Oral Health and Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is mostly known for affecting the gut health of someone with the autoimmune disease. But did you know that it actually can affect almost all other systems in the body as well? One of which being oral health, thankfully I personally have only experienced a few of these symptoms thus far, I will talk more about this down below.

What are the symptoms of oral health and celiac disease?

  1. Children and Celiac Disease
    This is commonly seen in their permanent teeth rather then baby teeth. The first sign to look out for is they may not have enough enamel, as their teeth may look patchy or discoloured, this is also known as enamel hypoplasia and can cause tooth cavities or an increased tooth sensitivity. A child with celiac disease could also have teeth that are pitted or have a deep horizontal groove.

    Children are not the only ones who can have these defects, it can also be seen in adults who have a genetic disorder, poor nutrition or are taking certain medications. Regardless, people with celiac disease are more likely to develop enamel defects then people without the condition.

  2. Enamel Defects
    A few theories as to why adults and children can have enamel defects comes to mind. One of which being the nutrition deficiencies that can be caused with celiac disease, or the immune system of the individual is attacking the enamel itself causing the defects.

    There have been studies to show that there may be direct immune system damage occurring where dental enamel defects are also found in close relatives of someone with celiac disease but who have not been diagnosed with the condition themselves.

    Unfortunately, the damage caused to the enamel is not reversible, however, the dental community has advanced ways of improving peoples mouths these days that are very impressive.

  3. Cavities
    This can be common in people who have been or not yet been diagnosed with celiac disease. Sometimes people complain of bad breath with multiple cavities. If there are any enamel defects that has started from childhood or even as an adult, this can lead to cavities occurring, especially with undiagnosed celiac disease.

    Due to the damaged caused in the small intestine from active celiac disease, malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D and calcium can occur. These are both essential for strong bones and overall good health, not just in the mouth. This can all be resolved for someone with celiac disease to prevent further damage while following a strict gluten free diet.

  4. Mouth Sores or Canker Sores
    Personally, this was a symptom that I struggled with, I would always have sores in my mouth and just before diagnosis, they were huge, irritated and bleeding. If you have ever had these sores before, you know just how painful they can become. They can be found on the gums, inside the cheeks or lips, and on the tongue, and can last for up to 7-14 days.

    Research has shown that people with celiac disease are more prone to developing aphthous ulcers (canker sores) then people without the disease. The numbers show that 16% of children and 26% of adults with celiac disease have recurring mouth sores, I can whole heartedly vote yes for this information as if I have been glutened, guaranteed, I will have canker sores develop in my mouth within a day or two.

    As with other dental problems, malnutrition seems to be the culprit as to why people with celiac disease get these sores. Low levels of iron, folate and B12 could cause the sores to develop.

    However, with that being said, there are a lot of reasons why canker sores develop in the mouth such as irritation being one of them. If you are concerned, consult with a doctor or a dentist as to the reasons you are getting them, it may not be that you are an undiagnosed case of celiac disease. Always consult with your healthcare professionals before you start making assumptions.

  5. Dry Mouth
    This is a condition that I have spoken about in another recent blog of mine that you can find here.

    Having a dry mouth can result in tooth decay, the teeth need the saliva to stay healthy, which is why if you are a mouth breather you need to correct the biomechanics of this and become a nose breather. Saliva controls the bacteria that can develop in the mouth, so if it is not readily available, this can sometimes result in catastrophic tooth decay or tooth loss.

    There is a condition called: Sjögren’s syndrome, which is an autoimmune disease that causes dry eyes and mouth because it attacks the glands you need for moisture of the mouth and eyes. Just because you have celiac disease does not mean you will develop Sjögren’s syndrome and vice versa.

    Nonetheless, if you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease and you suffer from dry mouth or dry eyes, you should talk with your doctor about the possibility of Sjögren’s syndrome. If it turns out you have both, prescription medicines are available that can help stimulate the flow of saliva and protect your teeth.

  6. Inflamed Gums
    This is another personal symptom of my own, every appointment at the dentist I am told that my teeth look fantastic (thank goodness), but my gums are always inflamed without any signs of plaque build up. Just before I was diagnosed with celiac disease my gums would bleed every time I brushed my teeth, I was later told that this can be a sign of malnutrition in the body.

    I have been told my swollen gums could be due to the inflammation caused in my gut from the celiac disease damage that is still trying to heal and therefore could possibly be causing a chronic inflammatory response elsewhere in my body like my gums.

    People with gluten allergies often suffer from periodontal disease and have inflamed, red, swollen, painful gums. A gluten-free diet can relieve the symptoms of gum disease by relieving inflammation.

  7. Cheilosis
    Cheilosis (also called cheilitis) is a painful inflammation and cracking of the corners of the mouth. It sometimes occurs on only one side of the mouth, but usually involves both sides.

    This can occur in someone with celiac disease due to malnutrition and deficiencies in Vitamin B and Folate. It can also be related to megaloblastic anemia which is caused when red blood cells are not produced properly and the bone marrow produces abnormally large red blood cells.

    This is another symptom that I personally have had when I was a kid and sometimes as an adult. This can be very painful and irritating as anything that touches it burns or every time you open your mouth, can rip it more.

  8. TMJ Disorders
    This is a condition that can be occurring due to an inflammatory response in the body from an autoimmune disease, an injury directly to your jaw, or it can be due to bruxism (a condition where you clench and grind your teeth).

    Regardless of the cause, there is more research coming out that connects TMJ pain to celiac disease and the autoimmune response that occurs in the body because of it. More research needs to be done, but there have been connections of celiac disease and muscle and joint pain as well.

  9. Thrush
    This is a candida overgrowth within the body which is a fungus that includes over 20 species of yeast. This overgrowth can be common in people who are immune compressed and indicates a damaged immune system.

    Once again, this is another symptom that I regularly delt with at first. This is also a condition that should have a blog post all to itself as there is a lot of information and research on this.

  10. Plastic
    This is not a symptom as it is something to be aware of. This absolutely blew my mind when I read about this as I use an orthodontic retainer every night. The plastic found in dental equipment or retainers could possibly contain a plastic called: plasticized methacrylate polymer. This is an additive to some plastics and contains gluten.

    Back in 2013 there was a 9 year old girl diagnosed with celiac disease, who continued to be symptomatic even after eating a gluten free diet. Doctors eventually discovered that the orthodontic appliance she was using had the plastic additive mentioned above. After stopping use of the retainer, her symptoms improved and eventually she became symptom free. This just goes to show that it is not just what your consume but also what you use that could possibly have an effect on a celiac’s body. Be sure to check your toothpaste, mouth wash and lip chap for any gluten additives.

If you are concerned of any symptoms you may be experiencing, be sure to always consult your healthcare professional for more information.

References:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/effects-of-celiac-disease-on-dental-health-4115330

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21507289

https://glutenfreern.com/dental-issues-and-celiac-disease-ep039/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24137038

https://jcda.ca/article/b39

https://glutenfreern.com/dental-issues-and-celiac-disease-ep039/

https://celiac.org/about-celiac-disease/related-conditions/oral-health/

https://www.colgateprofessional.com/education/patient-education/topics/other-issues/cheilosis

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Dry Eyes and Celiac Disease

For the last few months, my left eye has been very dry. It burns, itches and is very irritated, I have had this on and off for years but it has just become more frequent in the last few months. I went to see my optometrist and he mentioned my eyes look perfectly healthy and that it could be that I moved from a humid climate to a dry climate. I decided to do a bit more digging because the drops he gave me did not correct the issue completely and it only happens some days and not others. Because I have an autoimmune disease (celiac disease) I tend to see if any of the ongoing symptoms I have could be related to this condition. And sure enough, dry eyes can occur with someone who has celiac disease.

