Diane Keefe shares her personal experience with gluten allergies
Recently I discovered that I had a gluten allergy. It came about when my daughter was diagnosed with Celiac’s disease – that is the more extreme form of the allergy. When my daughter explained that it is genetically based so it had to come from one of her parents, it became clear it was me. I am gluten intolerant.
Those with Celiac’s disease have problems with cross-contamination meaning that if their food comes in contact with surfaces where wheat has been present, it causes a reaction in them. They are likely to experience extreme fatigue, depression, diarrhea for weeks at a time and brain fog. They must take supplements because their bodies have been malnourished due to the gluten inflammation in the intestines of their body.
My symptoms of gluten intolerance were mental fogginess in the mornings; frequent fatigue, pain in the entire body, extreme cravings for food, and intermittent diarrhea. I thought it was just part of the process of aging. I was wrong. My other daughter told me about the ‘whole 30 diet’ or ‘caveman diet’ that she and her co-workers were on. They were allowed to eat vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, poultry and nuts.. It was suggested that they limit caffeine to one a day and avoid corn, potatoes, dairy, sugar and other high starch items.
Here’s what happened. After 30 days of eating that way, my body became very purified and I was encouraged to add foods back one at a time to find out to which foods I was allergic. What I found was that I no longer was tired all the time; my cravings (even to chocolate) had disappeared. I had had incredible cravings during the day causing me to eat every couple of hours or my blood sugar would drop too low. Now I could go longer periods of time without eating. In fact, my body pain had diminished significantly; 17 pounds fell off my body and I was not hungry as I could eat as many vegetables as I wanted. My brain was clearer than it had been in years…no more morning fogginess! I was more flexible and felt like exercising more. My body seemed to reshape and I no longer had a big belly. Suddenly, I was feeling better about myself.
One of the reasons that wheat has become such a problem and that we will be hearing much more about it in the future is that it has been so genetically modified that it no longer resembles the original wheat kernel and it passes the blood brain barrier! In an effort to feed the world’s population, scientists made a wheat kernel that could provide greater yield. It created a greater yield in humans as well in the way of bigger bodies. By passing the blood brain barrier, it created debris on the brain and interferes with brain processing.
When I have accidentally eaten something with gluten, the next morning, my brain will be in a fog and processing very slowly. I get agitated easily if I feel like I am being pressured or pushed to move quickly. Sound familiar?! My mother had Alzheimer’s and many of the Alzheimer’s behaviors are similar in that they do not like to be pushed or pressured and have limited ability to cope. They no longer think clearly. We are just now beginning to understand how gluten is affecting the brain. In my parents’ generation, it was not recognized as a condition and, frankly, people were not living as long. However, we are now living longer but not necessarily better if our brains are not able to process well. We may need to do more research on how our food is affecting our health and quality of life.
I challenge all readers to go on a cleaner diet and stay away from packaged foods…especially wheat containing foods. Find out what your body needs and then follow that diet. We are not all a standard unit…our bodies are different and we need to explore what they need to perform well.
In the St. Louis area, you can find many restaurants now offering gluten free menus. However, if a person has Celiac’s, they are advised to avoid restaurants that are not totally gluten free because chefs and servers often do not understand the gluten cross-contamination issues. I have discovers, Andrea’s Online, New Dayon Manchester Rd. in Ellisville, Wolf’s Restaurant on Clayton Rd. and there are more. We need to spread the word to increase the number of places where you can eat out. A point of caution: the best practice is to eat at home.
To find out more: http://celiac.org/
‘Whole 30’ diet http://www.whole30.com