The Truth about Gluten & Autoimmune Diseases

1Fall is finally heeeere! I love summertime, and believe me, it’s been amazing since moving down to sunny Richmond, but bring on the cool breezes, sweater weather, and pumpkin everythang. 😎 But it’s been a crazy month for this nutrition warrior as I’ve been learning more and more about food and how it can help us, but also how it can harm us.

I used to scoff at the people who got super into fad dieting just because they read that it would work in an article (and still do when it isn’t justified), but I recently made a transition I can totally get behind.

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Having an autoimmune disease, I am more prone to experiencing “Leaky Gut” syndrome, where there are micro-tears in my digestive tract that harmful substances can leak through (and cause the dreaded bloat I cannot seem to get rid of!). After doing hefty amounts of research, I decided to go gluten-free; it was impossible to ignore the science behind how harmful gluten can be to even the average person, but for someone with MS it can be catastrophic.

Initially, I had a hard time justifying to myself why gluten could be a problem. I preach that everyone should be eating whole wheat everything because it’s got a lower glycemic index than white everything (I have my specialization in fitness nutrition, so for the average athlete this still holds true 90% of the time), so why the heck would it be hurting me?

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Think of it this way: gluten was only introduced to the western diet in the 15th century, so when it comes down to what our bodies need to sustain their health, it’s not entirely necessary. Gluten is the general name for binding proteins found in wheat substances – basically, it just helps them hold their shape together. BUTTTT I only speak from the standpoint of someone who has 1,000 food sensitivities because my body attacks my digestive tract when I eat almost everything, the normal person can eat all the gluten they want and experience no consequences (lucky ducks). SO some conclusions I’ve come to since becoming gluten free for about 3 weeks now:

Less Gas
We’ve all been there, and if you’re eating a diet rich in vegetables you’ve been there more often than not. I laugh all the time because my boyfriend, Justin, has literally never farted in front of me in the almost 3 years we’ve been dating – we even live under the same roof and not a peep of flatulence comes from him. Then there’s me…I eat a lot of broccoli, beans, etc. and when I was also still eating gluten, you can only imagine the catastrophe coming out of me. Justin is not amused by my gas issues, so you can only imagine what that was doing to my brain! After eliminating gluten, I only experience serious gas after eating broccoli or if I eat too fast. Huzzah!

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Destroy the Bloat!
As someone who goes to the gym every single day and pays close attention to my nutrition, you can imagine the frustration of having a permanent pregnant belly when I know I’m doing all the right things. When I chose to eliminate gluten, about a week later my pregnant belly…was smaller? Ohhhhh? Forward to today and it’s GAWN *mic drop*. I feel like myself again and I can actually see some progress in the shape of my body. Exhilarating!

Decreased Fatigue
For those of you out there with an autoimmune disease, you understand just how debilitating fatigue can get sometimes. I’m talking I crawl to the coffee pot in the morning, drink the entire thing, and STILL can’t open my eyes and think about napping for hours after.

5 Thanks to MS I still experience fatigue on the daily (my eyes are literally burning as I type this…I also just sat in front of a computer for an 8 hours work day beforehand…le sigh), but it’s a lot more manageable. I wake up easier and I’ve stopped falling asleep in the middle of QT with Justin (…most of the time)!

Manageable Symptoms
After doing even MORE research, I was able to figure out that gluten consumption can actually cause or exacerbate symptoms for neurological disorders. Hmm, fancy that. So, while I was initially blessed to live my life fairly symptom free before, I’m now down to only the occasional pain and shakiness. I’m looking forward to my next MRI just because I’m curious to see if this change has any impact on my lesions, call me crazy if you will, but I think I’m onto something guys…maybe.

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When it comes down to it, giving up gluten really wasn’t that hard to do. There are so many places and products out there now that accommodate this lifestyle that I can still enjoy pasta (of the chickpea variety), bread (of the tortilla variety), and my personal baked goods using GF flour! It’s not so bad when it comes down to it, and for those of us who developed MS unexpectedly, there may be some answers hiding in your pizza. I must warn you though, read your nutrition labels carefully because something may be labeled GF but still be full of horrific ingredients, or even binding agents that function in the same way as gluten.

7 ( GF peanut butter swirl brownies anyoneeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee? 😉 )

Gluten is not the devil, and is fine to consume for the average person. I am not a clinical nutritionist (YETTTTTTTTTT) and I am not a physician. I cannot tell you to eliminate gluten from your diet and it will make all of your gut health issues disappear, I can only give you my recommendations and suggest an elimination diet if you suspect you have gluten sensitivities or exacerbated issues because of it. Life is meant for living, not going bananas over the food you eat – though you should always eat mindfully and choose real food over processed junk.

If you’re interested in learning more about gluten or eliminations diets to help you achieve your health goals, fill out my application to get started on working toward better nutrition! Enjoy the food photos you see here or looking for fitness inspiration? Follow me on Intagram! Happy eating friends, and stay hungry! 😛

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3 thoughts on “The Truth about Gluten & Autoimmune Diseases

  1. What’s your take on lectins in your diet?
    New fad, or is there something to it?
    I’ve been primarily a vegetarian for many years and gluten and lactose free for at least 4 years, in hopes it would help my symptoms.
    Can’t say that it has hurt, but not helped really either.
    Curious on your opinion

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    1. Hi Joe! Sorry for the late reply, when it comes to lectins it’s the same thing I say about nearly every other food – moderation. When we eat too many lectins they can become toxic to the body, but in moderation they can be really useful in the digestion process as they will slow it down so the food can process easier. Personally, I’ve experimented with nearly every diet in the book thinking it would help the MS (thankfully I’m already virtually symptom free), but nothing has necessarily improved anything other than sticking to a generally healthy Mediterranean diet. Hope this provided some insight!

      Like

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