The Facts:

It is estimated that half of celiac patients not only show digestive issues but also other symptoms throughout the body. They vary depending on age at onset, gender, the strength of the immune system, and the genetic predisposition of the individual. There is a heap of medical evidence that the condition may not only effect the gastrointestinal tract (GI) but also affect the reproductive system, central nervous system, brain, and skin.

Can Celiac Disease affect vision?

In short, yes. According to recent studies, there is a strong connection between celiac disease and eye health. “The ophthalmic manifestations are within the extra-intestinal manifestations, and can be divided into autoimmune disorders and absorptive disabilities. The manifestations related to malnutrion are correlated to the low levels of vitamin A, vitamin D and calcium. It could cause retinopathy, cataract, dry eye and pseudotumor cerebri,” from the article, ‘Ophthalmologic manifestations of celiac disease.’

Celiac Disease and Sjögren’s Syndrome

Sjögren’s syndrome is one of several autoimmune disorders that can go hand-in-hand with celiac disease. Whereas celiac disease primarily affects the small intestine, Sjögren’s syndrome mostly affects lacrimal and salivary glands. These are glands responsible for producing tears and saliva in your eyes and mouth respectively. 

Relating this to myself, I ate a muffin one weekend when I was away on a course. It was gluten free but soon realized it most likely was cross contaminated. Shortly after eating that muffin I began to get all the symptoms of celiac disease and the worst one that weekend was brain fog. A new symptom that occurred that weekend was a very dry mouth and really dry eyes. This of course started to scare me because I have never experienced this before and no matter how much water I drank I could not help my dry mouth. My eyes were burning that weekend, and even with keeping them closed for extended periods at a time, they were very dry. This thankfully went away after a few days.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders, about 1-4 million North Americans have Sjögren’s syndrome, 90% are women over 40 years of age. The body of a person with Sjögren’s syndrome, cannot produce adequate moisture, which can cause havoc on your eyes. This condition is said to be a secondary autoimmune disease which is triggered by celiac disease. In worst cases, it can lead to extensive eye damage and even vision loss.

The symptoms of Sjögren’s syndrome can vary from person to person, however the most common symptoms is a dry mouth and eyes. Other symptoms that can occur are: joint pain, rashes, fatigue, and sometimes vaginal dryness. The eyes not only become dry but can also have a burning sensation.

Dry eye syndrome and Celiac Disease

Dry Eye Syndrome is a condition where the lacrimal glands cannot produce enough tears or the eyes are not able to maintain a normal tear layer to cover the surface. This can be a problem because the eyes cannot get rid of germs, dust, and other irritants that may come their way. This can cause a dry eye, burning sensation or feeling as though there is something lodged in your eyes. There can also be an array of other symptoms such as redness, pain, burning and stinging.

Some medical studies have shown that celiac disease may cause dry eye due to the inability to absorb nutrients from the small bowel. One important nutrient is vitamin A, this is essential for eye health. Decreased amounts of vitamin A can cause a drastic change to squamous cells (the outermost layer of the skin) and a loss of goblet cells (found in the respiratory and intestinal tracts, which secretes the main component of mucus). Both of these cells are important for the overall function of the eyes epithelium. Over time, acute deficiency of vitamin A can lead to dry eye syndrome and a list of other vision impairments such as night blindness.

In conclusion, celiac disease does not just affect the gastrointestinal tract, it can have an array of other symptoms that can affect all other systems within the body. Other autoimmune conditions can occur as a result of celiac disease or vice versa, such as Sjögren’s syndrome. I do not believe that I personally have Sjögren’s syndrome because these symptoms only occur when I have accidentally eaten gluten or something that was cross contaminated with gluten. It seems that once I begin to heal my gut, symptoms of dry eyes and mouth seems to go away. However, my TTG levels (blood test for celiac disease) are currently still higher then they should be, so malabsorption of vitamin A along with other essential vitamins can be causing ongoing symptoms. Regardless of what it is that you are experiencing, you should always consult a healthcare professional to reach a diagnosis or make a plan on how to get you feeling your best.

References:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768497/

https://www.imaware.health/blog/the-connection-between-celiac-and-eye-health

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


What Taking Too Many Vitamins Did To Me

We all know that having vitamins and minerals in our diets daily is essential for living a healthy life. But did you know that you can take too many vitamins to a point of toxicity in your body? I learned this at school but never thought I would ever reach those levels. I mean they are vitamins, the essential ingredient to everyday life, they can’t hurt me right? I learned this the hard way.

To give you a bit of a background, I have celiac disease and have known for just over 3 years. The biggest thing with celiac disease is it can cause malnutrition in the body due to the decreased absorption rate in the small intestine. However, once your small intestine starts to heal on a gluten free diet, you start to be able to absorb nutrients at a regular rate. I did not keep this in mind when I went through my most recent diet venture. I get my blood tested every three months to check TTG levels (celiac test) and iron levels. I have not been able to decrease my TTG levels and my iron keeps fluctuating. My most recent test came back, and yet again, my TTG was up a level and my iron had dropped significantly. I have been keeping an eye on this for the past two years and the TTG is always high (when it should be low) and the iron is always going up or down but never out of the iron deficiency range. Point of my story, this is what drove me to do what I have now done.

When I was first diagnosed I went on a paleo based diet called the hypoallergenic diet, where you cut out processed foods, dairy, certain meats and refined sugars along with caffeine, we temporarily cut out grains as well considering my condition. You can however eat certain fish and meat, fruit, vegetables, some starches, nuts and seeds and natural sugars. Along with this diet I took a nutrition powder to help boost my vitamin and mineral levels, I only took one scoop of it a day for a month. I tell you, I felt better then I have in years while on this diet. It all started going downhill when I started eating processed foods and going out to eat again. I had the brilliant idea, let’s do this diet again and fix my blood levels once and for all.

I’m not sure if it was because I was so motivated to feel better or that I had the thought that I could not be taking too many vitamins because I still have active celiac disease, but I made a big mistake that I thankfully caught quickly.

I started the diet just over a week ago, and I started to feel good, then I got a lot worse. I started to have symptoms of being tired, bloated, gas, sharp abdominal pains, hair felt brittle and was falling out some, I became constipated, was not sleeping well, and just in the last day and a half (brace yourself, this is a bit gross) I have been having mushy, yellowish, foul smelling stool that sticks to the toilet bowl. Now I have seen this before because the same thing can happen with someone who has celiac disease, but I know I have not eaten gluten lately so this is what started to make me question the last week. Keeping in mind the change in diet could be a factor as well, but the last day and a half I have not taken any supplements (other then a digestive enzyme before meals and a probiotic at night) and continued with the same diet and my digestion has improved, no sharp pains or bloating and bowel movements are becoming normal.

Over the last 9 days, I was taking the nutritional powder supplement twice a day, a multivitamin, an iron supplement, vitamin D, and biotin…now that I look back at this; past Lauren; you were taking way too many vitamins! I guess I was just thinking, “it can’t hurt right?”

