OK, forgive me. I have been MIA over the summer months. I have a few confessions to make: Gasp – I hate cooking – can you believe it? Yes, the truth is out. I hate cooking and baking. I hate being in the friggin’ kitchen unless I’m painting something or eating a meal someone else made. So trying to find new, innovative ways to make low-allergen meals often falls by the wayside.
Also, I started my own business, which takes a lot of time. I used to spend the evenings after the boys went to bed blogging, but now I’m painting furniture ’til, well… really, really late. You can check out my Etsy shop if you care to.
BUT, with that said, I have some really awesome news that I will try to keep short, but it’s kind of hard to because it’s been a pretty-life changing summer.
First I want to give you a little background on my situation: I developed Hashimoto’s Disease (a thyroid auto immune disease) about the time Lil Z was born. To be honest, since I had Lil Z, I have never been the same. I’ve had bad joint pain, I’m constantly exhausted and foggy-brained, and I have just felt off. It got slightly better when I went on thyroid replacement hormones, but really, I have never felt right.
I chalked it up to getting older.
And then the really fun part began. Asthma. In the last two years I developed asthma (well, “bronchial spasms” as my doctor called them because he wasn’t willing to commit to the term asthma yet). Anyway, I really didn’t worry about it much because I only had to use my inhaler like every six months. But then this horrible pollinated summer hit, and I was using my inhaler several times a day, and using Lil Z’s fishy nebulizer machine. But not much was working to keep it under control. I just could NOT catch my breath. I stopped working out and I avoided the outside. When I mowed the lawn, I had to do emergency visit to my doctor so he could prescribe me oral steroids. It. Was. Scary.
About two days after I started taking the oral steroids I realized my joints had stopped hurting and my ankles weren’t bothering me anymore. I also noticed it didn’t hurt to stand up anymore. And when I say “it didn’t hurt to stand up,” what I should say is the excruciating pain in my tailbone (it’s broken), knees, and ankles was gone. I told the hubs this and he said,
“You do realize that pro athletes take steroids not just because they make their muscles bigger, but because it makes them heal faster, right?” – The Hubs
What?! No, I didn’t. But I realized when I went on steroids, all my pain was gone.
Something was wrong with me. Very wrong.
I began to worry about what would go wrong with my body next. I began praying that God would help me get back my health, and I believe He answered that prayer.
A friend lent me her book, Wheat Belly. She had recently put her entire family on a gluten-free diet, and the changes in her family’s health were amazing (a story for another time). I was skeptical about Wheat Belly, thinking it was just going to be a fad diet. But I was shocked. I was reading about me.
Davis explains that gluten helps create a hyper-permeable gut (aka “leaky gut”), which causes various compounds to escape the intestinal walls into the blood stream.
“So what happens if various obnoxious compounds mistakenly gain entry into the bloodstream? one of the undesirable effects is autoimmunity — i.e., the body’s immune response is ‘tricked’ into activation and attacks normal organs such as the thyroid gland or joint tissue. This can lead to autoimmune conditions such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis and rheumatoid arthritis…conditions such as celiac disease, thyroid disease, joint diseases, and asthma.” – William Davis, M.D., Wheat Belly p. 83
Dr. Davis was the first person to actually explain why gluten can be so problematic for many people. I’d heard people say for years, “I don’t eat gluten.” When I asked why they always said, “Because it’s not healthy for you.” Uh, sorry, that explanation sucks, and was never good enough for me to stop eating it. I’d also read that there is a connection to Hashimoto’s Disease and celiac disease, but I tested negative to celiac disease.
Anyway, I went gluten free the day I began reading Wheat Belly. Within three days, my joint pain was gone and I rarely needed my inhaler. Within two weeks I stopped having asthma attacks completely.
Although they were significantly better, the fogginess and fatigue continued. I kept reading that the majority of our immune system is in our gut, and I realized that I needed to make even bigger changes to my diet if I wanted to heal my stomach (i.e. my immune system). I went grain free, sugar free, and dairy free for about month (this is getting long, so I’ll do another post on this at a later date). I also started taking really high doses of probiotics and diatomaceous earth (again, I’ll save those for another post). Basically, I started hitting my gut problem with a cannon, and I noticed significant results.
I’m now eating small amounts of fruit and gluten-free grains (basically when I have a weak moment and eat one of the boy’s cookies). I did reintroduce dairy, but realized it was causing eczema flare ups. I am hoping that in several months after I heal my gut, I will be able to tolerate dairy again.
Results since going gluten free:
- Joint pain -gone
- asthma -gone
- allergies – I rarely take allergy medicine anymore
- stools – normal now (sorry for the TMI – I didn’t realize mine were not healthy because I have never had GI pain). Let’s just say, if yours float and look foamy, you need to change your diet because you have a malabsorption problem. Sorry for the TMI, again.
- eczema – greatly reduced. It flares if I have dairy or a lot of sugar/carbs. I notice that when I eat dairy I get dyshidrotic eczema, and when I eat lots of carbs and sugar I seem to just have itchy run-of-the-mill eczema.
- itchy scalp (I know, this ones crazy) – gone. I know, you’re thinking, “you’re a weirdo.” I have had an itchy scalp (no dandruff and no rash, just an extremely itchy scalp) for at least 10 years, but it is now gone. I tried dairy last week, and it came back, along with some pretty itchy eczema.
- yeast infections – Soooo TMI here, and again sorry. I have had chronic yeast infections for about four years now, which are now all but gone. And I think this bullet point can get the BIGGEST whoo-hoo of all!!! Again, I think I’ll save the topic of candida overgrowth for another post!
- My hair and nails are much thicker/stronger.
- My impulse control around food is much better. I definitely experience the opiate effect that wheat can have on the brain. In fact, I know if I have been “contaminated” with gluten not because I feel sick (like my boys) but because I want to eat everything in sight.
- I’ve lost 20 pounds, which I have been trying to do for five years!!!
Wheat Belly is a must read, and it discusses more than just the health impacts of wheat on our bodies. Dr. Davis discusses the history of wheat, wheat’s genetic modification, and he recounts several stories of patients who tested negative for celiac disease yet had dire health problems (ulcerative colitis, crohn’s disease, heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis) who went gluten free and experienced significant health recovery.