Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Question about A Gluten Free Diet and Digestive Symptoms

Q: If one were to adapt a gluten free diet even if they have never experienced any intolerance to wheat/gluten would they develop digestive problems when and if they ever returned to eating wheat/gluten products?

A: From talking with doctors, if you have celiac or gluten intolerance with no digestive symptoms, you MIGHT have a greater reaction to wheat/gluten if you get traces of gluten when you are on a gluten free diet. But you might have no digestive symptoms.

Sometimes if you give up something for a few months and get it out of your system, you can resume eating it with no symptoms later on. This is NOT true if you have celiac. When you have celiac you need to remain on a gluten free diet. But it might be true if you have developed an intolerance to a particular food, like wheat or dairy. This is the thinking behind rotational diets where you eat seasonally. Instead of consuming apples all year long you just eat them for a few months when they are in season. If they aren't in your blood stream every day then your immune system won't react to it after several months. So, you might have digestive problems or you might not, depending what the symptoms were before.

Anyone with no digestive symptoms who has neurological symptoms of gluten intolerance should see if their symptoms respond to a gluten free diet because it can be so life altering. If they see improvement, they can remain on the diet until their immune system is stronger and they are older. Also, it allows the brain to heal and grow. But there are doctors that can do celiac tests before you begin a gluten free diet. I would recommend testing for celiac and gluten antibodies for anyone who is considering dietary changes. That way if there is a dramatic change the testing has already been done. Testing is often negative in children, but there are some tests that are worth doing so you know what type of reaction is going on. You don't have to do testing--you can do a gene test later on, but doctors recommend testing BEFORE you begin a gluten free diet.

My first symptom, which I relate to gluten, was a speech impediment--I couldn't say my r's. Then languages and school were difficult for me and I was diagnosed with a learning disability--a "verbal processing disorder." There would be a delay in my processing information, but to others it just appeared like I was spacey and a little in my own world. I was a hard worker so people didn't know what a struggle it was growing up having so many learning problems. My learning problems disappeared on a gluten free diet (although I am still very forgetful!)

I never had a stomach ache in my life--I could eat ANYTHING-- and when I found out my son couldn't eat gluten, I thought it had NOTHING to do with me. Until we did testing and I did a gluten challenge (which I don't recommend.)

Off gluten my head feels clearer. I can hear better. My thinking is sharper. When I get traces of gluten my head feels full and I can't find my words. I am better now--not so sensitive--so I have less symptoms. But I love being sharper. I love being able to learn things and not struggling with things that were so hard for so long. It is not a miracle for everyone, but it is for me--and for my kids. That is why I am so passionate about it--and why I have this blog!


Shalini said...

Great article Kir! The gluten-free diet definitely helped Aari. When we met you, Aari was 3 years old and not really talking. He is almost 5 years old and talking in full sentences. His language may not so clear and his vocabulary may not be as wide but he tries so hard to tell us his wants and needs. It doesn't matter how much he knows, its how much he tries! He is our joy! And you gave me the courage to do it all. Loves Shal

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