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Success in Curing Gluten Intolerance

It’s been a long road.15A51E7D-F2D4-49F4-B277-5F2B7DCFBAC8[1]

I’ve wanted to write this up for a couple of weeks now, but I’ve been too nervous. I keep waiting for the old gluten symptoms to spring up, but so far…nothing. It’s been three weeks that I’ve added spelt back into my diet and so far I haven’t had any issues. Spelt is the last thing I gave up way back at the beginning of this blog’s existence actually, and now it’s the first thing I’ve put back in my diet after years of actively trying to heal my gut. My personal symptoms include bloating, headaches, fatigue, general malaise, and acne. I realize these sound like odd things to string all together, but the fact is that when I used to eat wheat, those issues plagued my life, then when I’d stop they’d stop, then when I’d eat wheat either as an experiment or by accident, sure enough, those symptoms would immediately be back. So far though, these last three weeks have been symptom-free despite eating spelt once about every other day. It isn’t much but I was so nervous to do it that it took about a month of thinking about it before actually eating a bite of spelt. (By the way, spelt is a variety of wheat with a lower than average gluten content which is why it is more tolerable than regular wheat flour.) My protocol started two years ago which I detailed here, but I also ended up adding adaptogens to my daily life which balance all the bodily systems, digestive herbs every day, and I’ve used Renew Life’s IntestiNew powder for a few months to really rebuild the intestinal lining. I also did a candida cleanse about a year ago b/c it’s important to your digestive health to make sure you don’t have an overabundance of candida in your system which many many people do because of antibiotic use and sugar-filled diets. If you are working to overcome food intolerances, here are some things to consider:

  1. Stop eating the trigger foods (of course)
  2. Take probiotics~ the highest potency ones you can find, and take different brands each time you need a new bottle. Talk with your doctor or naturopath about the dosing because most likely they will recommend higher dosages than on the bottle. This is especially true if you’ve been on antibiotics (ever) and never taken probiotics before.
  3. Heal intestinal lining by taking glutamine and herbs targeted towards such, and also by eating foods that are not overly taxing on the digestive system. These can vary by people, but you know what sits in your gut or causes you to bloat and have digestive distress and what feels good to your body when you eat it. By taking digestive enzymes before you eat and incorporating digestive herbs into your diet, you are also aiding the healing process.
  4. Give it time. Depending on how long it’s been an issue in your life, it could mean 3 months to 2 years of work. Trust your body, your intuition, and your medical professionals, but especially your body. Food intolerances can arise at any time in a person’s life but they don’t have to last for the rest of that person’s life. You can beat it, you can heal, and you can have optimal health.

Herbarium signCuring food intolerance is not something to undertake alone. I’ve worked with my physician, naturopath, and a GI specialist, plus I am an certified herbalist who’s worked in the natural foods and products industry so I know about what supplements are out there. Please work with health professionals of your own before trying to heal yourself, but hopefully this post will encourage others to heal and not just live with food intolerances indefinitely.

celiac disease · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free lifestyle · gluten free symptoms · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerance diagnosis · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant · health

IgA Deficiency, Celiac Disease, and Gluten Sensitivity

I’ve written before about my own path to figuring out my gluten issues and it seems everyone has a diagnosis story like mine, though most are far more involved and long-lived, with the average person waiting 10 years for a proper CD or gluten sensitivity diagnosis. Just recently I read that another reason gluten issues are misdiagnosed is due to false negative blood tests~ if you have an IgA deficiency, the blood test for gluten reaction can come up negative even if it is positive. This is a big deal because: “Immunoglobulin A (IgA) deficiency is 10 to 15 times more common in patients with celiac disease (CD) than in healthy subjects.” That is a quote from Clinical and Vaccine Immunology. Another article on Food Matters gives further evidence of the link between IgA deficiency and food allergies and intolerances, such as:

“A significant number of allergic individuals have associated IgA deficiency, and there is evidence that IgA deficiency is linked to the development of gastrointestinal food hypersensitivity. (5)

Increased susceptibility to food allergies is now associated with IgA deficiency. (2,4)”

And, “IgA deficiency is much more common among those with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) than the general population.”

A very readable article on this issue can be found here: Gluten Intolerance & Celiac Disease.

Just something to know so you can advocate for yourself and your loved ones. You can also work on healing your intolerance by healing your digestive system. Here’s what worked for me. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Celiac Symptoms

This feels a little like a PSA, but I thought this was a really nice list that one can go through and then take to their doctor because it covers some things not everyone would think of to talk about with their GI doctor.

