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GIG Eugene

Eugene Gluten Intolerance Group
Providing Support to Persons with Gluten Intolerance

Meetings are held the 2nd Thursday of the month
1800 Lakewood Court, Eugene, Oregon
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Contact Diane Connell for more information 541-343-0459   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Restaurants interested in developing Gluten-Free Menu items contact Michelle Graff   541-505-6869

Delta Market of Choice is a big help to GIG-Eugene and our gluten-free community.  Every aisle has gluten-free products, just look for purple gluten-free stickers on the shelf.  If you need help finding something, ask for Jessica or Teresa on Sat or Sun,  Ryun is the store manager and you can also ask Alena, Debbie, Jim or Ryun weekdays.  Any cashier can put you in touch with someone that can help you.

NEW STORE! -- Natural Grocers, 201 Coburg Rd, Eugene, OR 97401


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There will not be a March GIG meeting.  Diane is still recovering from her surgery last month. Will update when I know more. Please email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you have any questions or to be placed on our mailing list for future updates.




Our guest speaker in January was Dr. Adrienne Borg, a naturopathic physician who also practices homeopathy. Since people with food sensitivities tend to be more susceptible to viral infections, she spoke to us about our immune systems and give us some tips on beating the flu.

Our bodies have an anatomic barrier against outside influences that can cause illness (pathogens). This barrier includes our skin and mucous membranes, two kinds of tissue that are harmed by gluten in some people. Inflamed mucous membranes are more vulnerable to infection.

Certain immune cells patrol our bodies looking for foreign invaders. When found, they are marked as harmful antigens. White blood cells, called phagocytes, respond by engulfing the marked cells — like little Pacman munchers — and destroying them. Our cells are not “foreign” and do not get marked in a healthy immune system. Undigested food (like wheat proteins), harmful chemicals and other toxins also have markers, resulting in the creation of antibodies and a normal immune/inflammation response.

(By the way, we use the same process in reacting to pollen and other allergens, creating an immune reaction that includes inflammation. It should be noted that, in medicine, “allergy” is a specific response resulting in IgE antibodies that cause hives, respiratory swelling and closure, etc. Food sensitivities, on the other hand, produce different antibodies and are not technically allergies.)

Traces of herbicides, pesticides, fungus and other toxins are increasingly found in our food supply. Dr. Borg thinks that the dramatic increase in food sensitivities in recent years might be due to haptenization. In other words, a toxin piggybacks on bit of non-threatening dietary protein. Our bodies then mark the toxin and the otherwise harmless protein gets marked by association.

Our amazing immune systems have memory. As young children, our immune systems are naïve; they haven’t been exposed to many pathogens. Through the years we become exposed to a variety of new germs and we get sick, sometimes seriously so. But the next time that germ comes around our immune system recognizes it as trouble and responds. Good news for people in general, but for those with food sensitivities it’s not so good because the immune cells remember the reactive food and keep up the immune response every time we eat it.

Celiac disease is a genetic predisposition to react to gliadin, one of the proteins in wheat. The celiac genes do not always express themselves, but if they do it may trigger an autoimmune response where the immune systems attacks the host (that’s us). Antibodies are components of mucous membranes and other connective tissues. Mucous membranes are found in the digestive system, lungs, sinuses and other organs, so celiac disease doesn’t always express in the gut. It may even express in seemingly unrelated areas like the nervous system or thyroid. Our bodies attack offending dietary proteins as if they were viruses or bacteria causing inflammation in the gut or elsewhere and may lead to nasal congestion, eczema and other illnesses.

People with eczema, arthritis, asthma, chronic sinusitis and gut problems, or who frequently get colds or flu, may have food sensitivities as the underlying cause. Dr. Borg says that when the offending foods are removed from the diet, these troubling conditions often get resolved. On the other hand, sometimes these conditions are so severe that when they are resolved other, less severe, problems are unmasked. She recommends at least six months of strict avoidance of offending foods to promote healing. But once the body is cleared and healed some people find that they can carefully reintroduce the previously reactive foods into their diet without a problem. It is important to note that if you have actual celiac disease, as opposed to gluten sensitivity, you should never eat gluten. Period.

