a ghost.  We may not be familiar with all the sources, but most of us have heard the word by now.  You can’t see it like you can see a bottle of Coca Cola or a candy bar.  It hides in other consumables. So it does seem rather mysterious and ghost-like, and thus makes a good topic for October and all things spooky. As we care for ourselves and our families, understanding all we can about gluten is a critical part of making efforts to better health. Let’s try to clear up the mysteries.

Datis Kharrazian, DHSc, DC, MS says in his book Why Isn’t My Brain Working? (2013): “No single dietary protein is a more potent trigger of neurological dysfunction and neurological autoimmunity than gluten, the protein found in wheat.  We’re seeing dramatic increases in the number of people sensitive to gluten in the United States.  Research shows gluten sensitivity has risen sharply in the last 50 years.”[i]

Gluten is made up of a sticky portion called glutenin and a protein called gliadin. One does not exist without the other and gliadin itself has three more fractions called alpha, omega and gamma. Wheat is the primary source of gluten, though there are other grains that also have gluten including barley, rye, spelt, kamut and oats (unless the oats are properly processed by a certified gluten free method).

The gluten in ancient wheat of a century ago was very different. It was nature’s real food. Today, gluten, and more specifically wheat, has been significantly hybridized, meaning the seed has been altered many times over the years to create a new, man-made wheat, if you will, that appears to trigger immune reactions.  In other words, it is not natural or understood by the human body as a real, nature made food. In addition to this fake wheat, it has also been further altered through a process called deamidation.  The food industry deamidates wheat using acids and enzymes to make wheat water soluble so that it mixes more easily with other foods. And let’s not forget about all the pesticides sprayed on the wheat crops and the chemcials used during the harvesting process! A study published in the European Journal of Inflammation concluded this new compound may be the major cause of hidden inflammatory responses to foods[ii]. These things make wheat a fake, man-made substance that perhaps should not be honored with the name “food”.

Gluten is pervasive in processed foods and products and can be truly hidden under unsuspecting names, often not listed at all, yet very easily present. This makes a gluten allergy or sensitivity extremely difficult to navigate, especially in the world of packaged, manufactured and restaurant food. Few realize that modified food starch, food emulsifiers, food stabilizers, artificial food coloring, malt extracts, and dextrins often have gluten in them.  Even some clarifying agents used in red wine can have gluten. Equally unsuspecting sources of gluten include many deli meats, instant coffee, some ketchups and mustards, beer, soy sauce, imitation crab meat and even your shampoo and prescription medications!

Equally frustrating is that the immune system often does not make good distinction between gluten and other similar proteins and, as a result, attacks not only gluten, but other proteins recognized  to be the same.  Foods that fall into this area include milk proteins, corn, all oats including certified gluten free oats, yeast, millet, and rice.  The immune system can also confuse nervous tissues with gluten and attack the nervous system, resulting in neurologic symptoms or an autoimmune disease such as Multiple Sclerosis. In addition, when the immune system attacks gluten, this attack can break down the blood-brain barrier (the thin lining that protects the brain) and lead to what is called a leaky brain.  This is much like the Leaky Gut Syndrome of the gastrointestinal system.

You can see how important it is to understand that gluten and wheat have a very broad impact on health, not only in the intestines, but the central nervous system and skin. Despite extensive research, many physicians do not understand Celiac disease, much less gluten sensitivity. Most physicians who do have knowledge of it relate it only to intestinal damage and gut issues, ignoring the potentially dramatic impacts on the central nervous system. According to Dr. Kharrazian, the average neurologist has no idea gluten can impact every part of the nervous system from the brain, the spinal cord, and peripheral nerves that extend into the arms and feet, causing any number of neurologic symptoms and diseases.  It also can directly affect our skin, being an underlying cause of such conditions as Rosacea, acne, or keratosis pilaris. And sadly, the criteria and testing for diagnosis of celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are outdated, unreliable, and incomplete. The best test is to radically remove it from the diet and see the results.

Gluten sensitivity has been shown to be a significant trigger in a broad host of health conditions including psychiatric and behavioral disorders, autoimmune diseases, hearing loss and restless leg syndrome.  Virtually every part of the nervous system that has been researched has shown gluten to be a clear trigger for diseases of the central nervous system.[iii] If you do not have your health, or if you have an autoimmune disease of any kind, feel that your brain is not functioning optimally, have digestive, neurological, or skin issues or a combination of any of these, you owe it to yourself to learn more about gluten, how to avoid it and eliminate it from your diet.  (Tests are also available).  Here at TWIHW we are well prepared to help you with dietary advice, useful supplements and healing protocols.  Call 281-298-6742 for help today!



[i] Page 158

[ii] Vojdani A, O’Bryan T, Kellermann GH. The immunology of immediate and delayed hypersensitivity reaction to gluten. European J of Inflammation. 2008;6(1):1-10.

[iii] Kharrazian,D. Why Isn’t My Brain Working?, Carlsbad, CA.,Elephant Press. 2013. Page 134.

