By Jane Barthelemy.
Gluten Intolerance is like an iceberg – 90% is hidden under the surface. Over 200 million Americans are affected by gluten intolerance and celiac disease. We want simple solutions, but there’s more to it. A gluten-free diet alone is unlikely to heal your gut or immune system. Here are 9 secret weapons you’ll need to heal yourself and avoid gluten reactions.
9 Secret Weapons to treat Gluten Intolerance
- Break the sugar habit. Kicking sugar addiction is one of the biggest things you can do to restore your metabolism, and reduce gluten intolerance symptoms.
- Avoid these common gluten cross-reactors: Sugar, Coffee, Dairy, Cheese, American cheese, Milk Chocolate, Chocolate with sugar, Oats, Corn, Rice, Tapioca, GMO and processed foods, Nightshades: Potato, Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant. For more details, see my article: 10 Gluten Cross-Reactive Foods to Avoid
- Avoid industrial grains that are often high in poisonous mycotoxins. The highest concentrations of mycotoxins are found in peanuts, sugar, corn, wheat, barley, rye, sorghum and alcoholic beverages.
- Get moving! Regular exercise reduces stress and increases motility in the intestines.
- Soaking grains for 12 – 24 hours dissolves lectins (like gluten) and other anti-nutrients, increasing digestibility.
- Low enzyme levels can cause gluten intolerance. Have your enzyme levels checked. Take a digestive enzyme supplement if necessary.
- Learn about proper food combining. Improper combinations of food can cause or exacerbate gluten intolerance symptoms.
- Take a Break and Relax! Stress exacerbates GI symptoms.
- Check out my recipes on this site, and consider the Paleo diet, which eliminates most of the hidden culprits, solving many common GI issues.
What’s the Problem with Gluten?
Gluten is a natural protein in wheat, barley and rye. Gluten is a combination of the proteins gliadin and glutenin. Gluten helps develop elasticity in flour when it is moistened or kneaded. It makes baked goods soft, cohesive and moist, so they hold their shape.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten intolerance and celiac disease are the body’s inability to digest gluten. Gluten toxicity results from the binding of the gluten lectin within the small intestines. Gluten intolerance is usually treated by avoiding grains with gluten. Gluten Intolerance is often undiagnosed, because it can present seemingly unrelated symptoms. It can become severe and life threatening, damaging the small intestine, causing poor nutrition, food reactions, depression, mood swings, holes in the intestines and leaky gut syndrome, creating an invitation to other diseases.
Dr. H.R. Peter Green, MD, author of Celiac Disease, a Hidden Epidemic, says: “The only definitive method of accurately diagnosing celiac disease is an intestinal biopsy. No other test is 100% reliable.”
Gluten intolerance affects the small intestine. Tiny cilia in the intestinal wall become clogged by undigested or fermented sticky debris, impeding normal digestion. They are unable to function normally in the transfer of micro-nutrients to the blood.
What are Gluten-Free Grains?
Rice, Buckwheat, Cassava (Tapioca), Corn, Millet, Montina, Quinoa, Sorghum, Teff and Wild rice are all gluten-free. Almost any recipe can be adapted using gluten-free or grain-free ingredients.
Whole Grains: Higher in nutrients, but less digestible.
We’re often told that whole grains are healthier than refined grains. And that is mostly true. They contain a higher level of nutrients. But the nutrients are not as available – How come? That’s because all seeds, nuts, grains, and beans contain antinutrients that actually block their digestion. Mother Nature has done her job well, ensuring that seeds pass straight though the body undigested. Seeds are smart, and their purpose is to grow. If they can escape your digestion, they’re destined to be planted in the ground in a beautiful pile of —-. nature’s perfect fertilizer!
What are antinutrients?
They are natural chemicals in seeds, such as lectins, enzyme blockers, trypsin, and phytic acid. They may taste slightly bitter and can cause intestinal permeability or poor absorption of foods. Gluten is a lectin. Most grains, nuts, and seeds including wheat, corn, and rice, the world’s primary foods—contain natural anti – nutrients. Even gluten-free flours such as almond, sorghum, amaranth, quinoa, fava, tapioca, chickpea, or teff, all contain antinutrients that can impede digestion.
