Posts Tagged ‘Gluten-free diet’

Awesome Autumn

IMG_1917 (2)Happy first full day of autumn. It is feeling very fall-like in Minnesota and thanks to a second half of summer drought our leaves are already turning. They change color not because of autumn but because they are struggling to survive. We started out the summer wet and cool but the second half left our landscape parched and thirsty. It is so sad to see about 20 trees dead or dying around our rural acreage but Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes.

Vacations and your health

I have just returned from two weeks abroad and while I am feeling good and not too tired, I have some acrimonious aches and pains that are immobilizing me at the moment. While hiking in the Borders of Scotland I tripped on a gnarly tree root that was slippery from morning rain and went right down on my chest as my hands were elsewhere, I guess. That fall knocked the wind right out of me and jarred an old injury to my ribs (caused by two poodles who whisked me off a porch in pursuit of a squirrel).

My right side is so sore sleep is, at best, restless and broken. Once home I spent as much time as possible with my fabulous grandsons and having picked up and cuddled two boys for two days I know that is “verboten” as well. I am unbelievably sad about not being able to pick up those boys and cuddle them but I can’t aggravate this injury anymore.

Barefoot running and Morton’s neuroma

Before my holiday, I was running barefoot on my paved driveway and had gotten up to a mile of barefoot running. Around the time we left my right foot was hurting and now I know I have a Morton’s neuroma that is alive and well. I have had a neuroma in my left foot for ages that came on after walking barefoot  or with my Vibram- 5- Fingers on the beach in Florida for a few days. That neuroma seems to have faded away with time but now has been replaced by this one which is causing me considerable pain and discomfort. I guess barefoot running is also a forbidden sport, at least for now.

Aches and pains be damned

So, aches and pains aside my holiday was lovely. The weather was very summer-like and the cottage we rented for the second year in a row was perfect for us again this year. This wee croft cottage is extremely private (if you don’t count the sheep, deer, otter, dolphins and passing boats as a crowd) and we can walk unimpeded by other humans for hours.

One day we lunched on the shoreline of a nearby private cove looking out to sea. As we watched shipping traffic in the faraway sea channel we saw a few black “things” jump from the water. Then we saw a few more and in the end probably 2 dozen dolphins in a pod. They were obviously following a school of fish but they entertained us for nearly an hour eventually coming up our inlet (Loch Feochan) and frolicking right in front of us.

I love our weeks in Great Britain. After living there in the 80’s we fully intended to live there again one day but Osama’s grand plan (otherwise known as 9/11) got in the way, so instead we rent a cottage here and there and live the good life for a week on our own. Our second week is very dear to both of us as we spend it visiting our long time friends (former neighbors and lifetime friends) who just plain make my heart happy.

On being gluten-free and on holiday

This year staying with friends was more difficult since I have gone gluten-free. I knew the one friend would be fine with it as she has a sister who is gluten-free. She kindly dedicated a corner counter to me in the kitchen. She scrubbed her toaster and made some gluten-free treats basically having us all eat gluten-free as much as possible. I didn’t ask her to do that but she did and I enjoyed and appreciated her efforts. Probably more than anything she didn’t make me feel bad about it; she just accepted it and made me feel okay about my change of diet.

My other friend really didn’t understand being gluten-free, so she struggled a bit.  At one point she even said to me, in a very gentle voice, “A little gluten won’t hurt you!”. The odd thing is this friend is a pescatarian (they say vegetarian but they do eat fish) and if meat even touches their food they won’t eat it, so I thought she might be more understanding but alas I don’t blame her for being irritated. Being gluten-free is not an easy thing for me either.

Some helpful gluten-free travel tips

Before we left I carefully updated my profile on Delta to say I needed gluten-free food. This, it turns out, was a useless endeavor. It simply was never recorded I guess, so I had to pick food that seemed the least touched by flours and grains. Meanwhile, because there was someone on both flights that had nut allergies the entire plane was warned and nuts were not available (but pretzels were). I don’t blame the people with nut allergies but I wish Delta Airlines would take gluten intolerance as seriously.