By |2017-10-31T14:47:38-05:00October 7th, 2017|Articles, General|


By Mila McManus MD and Nancy Mehlert, MS


The skin is the body’s largest organ. It helps to regulate temperature and serves as the first line of defense against infection. It is an organ with the capacity to both absorb and eliminate substances.

The skin is also an outward manifestation and communication of what is going on inside the body. Healthy skin is reflective of a healthy internal body and ideally it should be clear and glowing. Any skin condition, such as oily or dry skin, blemishes, discoloration, eczema, psoriasis, acne, hives, rashes, itchiness, and premature aging are all signs that there’s something internally in the body that’s out of balance. These are not normal and should not be written off as “aging” or “normal for me”. Suppressing your skin problem with topical antibiotics and steroids, for example, is a disservice to your body because the underlying causes have not been addressed. Also, remember that the skin is a detoxification pathway and the body is, in many cases, trying to eliminate something through the skin. Stopping that process topically may prevent the body from detoxifying successfully.

When skin issues lead us to searching for the internal issues, in almost every case, it leads us to internal inflammation. This can come from many sources and, for some individuals, it may be the result of several factors. The most common are:

• Nutrient deficiencies
• Diet high in processed foods
• Hormone Imbalances
• Poor gut health with pathogenic microbial overgrowth
• Toxicity from heavy metals and chemicals
• Food sensitivities and allergies
• Compromised immune function such as autoimmune disease
• Viral, bacterial or parasitic infestation

Addressing these internal issues, along with improving liver detoxification pathways and doing so every day, in the lifestyle choices that you make, can result in healing that becomes evident in the skin too. An integrated, holistic approach addressing each of these areas is the optimal way to achieve healing of “skinflammation”.
Important nutrients for healthy skin include Vitamin A, Zinc, Vitamin C, Omega-3 Fatty Acids, Biotin, Selenium, Silica, Niacin, Vitamin K2, Sulfur, Vitamin E and Pantothenic Acid. Each of these are essential for radiant skin health.

Because nutrition plays such a significant part of achieving and maintaining healthy skin, diet is one of the first items to address when healing skin problems. From this perspective, the most likely culprits that contribute to skin issues are sugar, dairy, gluten, corn and eggs. Anyone trying to identify sources of inflammation both inside and out would do well to abstain from these foods to see if improvement or healing is achieved. It is equally important to consider other possible food sensitivities through elimination or testing (e.g., IgE via skin and/or blood tests, IgG via bloodspot, ALCAT). Foods that support healthy skin and are anti-inflammatory in nature include avocados, wild salmon, bone broth and antioxidant-rich greens and other colorful vegetables and fruits. Click here for a real bone broth recipe or contact us for resources for buying quality, properly prepared bone broth.

It is a common misconception that skin care products are harmless and don’t penetrate the skin. In America, the FDA has only banned 11 ingredients in skin care products while Europe has banned over 1000 ingredients. The FDA leaves it up to skin care manufacturers to disclose and consider whether an ingredient is safe. What research clearly shows is that many of these ingredients are toxic, hormone-disrupting and/or are carcinogens. It is not safe to assume that a product is safe simply because it’s on the store shelf. You may find it helpful to use the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” guide for cosmetics (www.ewg.org) We carry one of the cleanest skin care lines (AnnMarie) available today in our office so be sure to come by and check it out.

Finally, supporting the liver and detoxification pathways is also critical for supporting an anti-inflammatory environment in the body and on our skin. There are many such protocols including supplemental and dietary detoxification as well as infrared sauna, salt therapy, and ONDAMED. Often the body is not effective at eliminating toxins and the body needs support to promote drainage so that detoxification can occur. Simple strategies such as lemon water, green juicing, proteolytic enzymes, deep breathing, and dry brushing can help to stimulate improved drainage and detoxification.

©2016 www.DrJayDavidson.com. The Magic Mirror of the Skin, Guest: Dr. Trevor Cates

By |2017-09-09T08:34:40-05:00September 9th, 2017|Articles, General|

Vitamin A

Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is a powerful antioxidant the body uses to help form Vitamin A sourcesand maintain good vision and eye health, a strong immune system as well as soft tissues, mucus membranes, and skin. It is not found in plant food; however, the body can use beta-carotene found in many fruits, vegetables and some fish sources to convert to retinol.  Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is important to avoid taking Vitamin A without the guidance of a medical provider since excess can result in toxicity.  Issues with skin, mucous membranes, and immune function can be an indicator that Vitamin A is deficient.  it promotes epidermal differentiation, modulates dermal growth factors, inhibits sebaceous gland activity, suppresses androgen formation, and promotes cell turnover in the skin.  Our medical providers can provide special tapering dosing protocols to meet your specific needs as well as monitor to avoid toxicity. Vitamin A can be a very helpful supplement for addressing skin issues.  Our office carries two forms manufactured by the ProThera Inc. supplement line.


Nutrition for Skin, by Chris Kresser

By |2024-04-09T14:12:31-05:00August 26th, 2017|General|