Here’s the link where you can actually submit your answers and (I believe) then print out the symptoms in a handy take-to-your-doc sheet: Celiac Checklist

And here’s the checklist if you just want to browse through it:

Anemia

YesNo

  • Fatigue or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
    YesNo

  • Failure to Thrive
    YesNo

  • IgA Deficiency
    YesNo

  • Malnutriton or Vitamin Deficiency
    YesNo

 

 

Behavioral or Central Nervous System Conditions

  • ADHD
    YesNo

  • Anxiety
    YesNo

  • Brain Fog or Foggy Mind
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Depression
    YesNo

  • Developmental Delay
    YesNo

  • Headache or Migraine
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Irritability
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Lack of Muscle Coordination (Ataxia)
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Seizure
    YesNo

Gastrointestinal Conditions

  • Abdominal Pain
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Acid Reflux (Heartburn)
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Bloating
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Constipation
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Diarrhea
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Gas
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Lactose Intolerance
    YesNo

  • Lymphoma or Intestinal Cancer
    YesNo

  • Pale, Foul-Smelling Stool
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Unexplained Liver Problem
    YesNo

  • Vomiting
    NeverDailyWeeklyMonthlyOnce in a WhileUnsure

  • Weight Loss or Weight Gain
    YesNo

Muscular Skeletal Conditions

  • Arthritis
    YesNo

  • Bone or Joint Pain
    YesNo

  • Fibromyalgia or Muscle Pain
    YesNo

  • Numbness or Pain in Hands and Feet (Peripheral Neuropathy)
    YesNo

  • Osteopenia or Osteoporosis
    YesNo

  • Short Stature
    YesNo

Reproductive Conditions

  • Delayed Puberty
    YesNo

  • Infertility
    YesNo

  • Menstrual Irregularities or Missed Periods
    YesNo

  • Miscarriage
    YesNo

Skin and Dental Conditions

  • Discolored Teeth or Enamel Loss
    YesNo

  • Eczema
    YesNo

  • Itchy Skin Rash (Dermatitis Herpetiformis)
    YesNo

  • Loss of Hair from your Head or Body (Alopecia)
    YesNo

  • Recurrent Mouth Canker Sores/Oral Ulcers (Aphthous Stomatitis)
    YesNo

Other Conditions and Autoimmune Disorders

  • Please mark any conditions that apply:
    Autoimmune HepatitisAddison’s DiseaseCrohn’s Disease; Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseChronic PancreatitisDown SyndromeIdiopathic Dilated CardiomyopathyIgA NephropathyIrrtitable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)Juvenile Idiopathic ArthritisMultiple SclerosisPrimary Biliary CirrhosisPrimary Sclerosing CholangitisPsoriasisRheumatoid ArthritisSclerodermaSjogren’s DiseaseThyroid DiseaseTurner SyndromeType I DiabetesUlcerative Colitis; Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseWilliams Syndrome

Family Member

  • 1st Degree Relative with Celiac Disease (Parent, Sibling, Child)
    YesNo

  • 2nd Degree Relative with Celiac Disease (Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent, Niece, Nephew, Cousin or Half-Sibling)
    YesNo

Diet

  • Currently Eating a Diet Containing Gluten (Wheat, Rye, Barley)
    YesNo
celiac disease · food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · gluten free lifestyle · gluten free symptoms · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerance diagnosis · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant

New Research on Gluten and Brain fog

This is the worst part when I accidentally ingest gluten and absolutely the hardest thing to explain to people who don’t have a gluten issue~ the ‘brain fog’. This article adds to growing research into an often cited but hard to study complaint of brain fog in celiacs and those gluten intolerant. They liken the brain fog to a .05 blood alcohol level, which is an interesting attempt to try to wrap some definition around something as hard to grasp as ‘fog’ but I would classify it as that feeling when you are getting sick and feverish and your brain just feels like it needs a nap before computing, but maybe that’s because gluten makes me tired, oh so tired, and so all I think about are naps. Probably everyone experiences it a bit differently, but it certainly points to early detection being more and more important if we want our children to have the best experience as possible in school. The article notes that they are still not sure why that happens since one theory was a lack of micronutrients making it to the brain when the digestive system is impaired, but that did not in fact seem to be the case. Another theory has to do with the gut bacteria, always super important when talking about brain health, but it could also be the gluten itself. Whatever it is, I’m just glad enough people have cited the issued that it’s being studied.

