In part 1 of our 5-part series, we discussed what gluten really is and why you should avoid it. In part 2, we discussed how to go gluten-free without losing your mind or breaking the bank. In part 3, we discussed how you can adopt a gluten-free diet without worrying about how your new healthy lifestyle will look to others!
In part 4, I gave you some tips on how to get healthy, gluten-free food delivered straight to your door! In part 5 of our series, we will discuss the scientific evidence that proves a gluten-free diet can put chronic illness into remission!
Common Question: Is there any research-based evidence that proves a gluten-free diet will help control my chronic pain?
This is another very common misconception about the gluten-free diet: That the evidence for a gluten-free diet is completely anecdotal, and that there is no science behind it.
- Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity Exists
First, research has proven that non-celiac gluten sensitivity does, indeed, exist.
During a study published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, blood serum levels were assessed for immunoglobulin (Ig)G/IgA antigliadin antibodies (AGA) in 78 patients with gluten sensitivity and 80 patients with celiac disease.
The results revealed that gluten antibodies were positive in 56.4 percent of patients with gluten sensitivity and in 81.2 percent of patients with celiac disease.
Both groups presented with nearly identical symptoms:
“Patients with GS displayed a variegated clinical picture with intestinal and extraintestinal symptoms (abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, foggy mind, tiredness, eczema/skin rash, headache, joint/muscle pain, numbness of legs/arms, depression, and anemia) together with normal or mildly abnormal small intestinal mucosa.”
- Fibromyalgia Goes into Remission for Patients on a Gluten-Free Diet
According to a study published by Rheumatology International, 20 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, who experienced chronic musculoskeletal pain, asthenia, and irritable bowel syndrome, were placed on a gluten-free diet.
After follow-up, participants were considered to have “gone into remission” if they could return to work, return to a normal life, and/or discontinue the use of their opioid medications.
“The level of widespread chronic pain improved dramatically for all patients; for 15 patients, chronic widespread pain was no longer present, indicating remission of FM. Fifteen patients returned to work or normal life. In three patients who had been previously treated in pain units with opioids, these drugs were discontinued. Fatigue, gastrointestinal symptoms, migraine, and depression also improved together with pain. Patients #2 and #3, both with oral aphthae, went into complete remission for psoriatic arthritis and undifferentiated spondyloarthritis.”
- Patients With Arthritis Notice Reduction in Pain on a Gluten-Free Diet
According to an article published by the Arthritis Foundation, Dr. Rochelle Rosian, a rheumatologist at Cleveland Clinic, noted that gluten-sensitive individuals have a different type of immune response to grain proteins. She also noted that many of her own RA patients who are sensitive to gluten notice less joint pain when they don’t eat it.
“Patients with arthritis are always looking for nondrug ways to manage inflammation,” she says. “We know that certain foods are pro-inflammatory and that includes gluten-containing grains and the thousands of foods made from them. When some, but not all, people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity eliminate these from their diet, they find their arthritis improves.”
- Gluten-Sensitive Diarrhea Without Celiac Disease
As far back as 1980, scientific researchers were beginning to make the connection between gluten and chronic stomach problems.
According to a study published in Gastroenterology:
“Eight adult female patients suffering from abdominal pain and chronic diarrhea which was often incapacitating and frequently nocturnal, had dramatic relief on a gluten-free diet and return of symptoms after gluten challenge. It was concluded that these patients had a gluten-sensitive diarrhea, but had no evidence of celiac disease.”
- A Gluten-Free Diet Helps Women With Chronic Pelvic Pain
According to a study found in the Europe PMC database, a gluten-free diet proved to be of significant benefit in reducing pelvic pain associated with endometriosis.
All patients were placed on a gluten-free diet for a period of 12 months. After the 12-month follow-up, 75 percent of patients reported a statistically significant change in their painful symptoms, whereas only 25 percent reported no improvement of symptoms.
None of the patients reported worsening of pain.
From the study itself:
“A considerable increase of scores for all domains of physical functioning, general health perception, vitality, social functioning, and mental health was observed in all patients (P<0.005). CONCLUSION: In our experience, painful symptoms of endometriosis decrease after 12 months of [gluten-free] diet.”
There you have it! Now you know everything you need to know to get started on a gluten-free diet to put your chronic pain in remission! Thank you for tuning in. Join the mailing list to stay up to date on my latest articles!