Celiac Disease, NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity), Wheat Allergy, and Noxae Defined

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Ever wonder how many billions of dollars go into protective gear for workers? Mechanics, painters, coal miners, … it’s a pretty long list. The gear can range from basic gas mask to full on astronaut suit for fire workers running into blazing buildings.

You know who’s missing from that long list of protected workers handling hazardous material? The worker whose job is “still among the most frequent occupational respiratory disorders” (1). Your baker. “Baker’s Asthma” is a (developed) allergy primarily with wheat, though rye (2) can also be a problem.

“Our findings indicate the necessity for an improved primary prevention of exposure to inhalative noxae in bakeries.” (1)

…If wheat is called “noxae” in a medical study (also “noxa”, defined by the medical dictionary as “anything harmful to health”), and bakers get sick just by inhaling wheat, what is happening to people eating it? Unfortunately, I know firsthand.

Note that no one is born with Baker’s Asthma. You develop it the way you develop mesothelioma when exposed to too much asbestos. If you slow down for a few seconds and realize that bakers and coal miners both have respiratory illnesses, but one of them is totally unacknowledged and unprotected while the other one has class action lawsuits…

Defining Allergy, Celiac, NCGS

  1. Allergy: Usually reversible if exposure to the toxin is discontinued.
  2. Celiac Disease: Damages the intestines. Not reversible once triggered. It’s an immune response for life.
  3. NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity): Does not damage the intestines, but creates inflammation, many systemic disorders, and has twice the morbidity rate of Celiac Disease (3).

Why the Medical Definitions Are Deceiving

Allergy is an allergy if it’s not left unattended and allowed to graduate to immune response. Simple enough.

In the case of Celiac Disease and NCGS, there’s a really wide range within both. You don’t just have them or not. You can have the genes and the markers for initial stages of Celiac Disease, but be diagnosed as negative because you aren’t at the “final stage” of intestinal damage yet. …if that sounds insane to you… 1) It is insane. 2) It’s fact: intestinal damage from gluten runs from level 1 to 5 and only 5 is considered a positive Celiac diagnosis (4) (imagine telling cancer patients to wait till stage 4 to be diagnosed positive).

That blurs the numbers tremendously. First of all on a wide range, meaning the percentage of the population we consider is affected (clearly much higher than the mythical 1%). The second place it’s blurring the numbers is at a very individual level: a person gets tested, usually not even told they’re at level 3 or 4, and sent home with no answers to their mystery problems. It can take up to 17 years to be correctly diagnosed from the time symptoms appear (5)!

The third place the numbers get fuzzy is how many of those NCGS people are simply at stage 1 of Celiac, which is before any intestinal damage is found or the biopsy missed the spot?

So there are your “official” definitions, but official doesn’t mean definitive. If your client is reacting, cut the noxae.

p.s. If you’re advising clients on testing, please be sure to learn all details or refer to an experienced person with testing for gluten specifically. If there was ever a topic where “the devil’s in the details”, all things related to gluten is it!

REFERENCES:

  1. Baur X1, Degens PO, Sander I. “Baker’s asthma: still among the most frequent occupational respiratory disorders” J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1998 Dec;102(6 Pt 1):984-97.
  2. Letrán A1, Palacín A, et al. “Rye flour allergens: an emerging role in baker’s asthma” Am J Ind Med. 2008 May;51(5):324-8. doi: 10.1002/ajim.20566.
  3. JAMA, Sept 16, 2009,Vol 302, No. 11
  4. BMJ VOLUME 330 2 APRIL 2005
  5. Gasbarrini G., Ciccocioppo R., et al. Club del Tenue Study Group . (2001).”Coeliac disease in the elderly. A multicentre Italian study”. Gerontology 47, 306–310. 10.1159/000052819

Jaqui Karr, CGP, CSN, CVD, is a best-selling author, speaker, and corporate consultantJaqui Karr who specializes in educating about gluten, celiac disease, specialty diets, and health through nutrition. Her popular “NakedFood” brand has helped thousands include more power raw and healing greens in their diet. Ms. Karr is a certified gluten practitioner, certified sports nutritionist, and certified vegan/vegetarian educator to dietitians. http://jaquikarr.com

Note: The statements presented in this column should not be considered medical advice or a way to diagnose or treat any disease or illness. Dietary supplements do not treat, cure or prevent any disease. Always feel the advice of a medical professional before altering your daily dietary regimen. The opinions presented here are those of the writer. 

Published in WholeFoods Magazine Online, 2/27/2017