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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.

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Candida Patrol

Yesterday I woke up in the thick of a dream in which I was eating macaroni and cheese. It was warm and lovely in my mouth and the shock of waking up to a cold alarm and a dark 6:AM was enough to put mac n’ cheese on my day’s to do list. I hadn’t eaten that kind of thing for many months because I am trying hard to heal my digestive system, which includes beating back candida, and candida loves nothing more than gooey, cheesy, pasta. But I seldom dream of food and when I do it leaves such an enormous impression on me that I feel like I simply have to follow through with what my subconscious is craving. The only other times I remember dreaming of food have all been chocolate related. As much as I love veggies, they sadly haven’t made cameos in any of my sleep time adventures yet. Perhaps the overpopulation of candida has control of that area of my brain…hmmm…those little buggers are going down. Controlling candida is so important when battling food intolerances which I wrote about last year, and obviously the battle wages on.

The first supplement I used recently to fight excessive candida is Rainbow Light’s Candida Cleanse.

rainbow-light

It’s easy to take, just one pill approximately half an hour before meals. I could tell it was working and wanted to give my body another bottle of it but when I went to the store to get more they were out, so I got Renew Life’s CandiSmart instead.

renew-life

It’s a two-part system and I could feel it working right away even though it instructs customers to start with half the dosage for three days. I think Rainbow Light’s supplement is a bit milder and might be better tolerated by more sensitive folks such as kids and older adults or others with compromised health. Renew Life’s version has a two punch affect and I like the extra whooping, but I am sure it might take some people by surprise. There are other supplements that target candida overgrowth out there but these are the two I’d recommend, along with probiotics of course.

To further help heal my digestive system I’m also taking Pure Encapsulations’ G.I. Integrity.

pure-encapsulations

This is a reparative supplement that is a good option to consider when your digestive system is not in optimal condition. Give those intestines some love!

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Herbs and Spices for Digestive Health

I’ve been thinking about Indian food lately…yum…but specifically how is it that a (largely) vegetarian diet could have existed so long in a culture without mass IBS issues? Not that I know about the IBS percentages in India, nor have I ever even been there, but I do think I know at least part of the puzzle~ the herbs and spices that are a part of daily life. The traditional foods are prepared with digestive help built-in~ turmeric, cumin, coriander, fennel, anise, ginger, and more all have positive digestive influences, and some also help regulate blood sugar. (Another bugger with vegetarian diets that one has to watch closely.) If you want to know specific herbs and their detailed affects, here’s a great list. Not only are the meals prepared with these herbs and spices, but in many parts of India is common to chew a spoonful of fennel seeds after each meal. This not only freshens breath but it helps digest the meal without bloating and gaseous effects. Also, many Indians drink chai multiple times a day, with digestive soothing spices such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves mixed with their (usually) black tea. This means they are getting good digestive support all day long~ something that I bet no one there even thinks about because it is just naturally a part of everyday life. Not only are these customs part of their food and drink regimes, the tri-herbal formula, Triphala, is largely taken by people there for decades upon decades. Triphala has many actions, but one of the most well-known traditional uses is on the digestive tract~ it regulates the intestines. People reach for this blend when constipated especially, and it has an extremely large following for just daily usage. I’ve heard and read it is the most commonly used herbal blend in the world, but I cannot say for sure if this is true and really I have a hard time believing anyone tracts things like “most popular herbal blend” but maybe… I think it’s safe to say that it’s popular anyway. For those familiar with Ayurveda, the three herbs used in Triphala are specific to the three doshas, Vata, Pitta, Kapha, and therefore balance out all three doshas in the body. If you want a very cursory introduction to Ayurvedic doshas, here’s a short bit to read. So it seems all together, Indian cuisine works because it is so fundamentally supported by the traditional herbs and spices used. Personally, I can’t incorporate all these factors into my life, but I have started having chai in the afternoons instead of coffee or plain black tea when I need a lift which is usually around 2:PM. It takes a little more effort than boiling water and grabbing a tea bag (though you can find chai in tea bags) but I must say it has been worth it. Not only is it delicious, I’ve noticed less bloating in the evenings. Hoorah! In fact, I think I’ll put some on the stove right now. Here’s my process:

I bought a chai mix in the loose tea section at our local PCC, near the bulk coffee section. If you do not have that option, there are plenty of recipes online which you can modify to your own specific tastes. Here’s one page I found with several recipes: chai.

First I fill my mug with water and then pour it into a small sauce pan, put the chai into a tea ball, and bring to a slow boil. It is actually better to do this part loosely, with no tea ball, but I find pouring it too difficult without a lip on this pan, so for now I’m sticking to the tea ball for ease of pouring. Also I end up getting two uses out of the chai in the tea ball, putting more water on to boil almost as soon as I finish the first cup.

