Guest Post by Mary Vance
Hello everyone! Please welcome one of my very good friends from my undergraduate years at WMU, Mary Vance. After suffering with several inflammatory symptoms that manifested most notably in her skin and joints, she discovered she had a severe food intolerance to gluten, a type of protein found in wheat products. Her diagnosis of wheat allergy (WA) was confirmed by the presence of IgE antibodies in her blood. After seeing her pictures I asked Mary if she would write a guest post for my blog.
Gluten-free diets have been all the rage lately, touted as the next “weight-loss miracle cure.” As ridiculous as I think the whole gluten-free diet fad is I want to be clear that conditions caused by the consumption of gluten and/or wheat products is VERY REAL! And I’m not just talking about celiac disease. There are three classifications for gluten-related disorders: celiac disease (CD), gluten sensitivity or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), and wheat allergy (WA). For those with any type of food intolerance or allergy, eliminating the problem food could mean a world of difference! Not only could it enhance the quality of life, but also the longevity since continually consuming the problem food creates inflammation in the body and could do permanent damage to vital organs and lead to chronic disease.
WEIGHT LOSS BY ELIMINATING GLUTEN?
Of course it is possible to lose weight by cutting gluten from your diet if in fact you do have an sensitivity or allergy to gluten. But for many, the weight loss experienced will be due to the fact that you are eliminating the already unhealthy processed/refined foods that contain gluten, not the gluten itself. And if you simply replace those foods with gluten-free versions of packaged, refined foods you will gain back the weight you lost or not lose any to begin with. This is an important thing to consider since many healthful, fiber-rich foods contain gluten. So before you think that gluten is the evil monster keeping you from meeting your weight-related goals you might want to consider an elimination type of diet first, something Mary did herself.
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CELIAC DISEASE, NON-CELIAC GLUTEN SENSITIVITY & WHEAT ALLERGY?
Celiac disease (CD) is an immune-mediated response elicited via consumption of gluten in susceptible individuals. Symptoms might take years to appear in some cases thus individuals could unknowingly do major damage to their intestinal villi before diagnosis is made. Symptoms of CD include weight loss, chronic diarrhea and other gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Other non-GI symptoms include anemia, osteoporosis, neurological problems and conditions related to malabsorption of nutrients. Laboratory testing of CD generally begins with measurement of IgA antibodies to tTG (anti-tTG) followed by confirmation of CD with IgA anti-EMA. A more sensitive and specific test (DGP) has more recently been introduced for CD diagnosis. Intestinal biopsy may also be recommended. It is important that individuals diagnosed with CD adhere to a strict gluten-free diet.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition in which similar symptoms to CD and WA are experienced with consumption of gluten and wheat containing products, but usually without the presence of measurable antibodies in the blood. Only 50% of individuals with NCGS have IgG antibodies in their blood, so there are currently no laboratory markers available for diagnosis. Although clinical symptoms are similar to CD and WA (gastrointestinal distress), no damage to the intestinal villi occurs. Additional symptoms include behavioral changes, bone, joint and muscle pain, weight loss and chronic fatigue. Patients experience improvements with a gluten-free diet.
Wheat allergy (WA) is an when an individual who consumes any product containing wheat has an adverse immunologic reaction anywhere from minutes to within an hour or two of eating wheat proteins. The symptoms are usually quite severe and affect the skin, gastrointestinal tract, joints and overall immune system. Severe WA can lead to atrophy of the intestinal villi, anaphylaxis and death. The presence of IgE antibodies in the blood is used as a positive marker for WA.
NOW TO MARY’S STORY…
Oh, and one more thing about Mary: not only is she an expert due to her own personal experience with severe wheat allergy, but she is also currently back in school working toward her degree in Dietetics. This girl knows her stuff!
Well, you will never know the benefits that you may experience unless you truly go Gluten Free completely and do it over an extended period of time.
Hello Folks, I am an old friend of Amy’s from college. We went to Western Michigan University at the same time when we were both in our early 20’s. I am 38 now and I am 7 years into my gluten free journey. I can tell you that for me, it has literally saved my life. I was diagnosed with severe wheat allergy in 2009, and I changed my diet. At that time, I was very ill, close to death, severely obese and I had nothing to lose by changing my food, but I had a bit of hope that I could live longer if I changed my eating habits. I did not go low calorie or follow certain macronutrient specifications at that time, I simply stopped putting gluten into my diet. I also did not eat a lot of highly processed foods in the way of cakes or cookies my focus was rebuilding my body with clean, simple foods. I geared myself towards a Paleolithic diet at that time, eating foods with few ingredients so that I could easily track if anything caused a reaction with my skin.
Prior to changing my food, I had been on a slow decline with my health and well-being. For years I was tired, gaining weight, getting weaker (chronic fatigue) and after I had my children I began to gain even more weight and I experienced getting skin rashes that would last for a few weeks at a time. I felt very low energy in my late twenties and thought getting “older” was really horrible! Ha! I love aging now-I was sick and didn’t realize it, I was not old at all!! My right leg would give out on me when I was walking. My joints and muscles were very weak (fibromyalgia symptoms). I remember painting a mural on my son’s wall and continually dropping the paintbrush on the floor because I had no grip strength. At 5’1” I was weighing about 240 pounds and I felt like I was starving alI the time. I later learned that from ingesting gluten my body was unable to absorb certain nutrients due to villi atrophy in my small intestines, so I really was physiologically starving. My hair would fall out, my skin was very thin and weak, I was constipated often and was not a happy person. I was sick, really sick.