On the way home, by now somewhat chagrined by my experience with Delta, I asked the flight attendant why they didn’t know I needed gluten-free food and drink.  To her credit she relayed my question to someone who could answer it. What I was told was I needed to request gluten-free food for every flight I take. Apparently updating my profile did absolutely no good which is, needless to say, disappointing. My advice: Make sure to inform the airline on every flight you take where food is served, that you need gluten-free food.

Delta Airlines aside, I was amazed at all the gluten-free items available in England and Scotland, especially Tesco, Booth’s and Sainsbury’s. Restaurants are very careful to keep you safe if you tell them you are gluten-free. Also, if you are travelling in Britain, if it doesn’t say “Gluten Free” it probably isn’t. Sometimes even if it does say “Gluten Free” you might check the ingredients carefully. One bottle of Worcester Sauce (a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce) said it was gluten-free but in looking at the ingredients (I started having some heart irregularity) it contained malt vinegar which is not technically gluten-free. I know, picky, picky but this trip was so much better than any I have had in years I am convinced being gluten-free is right for me and sometimes you have to be “picky”.

One treat that perhaps I shouldn’t have indulged in, but did, is bread. If you like toast or sandwiches while on vacation in Britain most grocery stores sell the best gluten-free bread. It is the Genius brand. It is the same size as normal bread and has the same texture as other bagged breads. I came home thinking surely I could find a similar bread here, which I did. At least it was called Genius but it isn’t the same and I can tell you not to bother buying it. The Genius bread here isn’t even as good as Udi’s Gluten free bread and it is more expensive.

The proof is in the pudding, gluten free  pudding that is

In past years, I have “treated” myself to one or two weeks of gluten while on holiday. In fact, whenever I have gone on vacation I was eating gluten be it abroad or here in the States. At home I was gluten-free but I would throw caution to the wind when away from home thinking this was mentally good for me, basically a total break from the norm.

What was happening though was not good for me. Almost every night I was away from home I would wake up about an hour or two after going to bed with a pounding head and heart. My heart beat would be in excess of 100 bpm and the only thing that calmed it was “tincture of time” and a big glass of salt water. I would read for a couple of hours and then crawl back in bed and sleep until morning. Inevitably, I would lower my dose of T3 which did help but did not eliminate the problem. For some reason, it never occurred to me that gluten might be implicated until last winter.

Light bulb moments

It wasn’t a momentous occasion but I did have a regular wheat crust on a pizza right after Christmas 2012 and immediately had issues with the racing heart and a sleepless night. I hadn’t had any gluten at that time since September’s vacation, so the light suddenly and finally went on. I had a gluten problem. It wasn’t just that I shouldn’t eat gluten because Dr. Mercola condemns wheat and grains I actually have gluten intolerance and possibly Celiac’s Disease. Now even coffee seems to be off the “treat” list as my joints scream at me “No more coffee!” as soon as I indulge. Just so you know, if you have trouble with gluten you may have trouble with coffee.

Another light bulb moment for me was last autumn when I got shingles shortly after my autumn indulgence, aka vacation. What I finally remembered was that almost every autumn within weeks of returning from my gluten filled weeks I would get, not necessarily shingles, but a rash on my lower back that, according to my doctor, was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It was initially a burning pain on my back and within a day or two would break out in this ugly dark blistered rash. When I got shingles I assumed that rash had been shingles but in talking to Dr. Lane she said it was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis because of its location and the fact that it did cross a center-line of my body.

Krisinsight

I really didn’t intend this to be all about my gluten-free lifestyle but every thing seems important to mention just in case you have suffered similar effects after eating gluten or if you happen to have a holiday to Britain in the works and you are gluten-free. I hope you found the gluten-free information helpful but I really wanted to talk about my latest Vitamin D test.