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Gluten Intolerant Symptoms

Schar just shared this infographic on their Facebook page. If you don’t already follow them, I heartily recommend doing so if you like nice visuals along with your gluten-free tidbits. And if you are planning a visit to Italy, this is definitely a company to know because as I understand it, they have played a major role in making the land of pasta a safe place for Celiacs and the like.  As far as the picture below goes, I can check off more than half those symptoms myself~ how about you?

schar

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Celiac Awareness Month

Did you know all children in Italy are automatically screened for Celiac? They, as a society, are much more aware of gluten issues in general which is about reason number 172 that I would like to be there right now, although with the sun warming up around here Washington feels pretty good. It’s been a long grey winter though and I just don’t trust this sunshine to stick around long. Whatever the weather where you are, check out this infographic that Gluten dude is kindly sharing:

celiac-disease-symptoms-500

I’ve never been tested for celiac but as a gluten intolerant person, I can attest to a very large proportion of these.

celiac disease · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten free lifestyle · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerance diagnosis · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant

Brain on Gluten cont.~ News from Living Without Magazine

Neurologic Effects of Celiac Disease 
A study featured at the International Celiac Disease  Symposium looked at neurological dysfunction in celiac disease. More  than half of the study’s 73 participants—newly diagnosed  adults at a celiac clinic in the U.K.—had neurological symptoms.  These included frequent and intractable headaches, balance problems and  sensory symptoms. White matter abnormalities were spotted in the brain  scans of a number of these participants and some had TG6 antibodies.  (TG6 antibodies have been linked to neurological dysfunction in celiac  disease.) Findings suggest that neurological dysfunction is common in  newly diagnosed celiacs, write researchers.
A U.S. study, also featured at ICDS, found that  neurocognitive effects like brain fog are common after exposure to  gluten in those with celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity  alike. A whopping 89 percent of celiacs and 95 percent of those with  non-celiac gluten sensitivity reported experiencing neurocognitive  effects due to gluten, specifically, difficulty concentrating,  forgetfulness, grogginess, detachment and mental confusion. Symptoms  often began 30 minutes to an hour after gluten exposure and lasted  several days. Results were based on a preliminary online survey  completed by 1,143 individuals with celiac disease and 253 with  non-celiac gluten sensitivity. More work is planned.

This is the exact article I found in my email box this morning from Living Without. Fascinating.

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Brain on Gluten

This is an interesting article about one neurologist’s belief that gluten and carbs are responsible for many brain ailments, such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, ADD and such. He talks about inflammation being caused by carbs which in turn is the root of many brain diseases, with gluten being especially damaging because of blood brain barrier issues. The part I found most personally verifiable is where he says many gluten intolerant symptoms are not felt in the digestive track at all, but in other parts of the body, and I can readily attest to that. Other foods majorly affect my stomach and such, but when I eat gluten I feel it almost immediately in my head. I had a low-grade headache from childhood until my 20s when I began to figure out the wheat connection. It is like clockwork, eat something with gluten and I start to feel ‘off’, like maybe I’m coming down with something and need to sleep it off, but then I slowly realize it isn’t just fatigue, but the a headache that is different from a normal headache, which incidentally I rarely get now that I don’t eat gluten. My whole body feels fatigued, I feel slightly depressed, and my head hurts for 3 days, and then it all fades into feeling good again. Very predictable. As for Doctor Perlmutter’s assertion that gluten and carbs are innately bad for us, I tend to disagree. It seems he’s stumbled upon some truths, (carbs cause inflammation, inflammation is bad for our brains, gluten causes the worst problems, etc) but he made some suppositions that go to far. There has long been a link between brain and gut health~ this has been long-established and shows up in products such as MindLinx, a probiotic that emphasizes the link between a healthy intestinal tract and the mind, hence the name, and before gluten intolerance was recognized it was thought that all carbs were equally responsible for digestive troubles. People have singled out gluten, sugar, PH balance (remember that craze?), blood type, fat, and many other things as the be-all-end-all deciding factor in health, always just until the next thing comes up. Granted, they usually have at least a nugget of truth in them, but they are never the golden nugget that they are made out to be. If you look at the world’s healthiest populations with the least amounts of disease you find communities that focus on whole foods~ fruits and vegetables, grains and vegetable fats, with small amounts of meat/fish/poultry. A fantastic book (with recipes!) about these healthiest cultures and their diets is The Jungle Effect by Dr.Daphne Miller. Real food, despite valiant efforts, could not be improved, and in fact has only deteriorated in nutrition and taste since the industrial revolution. We live in an age of amazing medical technology and knowledge, and goodness knows I’m happy to not be living in the middle ages with leaches being the latest and greatest, but sometimes the old ways, the jungle ways, can teach us more than any doctor.

