When you eat gluten - Does your body have a reaction to it?

Do you get an upset stomach? Do you get bloated,? Do you have stomach pain? Do you get a headache? Do you feel sluggish? Or do you simply just don’t feel well? These are signals that your body is sending you - that something is not right. 

Your body cannot process the food that you have eaten properly and it’s asking for your help to please pay attention here because something is not right. The problem is so many of us are use to taking a steroid type drug (like cortisone, hydrocortisone, or prednisone, e.g.) which reduces inflammation and the symptoms go down. 

The real issue comes when we cover up the pain instead of digging deeper and looking at what is the root cause of your pain/discomfort and inflammation.

Why is this occurring in your body? I think we often forget to look at this. Why are you having these kind of reactions in your body? 

What has set off this pain? What is the mechanism that is in your body that is causing this? 

Often we don’t take our aches and pains as anything other than getting older and this is just part of life. And, that is absolutely not how you have to live. 

If you have pain, then maybe it’s time to check and see what is triggering it! 

Having gluten sensitivity can cause just as many symptoms in some cases even more than those who have celiac disease.

Most people aren’t even aware that when they eat a certain food, that their body is having a reaction to it. The reason for that is, it may not happen right away. It may not happen until the next morning and you wake up with extra aches and pains that you dismiss because you did some extra exercise the day before for example, so pin pointing why you don’t feel so hot is another major challenge. 

It’s learning to stop and listen to your body, narrowing down the cues that your body is sending you - is absolutely a crucial step to begin to regain your health!

So what is the best way to start narrowing down these cues? I always recommend starting with a food journal! 

Most people associate keeping a food journal with someone who is trying to loose weight and is counting calories and sure this will help with that; but, that’s not why I am suggesting it. It is also a wonderful tool to help you peel back the curtains and uncover your source(s) of pain. 

Narrow down what is harming your body is not easy task… that is why many doctors also recommend what they call an elimination diet. What this does is essentially make the discovery process go ohhh so much quicker, easier and to determine the triggers that are causing you pain.

You start with eliminating gluten, dairy and sugar for 3 weeks and notice how you are feeling. You write it all down in your food journal every day. What you ate? What you clues your body is sending you? How you are feeling? Do you have more energy? Do you have the bloating, or the stomach ache? Do you have a headache? be specific….

It’s only for 3 weeks, anyone can try this for 3 weeks right?

The key thing to notice here is at the end of the 3 weeks, do you notice that you feel waaaayyyy better or do you feel a little better but not as good as you hoped? 

If you feel fabulous, than the idea is to add each of these back one at a time and one week at a time. Again this is where it is crucial for you to notice how you feel and write it all down. If on week one you add back gluten and you notice that you feel bloated after you eat this, than it is clear that your body is having a reaction to gluten. Omit the gluten again for several days and then try adding back dairy only. If you have no reaction from dairy for example, than the following week add sugar back in. If your body reacts to the sugar than you know that both the gluten and sugar are a problem for your body to digest.

If lets say after your initial three week period of removing gluten, dairy and sugar and you don’t feel much better than it has been suggested to also remove all grains. Write everything down and make sure you notice how you are feeling and any reactions that your body is having in the second three week period. And, just as before begin adding one item back at a time, one week at a time. Any reactions here are clear signals from your body that it is absolutely not happy with your choices and that you are sensitive to this food or foods.

Now here is the part that I think is missing and that many people are not understanding or fully putting together and that is just what these kinds of reactions mean in your body. And what will happen to you if you continue to eat them despite knowing now exactly what your body is trying to tell you. 

I can’t tell you how many people, tell me yeah they know that gluten doesn’t work great in their bodies but it’s not that bad, they can deal with the bloating or the headache… they just can’t give up their favorite foods…. 

They have zero idea what they are doing to their bodies or what these clues that their bodies have been sending them really mean.

What this really means is that you have the most amazing opportunity to improve your health right now before it fully deteriorates and these clues become a full blown autoimmune disease.

With any kind of autoimmune disease, these is always inflammation!  It’s finding out where the inflammation is coming from and if you have done the elimination diet properly, you did not cheat and you wrote every thing down, you will know exactly what foods are your source of inflammation and pain. I’m not saying this is the only source but you will have a really clear indication of why you don’t feel so hot on an every day basis

According Dr. Tom O’Bryan (leader specializing in the complications of celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity):

“You are not going to feel bad until the elevated antibodies have killed off enough tissue that the tissue can’t function anymore…..So if you wait until you have symptoms in truth you are much farther down the path. When you finally get an actually diagnosis in most cases it is a decade(s) long process.”

According to Dr. Aristo Vojdani (Immunologist and Researcher who has published 120 peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals and is a leader in the field of dietary proteins and peptides in complex diseases): 

“We have to detect the triggers which are responsible for the induction of autoimmune reactivity and not just wait until the patient has full-blown disease.” 

And Dr. Aristo Vojdani also has said, 

“If a patient is making antibodies to a substance and you can remove the substance from the environment, it will no longer make antibodies to the substance and to its own tissue. You can repair the barrier and the immune reactivity will slowly go away and full-blown autoimmune disease prevented. Detecting the triggers are key. Your body’s white blood cells will remember that foreign invader the moment you digest 1/ 1000 of a gram is all it takes to activate the memory cells and flip the switch for your immune system to protect you. This is why inadvertent exposure can lead to much more severe symptoms and may attack different tissues like the joints, thyroid, cerebellum, etc.”

So with that being said ….. would it not be safe to say that if you are gluten sensitive and you continue to eat gluten and foods that continue to trigger more inflammation in your body that this will turn into a fully blown autoimmune disease? However, if you chose to change your lifestyle choices now and eliminate the foods in your life that are triggering inflammation in your body than you may be able to change the course of your future health and not get an autoimmune disease.

According to the National Institute of Health they estimate that up to 23.5 million Americans* have an Autoimmune Disease. In comparison, cancer affects up to 9 million and heart disease up to 22 million. 

If you knew you could actually make changes to improve your future health, would you? Choice is yours really. Listen to the cues that your body is sending you now or eventually when you continue to abuse your body, it will shut down in one form or another.

I truly wish I would have known what the pain in my body meant before my body broke down and I had to learn this the hard way. 

If you’d like more information about what some additional experts have said on this topic, please feel free to check out my book - The Gluten Free Guide to a Healthy-Do-Over.