First Do No Harm


Funny how we learn things. My path started with a diagnosis of cancer, which eventually led me to creating a directory of wellness practitioners, the ones who truly believe in the first rule of medicine: Do No Harm.

I took many road trips throughout Minnesota because practitioners didn’t, at least 20 years ago, advertise in papers or in the Yellow Pages. They worked locally and got clients by word of mouth.

I visited a lot of health food stores because practitioners posted business cards there and the people in the stores knew nearly every practitioner within a fifty mile radius.

It was in an out of the way health food store where I’d first heard of Weston Price.

I even remember (I think) the sentence, “Weston Price discovered that heart disease followed the movement of wheat throughout the ancient world.”

Think of it. Paleolithic humans were hunter gatherers. They hunted (and fished) and gathered fruits and vegetables. They also gathered grains.

It wasn’t until humans settled into communities that agriculture was invented. One of the first crops to be domesticated was wheat.

If you think about it, the development of agriculture was the greatest change in human nutrition up until the age of industrialism.

Today, however, it is becoming increasingly apparent that over consumption of wheat products is hugely contributing to our unhealthy state (obesity, diabetes, heart disease); highly processed wheat products are even worse, spiking blood sugar, contributing to insulin resistance, and creating Advanced Glycation End products (AGE’s).

What is the overall result? Inflammation. High insulin levels in the blood activate enzymes that increase arachidonic acid resulting in inflammation.

Arachidonic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid, an omega-6 that is necessary for good health, until you have a surplus, which leads to inflammation.

Now add to that food sensitivities, such as gluten intolerance, and you’ve got another avenue to inflammation under construction in your digestive system as proteins (gluten) establish a complex cascading effect resulting in an inflammatory response. In this MedScape article, leaky gut syndrome (although they don’t call it that) is discussed. Simply put, once an inflammation is established in the digestive tract causing tissue damage through which these proteins can escape. The body sees them as a foreign invader, attacks these proteins, and establishes that from now on, this is the enemy. So when you again eat that food, your body wants to reject it.

Now you might not be gluten intolerant, but the number of people who are gluten sensitive, without knowing they are gluten sensitive is giganitc. Even YOU can be sensitive to gluten and not know it. You can find out by going gluten free for a period (two weeks) and then trying it again. It’s amazing how many people feel better just not eating gluten, and just as amazing how bad they feel when they take it up again.

"Gluten is the new tobacco." Gavin Yamey MD

The difference between gluten sensitivity and gluten intolerance is in the intensity of the symptoms.

Here are the symptoms of gluten “intolerance.”

  • Digestive issues: Gas, bloating, diarrhea, or even constipation.

  • Migraine headaches (after digestive problems, this is probably the most common complaint).

  • Brain fog or fatigue, especially eating.

  • A diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, and even Hashimoto’s disease or multiple sclerosis.

  • Chicken skin (Keratosis Pilaris) on the back of your arms as result of a fatty acid and vitamin A deficiency caused by gluten damaging the intestinal tract, resulting in mal-absorption of essential fatty acids.

  • Mood and neurologic issues such anxiety, depression, mood swings, and ADD. Severe mood swings have been reported by some, as well as dizziness loss of balance.

  • Hormone imbalances: PMS, PCOS, or infertility. I have a friend who was having a terrible time with menopause until she went off gluten completely and her symptoms practically vanished.

  • Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.

  • Inflammation: swelling and pain in your joints.

Let me reiterate. To determine if you are gluten sensitive, eliminate it from your diet for 2 to 3 weeks. This is much harder than you think since gluten is added to so many processed foods. Thus one way to avoid gluten is to avoid processed foods. So here is a web site: List Of Gluten Free Foods and here is a great book: Living Gluten-Free For Dummies.

Check your store for gluten free bread or visit my latest favorite bakery, Julian Bakery online.

Then simply bring gluten back into your diet and see what happens.

References and Further Reading:

Gluten Intolerance Symptoms – How Do You Know If Gluten Is Making You Sick?

10 Signs You're Gluten Intolerant

Going Gluten-Free


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