All of the products in this photo are fantastic and I will continue to take them when I need too, but only ONE AT A TIME and once a day.

Recommended Dietary Allowance / Adequate Intake / Tolerable Upper Intake Level: What does this all mean?

The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) and the AI (Adequate Intake) are the amounts of vitamins and minerals you need to keep healthy and nourished. They’re tailored to specific ages of women and men.

The UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) is the maximum amount of daily vitamins and minerals that you can safely take without risk of an overdose or serious side effects.

How Much Is Too Much?

Take a look at the UL (tolerable upper intake level), and do not exceed it. “There are some vitamins and minerals that you can safely take a dose much higher then the RDA or DV without coming close to the UL” WebMD. “With some vitamins and minerals, the upper limit is pretty close to the RDA. So it’s easy to get too much. For example, a man who takes just over three times the RDA of vitamin A would get more than the upper limit. High doses of vitamin A — and other fat-soluble vitamins like E and K — can build up in the body and become toxic. Other risky supplements include the minerals iron and selenium” WebMD. Personally, I would not exceed the RDA and not go near the UL to play it safe.

For an example of the possible symptoms, here is a quote from one of WebMD’s articles: “Too much vitamin C or zinc could cause nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Too much selenium could lead to hair loss, gastrointestinal upset, fatigue, and mild nerve damage.”

An Important Message: Supplements are designed to be an addition to your everyday diet. You should be getting as many nutrients from the food you eat as you can so you do not have to take a supplement. Supplements should only be an addition to your everyday routine if you are not getting certain vitamins and minerals naturally from the food you eat. You should eat a well balanced diet and only take supplements to fill the nutritional gaps. Following a whole food diet will be sufficient enough for most people without having to resort to an expensive supplement that you will essentially be peeing away. However, in some cases supplements are necessary, for example, malnutrition from celiac disease or iron deficiency. But even in those cases you should just take them to a point that the nutrients you were missing are now level. After they become level, stop taking the supplement and continue getting it from it’s natural food sources. The end goal is to always get you off of supplements for the long-term, or until they are needed again.

So, just how many vitamins was I taking?

First things first, there are water-soluble vitamins (they dissolve in water) and fat-soluble vitamins (do not dissolve in water). Water-soluble vitamins are readily excreted from the body, while fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in tissues. Fat-soluble vitamins are more likely to cause toxicity, although water-soluble vitamins can do so as well.

Fat-SolubleWhat I consumedRDAUL
Vitamin A1355 mcg700 mcg RAE3000 mcg
Vitamin D50-75 mcg15 mcg100 mcg
Vitamin E117.3 MG15 MG1000 MG
Vitamin K090 mcgN/A

The following water-soluble vitamins have set ULs, as they can cause adverse side effects when taken in high doses:

Water-SolubleWhat I consumedRDAUL
Vitamin C625 MG75 MG2000 MG
Vitamin B3 (niacin)38 MG14 MG35 MG
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)45 MG1.3 MG100 MG
Vitamin B9 (folate)2550 mcg400 mcg1000 mcg
MineralWhat I consumedRDAUL
Selenium270 mcg55 mcg400 mcg
Zinc50 MG8 MG40 MG
Iron63 MG18 MG45 MG

The calculations above are some of the vitamins and minerals that can potentially cause damage in the body, I was taking everyday for 9 days. I went just a bit over or WAY over the RDA and just a few I went over the UL. After researching the side effects of taking too many of just these vitamins, it explains why I was getting the symptoms I was the last few days. This is not even including the vitamins and minerals I was getting from the food I was eating. Moral of the story, do not take over the RDA of vitamins and minerals in a day (again, unless your doctor has told you so for deficiency reasons).

What have I learned?

  1. Your multivitamin may have more then the RDA of a vitamin or a mineral within it. Which means, if it is a water-soluble vitamin, you are just peeing the unneeded amount out. They can potentially be a waste of money, unless you are deficient in that vitamin or mineral, your body will soak up all it needs in that case.
  2. Harmful symptoms can occur if you take too many vitamins and minerals everyday, and it may hit you by about day 3 or 4, and just get worse as you continue to take them.
  3. Unless you have a deficiency in a vitamin or a mineral, or have an underlying condition that is preventing you from absorbing the correct nutrients from your diet (like say celiac disease), taking a multivitamin everyday may be a waste of money as most of the nutrients and your money will be going down the toilet.

References:

https://www.webmd.com/diet/guide/effects-of-taking-too-many-vitamins#1

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-Consumer/

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/can-you-overdose-on-vitamins#safety

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/fat-soluble-vitamins

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-Consumer/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-Consumer/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-Consumer/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-HealthProfessional/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Niacin-HealthProfessional/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminB6-HealthProfessional/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Selenium-Consumer/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Zinc-HealthProfessional/

https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iron-HealthProfessional/

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Decreased Sleep and Celiac Disease

Since my diagnosis of celiac disease just over three years ago, lack of sleep has been a symptom that has not improved, and quite frankly, I’m tired of it. My alarm went off at 5:45 am this morning and I feel back to sleep and woke up at 7:11 am, how ’convenient’…get it…because of the 7/11 convenience stores…I digress.

I went from being a morning bird who could get up with the sun, most days, at 5-6 am and be able to get on with my day. Truthfully, some days was an absolute struggle but not as bad as it is now. For the last year, I have been setting my alarm at 5:30 am and not being able to get out of bed until 7 or 8 am and this is with going to bed at 9 or 10 pm. I have to peel myself out of bed to get up at those times. One reason this can be a struggle right now, is the quality of sleep I am getting at night, meaning, what quality of sleep? I can fall asleep pretty quickly, however, I wake up 4-6 times a night where I will open my eyes and fall right back to sleep. There have been one or two nights in the last three years that I have woken up wide awake and unable to fall back to sleep for hours.

This disrupted sleep has impacted my energy, focus and motivation throughout the day. Why am I tell you all of this? Because there was one month that I ate a hypoallergenic diet where I ate only whole foods and nothing processed. I kid you not, after a few weeks on this diet, I slept like a baby – right through the night! Then I started eating out at restaurants and eating processed foods again, and my symptoms of celiac disease all came right back. This had me thinking, can the health of your gut have an effect on the quality of your sleep? Sure enough, it does.

Gluten consumption, regardless if it is intentional or an accidental exposure through cross contamination, could possibly cause problems with your sleep if you have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Keep in mind, not a lot of research has been done in this field of celiac disease, however, the little research that has been done is leaning towards a confirmation of this fact.

Many people who cannot handle gluten suffer from fatigue – this is one of the most common symptoms in both celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Getting to sleep and staying asleep seem to be very common problems before diagnosis and even after diagnosis while following a gluten free diet.

Is it malnutrition?

Due to the malnutrition that occurs with people who have celiac disease from the intestinal damage caused by gluten, it is a very educated guess that malnutrition may be the culprit to sleep disturbances. However, a 2010 study concluded that the sleep problems do not seem to be stemming from malnutrition as people with celiac disease who have been following a gluten free diet for 6 years continued to have sleeping problems. This also would not make sense for the sleep disruptions experience by the gluten sensitive as consuming gluten does not cause intestinal damage in those individuals.

So if it is not malnutrition, what could be the cause of decreased sleep?