Chai

Some water evaporates in the boiling so there is enough room to add milk to warm up at the end of the process. I use vanilla coconut milk, but use whatever you wish, or none at all!

Chai with vanilla coconut milk

Be sure to look at the ingredients of chai blends because they can have large amounts of sugar, especially the ones that are in a concentrate form. (If it’s the first or second ingredient, find another brand!) You can add honey or sugar to sweeten if you like, but if you are interested in the most healing blend for your digestive system, stay away from the sugar.

Chai while I type

Enjoy! It’s always nice when something delicious also happens to be nutritious. And who couldn’t use more spice in their life? Well, maybe quite a few people, but as for me…I’ll take it.

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Curing Gluten Intolerance

Asher jumping

That’s my goal. Total healing. I think it can be done too, but the only problem I have is that I don’t know if I’m celiac or not, which would be a whole other story. If it is ‘just’ gluten intolerance though, it seems like it should be something one could get over, with the proper nutrition specific to those with weaker digestive tracts and supplements to support rebuilding the digestive process. It seems like all the people who have problems digesting wheat, and there are many, probably have a variety of reasons for their gluten issues other than today’s gluten being notoriously harder to digest than it used to be. Here are two reasons that I can think of, though I’m quite certain there are many more:

1. Digestive process being hurt by antibiotics in both food and use in medical treatment. Why? Because antibiotics kill the good bugs as well as the bad bugs, meaning the probiotics in our guts are killed off when we take antibiotics, which is why (some) doctors encourage eating yogurt a few hours after taking antibiotics. Once the micro-system of one’s gut is out of balance, the whole digestive system gets wonky. One reason is that bad gut bacteria flourishes on sugars and partially digested food, and guess what we eat way more of than ever before~ sugar. So the chances of taking antibiotics and messing up the little micro-environment down there is very high, and it tends to have a snowball effect.

2. Our diets are largely sub-optimal for digestive bliss. Fruits and vegetables contain enzymes that break down food but our diets mostly do not contain a large percentage of fruits and vegetables. Even vegans and vegetarians usually eat more beans and processed carbs (which are very hard to digest) than fresh produce. If you are familiar with the low-FODMAP diet, then you will know that even many fruits and veggies are on the ‘gassy’ list because they are harder to digest and therefore tend to sit in the gut too long. If your digestive system is ‘off’ I suggest looking at low FODMAP information to see if this rings true for you. If you are eating foods that are causing any kind of digestive distress, you are weakening your system which again, has a snowball effect. People of course can have different foods set them off other than the high-FODMAP ones so it is important to be aware of your body and it’s reactions to any food, but looking at the FODMAP information might be a good place to start for many. Another place to start might be an IgG food panel test that your doctor or more likely, a naturopath, can administer.

2.5 This is related to the above but needed its own space. There is a book, website, and subsequent subculture and devotees to the idea that even severe digestive disorders such as crohn’s disease, IBS, and Celiac can indeed be cured with a specific diet. I read the book a couple of years ago and was intrigued but my lifestyle right now doesn’t lend itself to following a strict diet like the one they tout which is, as you might suspect, very light on carbs and liberal with meat, though vegetarians are given options. If you are interested, check out the website and if you try it please let me know how it goes because I really want to hear all about it.

So if there are causes to gluten intolerance, it seems to me there must also be ways to correct the issue, such as looking at the micro-biome of the gut and working toward long-term probiotic health by taking supplements, being mindful of antibiotic use, and when antibiotics cannot be helped eating more fermented foods, taking higher dosage probiotics and eating less sugar. Then looking at other supplements that support the digestive system as well as taking an honest look at one’s diet and focusing on (personal) gut-friendly foods as much as possible.

So far, my action plan is the following: I always take high potency probiotics and change the brand each time I buy to get the biggest variety of strains into my system. Other supplements I take in support of my digestive system are apple cider vinegar before meals mixed with water and aloe juice. Enzymes before meals if eating anything at all questionably hard to digest. Turmeric on a daily basis for inflammation throughout the whole body including the digestive tract. And most recently I’ve added in Vital Nutrients GI Repair Nutrients.

There are other herbs that I am considering adding in but I take a lot right now so I’m going to hold off and see how a couple of bottles of the GI Repair work for me. I have no idea when I’ll feel comfortable testing this out but I am guessing it will be a while~ probably when I feel like no foods are troubling my system then I’ll give wheat a try to see what happens. Incidentally, I just read a brief article on Schar’s fb page that said if you are already eating gluten-free and want to get tested for celiac, you need to eat wheat for at least a month at a rate of 4 servings per day before getting tested. That’s a lot of wheat! But so good to have the specific amount in mind for future testing. I might do that at some point, but for now I am just going to focus on healing what I can.