Gluten isnt something a lot of people think about. Many people presume Im gluten-free for weight loss reasons, despite the fact that I weigh 130 pounds.
The real tale I tell people about why Im gluten-free usually shocks them. Indeed, I was shocked about it too when I first discovered that I was gluten intolerant.
Why? Because prior to being gluten intolerant, I supposedly had dermatomyositis.
Dermatomyositis is an autoimmune illnes that affects the scalp and the muscles. I experienced severe muscle pain and weakness as well as a skin rash. Oh, and also an inability to swallow my food, walk short distances, or basically do anything by myself.
I expended the next four and a half years in and out of hospitals, on chemotherapy, heavy doses of steroids and anti-inflammatory drugs. I also wasnt able to walk the summer I was diagnosed, which was a week before my seventeenth birthday.
I was determined to do something different after four years of this.
I was 21 and had my whole life ahead of me. I wanted to be a carefree young person , not some sick overweight girl needing hospital visits every couple of months. I guessed, No, this is not my life. This cant be my life. I said no to the madness that was modern sickness.
And this is what I found out.
My Body Has an Inflammatory Response to Gluten
The last physician I assured for my illness looked at me and told me that I would be on chemotherapy for the rest of my life.
I left her office that day and felt as hopeless as Id ever felt. I was throwing up in the rain from chemo, I was dizzy and nauseous all the time. Id gained weight from the steroids and had acne and mood sways. On top of everything, my muscle ache was excruciating. I recollect the sky being gray and feeling like the world was falling apart.
That was when I decided that I was not going to spend the rest of my life on chemo.
It took me a few weeks and a lot of bellows, but I finally detected a herbalist in the area who would see me. On our second visit together, she told me that she guessed gluten might be stimulating me sick.
I told her she was crazy. The doctors at the best hospital in the country couldnt figure out what was wrong with me. Why did she think she could?
But her notion stick with me. And the more I read, the more I felt like this could be it.
How I Was Reacting to Gluten
When our bodies cannot process a certain food, they can have autoimmune reactions. This will not happen for everyone, depending on your unique genetic makeup and the kinds of foods you eat.
Our bodies can develop reactions to any food at any given time, which explains why I suddenly woke up one morning and determined I couldnt walking. Since I was eating gluten and my body had, quite literally overnight, developed a reaction to it, my body was attacking my muscles and I was in extreme pain.
When we eat food, the components of that food are broken down into our belly and carried throughout the blood to nourish all parts of our bodies. When gluten was entering my bloodstream and being used to nourish my muscles, my body was attacking it as if it was an intruder; this is considered an autoimmune answer. This is where the symptoms of the dermatomyositis were coming from.
I ran gluten-free the next day, unable to keep feeing something that was supposedly making me so sick that I needed to be on chemotherapy.
I Feel Completely Different
Within a week, all of the symptoms of my dermatomyositis disappeared.
I had more energy, my muscles stopped hurting, and I felt more alive and healthier than I had in years. After three weeks of being gluten-free, I went off all my medication, feeling that it was constructing me sicker rather than building me better.
I experienced no side effects after I went off the drug except that I felt better. I stopped feeling nauseous, my moods returned to normal, and I lost weight.
For the last six years, Ive been pain-free, drug-free, and feeling great. I run ten miles a week, I lift weights, do yoga, walking, and I dont eat gluten.
Sometimes its hard explain to people what happened to me because the world doesnt assure food as medicine, they simply see it as gasoline. But I know the truth. I know what food can do to us and to our bodies. I experienced firsthand being so sick that I felt as if I was dying at the age of 21 from eating bread, of all things.
Being gluten-free is a option for me. I have a option to be sick or to not feed bread. Some people ask me if being gluten-free is hard. I usually respond with, Well, its easier than being on chemo.
The Role Food Plays
Many people who suffer from gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease experience digestive problems. This is a common route for the body to express that it has a problem with gluten.
However, gluten can cause many more adverse symptoms in the body, from assaulting its own organs( lupus ), the brain( ADHD, depression, schizophrenia ), and scalp( acne ). Gluten isnt the only food causing problems for people with sensitive bodies. Other top allergens include dairy, soy, corn, eggs, nuts, and nightshades( potatoes, peppers, eggplant, and tomatoes ).
Some people dont have food fanaticisms, but for those of us experiencing adverse health symptoms, food may play a larger role in our lives than we ever imagined. Its good to be informed about our bodies, our health, and what we eat.
Eating the right foods can help us feel our very best, and I feel amazing, in spite of the fact that eating bread set me in a wheelchair ten years ago.
Its been ten years since I was diagnosed with an autoimmune cancer that I dont actually have. Going through all that was an insane, insightful journey. Its one that I can only feel grateful for today, despite everything thats happened.
The gluten-free diet has a bad reputation these days. From friends to doctors who dont take you seriously, lets not assume that someone is doing a diet for a specific reason. Lets assume that they know more about their body and their health than we do. And this can only be a beneficial thing for them.
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