This was my fourth year of testing because I started in August 2009 as part of a test group for the Vitamin D Council. At that time my D level was 64 ng/ml. That winter (March 2010) my D levels were 92 ng/ml. The next August they were 58 ng/ml. The following March they were 70 ng/ml. August 2011-56 ng/ml. February 2012-70 ng/ml. August 2012-91 ng/ml. March 2013-84 ng/ml.

This August my levels were 64 ng/ml. That is down from February’s 84 ng/ml but mostly typical of what my summertime results have been with the exception of August 2012. I really can’t say why my winter results are almost consistently higher than my summer results. I use my Sunsplash Renew more in the winter than the summer but I am outside in the summer and I do expose my body to sunlight at midday at least three times a week in the summer. I seldom take D supplementation relying solely on my Sunsplash Renew and the summer sun. I never wash after sunbathing (or using my D lights) always letting 24 hours pass before a shower and even then I only soap vitals areas (as per Dr. Mercola).

Suffice it to say, my levels are always within normal limits but I would prefer they stay closer to 90 ng/ml, so long as my sole source of Vitamin D is natural and not supplementation. I have one more year to be part of the study, so come February I will test my levels again. I am trying to spend 20 minutes three times a week in front of my Sunsplash Renew to see if that brings my levels up in February but now I wonder if what I need to do in the summer is take Vitamin D supplements to maintain a level that helps my compromised immune system since I do have Hashimoto’s.

Ah, in the end life it just one big experiment isn’t it?

Santé,

Kris

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Food Sensitivities

IMG_1917 (2)This has been a week dominated by fire watching from afar. We have watched fire consume acres of land around our private bit of Idaho ravishing livestock and wildlife as it raged through. For the last few days we have watched as hungry flames quite literally eat the landscape around Hailey, Ketchum, and Sun Valley but for now our cabin and land remain untouched.

We, my SU and I, watch our computer monitors with mouths agape as fire fighting helicopters wrestle with what they are calling “Fire-nadoes”. These are virtual whirlwinds made entirely of fire fueled by summer dried trees and sagebrush. Fire fighters on the ground are filthy with soot but keep doing their job of saving lives and structures.

They have done their job very well indeed, as few structures have been lost and no humans have perished thus far. Even the animal shelter near Hailey, Idaho was protected so well you can see the burn came right down to the structures but nothing was touched, it wasn’t even licked by flame and that, my friends, is fire fighting at its best. Just so you know, all the animals (including some bomb sniffing dogs) were safely removed and re-housed in other locations until the fire danger passed.

Meanwhile, here in Minnesota it is dry and warm. It is mostly stereotypically August although we often are much warmer than we have been. I don’t hear anyone complaining (with possible exception of those who own boats who shall remain nameless). Today, smoke from the western fires will waft over us but mostly it will be a Sunday like many others, me writing my blog for publication tomorrow morning bright and early and John catching up with unfinished business from Friday.

Food sensitivities

MSG

I have talked about food sensitivities on this site many times and it is still a subject of some curiosity for me. You all know about my burning mouth syndrome and irregular heartbeat issues. I explored numerous food issues from MSG (excitotoxins) to gluten in the past. Through very unscientific research I concluded that MSG wasn’t causing my irregular heartbeat but excitotoxins (as described by Dr. Russ Blaylock) are not good for us whether or not we have obvious reactions and I avoid them if at all possible.

Bioactive Amines, Salicylates,Nightshades and others

I found this great article titled “Natural Food Toxins” in my research this week. Chloe, research assistant and friend, and I were talking this week about aches and pains and causes of said A&Ps. She brought up nightshade vegetables and the fact that eating potatoes makes her feel quite upset. Nightshades are notorious for reacting this way on people and sure enough they are included in the article “Natural Food Toxins”.

