Sunday, September 27, 2009

Foods are Killing Us in Ways We Don't Even Know About

I grew up in the south on good southern cooking and mid west meat and potatoes. If my parents ever scrimped in their budget, the food budget was the last thing they would take from. The only time it was fancy fare was our annual "birthday dinner" to celebrate all our birthdays at one time, as all three of them spanned less than a month right at Christmas time.

Skip ahead a couple of decades and I have my own family and we all love good food and I like to cook. While living in Wisconsin, a place of the best foods in the world, cheese and frozen custard, I discovered the worst thing in the world. I had become lactose intolerant. Horrors! Unfortunately, I was unable to rein in my desires and occasionally I would still partake, I would just time it where I knew I would be home for a couple of days to suffer in private. Skip ahead another 15 years and we are living in Wisconsin a second time in our marriage but moving to Michigan, a move I was not happy about at all. But it was certainly not our first move, not even our second or third. It was more like our tenth move, so I thought I was taking it all in stride. I've read that some Celiacs or gluten-intolerant people have an event, perhaps traumatic, that becomes the trigger to setting off their sudden intolerances. About 6 months after the move, my lactose intolerance suddenly kicked into a whole new plane of seriousness. And getting more disciplined about staying away from dairy didn't seem to help much. It took several months to figure it all out, but in the end I discovered I had suddenly become intolerant of all things glutenous, rice, eggs, nuts, beans, along with my diary issues. Now, what does that leave me with? You would have thought I'd drop the weight like crazy. I think it counted for about a six pound loss overall. Unfortunately, I still love to eat.

It has been approximately 3 years since all of this transpired. I have not been diagnosed with anything officially. I do a lot of reading online and belong to some discussion forums for Celiacs, a disease that, believe it or not, affects about 1 in 100 people. It is a disease where the glutens in many grains affect people in various and very adverse ways. Many of those are still undiagnosed. We have become a society of digestive issues and not really understanding the foods that we are fed these days, how it's grown and processed and the cross-contaminations that are common practice and has affected our food supply over the past 70 years or so. Celiacs itself, seems to have been rooted mostly in the English Anglo-Saxon genes. I have begun to believe that drastically changing the diet we are so accustomed to is helping people with serious diseases such as Fibromyalgia and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Many mothers have been trying to gluten-free and casein-free (diary) diets on their ADD/ADHD kids as well as those that are autistic. There's a huge debate in the medical community about whether this can or is really helping these kids and many mothers and saying that it has definitely changed their children's conditions for the best. This is not a post about that debate.

I wish people would start realizing that the digestive problems, mood swings, headaches or whatever nagging health problem bothers them regularly COULD be something like an intolerance to glutens, or possibly they carry the Celiacs gene. And even though living with such a different diet certainly isn't easy these days, if more people knew they have that problem and demand that the restaurant industry and the food companies become more educated themselves and offer things that many of us would buy, the easier and less expensive that lifestyle would quickly become. I've read many people still are poo-pooing the gluten-free diets as fads that will quickly pass. But when you have numbers showing that 1 in 100 have issues due to glutens and that number has increased dramatically just in the past 20 years, I feel safe in saying it is not a fad and will only become more of a necessity. Often even unbenownst to ourselves, these digestive issues that may not even manifest themselves in digestive symptoms, can damage our intestines and cause polyps and lesions, both of which can be precursors to several different kinds of cancers. But even doctors in this country seem to be fairly clueless with this condition and they send their patients on a wild goose chase from test to test to test. Please, let's pull our heads out of the sand and take control over our health a little. Educate yourself, do what's necessary to make yourself feel better and then encourage your doctor to be more knowledgeable in this subject. Then let's cooperate our efforts in encouraging food companies to handle foods better. And let's take that cooperation to your favorite restaurants and learn to play Twenty Questions with the waiters and chefs regarding ingredients and cooking methods and help them realize its our health at stake.


  1. I have one question- What are you doing to alert our food companies to this ever-growing need?

  2. I have contacted many companies, including drug companies inquiring about ingredients and possible cross-contamination. I make it a point to emphasize the number of us that are in need of truth in labeling as well as options for us purchase. I don't have the knowledge or contacts with agricultural companies about soil cross-contaminations. I would like to hope others do and will. Thank you for your comment!

  3. Another question- What sort of other ailments can this type of allergy contribute to? and in what ways? Can it also be helped with medication or is it only a food related, restrictive diet much like those with Crohns?

  4. Crohns is probably the most commonly confused with Celiacs, other than simple gluten-intolerances versus an official diagnosis. Celiacs are often diagnosed as IBS and IBS can lead to more specific Celiacs or gluten-intolerance diagnosis. Other symptoms that routinely play a part in one's problems before knowing it could actually be Celiacs, are rashes, eczema, congestion, bloating, cramps, constipation, diarrhea, extreme fatigue, stiff-achey joints, depression. There are no meds at this time for Celiacs or intolerances but most who suffer take vitamins, minerals and supplements to help boost their digestive systems as well as make up for possible nutritional deficiencies due to their limited diets. And learning to deal with the diet is quite challenging.

  5. One more thought. Alot of people suffer greatly with infections such as yeast infections and such without ever totally getting over them and wondering why they are so plagued with such problems. Many learn that such ongoing issues are gluten issues and, quite possibly, officially a Celiac.