Goodbye, Gluten (again)

Posted: August 22, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , ,

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A couple of years ago, I wanted to lose some weight (just like I do now). I spoke to a woman who suggested I try the Paleo diet. The paleo diet, for those who don’t know what that is, is based on what the caveman ate: meat, fruits, nuts and seeds. Well, I certainly wasn’t going to go to that extreme – I just wanted to lose a few pounds.

So, I asked her “What are the two major changes you recommend I make right now to my diet, and I can start there?” Her immediate response was: give up wheat and milk. I understood that dairy can be fattening – I love ice cream – but didn’t understand the rationale for wheat. Until she told me, and it made a lot of sense to me: wheat was never meant to be consumed by humans.

HUH?

wheat-procurementWheat wasn’t introduced into our diets until approximately 10,000 years after the first humans inhabited this earth (if memory serves me correctly). Prior to that, humans existed on what they found growing in nature that could be quickly consumed: fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables and meat. They got along just fine without bread and bread products. Okay, that’s plausible. But, then I asked: “Why is wheat so bad for us, then?”

The answer is simple: gluten. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. And apparently, many people have a very hard time processing this protein. Celiacs cannot consume gluten at all, without a full-blown blitzkrieg in their bellies*

*Disclaimer: I am not in any way, shape or form, a medically trained nutritionist, doctor, clinician, etc. This is only what I’ve read and heard from others who have had more extensive training on this subject.

Then there are the other levels of gluten sensitivity levels. Some people can eat small amounts of gluten without any side effects. Others will have reactions, but not as severe as Celiacs. I’m in the “sensitive” category.

At the time, I wasn’t so sure how much of this person’s advice about wheat I was willing to take. But, since it wasn’t going to do me any harm by removing wheat from my diet, I decided to give it a try. And that was when huge changes to my body started to occur.

Causes of body ache

Within a week of removing all gluten from my diet, I was no longer suffering from bloating, gas and relentless joint pain. The weight began falling off me and my energy levels began to rise. I thought it was a fluke, so I decided to eat a piece of pizza, to see what would happen. Immediately, the bloating and gas returned. I felt I was onto something big.

I remained off all gluten products for three months. It was tough at first, because there are so many products out there that contain gluten or gluten traces. I had to be hyper vigilant and, at times, dinners were a real pain in the ass to prepare. The family wasn’t buying into this “new fad” of mine.

But, at the three-month mark, suddenly the light bulb went off when I got back the results of my latest blood and cholesterol tests. Even the doctor was shocked at the changes. I had lost twenty pounds, my bad cholesterol dropped by 40 points, my good cholesterol rose 30 points, and, most excitedly, my RA marker had returned to normal. This was huge news.

imagesI have had aches and joint pains for years, which baffled my doctor. She tested me for the following disorders: lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, hypothyroidism, and fibromyalgia. All these were possible disorders based on the locations of my pains: shoulders, back, hips, knees, fingers, feet.

She was ready to send me to a rheumatologist, because the marker was 24–high for RA. However, after three months, it was back down to 14–well within the normal range. She was thrilled by this as well.

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Fortunately for my family, one other symptom was reduced drastically by going off gluten: my PMS all but disappeared. I am between peri- and actual menopause, so my moods are all over the place right now. Anything that helps me from being a psychotic bitch is, to all around me, the “best news ever”.

I remained fiercely anti-gluten for over two years, and felt twenty years younger. But, life has its ups and downs, and I slipped off the gluten-free wagon last year, shortly after my dad died. Depression did that to me.

Two days ago, I jumped back on, and can already feel the positive changes. I am again less bloated and gassy, and my joint pain has lessened. I keep focusing  on how good I will feel in a couple of weeks when I’ve got the remaining traces of gluten out of my body.

NOTE: I am not endorsing any special diet or eating plan. This is just something that appears to be working for me. Everybody is different, and some people can tolerate gluten without any side effects. Don’t try this without speaking to your doctor first.

But for me, I’m re-dedicating myself to eating better. And that begins with removing gluten from my diet. Again.

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