Tag Archives: Gluten sensitivity

Functional Health and Acupuncture Institute: Gluten, Inflammation and Health.

If you live in the Cherry Hill, NJ area and experience unexplained headaches, aches and pains or an overall lower level of wellbeing, Functional Health and Acupuncture Institute may be able to help you.  At FHAI we use time tested principles of acupuncture and Chinese medicine to help you shift towards a higher state of health, balance and immune function.  We also embrace nutritional approaches that facilitate our goals.

Increasingly these days one hears about the problems associated with gluten.  It is easy to find lots of gluten free products in all of the supermarkets.  Today I want to address this and share with you my own story.

So what exactly is gluten?  The word itself comes from the Latin word for glue, and no wonder because it is what gives dough and grain products the ability to stick together.  Think pizza.  The pizza guy probably couldn’t toss that extra large in the air without gluten.  Gluten is a composite protein found in grains, mainly wheat, rye and barley.  This is a major source of protein in the world, but the problem is that gluten is quite inflammatory to the body.  It can be inflammatory to the gut, and for people with less than perfectly healthy gut linings they can experience gluten sensitivities.  These, and food sensitivities in general are hard to pinpoint because they often don’t exhibit as immediate, acute symptoms as in acute allergic reactions.  But if you experience things like unexplained headaches, body aches, tiredness, mental fog, seasonal allergies, and digestive discomfort, these are often improved by eliminating foods that cause sensitivities.

Since I was a teenager I have experienced some level of seasonal allergies.  The worst was in my early 20’s but they got significantly better when I eliminated dairy products from my diet and then ate a vegetarian diet.  In the last few years as I added back more bread products at times I had allergies year round, though not as bad as in the spring season when I was younger.  But I did notice that if I ate even one meal at an Italian restaurant (with all that bread and pasta) I would feel absolutely terrible the next day – almost as bad as the worst hangover I could imagine.

In the past 5 years or so I had experienced morning headaches with increasing periodicity, something that never happened when I was younger.  I couldn’t explain it, except when I knew I overate complex carbohydrates (grains) the day before.  Just out of curiosity, last October I decided to do a one month gut repair program using the Repairvite program from Apex Energetics, a company that provides educational and nutrition resources to licensed healthcare practitioners.  But do to the program I would have either had to basically eat just vegetables for a month (the vegetarian option) or reintroduce animal products, something I had more or less avoided for the past fifteen years. So I changed my diet completely, adding meat and eliminating grains and other foods known to cause food sensitivities.  The two largest culprits are gluten and dairy.

Amazingly, within 4 days I noticed profound changes.  No more headaches.  No more feeling like I needed a nap in the early evening.  No more shoulder pain when trying to sleep on my side.  Much more restful sleep- I wasn’t waking up much like I had been.  I experienced significantly reduced joint cracking.  And the best thing was a lifting of a mental fog.  I seemed to feel much sharper than I had been feeling. This season has been the best allergy season of my adult life with no symptoms whatsoever.  If I have a day where I eat more than just a slight bit of wheat products, I usually wake up with a headache.  Rice, which does not contain gluten, doesn’t seem to affect me though I am careful not to eat too much.

The only reliable way to find out if you have food sensitivities is to try an elimination diet.  Blood testing may not be as reliable because sometimes people that show negative results still have problems, and there is also a concern that other grains with proteins similar to gluten may cause sensitivities.  An increasing number of healthcare practitioners that incorporate nutrition are recommending to remove grains from the diet.

I like the Apex program because it accomplishes 3 things- it eliminates potentially problematic foods, it reseeds the gut with beneficial bacteria, and it helps soothe and heal the gut lining in attempt to eliminate problems associated with leaky gut. This lowers the inflammatory load in our bodies and helps to improve the functioning of our immune system.  The end result is that often food sensitivities can be reduced and some foods can be reintroduced to the diet that previously had caused problems.  And other symptoms, those nagging conditions that we just learn to live with, are decreased or eliminated.