The past month has no doubt been a clear reminder to many of us that “we are what we eat.” For me it was. While enjoying time with family in beautiful central Oregon, I drifted off my gluten-free, dairy-free diet a couple times and was quickly reminded of the impact of gluten and dairy on my body.
This time, however, I had a deeper understanding considering that I just completed further research and a presentation on gluten and its impact on the nervous system as I prepared for a presentation I will be giving in February 2010 in Manhattan.
Could it be that gluten, one of our culture’s most prized ingredients, causes anxiety, depression, insomnia, PMS, pain, attention issues, infertility, fatigue, digestive distress and much, much more?
Yes, it can be, and the research I reviewed indicates that it is so. In fact, researchers now consider gluten intolerance to be not only a severely under-diagnosed condition (1 in 7 people at least), but a neurological disease. Patients with severe and mild conditions alike have complete resolution when they remove gluten from their diet.
Considering my profound interest in how the body is impacted by stress, combined with my lifelong passion for eating healthfully, it became clear to me that…just as it is stressful when we skip meals (our bodies have to adapt to keep our brains supplied with glucose), it is also stressful when we eat foods (gluten for example) that cause inflammatory immune system reactions.
There is no doubt…stress exists in our busy lives. Our bodies respond to stress, whether from lack of sleep, a deadline or a car accident, by producing adrenaline and cortisol, both of which send subsequent messages that inhibit digestion, the immune system, all hormones and the nervous system. Research and experience tells us that minimizing stress, and assisting our bodies to adapt to stress, reduces all health conditions, including heart disease and cancer.
Still, even with the best intentions to reduce stress, one thing can lead to the next, leading to a vicious cycle. In other words… a stressful day at work, digestive upset (ie heartburn), a meal that doesn’t go over well, a bad night of sleep, or all of these things everyday for a month. Eventually the cause and the outcome are inseparable, and more bothersome health issues begin to appear. The only way out is to make dramatic steps in the direction of decreasing stress on your body overall, and often the first step is to avoid gluten.
How can you know if avoiding gluten may be a solution for you? It is now known that IgG antibodies to gluten are the best indicator. So as you might suspect, I can hardly wait to find out if my family members in Oregon, especially those with a history of health issues, are intolerant to gluten like me and my daughter.
For anyone who is intolerant to gluten and/or experiencing chronic health issues, I consider eating gluten-free to be the best stress reduction choice you can make in 2010. Yes, it is quite a shift from what you might be used to eating, which is why I have posted everything I have learned since Ella and I went gluten-free 18 months ago. Please visit: www.glutenfreequest.com.
If I can personally help you or your loved ones, please don’t hesitate to give me a call and set up a time for us to review the impact of stress on your body and, most importantly, what we can do to reverse that trend in the new year.
Warmest wishes to all of you!
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