How well do you know your body? I’m sure that if you are a mom, you know your child’s body a great deal better than your own. Yet it’s important to listen to the signals your body is sometimes trying to give you that something is just not right. Gluten sensitivity symptoms are not only a problem for people with celiac disease (a condition caused by gluten intolerance). Symptoms of gluten sensitivity range from gastrointestinal, to skin problems, to hormone imbalances, to neurological effects. This translates into bloating, dermatitis and rashes, chronic fatigue, joint pain and hyperactivity among others. Many people can actually have symptoms of gluten intolerance yet don’t realize it.
So what is gluten? Gluten is the umbrella term used to describe a protein found in wheat, rye, oats and barley. Gluten is a source of protein and is often used as an additive in foods otherwise low in protein. We are finding that gluten sensitivity and celiac disease are becoming more common. In fact, all autoimmune diseases are on the rise. This can be attributed to people eating more wheat, environmental toxins and refined diets.
If you suspect that you might have gluten intolerance there is something you can try at home. You can begin with the elimination diet that involves removing the suspicious foods from your diet. The main foods to remove if you suspect sensitivity are grains, legumes (due to anti-nutrients- phytates, lectins and saponins) and of course refined or processed foods. Be aware that there are hidden sources of gluten in alcohol, cosmetics, fried foods, dressings, medications, sauces and soy sauces too. Who would have guessed?
It can take up to 72 hours after eating something to feel any effects. This means that something you ate three days ago can be causing the rash you have today. So this is why it may take some time and patience on your part to solve your health mystery. The protocol in the elimination diet is to remove (step one) the food or foods that you suspect are the culprit for at least 2 weeks, but ideally 3-4 weeks in order to give the immune system a chance to calm down.
Step two consists of repairing your digestive system. This involves eating plenty Omega 3 fatty acids to balance out the high Omega 6 that is in the diet most people eat. You can also drink herbal teas such as peppermint and licorice root that help to repair the mucus lining in the digestive system and, of course always drink plenty of water for hydration. You can supplement with L-glutamine and Quercitin to repair the mucosal lining of the gut as well as fermented cod liver oil.
Reinoculation is step three. This can be accomplished by eating fermented foods such as sauerkraut or other fermented vegetables or taking a good probiotic.
Finally, in step 4 you reintroduce one food at a time and notice any changes. You can reintroduce a new food with 3-day intervals. You may have to do this several times but each time the list will get smaller as you get closer to solving the mystery.
I recommend keeping a food journal to keep track of what you are eating and how you are feeling. Carefully record any symptoms you may have or not have. If you do this legwork at home you can save yourself time in the long run and help your doctor if further diagnosis is required. Along the way, you can learn to be in tune with your body and how to listen to what it’s telling you. The body is never wrong. What happens is that sometimes we are too busy to stop and take the time to listen. If you do find that you have sensitivity, be assured that living gluten or grain free is becoming easier to do. There are several support groups and blogs with recipes and ideas. Please feel free to ask any questions that you may have regarding this topic. I can be contacted at www.healthierbytheminute.com or on my Facebook page, Healthierbytheminute.