Gluten ingestion has not been proven to be the culprit to sleep disturbances in people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Dr. Rodney Ford, a New Zealand pediatrician, gastroenterologist,  allergist, and author of “The Gluten Syndrome,” hypothesizes that gluten in the diet of someone with either of these conditions affects their brain and other neurological tissue directly causing these symptoms, however, there is no research confirming these accusations.

Personally for myself and I know for many other celiac’s, 6-12 hours after an accidental gluten exposure (ie. being glutened), and having symptoms specific to celiac disease, my sleep disturbances are heightened and about a thousand times worse. 

Could it be other symptoms of celiac disease disturbing your good night sleep?

Symptoms such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation could be disturbing your sleep, but if you are not experiencing any of these symptoms, consider the following other possible symptoms.

Acid reflux and heartburn: This can happen during the day at at night, but stomach acid coming up your esophagus into your mouth or even lungs is not great anytime of day. People who snore or have obstructive sleep apnea are at special risk for this.

Anemia/iron deficiency: This is a personal symptom of mine that I have had since high school and has yet to improve. This condition is famously related to restless leg syndrome, this is a condition that causes a very uncomfortable sensation into the legs usually at moments of rest but can also happen during the day. This may disrupt sleep by causing the individual to have to get up walk around and stretch their legs to decrease the symptoms before trying to fall back to sleep.

Anxiety and depression: Having medical issues of any kind can often lead to problems with mental health. When this happens, one common outcome is a negative influence on sleep quality. Unfortunately, poor sleep tends to exacerbate anxiety and depression. This makes it hard for the person with celiac (or any other chronic illness) to enjoy a good quality of life.

Fatigue: If a person is fatigued, you would think they would be able to sleep through the night. However, this is a common symptom among all individuals with an autoimmune disease. The problem with this symptom is the constant napping during the day that may be required. Napping can disrupt your natural circadian rhythm and can cause insomnia.

Headaches and joint pain: Pain of any kind can be one of sleep’s biggest enemies. Headaches and joint pain can disrupt sleep or can cause an individual to struggle falling asleep. To add, the anti-inflammatory drugs one may take to decrease symptoms, could interfere with sleep.

So the real question is, what can we do to improve our quality of sleep?

As mentioned above, when I went a month without eating any processed foods I felt like Wonder Woman. I had no symptoms of celiac disease, I was sleeping through the night and I felt better then I have my whole life. Did you know that there are very small amounts of gluten found in gluten free labeled foods? It has been said that the small amounts of gluten found in these foods may not affect all celiacs, but may affect some. If you are anything like I am, you may need to drop most, if not all processed foods from your diet and stick to whole foods to see a difference in your sleep and other celiac symptoms. After two and a half years after first following a whole food diet, I am finally cluing in that this is the key for myself personally to get a good night sleep and feeling like Wonder Womqn again. I will be venturing into this diet starting this week, if all goes well, I will make another blog post on my progress!

Another way to improve your quality of sleep is to follow a good night time routine of ditching the bedroom TV, no artificial lighting before bed, and avoiding unnecessary naps.

References:

https://www.verywellhealth.com/gluten-and-sleep-562316

Jordá FC, López vivancos J. Fatigue as a determinant of health in patients with celiac disease. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2010;44(6):423-7. doi:10.1097/MCG.0b013e3181c41d12

Zingone F, Siniscalchi M, Capone P, et al. The quality of sleep in patients with coeliac disease. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2010;32(8):1031-6. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04432.x

Ford RP. The gluten syndrome: a neurological disease. Med Hypotheses. 2009;73(3):438-40. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2009.03.037

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/j.1365-2036.2010.04432.x

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/20937049/

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Where To Eat Gluten Free In Melbourne

Melbourne has a very large hipster vibe with lots of little shops, boutiques and restaurants all over the inner city. Not only is Melbourne known for it’s wide range of graffiti and wall art but it is also very well known for it’s food. There is a huge variety of many different types of restaurants that you can choose from, ranging anywhere from Mexican to Greek, fancy bougie pubs, and bars that have a dark atmosphere but extremely fun rock and roll vibe. Depending on the experience you are feeling, Melbourne has it all.

If you have celiac disease or you are gluten intolerant, there are many options for gluten free within the city. I have to say that I am very impressed with everywhere I have been in Australia thus far for gluten free food. This is the first time I have been to restaurants and when I say I have celiac disease they understand that it is not just the ingredients of the food we are eating but it is also where and how it is prepared. Most restaurants will tell you honestly if there is a chance of cross contamination or if they have a separate cooking space, toaster, fryer, or oven. It feels like everywhere in Australia, they take celiac disease, food intolerances or allergies very seriously. However, keep in mind that regardless it is very important to speak to the chef, manager or your server about the details of your dietary requirements to be sure you will not become sick.

I wish I could have spent more time in Melbourne but here is a list of all the restaurants I ate as someone with celiac disease. Not one of the restaurants I have mentioned made me sick or caused a reaction.

1) Stalactites

This Greek restaurant, located downtown Melbourne, is highly recommended for those with celiac disease as it is accredited by the Australian Coeliac Association. This is the first time I have been to a restaurant that has the stamp of approval from the country’s coeliac association. There is a separate workspace for the chef’s in the kitchen to avoid cross contamination of gluten into any food, this includes chopping surfaces, oven’s, and anywhere to heat up the kebab’s and fryers for the fries/chips.

Mixed Kebab

Not only is it safe for a celiac to eat at, but the food is out of this world fantastic. This was the first time in over 3 years since my diagnosis that I have been able to safely eat a kebab. The food here is so good that I went three days in a row. The first 2 days I had the mixed souvlaki (kebab) and the final day I had the lamb fillet kebab. I believe there are vegetarian options as well along with other amazingly delicious looking gluten free dishes. However, I would highly recommend the kebab as you will not believe the pita bread is gluten free, so good that I want to figure out the recipe so I can make it at home.

Coeliac Certified Sticker

Each wrap I ordered came with a napkin that had the coeliac association sticker on it. This will both ease your mind that the wraps did not get mixed up, you know the chef knew that it had to be appropriate for a celiac with no cross contamination, but also, how cool is that?!

The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable about any dietary requirements you may have. The environment is welcoming and bright with a sit down and take out option, the food was also served pretty darn quick as well.

As I mentioned, I ate here 3 days in a row, all with kebab’s, and had no reactions to gluten at all. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are in the area and looking for a celiac safe restaurant.

Location: 177/183 Lonsdale St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Phone Number:+61 3 9663 3316

Menu:

2) Roule Galette

This is a very sweet little French cafe located downtown Melbourne very close to the Flinders Street Railway Station and the City Library. This adorable cafe is located within the beautiful Flinders lane, mixed in with other boutiques, shops and restaurants. You will know you are down the right street when you see a pink painted mural on the back wall of the street of two kangaroos dressed up.

Chicken Avocado Crêpe

This restaurant has gluten free options suitable for a celiac along with vegan and vegetarian. They informed me that they have a separate gluten free crêpe maker to avoid cross contamination. The gluten free crêpes are fantastically delicious and have options of being both savoury and sweet. They were so good that I bought both a savoury and sweet crêpe in the same visit.

