Gluten-Sensitivity Validation and More Discouraging News about Obesity

I’ve wanted to make time to share two articles with you from the last week or so. One on the brain and obesity and one about gluten sensitivity.

The first, and I’m going to summarize brutally, indicates that middle-aged obese people have smaller brains.

Now let me fill in a few details. The journal Neurobiology of Aging posted the article  “Obesity associated with increased brain-age from mid-life,” reporting that when middle-aged, obese study participants were compared to middle-aged, normal weight study participants, the obese patients had more brain atrophy. (Atrophy means shrinking or wasting.) When matched according to white matter volume, obese patients’ brains appeared the size of patients ten years older.

Make sense? Basically, obesity for some reason predicted that a middle-aged person would have a smaller brain, about the size of someone ten years older. (Brains naturally atrophy as we age.) An obese patient’s 50-year-old brain would look 60 years old.

(What is obesity? If you don’t know your BMI, I suggest you calculate it so that you are not lying to yourself about the state of your weight. Obese people tend to just call themselves overweight. And morbidly obese people tend to just classify themselves as obese. Here is a BMI calculator.)

Please focus on changing your eating for forever—not on temporary weight loss. The article (and other articles reporting on it) really focuses on the weight. I DO believe that weight is important—BUT more in light of the reflection that food choices are not being matched for the individual person. You can lose weight eating only green beans from a can and shrink your belly. But I don’t think that’s the best deal to protect your brain!

Eat real. Don’t eat anything processed. If the weight is still stubborn, eat real, unprocessed AND make it PLAIN. Protect the brain. It’s worth it. You’re worth it. Your kids are worth it. Obesity kills your life slowly. Painfully.

Next article up is about gluten-sensitivity.

Do you feel bashful saying you’re gluten-sensitive? I mean, it’s not like you’re terribly allergic and going to die. Or celiac and really killing your organs by eating wheat. You just, well, you just don’t feel good after eating that bread. And your mom gets a little frustrated with you at family gatherings, having nothing to thicken the gravy with! Can’t she use a little bit?!? That wouldn’t hurt you, would it?

The journal Gut ran a research article titled “Intestinal cell damage and systemic immune activation in individuals reporting sensitivity to wheat in the absence of coeliac disease.”

That’s a long title. I’ll explain the article really briefly:

Definite lab abnormalities were found in those who reported gluten sensitivity, and the changes were NOT the same as those found in celiac disease. Gluten sensitive patients had lab markers suggestive of systemic immune activation and a compromised intestinal epithelial barrier integrity. (Specifically, they had increased levels of soluble CD14, increased lipopolysaccharide-binding protein, increased antibodies to microbial flagellin, and elevated fatty acid-binding protein 2.)

Specific symptoms they looked at for inclusion in their study were bloating, abdominal pain, diarrhea, heartburn, nausea, fatigue, headaches, anxiety, memory problems, thinking problems, or numbness and tingling of your arms and/or legs. They felt these were the most common symptoms associated with non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

After six months of a gluten-free diet, the non-celiac gluten sensitive patients felt better and their labs returned to normal.

The discussion of the article is very interesting, worth a read if you are up to the terminology being thrown around.

I’m one of those people who hates to be a nuisance, but when I eat gluten, I get side effects. So I went gluten-free four years ago (and ate real, whole foods and watched out for other food sensitivities). Being a medical doctor by training, it was really hard for me when the medical field really shamed the idea of gluten sensitivity. Suddenly I was personally pitted against everything and everybody I believed to be true and right professionally. The last four years have been QUITE the eye opener professionally.

So it’s good to see validation.

I really, really encourage you to eat whole, real food. No strange added ingredients. Grains as fresh and whole as you can if you do them. Oils and fats as unprocessed and as close to the source as you can get them. Skip white sugar unless you’ve decided it’s a really special day.

The Homeschooling Doctor logoYou are worth feeling good.



15 thoughts on “Gluten-Sensitivity Validation and More Discouraging News about Obesity

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes! Hooray!

