If you’re feeling tired, bloated, itchy or achy after eating a plate of pasta or a sandwich, you’re probably singin’ the wheat belly blues thanks to a little group of proteins called gluten.
Gluten is found in Wheat, Barley, Rye, Semolina, Spelt, Couscous and Bulgur, and is probably the most concentrated in wheat… wheat is everywhere.
The wheat we eat is totally different from the wheat your grandma ate, thanks to genetic modification, species combining etc. Once you realize that some form of gluten is literally in most processed foods, you’ll start to understand that,if you have a sensitivity to gluten, you’re getting attacked almost every time you eat.
If you have a sensitivity to gluten, it attacks your small intestines by destroying the villi (finger-like projections on the intestinal surface) and leads to the formation of tiny holes in your intestines.
The result is that food particles leak into your bloodstream and your body’s natural defense system sees these particles as “foreign invaders.” This creates two major problems:
1. You can’t absorb important nutrients, and
2. Your body seems to attack itself
Sensitivity to wheat and gluten has become very common, and such sensitivities and more severe allergies to gluten (such as celiac disease) can produce symptoms that reach way beyond the gut :
Indigestion, heartburn and/or stomach aches
Bloating and flatulence
IBS-type symptoms with abdominal cramping and alternating diarrhea and constipation
Anemia ie: feeling tired and breathless
Loss of appetite and/or weight loss
Tingling and/or numbness in the hands and/or feet
Loss of hair
Swelling of the hands, feet, arms and/or legs
Confusion, poor memory and cognitive impairment
Depression or irritability
Muscle, joint or bone pain
In some cases, gluten has produced such severe neurological symptoms, that the patient was misdiagnosed as having MS.
I would advise anyone with MS or autoimmune issues to follow a strictly gluten-free diet to determine what role gluten sensitivity may have in their disease.
While only approximately 1% of Americans are recognised to have full-blown celiac disease, many many more may have some lesser degree of gluten intolerance that usually goes undiagnosed but that undermines their health.
Though there are blood tests you can have done, such as the Celiac Panel, they often come back with false negatives up to 50% of the time! A much better way to test for food sensitivities, in my opinion, is to go on an elimination diet.
Completely eliminate the most common sources of food allergies (glutenous grains, legumes, cow’s milk, wheat, corn, soy, shellfish, eggs, and tree nuts.) from your diet for at least 2 weeks.
Keeping a food journal, reintroduce these items one at a time, one item per week.
Because most food-allergy symptoms show up within 72 hours, make sure to be diligent about the food journal.
Any one item that produces any symptoms should be eliminated from the diet permanently, the rest can stay. Hurray!
Sometimes it may work to re-introduce even the eliminated foods after 6 months or so, as it may have been enough time for the gut lining to heal. But for those of us with MS, my feeling is to stay off gluten for good.
**If you’ve been with me for a while, you’ll know that around here going guten free does not mean getting the gluten free cookies and pizza in lieu of the regular kind. There’s way too much junk in that stuff. What it does mean is incorporating naturally gluten free grains and seeds such as brown rice, quinoa, millet and amaranth.**
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