La Belle Normande Crêpe

I began with the avocado chicken crêpe, along with a French earl grey tea with almond milk and some of the best honey I have ever had. The crêpe is massive as it is the size of a standard dinner plate. The chicken was perfectly cooked, and was a perfect match with the avocado, tomato, emmental cheese, home- made basil pesto. Directly after this we ordered the La Belle Normande: Cinnamon poached apple, ice cream (can be vegan), homemade whipped cream, homemade salted caramel, my mouth was watering for hours after eating this.

The staff here are absolutely lovely, knowledgeable about dietary requirements and have some of the best French accents I have heard. The environment of the cafe will make you feel as though you have transported to France, the music is enjoyable and for over flow reasons, they have a small cafe on both sides of the cobblestone street. They offer breakfast, lunch, dinner and take away. I would highly recommend visiting this adorable French getaway for some of the best crêpes you will ever eat.

Location: Scott Alley, 237/241 Flinders Ln, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Phone Number:+61 3 9639 0307

Menu:

3) Bodega Underground

If you like Mexican food, this is the place for you. Everything in this restaurant is gluten free so there is no need for anyone with Celiac Disease to be nervous about cross contamination.

Totopos With Guacamole and Elote

We went with the ‘feed me’ option on the menu, and as fantastically good as this option was, I would not suggest it unless you are starving…it was a lot of food, hence the name. With this option you get the totopos with guacamole, papas, elote, charred cauliflower, lamb riblets, two taco servings: carnitas, tacos de frijoles and end with the churros con dulce de leche. All of this food will cost you $50 ASD per person, and is to serve two people. This is a great option at this restaurant to try almost everything on the menu.

Every single dish we ate at this restaurant, I would go back for. The nachos are perfectly crispy and a great pair with their authentic guacamole, the tacos are a perfect size and just the right amount of filling along with being jam packed with flavour. The street corn was out of this world, I never would have thought to put parmesan cheese on BBQ corn on the cob. The papas were soft and delicious potato bites, paired perfectly with their chipotle in adobo sauce. The charred cauliflower was a meal on it’s own and I would 100% go back for this one if you are a vegetarian, it is a perfectly cooked head of cauliflower covered with a delicious cheese sauce. The lamb riblets fall off the bone as you pick them up and melt in your mouth. Finally, ending with gluten free churros…I never thought I would see the day that I could eat a churros again, this was a dream come true for a celiac. They were crunchy, covered in sugar and cinnamon and the dulce de leche sauce, I wanted to drink out of the bowl.

The environment of this great restaurant is fantastic along with the staff as well, I would highly recommend this restaurant to anyone looking for a gluten free option for Mexican food in downtown Melbourne.

Location: 55 Little Bourke St, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia

Phone Number:+61 3 9650 9979

Menu:

If you find yourself by Smith Street, seek out CIBI and Saba’s Ethiopian restaurant as they are both just a block or two away.

4) CIBI

This is a very sweet and down to earth restaurant serving Japanese cuisine. It is not just a restaurant, there is a beautiful plant store and Japanese pottery, knives and other special treasures you may not be able to find anywhere else. I truly wish I had more room in my travel bag to get some items back home.

The staff is lovely, and at first they were not too sure about cross contamination or food being 100% gluten free for a Celiac, however the chef pulled through and can I tell you how much I appreciated this! The food was very healthy, light but filling and exactly what I wanted to eat that day.

We both had chicken dishes from there that were both fantastic. My partner Chris had the lunch bowl which consisted of slow cooked chicken with green olives and herbs served with beets and daikon salad and grains. I had the chicken soboro which consisted of free range chicken mince, cooked with miso and ginger, a soy egg, greens and edamame, mizuna salad served with their CIBI rice blend. The chicken was cooked perfectly and the rice was cooked in a way that made it some of the best rice I have eaten in a long time. I did not feel bloated or as if I had eaten too much food after this meal, it is very nutritious and a perfect serving. I paired my meal with one of their in house made summer drinks. I would highly recommend checking this place out if you get the chance and you find yourself on Smith Street.

It is a great environment for doing some computer work, going in for a treat or tea/coffee, or for an early or later lunch.

Location: 33/39 Keele St, Collingwood VIC 3066, Australia

Phone Number:+61 481 398 686

Menu:


5) Saba’s Ethiopian Restaurant

Vegetarian Combination

This was my first time eating Ethiopian food and after the experience I had at this restaurant, it will surely not be my last! I found this restaurant wandering down Brunswick Street when I was very hungry, saw their menu in the window and told myself I had to give it a try. They have a celiac safe and vegan friendly menu, I was told their chef is celiac, so they know all about how to serve you safely! Music to my ears.

Injera Basket

All meals are to be eaten with your hands using the fantastic Injera bread, not using utensils, however, I did see a few people using utensils to eat so this may be an option if you prefer. I went with the vegetarian combination where you get to choose three of their delicious vegetarian dishes, and believe me when I tell you, if you are not vegetarian, you will not be disappointed. It comes in a beautiful Injera basket with a plate inside of your Injera bread, which is made of teff flour. After this you are served your three servings of the vegetarian dishes you chose. I went with the Ful, Shiro and Dinish dishes, all were very flavourful and had individual unique spices and ingredients used. The Ful is made with fava beans, spices, egg and feta cheese (this can be made vegan if preferred), the Shiro is a chickpea and berbere paste with garlic and ginger, and the Dinish is potatoes, cabbage and carrots cooked in turmeric and other spices. Every single one I want to eat again, this is a very filling and nutritious meal.

The staff is absolutely lovely and the environment is just the same with a few Injera baskets beautifully placed on the wall to admire. I cannot wait to go to this restaurant again when I am back in Melbourne.

Location: 328 Brunswick St, Fitzroy VIC 3065, Australia

Phone Number:+61 3 8589 0442

Menu:


Phlegm and Celiac Disease

ILLUSTRATIONS BY RYAN SNOOK. PHOTOGRAPH BY JEFF MINTON (GROOMER: STEPHANIE NICOLE SMITH)

The year 2019 will be remembered for a lot of things, but one I will remember well is how many times I was sick with a respiratory cold last year. On hand, I have had 8-10 colds just last year alone starting in January. I went home to Ontario last Christmas and came back with a cold, this bugger did not go away for weeks. I was told by many patients and friends of mine in town that it is a longer cold and will go away soon, so beside what my conscious was telling me to do, I did not go see a doctor. Then I went to Arizona…almost missed my flight and had to run through the airport to catch the plane. This is when I thought to myself, something is terribly wrong.  It felt like I had a chunk of bubble gum stuck in my air passage, and I could not catch my breath through my nose or mouth. Coughed up a bunch of phlegm and kept running, because, I was NOT going to miss this flight. Long story short, I met a not so happy customs lady that clearly did not understand the words, “I have 10 minutes to get on my flight.” I got on the plane and had an amazing trip hiking, exploring and coughing up about 10 pounds of phlegm.

Why the drawn out story? Because I want you to learn from my mistake, if you have a productive cough for more then a week…go see a doctor! I got back from the trip, 5 weeks after the cold had begun, and was diagnosed with bronchitis. I have never had bronchitis before in my life. I was placed on two rounds of antibiotics, because the first round didn’t touch it; and I’m sure you can imagine how much my gut loved this…not really.

Gross photo, I know. This is what was coming out of my nose after getting back from Peru.

