Gluten Free Fitness

Celiac disease

My Dairy Free Experiment

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My Dairy Free Experiment with Surprising Results – Cows Gone Wild

A while back I had mentioned I was going to try going dairy free. I’ve never had any outward symptoms of dairy intolerance nor had I encountered any problems with dairy… or so I thought.

When I was researching and reading for my “Celiacs and the Paleo Diet” post, I began reading more about dairy and the manifestations that dairy intolerance can take.

So, just for grins, I decided to do a dairy free challenge.

For this experiment, I also cut out all grains and legumes.

Now, it’s not like I was a huge consumer of either of these.  In a day, I may have gluten free oatmeal, a serving of brown rice, and a serving or two of cottage cheese or Greek yogurt.  Now, don’t get the idea I went “low carb”;  I simply replaced my grain carbohydrate with non grain carbohydrate (sweet potato, butternut squash, fruit) in addition to my usual copious amounts of  veggies and some fruit.  My carbohydrate consumption can be classified as moderate, and I keep it after my training sessions.

I did this for a about 3 weeks, and didn’t notice a huge difference in how I look, feel and perform. And I need to qualify this.  I am referring to “regular” dairy.  As in stuff you can buy in the supermarket.  You’ll see later why I make this qualification.

So, here’s me thinking, “ok, there’s no difference, I’ll add it back in”. I kept out grains, but added back in a couple of servings of cottage cheese and Greek yogurt.

Wham!

Joint. Pain. OWW!

If you’ve been around here before, you may know that I have a history of achiness, which is quite normal for me, so I don’t really notice it.  After taking in the dairy, it was so bad I was back to having to lower myself down to the toilet with the help of my arms.  And I can do squats in the gym with way more weight than I am.  This is not huge weight by any means, but for me and my cranky joints, it’s pretty good.  Therefore, the toilet should be a non-issue.

Hip pain hit me too. This was within a day.  Actually, within a few hours when I started noticing it.  Within a day the pain was apparent. Needless to say, that was the end of that experiment and all the proof I needed.

So much for having “no problems” with dairy, eh?!?!?

Now for my qualifications.
  • I seem to have no joint pain when I use whey protein powder, which is  derived from dairy.
  • I seem to tolerate raw, unpasteurized, grass fed, fresh from the farm, cream in my coffee without any joint pain
  • Ghee or Kerrygold butter (which is grass fed but easily available in stores) also does not give me joint pain.
Theory of why this may be the case:
  • All of these items have very low to no lactose and casein, the two common allergen components of dairy products.  Mark’s Daily Apple has a nice blog post on dairy that discusses these a bit.
  • Casein has a very similar structure to gluten, which is why so many celiacs are intolerant of dairy.

I am off dairy. With the exception of the aforementioned items.

Doing this experiment was cool though, it was very concrete and gave me the feedback I needed.  Next I can add back in the oatmeal and see what happens.

If you are unsure if a food is affecting you, this is a great, inexpensive (as in no doctor appointments or lab tests were harmed in this experiment) way to do it.  You can even do something like a body detox to clear your system of any potential irritants and then systematically add stuff back in, assessing how you feel.

Give it a shot!  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences, so chime up in the comments below!

For more reading about my philosophy on living gluten free: The Easiest Gluten Free Diet

Dairy free, or dairy-full?  What say you?

Gluten Free Lectin Free

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Gluten Free Lectin Free

I read too much.  I study this stuff too much, I listen to every bit of information I can find on celiac disease, gluten intolerance, nutrition, exercise, and all of it. Sometimes I think my head may explode.  One thing I am unflinching on is my right and ability to change my mind.  I have ideas and positions on things, but if I learn something that makes me change my mind, I will.  I reserve my right to flip-flop should the evidence point me in that direction.  I reserve the right to be wrong, and to change my position. And so do you.

There are always new ideas being explored, new bits of information being discovered, and with each one of those things there are individuals that put their own spin on them. Let the confusion commence. Wouldn’t you agree?  I am sure you have experienced the same… right?

Isn’t it confusing enough without the news outlets adding to and feeding on the confusion? For every hypothesis or idea that is put forth, there is almost certainly a bit of research somewhere that can support it.  Almost as certainly, there is also a bit of research that will refute it.

It’s all about the spin.

I’m not implying a huge conspiracy theory, but I am saying that data can be twisted and skewed to support almost anything.  It doesn’t always happen, but it can.  Simply keep your eyes open and take in all of the information, then make your own informed decision.

One of the confusing issues I’ve been learning more about lately is lectins.  More specifically, the role of lectins in autoimmune disorders, specifically celiac disease as the focus of discussion on this site. There is some evidence that it could be beneficial for those with autoimmune disorders to avoid all lectins.  Lectins may be implicated in dysfunction with the hormones that make us feel full.  There are some who feel very strongly that the evidence points in this direction, and there are others who think it’s a load of hooey.

What are lectins?

Lectins are proteins that bind to carbohydrates or glycoproteins (proteins that contain carbohydrate chains). These proteins termed lectins (from the Latin legere, “to select”) have the ability to bind to specific carbohydrate molecules. Lectins allow cells to bind or communicate with each other and are found in every living organism, including viruses and bacteria, with most of them being harmless. This stems from research as far back as the 1880’s.

So I continue to learn in an attempt to make an informed decision.

This particular branch of my own personal nutritional education came from some of the research I was doing when I posted the original “Paleo Diet for Celiac Disease” post.  Lectins are in many carbohydrate sources, both gluten and non gluten containing.  They are generally found in tubers, grains, and legumes.  The argument is that lectins can cause or exacerbate autoimmune disorders (and possibly contribute to leptin resistance, which deals with weight regulation.)  This paper was fairly neutral on the subject, but did raise the idea that lectins could affect the intestinal flora (gut bacteria,) which as we’ve learned recently could have a significant impact on celiac disease and gluten intolerance, along with other gut disorders.