When flours are refined, they become less nutritious and are no longer a whole food. Now add preservatives, industrial farming chemicals, and toxins, all of which must be processed by the digestive system. Top it off with refined sugar, causing an imbalance in blood glucose levels, and you have an open invitation to many of our modern digestive diseases—gluten intolerance, celiac disease, leaky gut, metabolic syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and so on. In simple words, it is my observation that poorly cultivated and prepared grains, plus sugar and chemicals, are a toxic combination in my gut and that of many people.
Now for the 9 Secret Weapons:
Secret Weapon #1 – Break the Sugar Habit.
Sugars Can Cause Gluten Intolerance. Kicking a sugar addiction is one of the biggest things you can do to restore your metabolism, and reduce intolerance symptoms.
We can become allergic to any food we continually eat with sugar, according to Dr. Nancy Appleton, PhD, author of “Suicide by Sugar”. Many people are allergic to gluten and dairy because for years they have been eating them with sugar. Sugar is a toxin that destabilizes the metabolism, inviting intolerance to the foods we consume every day. For example, donuts, cakes and cookies are made with sugar, wheat, and dairy. Eating these conventional desserts with sugar can make us allergic to wheat and dairy. In addition, sugars can cause bacterial overgrowth in the intestines. According to Dr. Peter Green, author of “Celiac Disease, a Hidden Epidemic”, bacterial overgrowth can cause gluten intolerance symptoms.
Secret Weapon #2 – Avoid Common Gluten Cross-Reactors
Yep, there are certain foods that cross-react with gluten. This means they cause or exacerbate your reactions to gluten. You can have yourself tested for cross-reactive foods at Cyrex Labs or TrueHealthLabs. Or you can start testing yourself – eliminate these things from your diet and notice how you feel. Here are some of the most common gluten-cross-reactive foods:
- Cow dairy (50% of gluten intolerant people also react to dairy)
- American cheese
- Milk chocolate with sugar
- Potato and other nightshades: tomatoes, peppers, eggplant
- GMO’s, Glyphosate, pesticides, herbicides, and industrial or processed foods
Secret Weapon #3 – Avoid industrial grains that are often high in poisonous toxins.
Many grains contain Mycotoxins and Aflatoxins, carcinogenic poisons produced by mold and fungi. These single-cell forms of life have been on the Earth for billions of years. Molds and fungi are smart. They play a powerful but unseen role in every part of our environment on a molecular level. They can change form, become dormant, or all at once reproduce rapidly. Fungi are invisible and opportunistic. In a healthy biological system they are contained. But in an un-balanced terrain, damp, improperly stored, laden with pesticides or chemicals, they can reproduce and overwhelm. They are most common in large-scale industrial-style food storage. You can kill mold and fungus with heat or chemicals, but they leave their toxins behind in the grain. Mycotoxins have been linked to insulin imbalance, blood sugar problems and other diseases. The highest concentrations of mycotoxins are found in peanuts, sugar, corn, wheat, barley, rye, sorghum and alcoholic beverages.
“Sprouting inactivates aflatoxins, potent carcinogens found in grains.” Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions
Secret Weapon #4 – Get moving!
Regular exercise reduces stress, and increases motility in the intestines. Even simple exercise like walking or qigong can help the body to auto-adjust to its optimum function. Exercise reduces stress, improves breathing, increases circulation, and massages all the organs.
Secret Weapon #5 – Soaking grains dissolves anti-nutrients.
Soaking grains for 12 – 24 hours dissolves lectins (like gluten) and other anti-nutrients, increasing digestibility. This is the best way to dissolve antinutrients and make the nutrients in whole grains available. Our Biblical ancestors soaked grains, and our great grandmothers did this as well. My father soaked grains every night before going to bed. Somewhere along the line this practice was forgotten, and we are left with indigestible grains. Sprouted flours are available in many food coops and online. Soaking and vigorously rinsing grains dissolves anti-nutrients. Soaking and sprouting grains transforms their dormant energy into a nutritional powerhouse. In fact, recent studies show that soaking alone can be a viable solution to gluten intolerance for a large percentage of the population. Try it for yourself!
