With hype surrounding gluten-free diets as a weight-loss solution, I wanted to share a personal account about going gluten-free. Bring the un-sexy-ness of having to completely change your diet and life into a clearer light, if you will. My dear friend, Elle, is a gorgeous actress, voice-over talent and comedian based here in Los Angeles. She spent over a year going through hell with her health, from feeling depressed to excruciating physical pain. Elle eats a very healthy diet most days, like most of us, which is why the diagnosis of her diet being the problem came as such a shock. I am grateful she sharing her experiences and the journey forward as she goes through elimination diets and cleanses (under the guidance of her physician). Please leave any questions or comments for Elle below or on her blog.
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5 weeks ago, I was handed down what initially felt like a death sentence – okay, not really but just go with my artistic license here. I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease and told ‘never to eat gluten again’. (Imagine this said in a sombre, Charlton Heston-esque God tone to convey more drama).
I began my quest to getting healthier by asking ‘what in God’s name (sorry, ‘what in Charlton Heston’s name’) is gluten and why is it causing me to have a disease?’. After learning that gluten “is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye” (thank you Wikipedia), I realized I better figure out how to eliminate the Devil’s pantry from my diet.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder of the small intestine that occurs in genetically predisposed people and is caused by a reaction to gliadin, a prolamin (gluten protein) found in wheat, barley and rye. The lining of the intestines contains little fingers called villi, which help absorb nutrients. When people with celiac disease eat foods or use products that contain gluten, their immune system reacts by damaging or destroying these villi (I remember this word by thinking of a villain… like Stewie from Family Guy). This damage affects the ability to absorb nutrients properly, so a person becomes malnourished, no matter how much food he or she eats. And so begins the body’s artillery attack on itself and given enough time and gluten, health goes rapidly downhill and for some people, death. Gluten allergies have been connected from everything to mild stomach issues, to migraines, to Multiple Sclerosis to cancer. This protein composite is not messing around.
It was only recently (and after various procedures looking for everything from IBS to Colitis), that, on a friend’s recommendation, I started seeing an osteopath. My MD had just told me to my face that he ‘didn’t believe in vitamin and mineral deficiencies’ (umm, say what?) and refused to test me for Vitamin D and Calcium deficiencies. I didn’t let the door hit me on the ass on the way out of his office and took myself off to a land where medicine isn’t rigid and judgmental (don’t even get me started on the ‘if you just have a baby, all of your symptoms will disappear’ conversation).
I did a blood panel for food allergies, a stool test for Gliadin allergies and a saliva swab kit to test my adrenal functions. My tests were through the roof positive for wheat and Gliadin allergies but once I stopped eating gluten, most of the stomach symptoms went away. I say most because I just found out that I also have a raging egg, dairy, milk and casein allergy, so now that I am cutting those out, I am finding all of the stomach issues to be calming down.
Which brings me to the ‘what do I do now?’ part.
Continue reading Elle’s ‘what’s next’ on her blog, My Zen Garden.
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