You all know about my Burning Mouth Syndrome and I remain perplexed by the causes but I am starting to narrow down some of the culprits. I am not sure of their connection, if any to each other, but coffee is a definite culprit. Ground peppercorns on my eggs this morning caught my mouth on fire. I believe that supplements with rosemary extract ignite the issue as well. Any kind of mint be it peppermint, spearmint or wintergreen will make my mouth burn for days. What do all of these things have in common? Yup, you guessed it, they are all natural food toxins.

This is a broad category of foods including some dairy, meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and herbs. The article at Healthknot.com is well worth reading and the link is there if you click on the first mention of “Natural Food Toxins”.

Gluten

Gluten free has become the new buzzword for food sensitivities and allergies. For some, the mere hint of gluten in their food can cause their throats to tighten and swallowing impossible.  Others are more intolerant than allergic. For me it is a culprit behind many negative health issues including ensuing malaise and seemingly irregular heartbeat. I cannot tell you, the reader, how or why gluten affects my heart but I think and have had it confirmed by others in the thyroid groups that being “glutened” can and does cause autoimmune attacks and since my heart is prone to irregularity an autoimmune attack seems to be a trigger.

Lactose

Lactose intolerance is the number one food people have trouble with. Whether it is a true allergy or an intolerance doesn’t really matter to the person who is having issues with a food. My friend Chloe totally eliminated dairy from her diet to see if it was a culprit in her fibromyalgia and found, perhaps to her delight, it really didn’t seem to make any difference. Nothing changed and she was true to no dairy for months. I can’t see that dairy affects me negatively. I never ache after consuming dairy products. My heart never bothers me (no change in pulse even). I cannot see that dairy is a negative for me in any way other than calorie content. That is not true for others and for them lactose causes too much distress to make consuming it worthwhile.

Krisinsight

Consuming gluten causes me to ache all over, have autoimmune issues within weeks of consumption and my heart reacts negatively within hours of consumption. The odd thing (at least it seems odd to me) is for most Celiac patients coffee has a similarly negative effect. They cannot tolerate coffee and this week after two episodes of achy joints I connected the dots.  I don’t have coffee very often but I do have it as a treat once in a while particularly on weekends and at my daughter’s house.

Last Saturday, we had coffee and that night I had a ruined night’s sleep as I tossed and turned with aches and pains in my knees like you wouldn’t believe. Sunday night was okay and I slept well but then I didn’t have coffee on Sunday. Monday I had coffee at my daughters and unbelievably I hurt all night long again. My knees ached and my hip ached. I got up during the night and I could barely walk my ankles were so stiff (I thought this was from running barefoot on my driveway at the time). I was starting to feel very old for 59. Then Tuesday, Wednesday and the rest of the nights this week were full of good sleep with no achiness. Of course, I have avoided coffee ever since Monday.

I mentioned that my ankles were stiff and they were and I did blame the running but it suddenly went away with no residual soreness or stiffness once I had the coffee at least 48 hours out of my system. I have since run barefoot all over my driveway and yard with no issues. Yesterday, I even did lunges across our backyard in addition to jogging. This did affect my left hip-joint last night but nothing else ached, so I conclude coffee is as bad for me as gluten.

I don’t know about you but I keep wondering what will be next and why. Do people with autoimmune issues just have more aches and pains? Or, as I tend to think, do we know that this is not normal? Do we just not accept? I know that aches and pains are not a normal part of aging, that they represent a problem. The problem is inflammation. That inflammation is a result of some thing that your body is missing, is reacting to and/or to which your body just wants you to pay attention.

I think it is important to pay attention to these aches and pains before you need a hip replacement, before your fingers are crooked with arthritis. Pay attention before your cells go crazy and multiply and some doctor tells you that in order to live you need chemotherapy and radiation. Hello Kristin!!!! Are you paying attention now? I sure hope I am. I am going to try really hard to do as I say and stop doing as I have been doing and get rid of these aches and pains.

Santé,

Kris