For some people it is hard to believe that gluten can cause so much destruction. When we tell people that in order to treat a serious condition like arthritis, inflammation and pain, a few serious dietary measures are needed. Giving up gluten might be one of them.
When someone first hears they have to give up gluten which mean mainly wheat (but also includes rye, barley and oats), you can hear the panic in their voices “there is nothing left for me to eat”. Most people find it unbelievable and unacceptable that their diet has made them ill often refusing to consider giving up anything you suggest especially wheat, at first. Yet the scientific evidence and our experience with dealing with patients with auto-immune disease it makes a huge difference. After a little while people come around to the idea of gluten-free might be worth it in order to become pain-free or at the very least drastically reduce their suffering.
There are several things this outburst reveals. We already know that wheat is addictive, and most people are addicted to it. The fact that someone says ‘but there is nothing left for me to eat’ means they are not eating enough variety in their diet, this is typical.
I’ll give you an example – we all know pineapple is good for you, so I recommend you eat it 7 days a week 3 or 4 times a day, you would think I was crazy. Of course I would never suggest such a thing. Yet, people do this with wheat 7 days a week 3 to 4 times a day! And patients think I am mad? What do I mean – breakfast cereals, sandwiches, toasties, pasta, pizza, biscuits, cookies, crackers, pastry, dumplings, pancakes, muffins, cakes, dough-nuts, pretzels etc. This list is almost endless, as there are also products that contain some gluten – like sauces, gravy, sausages, fish in batter or chicken coated in bread crumbs, how did we end up drowning in wheat?
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The other reaction I get from patients “but I don’t have celiac disease also known a spurs!” You don’t have to have full blown CD to have a problem with gluten. CD was once thought of as rare and only suspected in children, today it is considered more common and is most often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed, whereas gluten sensitivity is very common indeed, causing all sorts of havoc and destruction. We have seen, as have other practitioners, patients vastly improve on a ‘gluten-free diet’ that have had the tests and were told they did not have CD. Yet they vastly improved, because you can have intolerance to gluten a Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity, setting up the same symptoms as CD.
I discovered about 7 years ago I had celiac disease, as naturopath I had been eating ultra well for years many, giving up wheat completely at least 10 years earlier. I did eat oats and rye sometimes. I became very tired which was a surprise as I ate really well and always felt good. A very rare visit to the doctor revealed anemia, that surprised even more as I did eat lamb and plenty of green vegetables. I then was diagnosed as having celiac disease, I immediately gave up all gluten and in no time without iron tablets my hemoglobin levels were high again.
For those people who are gluten sensitive and it is much more common than you realize, by continuing to eat gluten is putting yourself at higher risk of auto-immune diseases, and if you have a form of arthritis I suggest you consider sooner than later, going gluten-free.
Sonia Jones ND
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