Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Why I'm Gluten Free

Being gluten free doesn't mean I miss out on
special treats.   My blueberry and almond pavlova.
I post gluten free and lactose free recipes on this site, and sometimes people ask what being gluten free does for my lupus, and whether I think it would help them.

Second question first. I have no idea if it would help you.  If you have symptoms similar to mine, it might be worth talking to your doctor about trying it.

Now the first question, how does it help me?

All my life I've struggled with reflux and Irritable Bowel Syndrome. (When I was diagnosed with lupus, my rheumatologist told me "reflux" and "Irritable Bowel" were terms that actually mean "we have no idea what's causing this.")

Reflux upsets the top bit of the digestive system.  Stomach acids get into the oesophagus, causing nausea, pain (at times so intense, I've been rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack), and a constant feeling that I'm hungry, leading to binge eating.

One of the things which has contributed to my reflux is lactose intolerance.  My body doesn't make sufficient lactase enzyme, so I can't digest lactose (the natural sugar in milk.)

Giving up lactose helped to settle reflux.  It hasn't stopped it all together.  I still take medication for it, and sometimes it still bothers me.  But without lactose, it's not so bad.

I haven't had to give up dairy products.  It's now possible to buy milk and cream that have had lactase enzyme added to them to break down the lactose.  Yoghurts and cheeses already are made with enzymes that break down the lactose in the process of converting milk to yoghurt or cheese.

Further down the digestive system, Irritable Bowel Syndrome causes bloating, flatulence, alternating constipation and diarrhea, very unpleasant. I've struggled with it my whole life, but it has been getting steadily worse.  A year or two ago, my GP suggested I try going gluten free to see if it made a difference.  It made a huge difference, almost immediately.

Reflux and IBS are just something that goes with lupus for a number of us (but not everyone, because lupus has so many variations that no two of us seem to have exactly the same issues.) For me, cutting lactose and gluten from my diet has helped me to manage these very symptoms.

I can't guarantee it would work for everyone. But I post recipes now and then because, I know that some other lupies have found it helps them as well.

2 comments:

  1. My nutritionist said Gluten can cause inflammation that can last for six months, so I gave my gluten free living eight months but still no relief for me. But I still maintain a high vegetable and fruit diet with very little gluten if any. I believe all these health tips a worth a good try. Just remember to try one at a time so you know which is working for you. Awesome article Iris. And I love your recipes too.

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  2. I have two words that I'd like to share "intestinal permeability". I had no idea that this is the result for anyone who consumes gluten, not just something that you have to worry about if you are gluten-intolerant. Given this revelation, I think it might be worth it to try and limit my overall intake of gluten for the future.

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