Living with Gluten Intolerances
Did You Know that Celiac Disease (and Gluten Intolerances) Affects 1 out of 133 People?
A food allergy is an adverse immune response to a food protein.Food allergy is distinct from other adverse responses to food, such as food intolerance, pharmacologic reactions, and toxin-mediated reactions.
The food protein triggering the allergic response is termed a food allergen. It is estimated that up to 12 million Americans have food allergies or intolerances, and the prevalence is rising. Food allergies cause roughly 30,000 emergency room visits and 100 to 200 deaths per year in the United States (information taken from Wikipedia).
Common food allergents are peanuts, tree nuts, milk, eggs, wheat, soy, fish and shellfish. But the MOST common food allergy and most undiagnosed is gluten intolerance or, in severe cases, Celiac Disease.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, "Celiac Disease is one of the most common genetic conditions in the world. Celiac is a multi-symptom, multi-system disorder, activated by eating gluten -- proteins found in wheat, rye and barley."
Along with gluten intolerance, many celiacs are allergic to other foods such as dairy, egg, nuts, beans and an unlimited list of other food items.
Celiac Disease Explained on "The View"
My Story with Food Allergies
My life changed on September 30, 2009 ... the day I was diagnosed with severe gluten-intolerance! After years of having varied health issues, a blood test, ordered by my Naturopathic Doctor, revealed that I had gluten problems along with strong intolerances to all dairy, eggs, and a host of nuts, beans and seeds. I was stunned as the doctor read off all the foods that were making me sick!
Food intolerance, at least for me, had effected nearly every system in my body! They sneak up on you and start tearing away at your body without any warning or reservations! And it can take years before you realize your body has been INVADED! I have worked for over a year now to repair the damage done to my health, but there is more to do. Let me tell you about my journey down the road from poor to good health
Gluten Intolerances Can Look Like Alzheimers or Dementia!!
That's right! When I first tested with the naturopathic doctor, I was being treated for possible early Alzheimers!
Being in my 50's, my health was as good as could be expected. Going all the time, (I work as an independent sales representative to the gift industry) .... but seemingly overnight I started getting very tired and fatigued; making more and more silly mistakes that I did not understand. I had no energy to 'chase the sales' (as my husband called it) and I just plain lost my zeal for life. My memory was becoming less and less clear. When one day came with more than the usual balancing and coordinating schedules, I felt like I had totally lost control of my life and everything in it! No longer did I feel I was able to carry on the schedule I was keeping. Memory loss was becoming a way of life for me and, out of necessity, I began drastically cutting back on the road trips necessary for my customers and eventually, my entire sales rep business.
Off to the doctor we went hoping for an easy answer to my problem. But, alas, not so easy as there is no real concrete tests for determining Alzheimers disease. My family doctor, being the kindly old gentleman he is, chose to try antidepressants and when they did not help, prescribed Aricept: The common drug used for Alzheimers and certain dementias.
Despite the antidepressants, my confidence and self esteem plummeted to an all-time low! I was not able to do the work I loved, so I chose to spend my time doing what I could do -- which often involved working alone in my office on petty projects that my husband created and encouraged me to do. I began planning a life without life .... not knowing how long in the future I had a future!
Food Intolerance can Manifest in Many Ways
Like I stated earlier, a naturopathic doctor finally found that most of my memory and fatigue issues were caused by gluten, egg and dairy intolerances. After a year or more of dealing with my seriously declining health, it was a godsend to finally have some answers! The doctor put me on a strict diet and prescribed several different supplement and medications. Seemingly overnight, I began to recover and start feeling like my ole self again. My energy picked up, and my memory decline stopped. The diet was quite a challenge at first, but the benefits have paid off.
Between my personal research and steady healing, I have discovered numerous symptoms that were caused by my food (especially gluten) intolerances. I remember, as a child, my mother's exasperation with my eating habits and constant complaints. She did take me to the doctor in my late teens who ran me through a series of tests. His diagnosis was irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon and a pre-ulcerated condition (whatever all this is suppose to mean!) I even remember a break up I had with the fellow I dated in high school was because I was too sick, in his opinion, to ever have children. (NOTE: I did have four health children, but that was between 3 mis-carriages!)
