My Wheat Belly Journal Two Years Later
Time to Go Completely Grain Free
This week I celebrate two years since going wheat and gluten free. Three years before that I had a major autoimmune reaction throughout my entire body causing severe joint pain, swelling, weakness and disability.
It took six months of prednisone and a year of hard work to get my strength back close to a my usually energetic, physically active being prior to all this.
During that same time, my problem with carpal tunnel in the right hand went from tolerable to severely painful resulting in surgery. I developed increasing pressure on the Ulnar Nerve in my left arm resulting in loss of muscle strength, numbness and severe spasms. I ended up having surgery a month after the carpal tunnel surgery to release the pressure that was in the soft tissue of my upper arm.
The Incentive to Start
Over two years ago, I started to get inflammatory symptoms again. The numbness and tingling from the left Ulnar Nerve was returning.
I had to call 911 one night at bedtime because of a sudden onset of severe dizziness. I wasn't sure if I was having a stroke or heart attack, but thank goodness, it turned our to be vertigo from an inner ear problem.
My breathing was also getting worse from my asthma which had been being controlled quite well.
I had been reading about how wheat can increase inflammation, among other things, and so I decided to get "The Wheat Belly Cookbook," by Dr. William Davis. I figured I'd give it a try for a week and suddenly found myself two years later still doing it.
If you would like to follow the first two years, I have written a hub, My Wheat Belly Journal, which tells about my daily reactions during the early weeks, different foods I tried, medical improvements, new activities, and then later, monthly progress updates..
Why Totally Grain Free
This Fall, I started trying a few foods that I didn't make myself, something I have not done most of the two years prior to this. I started craving something more crunchy than what I had been making and thought I would give it a try as long as they were gluten free.
I started getting gluten-free rice crackers which seemed pretty harmless, but the more I ate them, the more I craved. Instead of buying one package every two weeks, I started buying one every week. Soon I was buying two at a time, and most recently it was three at a time. I was going through a pack a day.
Hmmm! That almost sounds like an addiction.
As I increased the amount of crackers I was eating, I started getting more inflammatory signs. My right hip started hurting again at the same time my ulnar nerve numbness increased in my left arm. Soon my left wrist started hurting whenever I would turn my hand over. I had to be doing something wrong.
Could it be the rice?
Increasing the rice crackers also increased my cravings for sweets, since all starches just turn right into sugar.
Halloween, I fell prey to the tootsie roll; not just one, but about half the bag. It was all downhill from there. I struggled for the next two months to try to stay away from sugar.
I also started craving more fatty foods. I stayed completely gluten free, but I sure wasn't eating as well as I had been over the past two years.
Boy, Did I Mess Up
I saw my doctor for routine blood work in early January and was in for a shock.
In July my A1C was 5.7. In January it was 6.4
My cholesterol in July was 202. It January it was 265.
My triglycerides in July was 150. It was 260 in January.
Last week I saw my eye doctor. My glaucoma pressure had been 10 a year ago. Last week it was 30.
People always thought I was a little obsessive about not using prepackaged, gluten-free products, because they contained all those starches that turn into sugar in your body. But, the tests don't lie.
A little stray led to several months of increasing cravings and return to unhealthy levels. The blood work results woke me up real quickly and for the past month, I am completely gluten free, grain free, and sugar free. Hopefully, my next blood work in two months will show major improvements.
Test Results after 3 Months Totally Grain Free
My A1C down to 5.7 from 6.4.
My cholesterol down to 202 from 265.
My triglycerides down to 93 from 260.
My glaucoma eye pressure down to 18 from 30.
My doctor and I were very happy with the results, especially the Triglycerides. This is the first time in my life that these have been below 100 even with medication. The 93 was without any medication only no grains.
All my life I have been plagued by very high triglycerides of between 200 and 300 and occasionally 400. Doctors would always tell me that I had to stop eating more sugar. The frustrating part was that I always restricted my refined sugars and many carbhydrates but it never helped.
What I know now is that grains turn right into sugar, affecting my blood sugar levels some, but dramatically affecting my triglyceride levels. I wish I and my doctors had known that years ago. I'd be healthier for it and have suffered a great deal less frustration. At least I know it now and have them under control.
