Listening to Our Bodies: Gluten and More

There has been plenty written about in the media these days about the impact of gluten. It's understood now that people having Celiac Disease need to avoid gluten in all its many forms. As you might know, gluten is actually the name for the protein contained in grains like wheat, rye, barley, malt, spelt, kamut, bran, bulgar, semolina, triticale, etc. While gluten intolerance in people with celiac can cause long-term damage to ones intestines and become absolutely debilitating, sensitivity to gluten in those not having celiac can be extremely troubling as well. 

When you're gluten sensitive as I am, it means that our bodies in some way are also not okay with the gluten protein. I've wondered why there are so many reports out now-a-days about gluten-causing problems and illnesses. Apparently, our wheat has been altered over the past several decades. It's far higher in gluten than ever before and this extra gluten gives our breads a higher rise, a bouncier bounce, and an easier slicing ability. Unfortunately, what's good for the bread is not necessarily good for the body.

But, guess what. It's not just gluten that can be a culprit to our health. There are other foods as well that can cause troubles. Some of these foods, while technically gluten-free, are misunderstood by the body as containing gluten. And, in this misunderstanding, our bodies react in a variety of unhappy ways as though we've consumed gluten. In my case, corn, a gluten-free grain, vegetable, fruit, (however you want to identify it), is the dirty bomb. This was confirmed after my naturopathic physician ran a food sensitivity test. My reaction to corn was off the charts and actually higher than my sensitivity to gluten!

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In reality, if I had paid attention and listened to my body and what it was telling me through its symptoms, I probably would have known about my issues with corn much earlier. What are my symptoms after eating corn? Big time bloating - my abdomen becomes extended and my legs from my knees down to my ankles inflame. At times, my ankles seem to disappear due to the swelling. Yes, I love corn chips, fresh corn-on-the-cob, and corn muffins, but for me and the discomfort that corn causes, it's just not worth what I have to deal with post-corn consumption. And, my bloating symptoms take about 3 days to wear off. While in this corn-altered state, (I was inadvertently exposed to corn just this past weekend), I drink plenty of filtered water to help my body wash things out.

In addition to gluten-containing grains and corn, there are other foods that are known to cause sensitivity issues. They include: soy, eggs, dairy, nightshades, (tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, white potato, gogi - even tobacco if you smoke or chew), and to a lesser extent, citrus fruit. This would ordinarily bring us to a discussion regarding The Elimination Diet, and in a future blog post I plan to discuss just that. For now though, the most important message is to slow down in living and eating, take multiple deep breathes throughout your day and meal, pay attention to your body after eating and hear and feel what it's telling you. With awareness and mindfulness, you can become your own best health detective.