Are you one of the 40% of adults whose system is sensitive to gluten, the protein found in wheat and similar grains?
Part 1 of my article on gluten sensitivity symptoms covered the basics. Check it out if you need to review it.
The key conclusion of that article is that the best test for gluten sensitivity is an elimination diet. You wipe gluten-containing foods out of your diet for a period of two weeks or more, and see how your symptoms respond. People with gluten sensitivity symptoms will begin to feel an improvement.
Today’s article takes the next step: what to do if you’ve determined that you are sensitive to gluten.
What To Do If You Have Gluten Sensitivity
Most important is to continue to eliminate all sources of gluten from your diet. Grains that contain gluten include
Be aware that almost any product that’s made from flour — unless it’s specifically labeled “gluten-free” — is likely to contain one or more of these grains. That means
- Cakes and cookies (and my favorites – brownies)
Other foods can contain hidden wheat too, like
- Soy sauce
- Creamy soups (thickened with starch), and the always popular
- Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream
You’ve got to check the labels of any prepared foods.
If your system is sensitive to gluten, you’ll begin to feel an improvement within a few weeks of a gluten-free diet. For many people, eliminating gluten is the only step you need to take.
What About a Super-Serious Case?
Some people with a long-standing problem have wrecked the lining of their intestinal tract. Even though sensitivity to gluten was the original cause of the problem, simply eliminating it isn’t enough to restore digestive tract health.
If you have a more serious condition, there are four other steps you might need to take:
1. Soothe the irritation of the intestinal lining
The time-tested remedy for this is aloe juice.
2. Make it easier for your digestive tract to process food
If you have gluten sensitivity or other food allergies, your intestine may be absorbing large molecules before they’ve been broken down into their constituent parts. Using digestive enzyme supplements will help break down these molecules to a safely absorbable size. Here’s a link to a high quality digestive enzyme product, Digestzymes, available from Moss Nutrition. You need to enter my name — Ronald Lavine, DC — when ordering from their site.
3. Restore beneficial gut flora
One of the most revolutionary recent developments in medicine is the emerging appreciation for the health-promoting role of friendly gut bacteria. Sadly, even as we learn how important a balanced internal ecosystem is, we continue to wreck it with too many antibiotics, processed foods, obsessive concern with cleanliness, and other aspects of modern life.
One part of the solution is probiotic supplements. Most probiotics use microorganisms found in fermenting milk. (Acidophilus anyone?) That gives you only a small sliver of the rich variety of species living in a healthy gut.
My favored approach is to use a product cultured from the actual microorganisms that grow in the human digestive tract.
4. Eliminate foods that can cross-react with gluten
Some foods contain proteins that bear a family resemblance to gluten. If your system is easily provoked to a heightened allergic response, you might have a negative reaction to these foods too.
Common foods that cross-react with gluten include:
- Milk and Cheese
Granted, it would be a challenge to construct a diet to eliminate all of these foods. But you may only be sensitive to a few. Test to see which challenge your digestive chemistry by picking one potential offender, eliminating it from your diet for 2–3 weeks, and gauging your response. Then you’ll discover for yourself what the major culprits are.
Taken together, these four steps will be of enormous benefit to someone with even the most stubborn case of gluten sensitivity.