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:
Stop eating the trigger foods (of course)
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.
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.
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.
Curing 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.
For something that lives in our gut, our intestinal bacteria are sure getting a lot of time on stage lately. It’s their time to shine I guess, now that the anti-bacterial obsession has begun to wane (thank you science) and awareness about what problems arise when we lack our good bacteria is on the rise. (Thank you once again, science.) There’s a new book about germs and bacteria and what little gems some germs actually are, and there’s never been a time riper for this information. It seems aimed at parents, in hopes of encouraging them to raise children with rich microbiomes and immune systems, but it sounds like anyone who’s ever wondered if they should wash their hands yet again, or eat that last bit of chocolate that fell on their floor, would appreciate this book. It’s called Let Them Eat Dirt and it’s by B. Brett Finlay, PhD and Marie-Claire Arrieta, PhD and although I haven’t read it yet, I heard an interview with Dr. Finlay and am putting it on my rather long can’t-wait-to-read list. On their website, there’s a link to a scientific study of probiotics and what diseases the specific brands help. Check it out! I was surprised to see my favorite brand on there, but not surprised to see it listed as helpful in multiple disease situations. This list also serves as more evidence to support switching up your brands since you can see that not all probiotics are meant for all cases.
In other news, Whole Foods is hard at work rolling out their 365 stores and I had the opportunity to visit one today which just opened in Bellevue. When my friend told me it was already open I was quite surprised because I had only just started hearing peeps and rumors about a 365 opening in Bellevue and certainly didn’t expect to see one up and going so quickly. It’s at Bellevue Square and has a more urban feel to it than the Whole Foods Markets nearby. The selection is smaller, but the brands are mostly familiar, and there seems to be an emphasis on grab-and-go foods. The salad bar was packed with the lunch crowd, there was pizza to buy by the slice, and a multitude of other packaged items to go. I’ll be curious to see how these do.
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 Planwhich 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.
There is a study being carried out at the University of Washington (where I got my MA~ go Dawgs!) which is looking at probiotics in a slightly different way than the usual probiotic news. They are studying how birth by C-section vs. through birth canal effects the baby’s microbiome, and also the differences that occur in only breastfeeding, only bottle feeding, or mixing the two. As you might guess, the baby gets probiotics by actually traveling through the birth canal, kind of like the mama’s last parting gift as her little one moves into our germy world. I can’t help but think of it as a parting party bag…only the beginning of many party bags for the next 6 years at least. The baby does get some probiotics when delivered by C-section, but not anywhere near the same quality or quantity that the birth canal gives. And also as you might guess, breastfeeding offers the baby a host of probiotics that bottle feeding cannot replicate. What you might not guess, and what seems to have surprised the researchers, is that when mixing breast and bottle feeding the baby does not get the same amount of probiotics that pure breastfeeding gives. This is intended to inform only~ anyone who has a baby to feed needs to decide for themselves how best to do it. If you happen to have been a C-section, bottle-fed baby (like many of my generation) then it is yet another reason to look at taking probiotics. Or if you are a parent, then the same information can be used when making decisions for your kids. It makes me think about the rise of food intolerances and allergies of late and the part that infancy and the actual birth might play in those issues. Obviously the causes are multifaceted, but I do not doubt that our modern birthing and feeding changes play a role. A person’s microbiome is a magor player in their immune system their entire life, and it is never too late, nor too early, to start building a good defense system.
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.
This is the smoothie I’ve been making lately and I like it because it doesn’t use any fake milk products. When we want cereal or need milk for baking I do use coconut milk because it seems the closest to a real food product, but I like to avoid it when possible. I know some people make their own coconut milk without all the questionable additives like carrageenan, but really we just don’t use it that often enough to warrant making it myself. Picking battles I guess. Anyway, the recipe:
Smoothie for one:
1 cup water
1 T chia seeds
1 serving of protein powder ( a serving depends on what brand)
1 small banana
1 handful frozen berries
1 leaf of kale or small handful of spinach (optional)
Let the chia seeds soak in the water for about 10 minutes. Add in the other ingredients and blend until smooth. I also open up a probiotic capsule and pour in the contents for a little extra gut goodness. If you aren’t already riding chia’s wave of fame this is an easy way to jump on.
Chia provides fiber and omega 3’s and if you remember the old commercials for chia pets, you can consider eating them revenge for years of that terrible ear worm. Some claim health benefits from weight loss to sugar management also, but basically chia is having a moment just as CoQ10 and bee pollen did before. It’s all good stuff, I’m just saying it’s not a miracle worker. The smoothie is darn yummy though and it feels especially good to drink in that much nutrition in one glass.
My sister sent me this article the other day and I thought it worth sharing. It is called What Really Causes Celiac Disease? and it has a different message than I have seen before. It basically (and I’m giving a very small synopsis of this) says that traditional thought on Celiac disease is that some people have the gene for it, and of those people, some of them have the disease triggered by something. In other words, not everyone with the gene has the disease, so: gene + the trigger = Celiac. They are now thinking there is more to it than that, in fact billions more. “Billions?” you may ask, but yes, when discussing probiotics we get into big numbers. Unfortunately, the modern diet and the modern obsession with antibiotics and antibacterial everything means those big numbers are dangerously low. (Probiotics are things like acidofilus and bifidus which create yogurt and other foods.) This article singles out bifidus as an important player in keeping our digestive systems healthy and allergy/intolerant free. They are still learning about the connections between probiotics and dietary issues, but in the meantime I am going to take in as much as I can, and certainly make sure my kids do too. So far they do not seem to be gluten intolerant like I am, but I’m going to take any step I can that might help keep it that way.