For 11 months after the first cold in January, that turned into bronchitis five weeks later, I have had cold after cold, and was lucky enough to come home with a souvenir from Peru, a sinus infection. I have woken up with phlegm in my throat and nose every morning since and have been woken up coughing in the night due to nasal drip. It was not until I decided to go back on the hypoallergenic diet for a month that I was finally phlegm free! Then I went back to eating grains, processed foods and a bit of dairy and, BAM, it was back. This had me thinking, can my gut health as a celiac (or those of you who are not celiac), have an effect on my respiratory system? 

Now, as celiac disease is an autoimmune disease of the small intestine and can indirectly effect the whole body, I knew I could not be far off with this assumption, considering 70-90% of your immune system is housed in your gut. So I started researching, and I am here to give you the results! Needless to say, I was right…

There have been many cases of people within the world with chronic pulmonary conditions, being diagnosed with celiac disease and after going on a gluten free diet, the pulmonary symptoms decreased and improved. Even though having respiratory issues with celiac disease is a rare case and is an atypical symptom, if you have a leaky gut (intestinal hyperpermeability), there is a chance your brain, lung tissue, skin and blood vessels are effected and can lead to edema in the body.

One of the top reason’s for repeat infections and illnesses of the respiratory tract such as pneumonia, bronchitis, and sinus infections could be due to damage of the gut lining. If your gut lining is damaged, your immune system is compromised and this can lead to development of any infection especially if you are exposed to bacteria and viruses.

Putting this into relation of a celiac, if we consume just a crumb of gluten, our gut lining will be damaged due to the villi flattening which in turn damages the immune system and can increase the likelihood of infections throughout the whole body, not just the respiratory system.

Another reason for infections of the respiratory system could be due to malnutrition that is commonly seen in inflamed celiac’s who have ingested gluten. If the villi are flattened in the small intestine, the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that are essential to help fight off infections will not be absorbed. 

One major nutrient that is typically not absorbed with celiac disease is iron. If iron is not being absorbed, anemia can occur within the body and if there is not enough red blood cells transferring enough oxygen in the body, people can feel short of breath even with minimal exertion. This is something I can relate to because one symptom that I experienced growing up was anemia; I was always short of breath. Today, knowing that I am celiac and eating a gluten free diet, I am happily no longer anemic after years of trying to correct it. Instead, I am on the boarder of no longer being iron deficient (yay!) and my iron levels are increasing due to a gluten free diet and my gut lining healing. 

However, I think why I am not 100% healed and having chest infection after chest infection along with many other symptoms in my body, is due to consistent accidental exposure to gluten when going out to eat and traveling. I know I have had gluten exposures because in the year 2019, the Tissue Transglutaminase Antibodies (tTG-IgA) in my blood have stayed high and the iron levels have been fluctuating all year.

Currently for the last 3 days, I have gone back on a grain free, dairy free and whole food diet (pretty much a paleo diet), and today I did not wake up having to clear my throat of phlegm in the morning! I am excited to see how many more lingering symptoms will decrease with this diet change.

It has been said that going on this type of diet helps to decrease inflammation within the body. However, doing this diet for a few days to a week will not be enough time to fully correct and heal your body. This is a diet that needs to be followed for 6 months to a year, because it takes this long for the gut lining to heal and function properly again.

In conclusion, 14-20 breaths a minute is normal, but if you have a chronic cough, constantly clearing your throat, or have post nasal drip, you may want to see if grains or gluten is the cause. This is not to say you have celiac disease but you may have some inflammation within your body that needs to be corrected and needs time to heal.

References: 

https://glutenfreern.com/the-relationship-between-the-respiratory-system-and-celiac-disease-ep028/

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/236066468_Hemoptysis_in_patients_of_celiac_disease_with_disproportionately_severe_anemia_Tip_of_the_iceberg

https://thorax.bmj.com/content/57/1/91

https://www.pediatriconcall.com/pediatric-journal/view/fulltext-articles/986/J/0/0/521/0

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18603176

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


New Year, New Me… Resolutions That Matter

“The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it.”

– Jordan Belfort

As I am doing my best Leonardo DiCaprio impression from The Wolf of Wall Street movie, I thought starting and ending with a quote from there was a great way to start my first blog post in the new decade.

I love this time of the year because it always feels like a fresh new start. A new start to the year (or in this case, decade), can be taken as a time to worry over what had happened last year, and years before that, or look forward to what is to come this year and make it your best year yet. It is all a mind set, is the glass half full, or half empty? Or, is it just a glass of water?

It is so often that we will make a long list of goals and accomplishments, and become unmotivated or bored of them. So this year I am setting just four of them.

1) Keep wearing your heart on your sleeve, because that is who you are, but do not let it affect your mindset.

Last year I found myself overthinking about situations. Things such as: what someone had said to me, noticing people following and unfollowing or ‘de-friending’ me on social media platforms, not hearing from someone for a long time, and wondering if people still like me. It is not hard to say that I am, and always have been, a people pleaser. I care a lot about every living being that comes into my life, and this is probably part of the reason why I am so good at my job. 

However, you cannot make every person happy, and not everyone is going to like you because we all have different interests and ways of thinking. So, this year I am going to keep my heart on my sleeve, but I am going to be more mindful of what is worth getting worked up over and what I need to just let go. Because it is exhausting and causes unnecessary stress on your body which effects your overall health. So, smile and nod and accept the things you just cannot change.

Let go of things that cause you stress and ultimately, do not matter. If your future self won’t remember or care about what is going on right now, then it is not worth the energy and time of your present self.

2) Get back in the gym regularly, no matter how tired your body feels. You have a new training style to smash out for your half marathon this year.

For those of you who do not know, I have been spending the last three years healing my gut after a diagnosis of celiac disease. There are times my body feels very fatigued and sore, this could be due to residual inflammation or just because of how physical my job is. But none the less, I have slacked off on my usual routine of going to the gym and staying active. I have also found it very difficult to find the motivation to get back into routine. So to counteract this, I have done something I never thought I would do, which is sign up for a half marathon. I do not run long distances – but I knew this would be the perfect motivation as there is one thing about me I know for sure, and that is, I cannot give up.

If you are in a similar situation, maybe not being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, but just lost motivation; start small and bring yourself back to a regular routine. Believe me, I know it’s hard, so maybe you need to do what I have done and sign up for something you need to work towards like a marathon, a sports team, crossfit, or some kind of physical competition like body building.

If that is not your forte, another idea that is quite successful, is to try getting a gym buddy. Typically if you have someone to commit to, you are more likely to go because you do not want to let them down.

Just rememeber, great things never come from comfort zones.

3) Do not make a new year’s resolution or monthly goal you cannot keep up with.

Every new year brings new resolutions, and we either keep up with them or we do not. I think the biggest reason as to why we loose motivation is the simple fact that we put too much pressure on ourselves. How many times have you given yourself a new years resolution that is not feasible? 

“I will loose 40 pounds this month.” “I will go to the gym every day, twice a day.” “I won’t eat sugar, carbs, meat, gluten, grains, caffeine, soy, corn, eggs, alcohol, or dairy for the rest of the year.”

The fact of the matter is, things change and unexpected outcomes happen. If you put too much pressure on yourself to accomplish goals that you cannot control or keep up with, you will feel defeated and you will give up too soon. How about instead of cutting out everything in kitchen, you try one or two items. Or! How about you do something new by thinking, ‘I will try a new food each week instead of cutting something out.’