      It is interesting to watch medicine unfold–or maybe all new ideas and discoveries unfold! From where they start as ideas in people’s minds due to close observation then to fruition of discoveries which explain things.

      Glad we’re still writing “together!” Keep going, Jackie! It’ll come! It has to.

      1. Jackie

        Aww, thank you for the comradery and encouragement! It instantly improved my mood.

        I agree it is fascinating to watch medicine unfold. The more I learn, the more I realize how much there is left to learn (both for me as an individual and for science in general). I’m most excited about brain research (especially to see what new understandings come from the relatively recent discovery of lymph vessels in the brain) and gut microbiome research.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        I’m excited, too, to continue learning more about mind-body/spirituality on the body, as what I’ve read has been so interesting (and useful). But, like you the gut and the brain, I just am really excited about too–totally! Just hope we can continue helping people catch fire to taking care of themselves as a whole.

  1. Lindsay

    Green beans from a can! Lol, I know who does that! 😂😂

    Glad there is some validation for the gluten sensitive. I’ve had several people tell me they don’t do well with gluten almost in an apologetic way, “Well, I don’t have Celiac like YOU, but…” And I always try to tell them that it isn’t imaginary, no matter what the current controversial research says. You do what makes you feel okay and don’t feel like you have to apologize to me for it!

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes! I thought about you a lot as a typed up this post in so many ways (green bean line, gluten-sensitive, inviting ourselves over, etc. 🙂 )! Sometimes, you read about celiacs getting upset because they feel like gluten-sensitive people’s requests undermine the gravity of gluten-free in restaurants and other places. I like your take.

      I’ll be in touch!

  2. Hilary

    The main trouble encountered with celiac/gluten sensitivity is the active hostility towards the suggestion that some people might be sensitive to the stuff – the assumption being that it is a fad-diet. This hostility meant I was too frightened to mention it to the doctor for fear of ridicule, so 10-years later I am still untested for celiac disease (my mother too). And this has meant the rest of my family have not felt the need to test, a number of whom are exhibiting worrying signs but reject the idea that gluten might have anything to do with it. My family assumes I’m ‘just making a fuss’, and I’m regularly ‘glutened’ at gatherings. This finding is a huge step forward but the resistance is strong, both among lay-people and clinicians. Science is only part of what is needed to break this down.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Historically, I suppose any new idea that changes old beliefs is ridiculed and maligned. Even made into a religious matter (like the flat/round Earth matter—-or how can you not eat grains as a Christian when you have to take communion?). But it makes me sad that someone who is sensitive isn’t celiac tested; but I know the resistance you would have faced 10 years ago! Celiac was thought to be exceptionally rare and with a specific set of classic symptoms we were trained to watch for. “You don’t got those symptoms—-you don’t got celiac,” was the pervading thought. I hope you are feeling well?! Did you ever go ahead and get genetic screening to at least help tease out if it would be more likely to be sensitive versus celiac?

      Warmest wishes.


    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      You are welcome. I suppose it’s in your neatly organized computer files now. Lucky you. Be well. Miss you. Hope your family is doing wonderfully. I’m still active, but not on my bike. I miss it, but I think I’ll get back there again when the toddler is a little older. Protect your brain. And I will too! God bless.—-Terri

      1. All Seasons Cyclist

        I have not been on my bike for the past three months — I got hit by a car while riding my bike on June 2 and have been in physical, occupational and speech therapy since then due to a traumatic brain injury. Apparently, a subarachnoid hemorrhage is a pretty big deal. I am on the road to recovery right now.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Yes. It is a big deal. I will take a minute right now to pray for your recovery and your spirits and your family. Let me know if there’s any information you need I can send you information about/research a bit for you/explain. Going to go take my minute.—Terri

      3. All Seasons Cyclist

        I would sincerely appreciate your prayers! This little event has been a lot harder on me than I thought it would be. Fortunately, I was wearing a very good helmet, but it broke on impact (as it was designed to do) and helped absorb some of the impact — but hitting the pavement after getting smacked by a car is hard on a 57 year old body. And thanks for your offer — I might drop you an email next week!

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