In case you are interested, here is the list of problems/symptoms I had previous to my diagnosis which were caused by the gluten/food intolerances:
**Slow growth and weight gain as a child (Smallest kid in my class until I started Jr. High)
**Poor teeth with lots of cavities (Gluten eats away at the enamel of your teeth!)
**Skin irritations and rashes
**Stomach and/or headaches
**Very dry skin
** Indigestion and (lots of) heartburn
**Abdominal cramping and bloating
**Mood and hormonal swings (I thought I was in menopause for 15 years!)
**Cold hands and feet (Thyroid issues caused by eating gluten)
**Fatigue and very low energy levels (Adrenal stress caused by eating gluten)
**Poor problem solving skills
**And so many more that I have 'conveniently' forgotten!!
Still Working on My Healing
After 50 plus years of eating foods that were poisoning my body, it is a miracle I am doing so well. Most of the above symptoms are either gone or greatly reduced. (I took a survey of my symptoms before and after my change in diet. Before I was rated around 63 -- 71 was considered the severe stages), now my rating is between 14-16!!)
The doctor tells me it takes up to two years to heal from severe food allergies, but I saw improvement within weeks of changing my diet.
I have also changed my diet to include more vegetables and fruit. Since many of my food allergies centered around gluten, eggs and dairy, I have also adopted a vegan or flexitarian diet. This diet seems to work well with my body and continues to aid in my healing!!
I am interested to see what happens over the next months as I continue to heal and get closer to the two year mark!
An Update to this Lens ...
... Having been gluten free for over 5 year now, I 'm still following the diet and taking special supplements to continue to heal and support my body.
The rest of my story ...
After eliminating gluten in my diet since 2009, I can look back and see what a change has gone on in my system and my life.
First, after 4-5 years, I was able to successful add dairy, eggs and some of the other original allergens back into my diet with no problems. My once highly restricted diet, now is much more manageable.
I now avoid the following foods:
- Oats, oatmeal – even if it says that it is Gluten Free.
- Fried Food
- Oils—cooking or salad. Yes, this includes olive oil and coconut oil!!!
- Well done red meat (rare or medium-rare is ok!)
- Deli Meat / processed meats, any nitrates added to meat
- Soda / carbonated beverages near or with mealtime
- Skin of a baked potato (or yam, or sweet potato). If you boil a potato, you can eat the skins.
- White sugar -- and substitute it with Stevia, Coconut sugar and/or Xylitol.
Like I said, there were many parts of my body systems that were affected by gluten.
I attribute my recovery and health maintenance to the highly concentrated Youngevity mineral supplements I take.
Without the necessary nutrients, my body would not have recovered to the point it has. I now faithful take my vitamin and minerals regime every day -- and if I forget, I know it right away!
If you or a loved one suffers from any form of dementia, or has been diagnosed with a gluten intolerance, I highly recommend taking Youngevity's Healthy Body Brain and Heart Pak.
Healthy Body Brain and Heart Pak
Good Supplements Keep Me Going
Avoiding gluten is only part of the solution to my issues.
Without adding the extra supplementation my body needed, I might not be doing as well today as I am.
With this extra help, on most days, I am 90% of my ole self. So very nice to feel good, have energy and have my memories back. What a miracle!!
There are answers, so don't give up!
Resources from Amazon - List of books and magazines that were very helpful to me
Some wonderful cookbooks for gluten free recipes!
Let me know if I can help you on your journey towards recorvery!!
There are lots of people ... hopefully some of you reading this lens ... that have similar experiences with food allergies. Share your stories with us.
And if you are interested in a detailed explanation of the supplement program that has helped me, please leave a note in the comment section and I will be happy to talk with you to get you started on a healthy regime.