Being a member of the celiac club, I do know a thing or two about elimination diets and cutting out foods that you may be intolerant or allergic to. That is clearly a different story if it is an allergy or autoimmune disease and you have to cut it out for your lifetime. But sometimes you can cut certain foods out for a few months until you are back to full health and try to reintroduce them to see if your body agrees with them.

It is a great idea to try something new and see if it works for you. However, do not put so much pressure on yourself to complete something everyday. Sometimes if you do not get around to it, you end up beating yourself up and in a negative mindset. This doesn’t get anyone anywhere. So try something new for a bit and if it does not make rainbows explode out of your butt like a unicorn’s, smile and move on to try something else.

4) Cash is King but your nutrition, health and mentality is the Emperor.

I may have to copyright this one, as I think it could be my best quote of 2020. Joking aside, I think this one is the most important for me this year.

In other words, if you work yourself to the bone and let your health go to the back burner, you will never succeed. Now, that is not to say that you can strive to be a couch potato and not work at all. There needs to be an equal amount of working hard and making your health a priority. By making something a priority, you make it something that has to be done and you make time for it. 

I have spent the last two weeks off from work with a staycation, and it has been exactly what I needed. I did not realize just how burnt out I was until I stopped. I have been sleeping better, my digestion is improving, energy is returning, I am able to get out of bed again, my body has had time to heal, and I’ve had the motivation to do things I have not done in a long time, such as the gym and reading.

On a regular basis I am bending over backwards for my career, extending my hours and taking time away from my own self care to make extra money. However, if you think about it, all of the extra income that you are making may eventually have to be used later in life for doctor visits, extended health and hospital visits. Also, not to mention, most of it ends up going to the tax man.

Therefore, my last and final resolution for this year is to make my health and wellness my top priority, by spending anywhere from 20-120 minutes a day in the gym, out in nature, traveling, meditating, reading, writing in my journal, making blog posts, self care, watching a movie, playing a video game, just basically anything and everything that does not have to do with work. Yes, I do not have any children or pets, but as I said, it is about making it a priority. You are the only person that can take care of yourself, and if you are not well, you cannot take care of anyone else to the best of your ability.

This will be the year of balance, a healthy lifestyle and leaping out of my comfort zone; all without unnecessary pressure on myself. 

“97% of the people who quit too soon are employed by the 3% who didn’t.”

– Jordan Belfort

Bring it on 2020.

LEW 

xxx


Part 3: My first accidental exposure to gluten that lead to a gastroscopy

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to eat gluten again? I was accidentally exposed to gluten at a restaurant, and I can tell you that I never want this to happen again. This was my realization that I am 100% celiac, especially with how quickly my body reacted to it and for how long the symptoms stuck around for afterwards. Here is my story of being given gluten and how it brought me to doing the gastroscopy.

Just over a year of being gluten free, I went to a restaurant and ordered a gluten free panini. I told the server that it was for a celiac and to tell the chef to be careful with cross contamination. I saw her write celiac down and I then took a seat waiting for the food to be brought to me. It wasn’t until this day that I truly believed I was a celiac. I bit into the sandwich and I remember looking up at my friend and saying, “I sure hope this is gluten free,” because it tasted very strange to me. I ate the whole thing, and twenty minutes later I had major brain fog, a headache and nausea, and I was fighting to keep the food down. Then forty minutes later I had to find a toilet as I was puking and shortly after having very sharp pains in my gut. It felt as though I had eaten a bucket of razor blades. I then had a month or more of bloating, brain fog, sharp pains in my gut, muscle and joint pain, vision problems, hair loss, dermatitis herpetiformis, rashes and acne, decreased appetite, lack of sleep, menstrual pain and PMS, sadness, anxiety, irritation, I found it hard to breathe, and anything I ate or drank caused my stomach to bloat and hurt even more. 

The first photo to the left is a photo of the cystic acne that can occur with gluten exposure. The photo on the right, which also shows up on my upper arms, is a photo of one cheek from my buttocks with another form of dermatitis herpetiformis (I showed what happens with my hands in my blog, “Part one“). Both of these photos have been taken in the last year, and both of these conditions I had back in high school as well.

I finally went to see my doctor a month after eating the sandwich wondering what had happened. We did the blood test and my antibodies were right back up to greater then 300 (they should be less then 12). It took me 8 months to recover and feel like a human again and another 4 months to be my 100% normal self. All from eating one sandwich that was made with the wrong bread. From this moment on I had to go in every 3 months to have blood taken to test my iron levels and tTG levels, and the results were sent to a gastroenterologist and my family doctor. 

I think it bothered me more that the chef of the restaurant didn’t seem to care, I got a ‘copy and paste’ response from him with no apology. He blamed his front staff for not telling me about cross contamination possibilities but I explained that this was not just cross contamination, this was giving me the completely wrong bread. I found out later that three more celiac’s went to his restaurant and also became sick after my experience, which of course left me livid. However, from this experience and others over the last three years, I have now learned what it is like to fully eat something that is made with gluten and eat something that has been cross contaminated. 

A product that is made with gluten: you will know and taste the difference, and you will have an autoimmune reaction right away (as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog). It will make you awfully sick for months (mine lasted 8-12 months), and it may even bump back your intestinal healing time by a few months or years.

A product that has been cross contaminated with gluten: unfortunately, you cannot taste this. You may have symptoms of bloating, headaches or any of the other typical symptoms of celiac disease, the day of or a few days later. The bloating from my last cross contamination experience lasted 3-4 days but some other physical symptoms of rashes, acne, dermatitis herpetiformis, constipation and diarrhea, many toilet visits, and not to mention the mental side of aggravation, anxiety, sleepless nights, and depression (to name a few) lasted about 2-3 months after exposure.

The photos on top is after a weekend away being cross contaminated with gluten while eating out. The photos on the bottom is just three days after with a huge improvement in the bloat but not feeling 100% (I am completely relaxed in all photos).

For the first two and a half years after being diagnosed, I was only a celiac through a blood test. To be a “true celiac” you have to be diagnosed through a biopsy. In order to have a biopsy, you have to be referred to a gastroenterologist, and here in some parts of Canada it takes two years to get in to see one. Which means you will go two years of eating gluten free and then have to do the ‘gluten challenge’ and reintroduce it into your body for six weeks before the biopsy so there is a positive to the test if you are truly celiac.

One year after eating the sandwich and four blood tests later, my tTG levels were sticking around forty and I received a call to see the gastroenterologist and have the biopsy done. After review of my blood tests, she decided to not have me eat gluten before the test as she wanted to see if I was consuming gluten from something that may contain it without me knowing. She also said because of how high my blood levels were, she had no doubt in her mind that I was a celiac and did not want to put me through six weeks of eating my kryptonite (I dodged a serious bullet there). To add, I was sent home with a crohn’s disease home kit to rule this out, and this thankfully, came back negative. 

The Biopsy…

First of all, there are two types of biopsies. A gastroscopy (or endoscopy), is through the mouth and down into the small intestine, and a colonoscopy, is up the rectum and usually used to take a sample of the large intestine but can also be used for samples of the small intestine. What I had done, was a gastroscopy.

The day of the biopsy came and I was a bundle of nerves, not just because this is minor surgery, but mostly because this would be the true test to confirm if I was a celiac, and if it did come back positive, this meant I was still eating gluten somehow. 

