4. Manage stress Scientists don’t know why stress can increase gluten intolerance—it may have to do with high cortisol levels, an imbalance in gut flora, or rising inflammation—but they know it can damage the intestines’ tissue-thin membrane. “That can cause the body to develop sensitivities to a number of foods, including gluten,” says Mark Liponis, M.D., coauthor of Ultraprevention (Simon & Schuster, 2005).
MIND-BODY ACTIVITIES. Use regular exercise, yoga, or meditation to ease stress and give your digestive system a rest.
CHEW THOROUGHLY. Chew and swallow properly so big proteins get broken down into amino acids in your stomach. If you eat too quickly or don’t fully chew your food, some of those proteins sneak through to the small intestine, where your immune system may start creating antibodies in response, says Liponis.
5. Take supplements Keep your gut operating at peak capacity—and make sure intestinal distress doesn’t rob you of key vitamins and nutrients—with these all-natural supplements.
PROBIOTICS. The “good bacteria” found in probiotics like acidophilus (and prebiotics, found in soy beans, artichokes, and oats) can help repair and protect damaged or irritated intestines. Look for a probiotic that contains at least fi ve billion organisms per dose like Culturelle (culturelle.com) and Jarro-Dophilus (jarrow.com). Keep it in the refrigerator to preserve the live bacteria and follow label guidelines for the correct dosage.
MULTIVITAMIN. A multivitamin can help prevent nutritional defi ciencies that may arise. Choose one with at least 400 IU of vitamin D3 and mixed natural tocopherols or high gamma tocopherol for vitamin E, and avoid those with more than 3,400 IU of vitamin A, since too much A can negatively affect bone strength and increase fractures, says Liponis.
Q: Is celiac on the rise?
YES. Experts estimate that celiac is doubling every ten years, possibly because of changes in how wheat is grown and processed. “Modern practices like hybridizing alter molecules, which in turn change the body’s immune response,” says Mark Hyman, M.D., author of The UltraMind Solution (Scribner, 2008). Genetically modified wheat crops also have much higher gluten content, which may overburden the digestive system.