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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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Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free food · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · health · low-FODMAPs

Wheat~ is it the Gluten or the FODMAPs

More and more people are finding digestive relief from avoiding wheat, and yet some of those people are not finding all the relief they wished for. This might be because instead of gluten being the issue, which is a protein in wheat, rye, and barley, it might actually be the carbs of wheat, which fall under the FODMAPs acronym. FODMAPs stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides and Polyols, which are molecules in certain carbohydrates that some people have trouble digesting. Wheat is one of the culprits but other items which fall under the FODMAPs category are beans, many dairy products, some fruits like apples and apricots, and a variety of vegetables such as broccoli and cauliflower. For a complete list, check out Fodmaplife.com but before checking it out you should know two things: 1. the list is extensive and can be overwhelming at first glance, but don’t let it deter you because 2. not everyone reacts to all the items the same. When you start to explore if you are one of the people whose digestive issues stem from FODMAPs, you will need to limit all foods high in FODMAPs, but you then can start adding some back into your diet and experiment with what really bothers your personal system and what can actually be tolerated and at what doses. So, in other words, the list is not a list of foods you can never eat again, think of it merely as a starting point.

An easy way to experiment with this and take the guess work out of your meal planning is to try Delicious Living’s Low FODMAP Menus for a Week. They have put together meals that avoid all the high FODMAP foods and instead focus on healthy foods that are easy on the digestive tract. I mentioned this in my last post and here’s a preview of what you will find on the week plan:

lowfodmapmealplanpreview1

If you have gone gluten-free and have found some relief but not total relief, it is worth a week of effort to try low-FODMAP eating to see if you can’t be healthier (and therefore happier). Time to go shopping~

lowfodmapshoppinglistpreview2

 

food · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gardening · gluten intolerance · gluten intolerant · health · low-FODMAPs

More on Probiotics, Gluten, and FODMAPs

It seems the longer gluten is publicly examined, experimented with, demonized and glorified, the more probiotics are studied for their possible help with gluten sensitivity as well as IBS and all other digestive issues, plus a myriad of other issues as diverse as schizophrenia and the common cold. It certainly seems a well-stocked, diverse microbiome is fundamental to a healthy body, which actually makes me think of gardening. Every gardener knows a healthy garden starts with healthy soil, and the microbial bits of that soil are what make the difference between ‘meh’ and “oolala!” Our bodies are the same, depending heavily on the microbial system for optimum health. Personally, I’m aiming for “oolala” as opposed to “meh.”

In the Delicious Living article, Getting to the Gut of Gluten Sensitivity, the fact that gluten intolerance can be helped by probiotics is discussed, along with the fact that which probiotics work best is still unknown and most likely varies from person to person. This is yet  more evidence to support changing your probiotics in order to get the most variety and potency from your supplementation. After all, we all want the best results for our efforts, right? The article also makes the excellent point that it might not be the gluten in wheat (and other things) that some people are reacting to, but instead the FODMAPs as they are commonly known. To put it simply, it might be the carb in the wheat instead of the protein (gluten) that many people have a hard time digesting. For more information on the low-FODMAP diet, Delicious Living has a great One-Week Low-FODMAP Meal Plan which is a super way to try out the eating style because the lists of OK foods and off-limits foods can be daunting at first. Another great resource for all things low-FODMAP is FODMAP Life Blog which has all the lists you need and recipes so you know what to do with those lists.

Enjoy spring springing and all the changes that come about as you tend to your own personal biosphere. Everyone loves a beautiful garden.

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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. 

 

 

 

 

 

alternative medicine · celiac disease · children · cleansing · dairy free · Food allergies · food allergy blogs · food sensitivities · gluten free · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free foods · gluten intolerant · health · Herbs · kids