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Early Afternoon Pick-Me-Up

Just had to share my latest favorite afternoon snack. Coffee and protein powder. I know, it sounds wrong but it tastes so right! I add ice to the above and blend it into something that tastes similar to a Frappuccino but has 17g of protein (I just use one scoop~ the directions call for 2!) and lots of other good things like micronutrients and super greens. I figure if I’m going to have coffee in the afternoon anyway, might as well make it extra healthy.

yum
yum

And consider this a public service announcement~ Have you had your iron checked lately? Did you know gluten sensitive people are almost always iron deficient? And vegetarians really need to work to get the recommended daily dose too, but I don’t know about anyone else but no doctor, ever, has checked my iron. Not even the naturopath I see! She recommended my boys take Floradix Iron (nasty liquid stuff which they hate) because of their gluten intolerance so I did a bit of research and decided I needed to take it myself. My goodness, what a difference it makes! I have more energy, consistent energy, and I don’t feel like fainting when I ‘get up too fast ‘~so I’m now a fan of the nasty liquid stuff. I have probably been deficient all my life considering most of it has been spent eating a vegetarian diet (more like a Pastafarian diet in my younger years, as my friend pointed out) and have the gluten issue. So anyway, if you think this might apply to you, ask your doctor! And if you go the Flora route, make sure to get the gluten-free one (if you need it) because there is one that is and one that is not. It is worth it.

gf foods · gluten free · gluten free lifestyle · gluten free symptoms · gluten intolerance diagnosis · gluten intolerance symptoms · gluten intolerant

Olympic Peninsula Travel

Traveling with food intolerances to the Washington coast is not something to be done without your car full of groceries. You can always find grocery stores, but they aren’t going to be the kind with a ‘gluten free section’ and restaurants are pretty typical gluten/dairy laden places. We stayed at Seabrook and my sister saw that the menu at the restaurant there did include gluten-free options, but I did not inquire if they were also dairy and egg free. We had enough corn tortillas, rice, and beans to keep everyone fed enough until we hit our next destination on the north side of the peninsula where we knew there would be more to choose from. (The ocean was phenomenal by the way, despite some drizzly days and cooler temps then we ideally wanted. It is called Juneuary here though so I wasn’t too surprised. We enjoyed it anyway.) Between Port Angeles and Port Townsend is Sequim, and we found at least gluten-free options in all three places, plus in Port Townsend there is a great Co-op with which to stock the car back up with groceries, if that be needed. In Sequim we ate twice at the Sunshine Café where there was a great gluten-free, egg free, soy free, dairy free bread from a nearby bakery. I meant to get some bread before heading leaving Sequim but forgot. It was a great place though, for breakfast and lunch. In Port Townsend which is a beautiful Victorian town on the water we ate at the Owl’s Spirit Café which had a great menu and tasty food, but it wasn’t the best choice for children. The adults all had delicious meals though and you can get fresh juices there also while you wait for your food which is a nice bonus. In Port Angeles we ate at  Next Door which boast gluten-free buns and notes foods that are gluten-free. Other than that we ate in our “fake homes” as my youngest called them and although it took a bit more planning, we made it a whole week without anyone being too upset over any food issues. Yay! Another thing I’ve noticed with this whole food intolerance thing is that my both my sons are surprisingly ok with the fact they are for instance the only ones who can’t eat the pizza at a get-together, or the cake at a party. I just tell them I’ll make whatever it is for them when we get home, and that seems to satisfy them, and more often than not they don’t even ask for whatever it was later. It makes me think about how often we just mindlessly eat whatever is in front of us. The other day at a party my son would have eaten pizza, cake, ice cream and rice crispy treats. Instead he ate the protein bar I had packed him and the rice crispy treats. He was a little sad, but I assured him I could make him pizza and ice cream (what he most wanted) at home, and then he happily forgot about it all. Just an observation. Another thing that’s been very obvious is both the boys’ skin issues are clearing up fast.  My youngest has had red bumpies on his cheeks since he was about 4. I always suspected food issues but the pediatrician and dermatologist both insisted it was Keratosis Pilaris, something 1/3 of the population has on the back of their arm, and kids can have it on their cheeks. “It’s hereditary,” they said. “It’ll go away.” It hadn’t by age 7, but now it is indeed going away~ his skin is looking beautiful  and his eyes are even brighter. My other son had bumpies on this arms and back, probably the same thing, and they are going away too. A friend of mine told me this happened to her husband after going off gluten also, plus his asthma completely cleared. Pretty amazing! It makes me wonder if 1/3 of the population has gluten sensitivity…

pink cheeks this winter
pink cheeks this winter
Clear cheeks with his grandfather.
Clear cheeks with his grandfather.