Answers from a Gluten Doctor – Part 3: Now What?
Continuing on in our series of questions answered by renowned gluten doctor, Dr. Vikki Petersen, is the answer to the question “What now?” – just eliminating gluten from the diet and home is not enough as you are about to discover in Dr. Vikki’s answer.
Once one has determined they have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, what’s the best course of action to start healing the body?
The first course of action is to immediately eliminate all gluten from your diet. It’s best to clean out your refrigerator and pantry and give the food away to a non-gluten challenged friend. Dairy products are also discouraged (organic butter is fine- it is a fat and doesn’t contain much of any milk solids, a protein) as they tend to be very inflammatory to the digestive tract, something you don’t need when you’re trying to heal it.
Once you are convinced that no gluten remains in your home, it would be a good idea to give a good cleaning to any kitchen items that may contain remnants of gluten. The toaster is traditionally the biggest culprit but look around for anything else.
Next, acquaint yourself with a local grocery store and on-line stores that carry gluten-free food items. While I don’t encourage a tremendous amount of refined, simple carbohydrates, everyone likes a little treat now and again, so you need to have some things on hand that will allow you to have a pleasure moment. Whether it’s a rice pasta or Carol’s wonderful baking flour, make sure that you have these things on hand so you won’t be tempted to cheat.
My website, http://www.healthnowmedical.com/ has a nice page discussing exactly what you can and can’t eat as well as where gluten may sneak into certain foods. So feel free to visit and get more educated. Once you know the ingredients to look out for and some synonyms for gluten, then start reading labels in earnest before you buy anything. The labeling laws have improved markedly over recent years, so it’s much easier to make selections.
Now that your diet has no gluten in it (and hopefully no dairy either) I encourage you to consume foods that will help you to heal and detoxify. It’s interesting to note that the most bioactive foods are all found in the plant category. Dark green leafy vegetables such as kale, collard greens, spinach and bok choy are all very therapeutic. Further, broccoli rabe, cabbage, cauliflower, etc. should be consumed in abundance. Try to eat organically as much as possible and eat at home more where you know what quality you’re getting.
You also need to take some proactive steps to heal your small intestine. Whether you’re suffering from complete villous atrophy from celiac disease or inflammation and loss of normal function due to gluten intolerance, restoring the integrity and health to your small intestine is critical to the attainment of good health.
Try to find a clinician that specializes in this area to assist you. If there isn’t one local to you then please let me know and I can try to assist you. It is an unfortunate fact that there aren’t sufficient numbers of clinicians specializing in this area.
Meanwhile make sure that your Vitamin B12, Vitamin D, Iron and Calcium levels are tested. These are standard tests that an M.D. can order for you. If any are found to be deficient you should start augmenting with a good supplement. Both B12 and D can be given in a liquid form to enhance absorption as they are fat soluble vitamins.
Attaining healing is often accompanied by the removal of more than just gluten. Often organisms such as bacteria, parasites, amoeba and the like have taken up residence in your intestine due to a gluten-induced weakened immune system. These organisms rarely leave on their own and need to be “driven out”. But first they need to be diagnosed and that requires a comprehensive stool analysis. I know this isn’t something you can do on your own but I am happy to assist you to find someone. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this point as we have seen that most patients do not regain their health simply by eliminating gluten. Healing won’t take place in an inflamed, infected intestine. But don’t despair, the test is easy and treatment is not difficult either.
After removing gluten and any inhospitable organisms and supplementing with needed nutrients, one also needs to re-inoculate the gut with the healthy probiotics. These are absolutely critical in helping to discourage any new inhospitable “guests” not to mention they are anti-inflammatory and a boon to the immune system. Try to get human strains of these organisms in capsules that contain about 20 billion organisms.
This may sound like a lot to do but just take it step by step and please do let me know if I can assist in any way. It would be my pleasure to do so.
If you have any specific questions for Dr. Vikki, leave them in the comments and I will do a “round up” of questions and answers in a few weeks.
By the way, the flour blend Dr. Vikki refers to is a blend I developed while writing my gluten free dessert cookbook. I am very excited about it and sent some to Dr. Vikki to test out. It is in the process of being produced commercially and I will let you know when it is available.