What About Grains?
I have followed Dr. Davis on Facebook for about a year now, and more and more, he has been stressing that grains from grasses are also a problem in addition to the wheat. I decided maybe it was time to get his new book, "Wheat Belly Total Health," and see if my concern about rice has any basis.
I have only just begun reading the book and have all ready begun to understand why grasses, and grains from them, are not really that good for humans.
Giving up all grains should not really be a problem for me. I essentially have been doing that for the past two years. The only grains I have eaten were quinoa, which I didn't really like, and brown rice. I've never been a real fan of rice, but started using it as a substitute for crackers and pasta. Even with pasta I always only liked angel hair for spaghetti. Anything thicker always tasted too starchy for me.
I have found a really great substitute for the angel hair which has the consistency and texture of it with out the wheat. It is a gluten-free, organic, black bean spaghetti. It is better than the spaghetti squash which I enjoy at times and definitely better than the shiataki noodles which I really don't care for at all.
Green Bananas, Raw Potatoes and Kefir
If any of you have read Dr. Davis' "Total Health" book, you will understand this title.
I've been pretty much stuck at the same weight ever since the initial 10 pounds I lost, the exception being, when I gained about 5 pounds this Winter as I discussed earlier in this Hub. His suggestions for breaking the plateau and increasing the healing the bowel was to try eating green bananas, raw potatoes and fermented foods.
About two weeks ago, I started with the Kefir once a day and started losing some of the weight I had gained. This week I started with a boiled green banana for 2 days in a row. My weight dropped again, so that I am down 7 pounds in 2 weeks.
This morning I tried a half of a peeled potato in a smoothie and am anxious to see what tomorrow brings. Hopefully, the combination of all of these things will get me down closer to my goal weight. I'll keep you posted.
Healthy Bowel Flora
I can't believe how my weight has changed since adding the green bananas, raw potatoes and Kefir. I'm down another 5 pounds. Dr. Davis had said the adding these to your diet might help break the plateau. I sure appears to have done that for me.
I am pretty faithful about drinking the kefir every day and I put a half of a green banana into smoothies maybe 2 or 3 times a week. The raw potato I'm not real keen on the taste, but once the new potatoes come in this summer, I think I'll try again.
What ever it is, his suggestion are working. I hope it keeps up.
Modified Potato Starch
Recently. I found a recommendation by Dr. Davis to use modified potato starch. It is an insoluble fiber s long as it is not cooked and cannot be digested by you so there is no impact on oyur blood sugars.
Once it gets into the bowel, however, the healthy bacteria there can digest it and thrive on it's nourishment making your healthy flora even better.
If you use it in food to cook with, it is transformed into a starch that your body digests and turns into sugar. When used in such things as a smoothie, there is no cooking, so it does not turn into a starch. There is no significant taste to it, but it does thicken the shake nicely.
I just added it to my Diabetic Chocolate Candy Recipe as a thickener and it worked really well. The candy was much firmer and the volume was doubled as compared to how it is without it. It makes you feel like you are getting a bigger serving than you are. I used 1 Tbs, in the candy recipe.
Can I Completely Give Up Grains?
I see absolutely no problem in not eating grains. The key will be not getting lazy about making everything I eat. I've already found terrific foods which are wheat and grain free and am expanding my collection daily.
Here are two of the newest recipes I've added to my collection, Chocolate Snaps and Blueberry Cheesecake.
I have accomplished so many exciting things these past two years since stopping wheat and I'm not ready to give them.
I had lost my singing voice after that initial autoimmune attacked and six month after stopping wheat, I regained my voice and sing with the Acapella North Chorus in Canton, NY.
I also regained so much strength that at age 70 I started playing tennis again after 50 years and do it 3 to 5 times a week.
I have written several hubs on recipes I have created which are both gluten and grain free. If you would like to see what I have made, feel free to browse my profile of Hubs by clicking on my name next to the picture of me above or click here to go directly to my profile of Hubs.
What Have You Experience Regarding Gluten and Grains?
I'd love to hear about your successes or struggles in trying to gain optimal health by altering your diet. I'd also appreciate any suggestions you might have to help me, and others, in this new journey.