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Celebrating One Year!

February 27th, 2011
Celebrating One Year GFree

Celebrating One Year Gluten-Free

On February 25, my family went out to Arni’s to celebrate my one year anniversary of when I went gluten-free. I’m sure that last year around this time I was probably thinking I would never eat pizza again, but just this past month one of my favorite restaurants started serving up a GFree Pizza that is actually pretty tasty. Frankly, I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this life-changing event!

When I cut gluten out of my diet last year, my health improved significantly. While it was a difficult diet to follow in the beginning, the rewards of doing so were practically immediate. Withing three days of adhering to a strict gluten-free diet, the inflammation in my body began to recede and I had more energy than I’d experienced within the past four years. I remember crying in front of the butter at the grocery store, wondering if the “natural flavor” in the generic butter meant it might contain gluten. The possibility of something as simple as butter containing gluten was overwhelming to me at the time. I quickly found it easier to avoid processed foods altogether, with food labels that require a chemistry degree to decipher, and stick to whole foods that I cooked at home. I think by doing this that I also eliminated many chemicals and preservatives that my body was reacting to as well.

At one point I noticed that I was getting nauseous eating baby carrots. My doctor didn’t think I was allergic to carrots, and he suggested I try eating organic carrots to see if I had the same reaction. I tried the organic carrots and was able to eat them just fine. So from then on I started buying organic products whenever they were available. This also has helped eliminate my exposure to toxic chemicals and has reduced some of my symptoms.

About two years ago, even before I cut out the gluten, I swore off Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners. Doing this really helped alleviate some awful migraine headaches. So I must say that it isn’t just through avoiding gluten-full foods that I have reduced my Fibromyalgia symptoms, but it has been a process of eliminating my exposure to variety of triggers. However, I believe that going gluten-free has had the most significant impact on the overall improvement of my health thus far.

Going gluten-free has certainly improved my health over this past year. I have lost about 45 pounds without counting calories. I didn’t concern myself with counting calories or tracking fat intake because it was such a challenge just to make sure that I wasn’t ingesting gluten. I’m not sure my body knew what to do with all the chemicals in the processed foods. Possibly my liver couldn’t process things fast enough, so maybe it just manufactured fat and shoved the chemicals into the fat cells thinking it would get to that later. Also, a skin rash I’ve had on my arms since my early teen years has almost completely vanished. How interesting that the rash originally appeared around the same time I was diagnosed with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). I have fewer problems with my digestion now, although I still suffer from reflux. I cannot seem to stop taking the Protonix, a proton pump inhibitor, that I have been taking for over four years.

I am still having occasional flare-ups, and so I’m trying to figure out what some of my other triggers might possibly be. On my list of suspects are corn, soy, chocolate, cinnamon, nutmeg, and probably vinegar.  The last four are known to be  high in histamine or produce large amounts of histamine in the body. I have horrible reactions to cinnamon and nutmeg; my arms get stiff and heavy, with numbness and tingling in the mouth, accompanied by persistent coughing and fatigue. Chocolate seems to make my skin crawl, and I’ve always attributed this to the caffeine. Cinnamon and nutmeg are high in benzoates, and I know I have reacted to a salad dressing that has had sodium benzoate as a preservative.

I’ve been reading Dealing with Food Allergies by Janice Vickerstaff, and apparently it is possible to have an intolerance to benzoates. She also discusses the possibility of developing a histamine intolerance caused by a deficiency of two enzymes, diamin oxidase (DAO) and histamine methyltransferase (HMT). Histamine tolerance may also be reduced by autoimmune diseases and medications, such as antidepressants. Since histamine is responsible for triggering the immune response, it becomes difficult to distinguish between a reaction due to an allergy, or a reaction that has resulted from high levels of histamine in the system. Without the proper enzymes to break down histamine, it can build up in the body. One way to cope with reactions due to histamine toxicity is to modify your diet and eat foods that are naturally low in histamine, and foods that do not trigger a release of histamine to the body.  Dr. Vickerstaff recommends trying a histamine-restricted diet for a period of four weeks to see if it will alleviate symptoms.

Low Histamine Diet

I think that it is worth a shot to see if my remaining symptoms will subside. I’ve seen many fibromates talking about how they avoid the deadly nightshades. I think that it is interesting that these are also high in histamine and should be avoided on this diet. I’ll make sure to post if this also makes a difference.