People with celiac disease often have other food intolerances. Wheat, dairy, eggs, corn and nuts are common foods with reactive proteins. By the way, intolerance to gluten without actual celiac disease could be a reaction to other proteins in wheat, which won’t show up on a test for a gliadin reaction.

Next, Dr. Borg illustrated how our intestines are like walls with gates and gatekeepers. When all is well, the gatekeepers open the gates for digested food particles but don’t allow macromolecules, pathogens and other offenders to pass. However, constant inflammation in the gut disrupts our defenses, making the gut more permeable. It’s like a bulldozer crashing through the wall, creating holes that allow dangerous foreign substances to infiltrate the blood stream and stimulate an immune response.

For preventing colds and flu, Dr. Borg recommends the following:

*WASH YOUR HANDS with soap and water. It’s simple but very effective. Use regular soap, not antibacterial. Use hand sanitizer only when soap and water are unavailable. They usually contain alcohol, which disrupts the anatomical barrier of the skin.

*GET ENOUGH SLEEP. This is very important.

*AVOID SUGAR. Simple sugars slow down and interfere with those Pacman-like phagocytes and are suppressive to the immune system.

*EAT COLORFUL FOODS. Fruits and veggies in a variety of colors contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and bioflavonoids. They are anti-inflammatory and help keep the mucous membranes strong.

*AVOID REACTIVE FOODS & ENVIRONMENTAL ALLERGENS especially during cold and flu season and/or allergy season. It’s all about the level of inflammation in the body. The less inflammation from food or allergens, the more the immune system is able to fight germs.

*RECOMMENDED SUPPLEMENTS: Vitamins C, A and D. Vitamin D is especially important for us here in Eugene and particularly for those over 50. She generally recommends a minimum of 1,000 IU per day, but a blood test will show what’s right for you personally. Probiotics (beneficial microbes) are an essential part of our immune system. Reishi mushrooms are helpful, too.

*USE A NETI POT. By flushing the sinuses and keeping things open you are less likely to get sick, stay sick or get worse.

*REMEDIES IN THE CUPBOARD. Garlic, oregano, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, cinnamon and ginger are all good for staying healthy. Try a tea made from grated ginger root with a dash of Tabasco sauce—it helps to break up mucous.

If you do get sick, Dr. Borg recommends WELLNESS FORMULA (take at the first signs and throughout illness), the Chinese remedy YIN CHAO (during the first 24 hours) or ECHINACEA (take only when sick, it’s not preventive). In addition, if you feel the flu coming on, try OSCILLOCOCCINUM, a homeopathic remedy. She recommends one-half a capful at a time, morning and night for a couple of days.

Thank you, Dr. Borg, for this very interesting and informative talk. You have helped us understand how to stay healthy this winter and throughout the year.


The Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University is conducting a survey about factors that influence patient satisfaction and invites you to take this questionnaire. We would greatly appreciate your participation, and we hope to use this data to improve celiac care in the future. Your participation in this research survey is completely optional. At the end of the survey there will be an optional entry into a raffle for a free $150 Visa gift card.

Here is a link to the survey:

(It takes approximately 7-8 minutes to complete)

The link we have provided is uniquely tied to this survey and your email address.  Please do not forward this message to anyone else. We do this to ensure that all survey submissions are unique (ie: to prevent multiple submissions from the same person).

This survey is completely anonymous, and it will not ask for any identifying information. All information provided will not be linked in any way to your personal survey entry.

Thank you for your participation!

Cynthia Beckman, Director of Development, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University

Dr. Peter Green, Director, Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University

Dr. Adam Faye, Resident in Internal Medicine at Columbia University


March 12th - Tara Palmer - nutritional chemist