It’s really interesting stuff and as far as I’m concerned, it needs more study. If you find additional information, please feel free to school me. Am I going to give up my rice?  Not yet, although I am reserving my right to flip flop.

I was in the car, listening to a podcast with Matt Stone of 180 Degree Health.  I dig Matt’s perspective because he is always learning and questioning things.  He said one thing that really hit home; the discussion was about the Paleo way of eating, and the thing that Matt said that struck me so strongly was this:  (paraphrasing as I didn’t pull over)

They’re focusing on the wrong bad guy.  Instead of worrying so much about Neolithic foods, we should be more concerned about the food that has come about in the 20th century.

Well yes! Now that makes sense. It’s less about the corn, and more about the Corn Pops. I’m all for maximizing our nutrition, for making it healthy and tasty and awesome.  But maybe it’s just baby steps we need to take for now.  It’s not Paleo, or Atkins, or South Beach, or calling Jenny today. Just eat real food as it is produced from mother nature.

Where to start

Eat real food?  Yes… eat real food grown naturally and eaten naturally.  Food that will rot if it’s left too long, that doesn’t necessarily come in a package with all of the preservatives. This is what I’ve said all along, but sometimes it’s easy to start getting caught up in the minutiae of lectins.

It’s easy to start looking at the differences in eating methods and approaches to food, but it’s much more effective to look at the similarities, and incorporate those into your life. There will always be differences, but focus on the commonalities.

The biggest one-eat real food.  Eat naturally gluten free real food.  Meats, fish, poultry, veggies, fruits, dairy (if you can tolerate it) nuts/seeds, oils, nut butters, rice, potato, etc.  There is a BOUNTY of naturally gluten free foods.  Here’s my top 5 favorite gluten free carbohydrates sources too.  (yes, quinoa has saponins, which are anti-nutrients)

And you can always check out Gluten Free and Fit 101.  Which I think I need to add to again after learning more and more.

I’d love to hear your thoughts! What’s the easiest way for you to live gluten free and well?

Parting (with Gluten) is Such Sweet Sorrow…Or Is It?

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Parting (with Gluten) is Such Sweet Sorrow…Or Is It?

Imagine this…

You’re in the doctor’s office.  You’ve been through a battery of tests, you feel like doo-doo on a stick.  Your hair is falling out, your body aches, and you have no energy.  You’re scared to death, because so many of your friends and acquaintances have either been diagnosed with cancer lately, or know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer.  You sit, on the hard chair, and you wait for the doctor to enter the room.  It seems like an eternity that you are waiting (and depending on the doctor it might be.)  You really want to try to read your chart, but they’re slick and have it on the other side of the door.

So you wait…  And you wonder…

Am I sick?  Is this going to be bad?  I know I’m sick, but exactly how sick am I?

And you wait some more, and the worst case scenario in your head keeps getting worse.

Finally the doctor enters the room and shakes your hand.  “How’re you feeling?”  Just dandy, doc, that’s why I spent 2 hours of my life in your waiting room, and my hair is falling out. But what you really say is “OK.  What did the tests say?”

He flips open your chart and rummages through the papers at the front.

“Let’s see here…negative, negative, normal, good, oh wait.”

An eternity passes.  Maybe 5 seconds.

“You tested positive for celiac disease.”

What the $%*& is celiac disease?

If you have a good doctor, this is where they give you solid information, and maybe a referral to a dietitian.  If not so good, or just poorly educated, you might just be told to not eat gluten.  Here’s another option if you require a “2nd opinion” –

I have seen/heard people who are just furious that they are no longer supposed to eat gluten, and have to give up (gasp!) “regular” food.

Seriously?

No, really.  Seriously?!?!

Think back.  When you were scared straight in the doctor’s office, and you thought you may be dying – is (insert glutinous favorite food of your choice here-pasta, cereal, bagels, etc) really that big of a deal?

No, really.  Think about it.

  • Do you have to go through chemo?
  • Take lots of toxic medications?
  • Be on medicine for the rest of your life?
  • Be separated from family and friends?
  • Do you have to have surgery?
  • Do you have to go through physical rehabilitation?
  • Are you sentenced to a life of chronic pain?
  • Will you be able to ever eat anything again?

No?  Didn’t think so.

All we have to do is not eat gluten.  We have the choice, and the ability, to heal ourselves.  A diagnosis of celiac disease can be a blessing in disguise.

It’s all in how you choose to approach it.  And yes, it is a choice.

You choose.  In the immortal words of Bruce Springsteen, “you gotta learn to live with what you can’t rise above.”

Why just live with it when you can rise above, and let living gluten free enrich your health and your life.

It really is a beautiful “burden”. You choose.  Your perspective on celiac will color every bite of food you take.

You choose.

Choose to see the huge, wonderful, varied world of naturally gluten free foods.  The bounty of meats, poultry, fish, eggs, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds, oils, etc and so on and so on!  Look at what you CAN eat, not what you can’t.

For more reading about my philosophy on living gluten free:

The Easiest Gluten Free Diet

And if you want more, Gluten Free and Fit 101 has a lot more in store, including more ideas for dairy and gluten free protein powders.

And that should give you enough reading for a while.

If you STILL want more, or you just want a step by step, simple, checklist  approach to cleaning up your diet, check out 7 Quick Start Tips to Living a Healthy Gluten Free Fit Life

So what will you choose?