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  1. February 27th, 2011 at 22:26 | #1

    Congratulations on your year. I can SO relate to crying at the grocery store. I had that desperation inside me as well, though it came out other ways.

    In my case, it’s not gluten I’m giving up but many assorted foods. I don’t have Fibro but I have a long list of foods that all can make me feel horrible, even just one at a time. My worst are corn, yeast/mold/aged products (including cheese & vinegar), tree nuts, most fruits, xanthan gum, cinnamon, ginger and garlic. I also will ache if I eat much wheat, though I do fine with tiny doses on a very infrequent basis, and can handle other gluten-containing foods such as barley and kamut.

    So many GF goods in a grocery store have corn/potato/xanthan gum and even preservatives, that I have learned to bake for myself. It has been a challenge. I wish there was an easier way for doctors to say WHAT to eat rather than what NOT to eat. Nobody should cry at the grocer, but it happens far too often.

    Thanks for the heartfelt post. So glad you got to celebrate with pizza someone else made for you! What a year! Celebrate.

  2. February 28th, 2011 at 08:23 | #2

    I am not sure when I found your blog but I subscribed and I think it was when I was first looking for gluten free blogs. I didn’t realize until today after your post….your story. So, now I am starting at the beginning of your blog and reading every post. You are me…..so far. I am so happy that you did this blog. I would love to have you on my webshow to tell your story. Would you be interested???? Have a blessed day!!!

  3. March 1st, 2011 at 21:04 | #3

    @Karen
    Karen, I’m so glad that others with Fibromyalgia are starting to figure this out too! I’m happy to spread the word anyway I can. Please contact me via email and we can discuss the details.

  4. March 1st, 2011 at 21:11 | #4

    @LynnH
    Lynn, Thanks for the encouragement. It can definitely be a struggle to live on such a restricted diet. I can really sympathize with you. I find it interesting that we have so many similar food intolerances, and so many of those are high in histamine or can trigger the body to release histamine. I feel less swollen today after cutting back on some of those high histamine foods. I’m hoping the trend continues. We shall see. I keep taking a step every day on my path to recovery. I will not let Fibromyalgia beat me down. I’ve got a long life to live.

  5. MasterPo
    March 31st, 2011 at 16:34 | #5

    What an amazing story. While I don’t share your disease/symptoms, it was very encouraging to hear your tale of a problem attacked and conquered. You must have a supportive family, and that is important, who should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished.

    I do share one small aspect with you. I suffer from reflux and have most of my adult life. I too take a protein inhibitor (Aciphex). I have been able to reduce my symptoms and eliminate (where’s wood I can knock on) episodes (interesting euphemism for waking up in the middle of the night with bile in your throat) by: (1) reducing my weight, lost 50 pounds and am within sight of getting in the “normal” range; (2) reducing caffeine, greatly reducing my fat intake, spicy intake, creamy sauces, alcohol (beer in particular; hard liquor is not as damaging for some reason), acidic intake, eliminating fried foods; and (3) making a more concerted effort to implement (2) at the evening meal, all the more within 3 hours of bedtime.

    So an evening meal of jalapeno poppers & spicy wing appetizer, accommpanied by several beers; then the spicy chicken alfredo pasta; topped off with cheese cake with a creamy choclatey ice cream would send me into a (feels like) virtual death spiral. Let’s not forget leaving the restaurant with an after dinner mint.

    FWIW, corn has no effect that I can dicern. I have actually increased my intake in the course of eating more veggies. I would say I eat 1/3 or 2/3 cups of corn 4-5 times a week.

    YMMV; best of luck finding your trigger foods.

  6. April 4th, 2011 at 11:59 | #6

    Dear Joe,

    I have certainly made a great turn around and I am truly blessed to have a very supportive husband that has helped me through this ordeal. Symptoms of gluten sensitivity can vary from person to person, however it has been shown to cause GERD (Gluten Sensitivity Induces GERD, Gluten Free Society). I would be curious to see if a sorghum beer like Redbridge or Bard’s causes heartburn as well. Hard liquor is normally gluten-free because the distillation process removes the proteins that cause a reaction. It might make for an interesting experiment to give up gluten for a few days and see how you feel. This is no easy task, but if your heartburn is still making you miserable it might be worth it.

    BTW, Congratulations on your weight loss!

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