I always used to complain of my belly hurting which was also accompanied by a very offensive odor. First is was my husband that started suggesting that something was wrong. In his words, "How can someone so pretty smell so horrible?!?!" Then it was Ashley. She noticed that after every meal, my immediate reaction was "my stomach hurts". Pair this with 5 plus years of being extremely fatigued, numerous doctors appointments, homeopathic regimens and no reasonable explanation (besides chronic fatigue) and you can imagine my frustration.
I had people suggest that it may be some type of intolerance, so I started paying more attention to what I was eating. Boom! Cheese and other dairy products triggered the gassy-ness, but I still experienced the fatigue, belly aches and more gas when I ate other things. What else could it possibly be?
I'm a big believer in signs, so when different people on various occasions suggested that it may be a gluten intolerance, I started to pay attention. Unfortunately, the only way to determine if you, in fact, have a gluten sensitivity is the elimination diet. So, there began my journey of removing everything with wheat and gluten from my diet.
But, let's take a step back. Is this "gluten sensitivity" stuff just another fad diet? And why is it such a huge deal all of a sudden?
First, let's start with some education.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein
composite found in foods processed from wheat
and related grain species, including barley
. Gluten gives elasticity
, helping it rise
and keep its shape and often gives the final product a chewy
texture. Gluten is used in cosmetics, hair products, and other dermatological preparations (from Wikipedia
Some people are gluten-intolerant, meaning their bodies produce an abnormal immune response when it breaks down gluten from wheat and related grains during digestion.
The most well-known form of gluten intolerance is celiac disease
, which affects one in every 141 people in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. When someone with celiac disease consumes gluten, it triggers an immune response that damages their intestines
, preventing them from absorbing vital nutrients. Wheat allergy
is a rare type of gluten intolerance — it's a classic food allergy marked by skin, respiratory or gastrointestinal reactions to wheat allergens
What are some of the symptoms?
Problems with digestion, fatigue, "foggy brain," dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin condition). Research has also identified gluten-induced asthma, infertility, thyroid disease and joint pain as possible symptoms.
What has gluten in it?
Almost everything, but specifically, products processed from wheat and related grains. It can also be found in cosmetics and hair products. Think of it as a filler.
How did this become such a problem?
Blame globalization and mass production. Not only are we consuming more wheat, your great grandmother's flour isn't the same flour that we use today. Products are often genetically modified to yield, in this case, more cakes, pies, bread, donuts, you name it. Also, more studies are being conducted to determine just how foods affect our bodies and digestive system.
Could this just be another fad diet?
My take? No. As always, it's important to pay close attention to how your body reacts not only to the things you do to it (ie. exercise), but things you put in it. That could be wheat, meat, dairy, alcohol, the list goes on and on. I believe women have the innate ability to stay extremely in tune with their bodies, and this should just be another part of that "oneness". Pay close attention to how you feel after you each meal to see if it triggers any "weird" feelings. Chances are, you have some type of sensitivity to something.
Now, gluten specifically. I still believe there's some weight to "gluten sensitivity" becoming increasingly common. We live in a world where we can't truly trust that our food (and labeling) is regulated and the USDA doesn't always operate with us Americans in mind. Anything that is mass produced has the potential to be harmful. It's just the name of the game (particularly in the United States).
Could you have be sensitive to gluten?
Perhaps! The best way to find out is by eliminating wheat and gluten from your diet. Keep a food journal to determine whether or not certain foods (particularly the re-introduction of wheat/gluten) triggers fatigue, stomach issues, foggy brain, etc.)
Don't believe the hype?
Research it yourself. There's been a ton of books released lately promoting a gluten free lifestyle. Here's a few that I recommend
Wheat Belly: Lose the Wheat, Lose the Weight, and Find Your Path Back to Health
Gluten Is My Bitch: Rants, Recipes, and Ridiculousness for the Gluten-Free
Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar--Your Brain's Silent Killers
Oh, so, after I started eliminating gluten from my diet, I felt 110% better! Seriously, this isn't just some head game. When I do ingest gluten, I immediately experience gas. Even if it hasn't solved the fatigue (which I believe it has), I'm pretty sure my husband appreciates the fact that I'm on a gluten-free regimen.
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