Gluten is a class of proteins found in wheat, rye, barley, and triticale. For most, it’s a harmless component commonly found in foods, but for those with celiac disease or other gluten sensitivities, gluten consumption can cause some serious issues. If you are gluten-sensitive, chances are pretty high that you will accidentally consume gluten at some point, but you don’t need to panic. We spoke with Antoinette Caruso, a nutritional therapy practitioner, certified gluten practitioner, educator, and speaker, to learn what to do when you accidentally consume gluten.
What Happens If You Eat Gluten
According to Caruso, if you have been diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten-sensitivity, accidental exposure to gluten is a fact of life. As careful as you are, cross-contamination is prevalent in all steps of the American food system, including processing, shipping, and handling.
When someone with celiac or a non-celiac gluten sensitivity consumes gluten, his or her body overreacts to the long-chain proteins, triggering a complex autoimmune and inflammatory response. The immediate result of this is intestinal problems, like diarrhea, gas, bloating, and constipation. Other common symptoms after accidental gluten consumption may include:
- An itchy, blistery rash (referred to as dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Mouth ulcers
However, constant exposure to gluten can result in varied symptoms that may affect nearly all systems throughout the body. The immune response to gluten consumption most often results in damage to the intestinal villi, the finger-like projections that line the walls of the small intestine. Damage to the villi prevents the intestines from properly absorbing vitamins and minerals in food, which can lead to nutrient deficiencies and malnourishment. Eventually, this can extend into a loss of bone density, fertility issues, and even certain neurological issues. Continual gluten exposure may result in organ damage and autoimmune disorders.
Steps to Coping with Exposure
Caruso suggests a simple two-pronged, proactive approach to accidental gluten exposure.
Step 1: Breaking down gluten
Caruso suggests carrying the supplement E3 Advanced Plus from Numedica. This supplement works to break down gluten proteins in the stomach while targeting internal and external peptide bonds. This nips gluten at the bud, preventing it from causing further damage to your intestine. E3 Advanced Plus also breaks down the eight major antigens:
This breakdown occurs within 90 minutes of taking the supplement. “Carry this product with you, and use it when you eat in restaurants or when accidental exposure is possible,” says Caruso, “Because it breaks down the offending proteins within 90 minutes, the protein chains will not produce an autoimmune reaction.” However, as effective as this supplement is, do not use it as an excuse to freely eat foods containing gluten.
Those diagnosed with celiac or a gluten sensitivity typically experience leaky gut or increased intestinal permeability, a result of the damaged villi. Healthy villi tend to increase the surface area of the intestinal lining. The bacteria, known as enterocytes, in the villi break down food and absorb the nutrients. Those with celiac or gluten intolerance generally have worn down villi, depleted healthy bacteria, and an intestinal lining permeated with holes. Increased intestinal permeability allows for toxins, bacteria, and undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream, which may contribute to quick diarrhea and an unhealthy autoimmune response. That’s where step two comes in.
Step 2: Healing the intestinal wall
After consuming gluten, you need to heal your intestines, replenish the healthy bacteria, and repair the villi. To accomplish that, Caruso recommends Colostrum-LD®. This is the only bovine colostrum available that uses a liposomal delivery system, which delivers the colostrum directly to the intestines to “heal and seal.” “Other forms of colostrum are broken down and digested in the stomach, but this powdered form, when mixed with water, passes through the stomach to work its healing magic directly where it is needed most,” Caruso says.
Colostrum-LD also contains bio-compatible growth factors, which may help to encourage the repair and regrowth of tissues throughout the body, even beyond the gut. Colostrum-LD also contains immune factors that may help to rebalance gut bacteria and contribute to normal bowel function. Best of all, Colostrum-LD is generally considered safe for everyone as most of the lactose has been removed. However, this supplement is not recommended for those with anaphylactic reactions to dairy.
Other Steps to Take
Along with the above steps recommended by Antoinette Caruso, here are other things you can do to help the recovery process.
It’s always good to stay hydrated, especially if you are experiencing diarrhea. Getting extra fluids may also help to flush your system and remove toxins.
Working or going to school while you’re still recovering may make symptoms worse, so try to get plenty of rest to give your body time to heal.
Consider activated charcoal
Taking activated charcoal may help to reduce gas and bloating by binding to toxins. However, make sure to drink extra water to prevent constipation.
If you have celiac or a gluten sensitivity, consider taking Colostrum-LD daily to help heal your gut. Even if you don’t have gluten issues, daily Colostrum-LD helps maintain a healthy gut and immune response.