Today’s post is something that is very near-and-dear to my heart.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret of mine: I suffered from moderate-severe fatigue for about 25 years. Most people wouldn’t know it when they saw me out, but my friends could have told you that I would stop whatever I was doing and go home to take a siesta break sometime during the day (which is, in and of itself a very good thing… but I’ll save that for another health tip subject). I’ve been doing that for about 20 years.
Believe me, I had tried everything under the sun to help me with this, with very minimal results. You all read all of my health tips, so you know that I do a lot for my health.
For years, I had heard about wheat and gluten-containing products and the havoc they can wreak on one’s digestion, among other ailments. I used to wave that off and say that was for sissies… not me, and then munch down half of a baguette (because bread is my absolute favorite food).
About 2 years ago, I got so tired of waking up tired, ready to take a nap an hour into my day, dragging my leaden-filled body around to get through the day (I am not a coffee drinker), waiting until I could take my next (2 hour) nap, try to get my brain to register what people were telling me at home and in my practice, and then plop into bed at 9:00 at night (no later).
Somehow, one day I decided that I needed to stop eating all gluten containing products, dairy and sweeteners. I just did it cold turkey. I’m not exactly sure what prompted me, but I think that I was desperate and looking for anything else that might help. About 7-8 days into this, I noticed that I was waking up and able to move without feeling like I had lead weighting down my limbs. I also noticed that I wasn’t sleeping for as long in the afternoons…. maybe 20-30 minutes rather than 1-2 hours. After that, my head began to clear and I could actually focus on what people were saying and register what that meant. Incidentally, some of the chronic itchy spots that I had around my body stopped bothering me completely. On top of that, for about 12 years, my shoulder used to ache. I no longer had that shoulder achiness, and still, to this day, do not have that, nor the itchy patches.
From that day on, I have continued to improve. And, in so many ways that I don’t want to bore you with all of them. What I do want to share with you, is what gluten is and what it does to our bodies. I have done lots of research on it, but I am going to boil it down to a few, easy to digest (excuse the pun) bits of helpful information.
For now, enjoy the information on gluten. I hope what I have to offer sparks some interest for you and that you can continue to do your own research and try some things out to help you with whatever your health challenges are for you. I have some information on gluten on my website, if you would like a little more than what I am offering here.
With many blessings to you and those you love,
Gluten is the protein found in several grains that we consume, but most commonly in wheat (this includes all wheat: white, whole, etc.). The word actually comes from the Latin word for ‘glue’. It gives bread that nice elasticity and the ability to rise that makes it fluffy and chewy.
Basically, 60-80% of our population has a sensitivity to gluten. The wheat that we consume today has been a hybridized version of what the original wheat plant was for thousands of years. Scientists and food growers are always trying to create seeds that are drought, bug, pest, mold, and everything-else-resistant and must be grown on a huge scale to feed millions of people. So, the wheat that our bodies has learned to recognize as food for thousands of years, is no longer that wheat anymore. Now it is some modified form of that original product, that our bodies do not recognize as food.
Now, our bodies actually see gluten as a foreign invader and our immune systems attack it. When we are constantly putting cereals, breads, cookies, doughnuts, cakes, pastas, pizzas into our body, the immune system is constantly on attack.
This creates a constant, low grade inflammation in our body. Low grade, chronic inflammation results in joint pain, skin problems, digestive issues, all kinds of auto-immune disorders, arthritis, and many more symptoms. Dr. Oz says that Cardiovascular Disease, Atherosclerosis are inflammatory disorders, and not only a ‘fat issue’. I have even been learning that Diabetes is not only a response to too much sugar in the bloodstream but a inflammatory disorder, as well.
Gluten can also effect the brain by shutting down the blood flow to the “front part of the brain that allows us to focus, to manage emotional states, to plan and organize, to consider the consequences of our actions, and to exercise our short-term memory.” (Nora T. Gedgaudas, CNS, CNT, Well Being Journal, Vol.21, No.3)
Gluten can affect the little cilia (finger-like projections in the large intestine that help absorb food) in the gut. After years of bombardment, the cilia are actually destroyed and food absorption is slowed down or stopped, leading to starvation and lack of nutrient absorption.
What you can do to find out if you are gluten-sensitive:
The ‘Gold Standard’ for checking to see if you are gluten sensitive or intolerant, is to stop eating all gluten-containing products (see internet or my website for a complete list) for 30 days. You cannot stop for just 3-4 days to see if anything changes or just cheat with ‘just a little bit won’t hurt’. Your immune system responds to gluten (even a crumb, if you are really sensitive) for up to 6 days. That means, if you eat a cracker on Sunday, then have a pancake the following Saturday, your body won’t have finished dealing with the cracker before it has to start dealing with the pancake from Saturday. On top of that, depending on your age, it will take awhile for your body to stop reacting to the gluten that is already there, and then to start to heal the damage that has been done. This takes awhile.
Or, if this is too difficult, and you just want to go ahead and get the test, there are several reliable sources for checking gluten-intolerance. Check with your primary care provider to see if they work with a lab that can check for this, or there are more ‘alternative’ places that check for gluten, as well.
I know this was a long ‘Quick health tip’, but there is a a lot to say about this subject. I’m trying to inspire you and give you information so that you can make an informed choice.
This month, I am not going to give you a challenge. But, I encourage you to feel if this information resonates with you. Email me if you have questions, look up information online (there is lots of support out there), shop the gluten-free section at the store… I’ve been told that there is even a new gluten-free shop in Amritsar, India, where my son goes to school. It’s becoming mainstream, and there is a reason why.
I encourage you to look into this. And, have fun with it!! It’s really fun, and it’s even more enjoyable to live!! I’m loving my new life.
Yours in health,
Below are a list of books and cookbooks to help, if you would like to start slowly (or quickly) making a transition into gluten-free cooking: