When you have Celiac Disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it doesn’t take long to know that you’ve been duped. For me, it's within just a few hours.
The drowsiness sets in and I begin to slow down mentally. Looking in the mirror, I can see my face becoming a sickly, ashy color. Abdominal Bloating, as unpleasant as it is obvious, sets in. For the next 3-4 days, I struggle against an inevitable downward trend losing all motivation, creativity, and drive. My work goes unfinished, goals I had hoped to accomplish down the drain, and a sense of anger and helplessness at myself for wasting a few days in the bed.
Celiac Disease hits everyone differently, but if you are anything like me it can throw you off track for days or weeks at a time. In an effort to minimize the physical and mental rollercoaster, I’ve tried just about everything.
Now, I have a 3-Step plan that I use whenever I suspect I’ve been glutened. I’m very excited to say that since I started implementing this plan, I have cut my recovery time in half and reduced the severity of my reactions by around 30%.
Getting glutened still sucks, but not so much that I lose the drive to continue working on the things that are important to me (like this blog).
Here is my 3-Step Plan for those times where I get glutened. If you find this article useful, please give it a like and share!
Step 1: Flush the System
Though it may not sound enticing, flushing your system is a fairly painless process that makes a BIG difference over the next few days.
I begin this step by taking some digestive enzymes. When choosing your enzymes, try and choose a brand that contains dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP_IV). This enzyme specifically targets the gluten molecules and breaks them down. While the enzyme obviously can’t break the gluten down to a point where it can safely travel through your intestines, it can help to reduce the effects of the more toxic prolamines.
Another way that I like to flush my system is with Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). I use ACV for a myriad of reasons and, when it comes to an upset stomach, ACV cannot be beaten.
A common symptom of Celiac Disease is a reduction in the volume of stomach acid. When you take ACV, it helps correct the imbalance in your gut by increasing the acid’s volume. Since your stomach is designed for an acidic environment, it is better to address the imbalances with an acidic substance rather than an antacid.
On a daily basis, I make a tea with 2 tablespoons of ACV (make sure its organic and isn’t the clear one) and 1 tablespoon of organic honey mixed with hot water. I take it before bed and almost immediately after adopting this method, I noticed 2 HUGE changes:
- I sleep all the way through the night.
- The morning GI Stress that I had experienced every single day for the last few years stopped.
ACV has changed my life, and I’m sticking with it.
To finish up my flush, I drown my body in fluids. Personal favorites include water, green tea, and a little bit of cranberry juice. When I just can’t drink any more water, I usually transition to La Croix sparkling water. I love it, but a lot of people don’t so make sure you give it a try before you buy a full case.
2. Address the Systemic Inflammation
Systemic Inflammation is an early indicator of a full-body immune response. We want to reduce that immune response as much as possible over the next couple of days because this inflammation is the start of a cycle that manifests the symptoms after you’ve been glutened.
I like to address this inflammation with my diet since it’s usually the diet’s fault that the inflammation occurred in the first place. Once I’ve been glutened or am feeling symptoms that could potentially be the result of gluten, I adjust my diet.
I have found, both through research and personal experimentation, that the paleo diet is “the best” gluten-free diet for roughly 80% of Celiacs out there.
Why do I say “the best”?
The Paleo diet removes virtually all of the highly inflammatory foods found in today’s diet including refined sugar, processed foods, dairy, and all grains.
I won’t go into the details because I want to remain on topic, but if you are curious and want to learn more about the Paleo Diet, I recommend you start with Steve Lamb. He runs NerdFitness and has an incredibly in-depth article, The Beginner’s Guide to the Paleo Diet, which goes over everything you need to know about the Paleo Diet.
Another way that I address inflammation is through L-Glutamine supplementation. L-Glutamine is an amino acid used by the small intestine as a source of fuel and nitrogen. Research has found that L-Glutamine increases the number of intestinal cells, number of villi on those cells, and height of the corresponding villi.
I’m usually hesitant with supplementation but L-Glutamine is well studied and doesn't cause toxicity. For me, 10 grams a day for the week after I’ve been glutened is the perfect dosage. I don’t feel like I’m overwhelming my body with excessive nutrients but I definitely feel a big difference in terms of GI comfort.
Step 3: Restart the Healing Process
Once you’ve done everything that you can to fight off your bodies immune response, the time has come for healing. The L-Glutamine, mentioned above, will help jump-start the healing process.
My first tool for healing is a high concentration probiotic (~25-100 billion units). The benefits of probiotics for your general health have been touted for decades, but science is just now beginning to document it.
Probiotics help reinforce the good bacteria that is found in your gut. This reinforcement helps maintain the delicate balance in your gut. Probiotics should be taken routinely, but for the week after being glutened you will want to double up.
Another helpful tool for intestinal healing is bone broth. You can use any, but I prefer chicken broth. Bone broth is high in anti-inflammatory amino acids like glycine and proline. Bone broth also contains gelatin which can line the digestive tract, aiding in the healing process.
I love making soups at home, and this is my go to dosing method for bone broth. I use chicken broth in basically every soup I make anyway, and there is nothing quite like a warm soup to help you feel better.
Whenever I suspect I’ve been glutened, I get started on these 3 steps right away. If I have been glutened, it’s a lifesaver. If I haven’t been glutened, then I’m just showing my GI system some tender love and care.
If you have any other tips and tricks that you like to use to help mitigate some of the effects of gluten, I’d love to hear them! Comment below and I’ll be sure to check them out.
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