Candida’s Role in Food Sensitivities and Allergies

I’ve been thinking about candida overgrowth lately because of several reasons. One of those reasons is that I’ve lately let my youngest intentionally eat gluten twice to see how he handles it. So far I haven’t seen any issues, but I’m keeping a close eye on him. The reason my kids were tested for food intolerances is because I have such a bad reaction to gluten, but as for them, their reactions were more subtle and not necessarily the gluten. My oldest used to complain about an upset tummy all the time~ almost every day it didn’t feel right. Once he was off all the things he was found to be sensitive to, including gluten and dairy, his stomach issues went away. He can now eat everything that he was once intolerant to, except we haven’t tried him on gluten b/c the naturopath thought that was his main issue. My youngest on the other hand, had less intolerances in general, but a higher sensitivity to dairy. She thought his main issue might be dairy instead of gluten, though he tested intolerant to both (and not much else.) He didn’t complain about stomach issues as much as he had cheeks that were constantly red and bumpy, and bouts of constipation. (If he ever reads this he’ll be furious I just shared that!) He now seems to handle dairy fine, which is why I thought he could try gluten. It’s all just trial and error and figuring out what’s going to best support optimal health, which is why I thought I should probably take a look again at Candida, because a candida overgrowth is bad on its own, and most people don’t even know when they have an overgrowth, but not only that, an overgrowth can actually cause food intolerances and allergies. So, if I want to cure these intolerances of my boys and mine, which I do, then I need to check and make sure our guts are able to support these troublesome foods and that has everything to do with the microbiome.

The simple way to think about it is that candida (which everyone has) can start growing in numbers that cause an imbalance in the digestive system, and when that happens, whether caused by a round of antibiotics, a diet too rich in sugars and processed foods, or any other reason then the candida population can explode. If you have ever had a yeast infection or jock itch, then you have experienced candida getting out of control, and if it made it to one of those places, you can be fairly certain you have too much in your gut, and quite possibly a systemic situation throughout your body. So how does this relate to food intolerances and allergies? Candida can cause leaky gut syndrome, where larger molecules of food can pass through the holes in the gut. These bits of food are too large for the body to recognize outside of the gut, so the immune system kicks in to fight the invader. The offending food becomes ‘labeled’ as bad, so the body reacts to it badly. In this way, food can often go from an intolerance to a full on allergy (with a full immune response). When you stop eating an offending food for a few months, or years as is our case here, then the body forgets that it needs to react badly to it, and if the digestive tract has had a chance to heal in the meantime, so much the better. Probiotics are essential. Now that my kids have had a few years to rid their body of intolerance reactions and have taken daily probiotics (always changing the brand every time we get new bottles~ that’s important too! Not a time for brand loyalty b/c the microbiome is incredibly diverse and all those brands use different probiotics so you get the most diversity by switching up what you use.) My kids seem to be doing pretty well but I do notice that my oldest son’s stomach has a tendency to still bloat very easily. I certainly know the feeling! This is indeed a candida symptom, though can also be a symptom of other things of course, but this particular kiddo used to have a bad issue with yeast and a doctor had him on Nystatin for about six months or even longer, so I know he has the tendency towards candida overgrowth. Before he tries gluten, he’ll have to do some kind of candida cleanse. And as for me, my issues have gone on for decades instead of the small amount of years my sons’ issues have, so I know it is going to take much longer for me. But I do think I’ll get there. It’ll take more work, and a lot more time, but I do think food intolerance can be beaten. It doesn’t just come out of nowhere, and if there is a path the intolerance traveled to become fully present, it makes sense that one can reverse the path.

By the way, there are tons of great articles on candida overgrowth out there, and how to fight it and how to know if you have it. Just do a quick search and you’ll be inundated. To get you started, here’s one I recently read: Candida info.

ecology · modern life · slow food

Thanksgiving in December

I had to wait to write this post because November is my least favorite month of the year, and Thanksgiving has never been one of my favorite holidays either. Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating gratitude. Gratitude, if done right, can enhance one’s life in an instant, and nothing has longer lasting results than a true change in perspective, which gratitude truly does, in the deepest way possible. I try to practice sincere thanks-giving everyday~ it’s the holiday meal that bothers me. And the pressure to cook, and to cook certain things, and the whole push/pull that is happening now with Christmas and when shopping should start and it all leaves me stressed. (Why do people get so rankled over that? Because it is something that they can adopt a sense of superiority about? ) Personally, I never go out on black Friday, nor that whole weekend because I loathe crowds and would rather pay more for my gifts than sit in traffic, but the whole discussion around it just seems laced with venom and I don’t understand why everything has to be so heated. We have real issues to deal with, (climate change, poverty, extreme ideology), so let’s not get bogged down in complaining about what others do with their Black Fridays and what time is acceptable to do it. If people really want to honor the spirit of Thanksgiving, perhaps righteous indignation should be put aside for the day.

