Roughly two million Americans suffer from Celiac disease, a form of gluten intolerance. It may actually be impossible to know exactly how many people suffer from gluten intolerance, since degrees of sensitivity can vary greatly. Many people may be sensitive to gluten and have absolutely no idea that they are.
Natural Medical Solutions for Gluten Intolerance
Josephine had never had problems eating wheat products before. Then, over the course of a few months, she noticed that, after eating, she would suffer from very painful indigestion. She saw many physicians for her gastrointestinal (GI) complaints, had upper and lower GI radiological studies, and was repeatedly given antacids. While there are tests that can unequivocally let us know when a patient is gluten intolerant, when Josephine came to our center, we did not suggest that she take the tests. We knew that her symptoms were sufficient evidence for us to ask her to withdraw gluten from her diet. The results were almost immediate!
What is Gluten Intolerance and What are the Symptoms?
Gluten intolerance is an intolerance of the gluten protein found in wheat, barley, rye and oats. Ingesting it can cause a variety of symptoms, depending on the person’s degree of sensitivity. Some people might have gastric upset, stomach pain, and indigestion. Others might notice that eating gluten makes their allergy or asthma symptoms worse. People with true Celiac disease (often called Celiac Sprue) can end up with severe pain, pancreatitis, and a “cracked mud” appearance to their gastric mucosa when viewed with an endoscope.
What are the Causes of Gluten Intolerance?
As yet, nobody is quite sure what causes gluten intolerance. People with other autoimmune conditions may be at an increased risk of developing Celiac disease, as are people with a family history of the disorder. Gluten intolerance is essentially an allergy, and allergies can appear and disappear in very strange ways. All that is required to develop an allergy to something is to be over-exposed to the allergen.
What are the Natural Remedies for Gluten Intolerance?
Avoiding gluten is the best option. Exercise can be good at promoting healthy digestion. Some supplements may also be very helpful for people suffering from gluten intolerance symptoms. However, these measures are often not enough to allow people who are gluten intolerant to continue to eat gluten.
Dietary Factors I Typically Recommend
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Stay away from wheat, barley, and rye. It should seem fairly obvious, but the fact is that wheat and gluten hide in all sorts of places most people wouldn’t expect. Avoid texturized vegetable protein, modified food starch, and essentially any prepared food that doesn’t claim to be gluten free. Many foods that don’t contain wheat will still have starches and gluten products used as thickeners and texturizers.
Stay away from oats. Some oats are gluten free and they are fine to consume, but any type that isn’t specifically grown and labeled as such has likely been contaminated at some point.
Try buckwheat. Though it has “wheat” in the name, buckwheat is actually not a cereal or grass, and it is not related to wheat, so it doesn’t contain the same allergens.
Explore heritage grains and other grains such as amaranth, quinoa, millet and brown rice.
Quinoa is a favorite of mine and it digests very easily. Quinoa is a member of the beet family, characterized by round little grains with curly tails. It can be ground and used like flour, cooked like couscous or pilaf, or made into a hot breakfast cereal. It has a pleasant, nutty taste, though the grains must be rinsed well before use to remove the natural, protective layer of soapy saponins on the outside.
Supplements I Typically Recommend
A number of supplements may be beneficial to help the gastrointestinal tract heal and I always use them for patients who have suffered from digestive disorders for more than a couple of months. While the lining of the intestines will eventually heal, long term inflammation needs special attention:
Probiotics, a mixture of lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus, help populate the intestinal tract with beneficial bacteria that can help control inflammation.
Intestinal Repair is a supplement containing a variety of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, and herbs to encourage healing. One of these is okra, a relative of the marshmallow, whose mucilage is especially helpful for soothing irritated membranes.
Flax seed oil is another good inflammation controller that promotes the healing of the mucous membranes in the stomach and intestines.
Similase GFCF is a supplement made up of plant-based digestive enzymes that can help those with gluten sensitivity to properly break down their food and have an easier time digesting it.
Other Important Treatments
Various seated poses in yoga, as well as the cat pose, are useful for encouraging healthy digestion by helping move food through the intestines. I encourage you to either join a yoga class or get a beginner’s Yoga DVD. You will be happy you did!
Please let us know how this program has worked for you:
Dr. Ruth Bar-Shalom graduated from the National College of Naturopathic Medicine in 1987 with a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine
Gluten Free Brownies0008
Image by Wanna Be Creative gluten free brownies
Gluten Free Speculaas
Image by yummysmellsca AKA Biscoff! These are vegan, gluten and nut free, packed with a wallop of spicy sweet flavour and baked into crispy little coins. Eat them as is or make your own Biscoff spread! Barely adapted from Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by By Kelli and Peter Bronski. Artisanal Gluten Free Flour and Speculaas (Biscoff!) Review of Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking by By Kelli and Peter Bronski
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