Subject: Re: food allergy and binge eating
From: Ron Hoggan
Date: Wed, 05 Feb 1997 13:27:48 GMT

When food is ingested, we assume that we are absorbing the nutrients from
that food, but when food intolerances are at work, that is not the case.
Although there are a number of food intolerances that can cause similar
intestinal damage, I will focus my discussion on gluten intolerance. It is
what I know best. In this intolerance, when we eat gluten, the peptides
which derive from gluten, attach to the intestinal wall. Our immune system
recognizes these proteins and peptides as invaders, and mounts an
autoimmune reaction against them. In the process, the tissues in which
these molecules are imbedded, are also damaged. This results in deformed
and stunted intestinal villi. These villi the site where nutrients are
absorbed into the bloodstream.

At an earlier stage in this autoimmune process, microvilli which are
located at the tip of the villi, have sustained most of the damage. Not all
are destroyed, but most are. This leaves patches of microvilli which may
still be absorbing fats. You see, the microvilli work a little differently
than the villi. They absorb dietary fats into the lymphatic system, which
then transports the fats to the liver for processing. Because not all
microvilli are destroyed, some fat is still absorbed. Unfortunately, there
is a further limiting process going on in the gut. 

Gluten, in susceptible people, damages the duodenum in such a way that it
stops producing CCK. This is the hormone produced in the healthy duodenum,
in response to the presence of fats leaving the stomach. The CCK signals
the gall bladder to contract, and send bile down the common bile duct, to
be mixed with fats, thus making them easier to absorb into the microvilli.
That is not happening in the damaged duodenum. Little or no CCK is
produced, so little or no bile is made available for emulsification with

This might aid in staying slim, except that the fats not being absorbed
are, in part, essential fatty acids. The body needs them to survive. The
body continues to crave them, but they are not well absorbed. That means
that there is still a strange urge to eat, due to the body's unfulfilled
need for essential fatty acids. Even with a full stomach, and on a calorie
rich diet, the desire, the need to eat continues. 

Dieting may work, on a short-term basis, but it is unlikely to result in
ongoing trimness. The reason is simple. Dieting asks the dieter to behave
in a manner contrary to the body's  own survival instinct. It needs
essential fatty acids, but its capacity to absorb them is terribly limited.

I do not have a problem with being overweight. I have the opposite problem.
2+ years ago, I was diagnosed with celiac disease. The doctor laughed when
I requested that my mom be tested. She was quite overweight, and that is
not what doctors expect to see in someone with celiac disease. People who
are overweight are only rarely tested for food intolerances. 

After some months of squabbling, she was given some blood tests, and was
diagnosed. She promptly lost more than 40 pounds on a gluten-free diet.
Gluten, of course, is not the only food to which a person can have such an
intolerance. Gluten intolerance is the one I know about. 

For more information, look at:

I hope that is helpful.

Best Wishes,
Ron Hoggan   Calgary, Alberta, Canada