As you can see from my previous posts, gluten sensitivity can be a pretty complex scenario. The affects of which can reach far beyond the gut, can be difficult to diagnose and, even if you get a proper diagnosis, can be rather bit tricky to heal from as well.
It’s not all gloom and doom though. When done correctly, healing from a gluten sensitivity may be easier than you think. This is one of those situations where you really need to rip the band-aid off all at once. Trying to approach a proper gluten free diet gradually will only prolong healing and can cause you to hang on to any possible cravings you might experience. So how does one go about this thing the right way? Unfortunately, in most cases it takes a lot more than just eliminating all gluten.
Whether you’ve been formally diagnosed or not, let’s say you’ve made the leap to see if this gluten-free deal might be just the thing you need to feel your best. If you’re like most people, you’ve learned what foods to avoid and have been “gluten-free” for a couple of weeks, months or longer. Maybe you feel better but it’s not the overwhelming change you expected. You’re not alone. This is a common reaction many people experience. For some, it just takes more time... a lot more time.
In most cases however, folks have not eliminated some other common foods that are causing a reaction or are blocking the bodies ability to heal. These are called cross-reactive foods. Most common cross-reactive foods are things like coffee, chocolate, corn, soy, rice, eggs or milk. I know, seams like a daunting task to give up all of these foods... especially coffee and chocolate. I mean come on! Coffee?! Don’t fret. In my experience, most people don’t have to give all of this stuff up and if they do, it’s not permanent. We start with going gluten free the right way. That means giving up all grains for a period of time. That’s because all grains, even gluten free grains, have similar proteins (or prolomins) that may cause similar problems. This has been the fastest way to heal a damaged gut and reduce inflammation. Just this step alone has been life changing for many people. Along with grains, we need to give up all legumes. Just like grains, they have problematic proteins and anti-nutrients that can do a number on your digestive system. They have also been shown to inhibit healing of an already damaged gut. For this reason, step one is removing all grains and legumes. To take the guess work out of this process we do offer diet plans that automatically remove the most offensive foods for people with already compromised digestive tracts.
As you can see, going gluten free isn’t as easy as cutting out everything with wheat flour listed in the ingredients. In fact, most people make the same common mistakes when starting on a gluten free diet.
- People don’t actually improve their diet:
Nearly everyone I’ve known that decided or was told to go gluten-free proceed in the following manor: They go to their local food store and they buy every single food that says “Gluten-Free” on the package. This ranges from cereal to bread to pasta to cookies. In some cases, their gluten-free diet is worse then their original diet. They mistakenly assume that if something is gluten-free that it must be better for them then what they were eating before. Personally, I think folks know better but they like having an excuse to buy gluten free versions of pop-tarts, oreos and captain crunch. Even better if the product says gluten free and organic. Never mind if it’s loaded with sugar and rice or corn flour, which essentially just amounts to more sugar. Instead, use this opportunity to make important improvements to your overall diet. Focus on fresh vegetables, fruits, eggs and lean meats as well as healthy sources of fat. Processed foods, even if labeled organic or gluten-free, are still processed foods and should be avoided or substantially minimized.
2. People think they can “cheat” once on a while.
This is a biggie. When you have a gluten sensitivity or Celiac Disease, it is a lifelong disorder. Even as little as a milligram of gluten can trigger a reaction or stop the body from completely healing. The reason this is critical is because the body’s immune system has amassed an army to fight off what it sees as a foreign invader. This army is called Memory B Cells. These are the same type of cells that are created to fight off a virus when someone gets a vaccine. Once those B Cells are created, they don’t go away, they simply go dormant when the “invader” is no longer present. It takes quite a while, in most ceases years, for this immune response to build up enough to cause the symptoms of autoimmunity. So, even if you are gluten free for a long enough period of time to see amazing results in your health, just one small exposure can cause all of those cells to light up at the same time. This usually cause pretty debilitating symptoms because rather than a slow build up of the immune response, you’ll get hit with the full force of those B Cell all at once. The story told in this video illustrates this effect rather dramatically. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qag3loEmB3M
3. People don’t put out the fire.
Even when folks eliminate all gluten containing grains, identify and eliminate cross-reactive foods and limit of cut out all other grains and legumes there is still more they need to do to facilitate healing. The truth is, you have years of inflammation, or a fire, burning inside your gut. You need to take steps to put that fire out. I’m typically not a huge fan of supplements as I think we can get most, if not all, of our nutrients from food. However, sometimes certain supplements are necessary as therapy and can go a long way to helping you feel better quicker. I won’t make specific recommendations here because everyone is different but some of the items I typically ask clients to try are things like L-glutamine, colostrum, cod liver oil and turmeric. Other herbs and extracts might include slippery elm, licorice root, marshmallow root or aloe vera juice. Nearly everyone can also benefit from digestive support in the way of probiotics and digestive enzymes. Again, these are not recommendations, as this is on a case by case basis. Not everyone needs every type of support while some need more.
Of course, everyone can benefit from including certain “super foods” in their diet. The first such “super food” is bone broth. Bone broth contains a wide range of minerals as well as amino acids have been shown to speed up recovery significantly.
Organ meats from healthy, pasture raised animals are also incredibly nutrient dense. They contain concentrated nutrients that are especially hard to come by in other foods. Nutrients like the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, several B vitamins including the most bioavailable source of folate, choline and CoQ10 are abundant in organ meats. Most folks are also very surprised to learn that the richest source of antioxidants are not things like berries and leafy greens but are in fact found in organ meats.
Indeed, going gluten free can be a tricky endeavor if you don’t no know where to start but when done correctly it can be a life changing experience. Hopefully this series helped answer some questions and can continue to be a resource for folks. If you should have additional questions please don’t hesitate to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org