“Traditional societies usually soak or ferment their grains before eating them, processes that neutralize phytates and enzyme inhibitors and in effect, predigest grains so that all their nutrients are more available. Sprouting, overnight soaking and old-fashioned sour leavening can accomplish this important pre-digestion process in our own kitchens.” Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions Cookbook
Secret Weapon #6 – Low Enzyme Levels Can Cause Gluten Intolerance.
Have your enzyme levels checked and take a digestive enzyme supplement if necessary. Dr. Ben Lebwhol, a celiac specialist at Columbia University says a majority of celiacs have low pancreatic enzyme function. Enzymes are needed to digest food. Enzymes are influenced by minerals. And minerals are often de-stabilized by sugar. (Aha! Secret #1) Low mineral levels mean low enzymes and poor digestion. Sugar makes it difficult for the small intestines to absorb nutrients because of low enzyme levels. Therefore, when you eat sugar, any food that is in the digestive tract at that time can become the food to which you may become intolerant. This is how allergies start. Digestive enzymes can help treat or heal gluten intolerance. But the real culprit is sugar.
Secret Weapon #7 – Learn about proper food combining.
How often do we ask our digestion to do the impossible? Improper combinations of food can cause or exacerbate gluten intolerance symptoms. When you eat certain foods in together, do they cause indigestion? Some foods digest easily in combination. Other foods compete enzymatically. Their specific enzymes cancel each other out, so that they require more effort to digest. Dr. John Matsen, author of Eating Alive, says proper food combining alleviates gluten intolerance. A simple change like consuming proteins and starches separately often solves this problem. For example a challenging and well-known combination is: Turkey with bread stuffing, mashed potatoes with milk, sweet cranberry sauce, whole wheat bread, pecan pie with ice cream, followed by coffee with cream and sugar.
Secret Weapon #8 – Take a Break and Relax!
Stress exacerbates GI symptoms. Hundreds of personal factors influence your healthy digestion, especially stress – environmental, mental, and emotional. According to Dr. Susan Solomon, people who suffer from gluten intolerance and celiac disease often have an underactive thyroid and stressed adrenal glands. This creates even more stress in the form of poor absorption of nutrients, hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue. Dr. Stephen Wangen, author of The Irritable Bowel Syndrome Solution, says that many physicians are trained to think of GI as induced by stress or mental imbalance. However more often it is the other way around – i.e. gluten intolerance is often the CAUSE of the STRESS that compromises every aspect of your health.
Secret Weapon #9 – Check out my cookbook and recipes on this site. Consider the Paleo Diet, because it resolves many common GI issues. The Paleo Diet eliminates gluten, grains, mycotoxins and ALL the above cross-reactors. I took the Paleo challenge and I’m so glad I did. I broke the sugar habit and wrote my book, Paleo Desserts to share the recipes. Instead of grains I use pure coconut flakes, ground in any home food processor. Pure unrefined coconut is delicious, nutritious, low in carbs, easy to digest, with no chemicals or antinutrients. Find my free recipes on this site. They’re all delicious, made without any of the above offending foods. It works!
We can Heal an Epidemic.
Millions of people suffer from gluten-intolerance, celiac disease, leaky gut, etc. These diseases can be healed or controlled. We love simple solutions; but a gluten-free diet alone will not heal your gut or immune system. Most of these diseases require a low-carb, anti-inflammatory diet free of gluten, grain, sugars, dairy, alcohol, and coffee, in order to heal completely.
Paleo is a good gluten-free solution.
Many people find the Paleo diet solves the myriad problems of living gluten-free. We can eat our favorite foods with no deprivation. You can have chocolate cake and ice-cream sandwiches without guilt or discomfort. If you’re intolerant to gluten and enjoy delicious sweets, check out my new book Paleo Desserts, 125 Delicious Everyday Favorites, Gluten and Grain-free.