Anyway, that was an unplanned vent, I guess I needed to get that off my chest. The real reason I don’t care much for Thanksgiving is that I don’t like any of the traditional food served on the holiday so the big event is just awkward for me and always has been. Now with three out of four of us being gluten-free, it causes even more awkwardness and even more cooking. I was at a gluten-free bakery a couple of days before Thanksgiving and this poor woman in front of me had just been diagnosed as gluten and dairy intolerant, and so was her daughter. She said that when she told her family they said something along the lines of, “No problem. Just bring whatever you want to substitute your foods.” And her response was, “But that’d mean the entire meal! I think I’ll stay home and cook hamburgers instead.” I totally felt for her. I cook a few things that kind of go with the meal though aren’t traditional, and either buy the rest or others do that cooking. My husband apparently makes a fine bird, but I wouldn’t know. All I know is it takes forever for that turkey to cook. Here’s a bird I am thankful for:

Owl at Grass Lawn Park

Someone stuck this ceramic owl in the most unlikely place at Grass Lawn Park and it has stayed there for about a month now. Either people don’t notice it or no one wants to move the little cutie. I love this special owl and look for it every time I’m in that area of the park, which is even more often now that I have a dog than when my kids were younger. And for the record, I’m very grateful for that park too, and for the fact no one has taken the owl for their own.

Another park I’m deeply thankful for is Marymoor park. They have an off-leash area which my crazy dog thinks is the best place on earth. It is indeed pretty fabulous~ the beauty of the changing landscape has stopped me in my tracks at least once a week since we started going there. Not bad for a dog park.

Cold Morning at Marymoor

This frosty weather did not last long but it got my boys talking nonstop about winter, snow, and skiing. We are back to the rainy 40s and 50s that are the norm for here, but the frost and ice we had in November were beautiful, if fleeting.

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I feel so blessed to have these outside spaces that feel like a nature sanctuary in the suburbs. These spaces are so important and I am so grateful to have such beautiful ones. My hope for everyone this holiday season is more nature, less plastic, more fresh air, less artificiality, more stillness, less madness. Happy Holiday season to all.

 

children · food · Food allergies · food sensitivities · Gluten free eating · gluten free food · gluten free lifestyle · kids · Soup

The Cooking Season

 

September, Marymoor Park

Finally it’s fall here and our kitchen is alive with soupy smells and warm light instead of the harsh heat of this past summer, and the intermittent construction that had me searching for appliances, counter space, and counters, actually. It’s been fun making French green lentils again, minestrone, polenta, and risotto, without sweating and/or swearing. A welcome change. While our little kitchen has been turning out more variety than ever, such as this great soup: Egyptian Red Lentil Soup (read the comments below the recipe and modify according to taste, but for our family I doubled the cumin as several people suggested) and this delicious Pumpkin Spice Granola from Celiac in the City, it is hitting me even harder than ever that my kids’ schools’ lunch menus are like a study in wheat. Can school cafeterias really not think outside the gluten box? Every single day the main food item has wheat~ lasagna, chicken nuggets, pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, spaghetti, sandwiches, and on and on. Is it really that hard to mix it up a bit? No wonder so many people have reactions to gluten~ any time you saturate your body with one ingredient your body starts to react to that ingredient, and Americans love their gluten. My older son forgot his lunch one day so he ended up getting nachos with fresh carrots and steamed broccoli on the side. He said the carrots were stale and the broccoli was gross, and this is a kid who literally cheers when I make broccoli and orders it out at dinner~ he loves it, so I can’t imagine how this broccoli was ‘gross’. I’m glad he was able to find gluten-free food, but if the vegetables they offer are either raw and stale (he knows a stale carrot when he eats one. My kids eat raw carrots every single day.) then of course the kids aren’t going to choose those items. It just doesn’t make sense to me why they don’t offer soups full of veggies, roasted vegetables, or more grain and beans together like a rice and black beans, or quinoa and lentils~ these are not overly expensive and they are not hard to make. They’d give kids a break from wheat every once in a while and are nutritious, filling meals. Of course I’m all in favor of the schools having school gardens to help grow some of those herbs and vegetables too, but at the very least we could improve the lunch menus. Jamie Oliver is making real strides in England which shows the time is right~ people are starting to take school lunch nutrition seriously.  Over on our side of the Atlantic Chef Ann is tackling school nutrition through several different initiatives and proving people are willing to listen and change. Let’s keep the energy going in that direction! Maybe it’s the cool fall air, or maybe it’s the bright warm kitchen, but I’m starting to feel cautiously optimistic.

September, walk home from RHMS