The process of the biopsy was nothing to be worried about, you are called in and asked to put on a hospital gown. Then the nurse comes back in and answers any questions you may have and informs you that you cannot drive or make any legal decisions for twenty-four hours after the surgery. The IV is placed in about thirty minutes before you are brought into the operation room, where doctor will ask if you have any questions and ask if it is common for you to have a reactive gag reflex (because if you do, they have a liquid that can be sprayed to the back of the throat to stop this). You are then put under conscious sedation. 

A photo of me after the biopsy was finished; happier than a pig in shit…pun intended.

With my experience, I woke up choking (I did not get the spray because this would have been another hour of sticking around at the hospital after), but I only remember seeing a blurred vision of the video footage of my insides, and then fell back to sleep. I woke up feeling really rested and just a bit sore in my abdomen when I tried to sit up. I also had a sore throat. The nurse gave me a drink and a gluten free snack and checked everything was okay, and told me the doctor did not see anything relevant to the eye, but a few biopsy samples had been taken. She told me the doctor would be calling me in two weeks with my results. I got dressed and my ride came to pick me up, then I was homebound. I remember having a sore throat and abdomen when I would eat just for a few days after, and tired just one day after.

Two weeks later the doctor called and I found out that I was indeed consuming gluten from somewhere, and was officially diagnosed with celiac disease. Parts of my biopsy showed the damaged villi in my small intestine, which indicated gluten consumption and celiac disease.

To this day, I still have digestive issues including constipation, diarrhoea and everything in-between. This included colour and consistency issues of the stool, going to the bathroom 3-5 times in the morning from the moment I wake up, and after I eat, and to top it off, some foods come out undigested. I also have other symptoms, including brain fog, headaches, rashes and acne, hair loss, feeling dizzy when getting up from a seated position, bloating (to the point that I look 4 months pregnant), sleepless nights, insomnia (only had this happened once in the last few months), waking up in a sweat, menstrual pain (only once), hormonal imbalances, and bad PMS. I should also mention that in the last year I have had 8-10 colds, one of which turned into bronchitis and another a sinus infection; that means three rounds of antibiotics just this year. I have been waking up with phlegm in my throat and left lung everyday this year, except one month when I decided to go back on the hypoallergenic diet I spoke about in my last blog post. 

Photo on the left is a photo of me in June 2018, one and a half years after diagnosis with a huge amount of hair growth on the bottom of my head (you can see in the photo how much thicker my hair was by my shoulders). Photo on the right is me in Aug 2018, with my hair chopped to the new growth length.

So why do I still have symptoms even with being 100% gluten free? It could be because my gut is still healing after many years of eating something I should not have been. Research does state that it can take anywhere from 6 months to 5 years for the intestinal lining to heal after an exposure to gluten. It can also be due to little micro cross contamination exposures with going out to eat at restaurants and processed foods made in a facility that contains gluten, as everything else in my life I know for sure is gluten free. I have even started to switch over to gluten free beauty products such as toothpaste, make up, shampoos and conditioner and soaps. 

January 2020 will be the third anniversary of my diagnosis, and there is still a lot of learning and researching to do. But I am excited to share my path through this new gluten free lifestyle that I am grateful for, because I can finally start healing and help other people while I am at it, via this blog. 

The healing process of celiac disease can be very frustrating and may be a longer process then expected. However, this does not mean that it will never happen; learn as much as you can and never loose belief that you can do this. 

Until next week my friends,

LEW 

xxx

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.



Part 2: The first year after diagnosis

There was so much to cover over the past three years, I naively thought I could fit it all into one blog post. I will have to make this a three part story. I did my best to stick to the important information and the other details I will cover in posts to follow. The following is my life one year after diagnosis.

I will say this over and over again, time flies. I cannot believe it has been three years since I have been diagnosed with celiac disease. In that three years, I have been on a huge roller coaster ride of emotions, different levels of motivation, and physical symptoms. This disease does not just affect us physically; personally, I think it hit me harder emotionally.

I have spent three years dissecting, stitching up and then re-dissecting myself. In that time, I have read and researched about celiac disease for hours on end. What are the symptoms and is it normal to be experiencing what I am? How many people have it? Is there a cure? How long do the symptoms last? If I eat gluten, how long until I feel normal again? How can you become cross contaminated? Why is my hair falling out? What is happening with my hormones? Why do I have a rash on my skin years after being gluten free? Why can’t I get out of bed? Where has my motivation gone?

I have done what we all do and went down the worm hole of Dr. Google, time and time again. This, my friends, is why I have started a blog. I have done all the research for you, and I am ready to share my story with the world. Mostly because, it has been three years of being gluten free, and I still have symptoms. I’m tired of being sick and people not fully understanding the specific details of celiac disease.

Three years ago after I was diagnosed…

I left that doctors office feeling relieved, with a pep with my step; finally a reason as to why I was not feeling well for the last six months. However, once I started researching, I realized it was not just a reason for the last six months, but explained what I thought were normal symptoms in my life up until now.

I remember siting back and thinking, where do I start? 

So, I started by cleaning out my cupboards of everything that had gluten, cleaned every inch of the kitchen, and headed to the grocery store. I went from shopping for 20 minutes to 2 hours because I was reading every label so closely and could not believe that gluten was literally in EVERYTHING. It took some time but I have now found a groove in the grocery stores and I am back to shopping in under 30 minutes.

About 6-7 months after diagnosis, I felt somewhat better but still had symptoms, so I decided to go see a naturopath. He decided to do a SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth) test on me where I had to fast the night before and drink a liquid the next morning before I started the test. I had to then breathe into multiple test tubes every 10-20 minutes for about 2-3 hours. We discovered that I was high in both hydrogen and methane gas values which meant there was a bacterial overgrowth present in the small intestine. This means that bacteria which normally grows in other parts of the gut, like the large intestine, start growing in the small intestine. This will then cause pain and diarrhea and it can also lead to malnutrition as the bacteria start to use up the body’s nutrients. Therefore, I was then placed on a really expensive prescription drug and a SIBO tincture that he gave me. 

I emailed my naturopath to find out exactly what we did and this is what he responded: “We started with the SIBO tincture which is a combination of hyrastis, commiphora, and thyme.  We did that for four weeks followed by restoran 0.5 mg which is a prokinetic, meaning it keeps your bowels moving in the right direction to prevent recurrence.  There are prescription options (rifaximin and neomycin) which I will sometimes used when merited, but I don’t believe we did that with you.”  

I remember feeling better after this treatment, so we started the next step which was a hypoallergenic diet. For three weeks I had to cut out processed sugar – some fruits were okay, grains, dairy, soy, peanuts, meats such as pork, beef and some fish, alcohol, sodas, coffee and tea (except herbal), some condiments and all processed foods. I was able to eat some fruits, vegetables, some meats and fish, all nuts and seeds except peanuts, potatoes, sweet potatoes and squashes, beans and legumes, milk substitutes (almond milk, etc.), and some oils and spices. Along with the diet, I was taking two supplement powders, one which was for gut healing (RestorX) and the other which was packed full of nutrients (Bioclear).

This was SO DIFFICULT. I remember the first week basically going through what I imagined was withdrawal symptoms. I had headaches, rashes, brain fog, hunger, emotions, and cravings – all of the cravings. However, once I got through the first seven days, I kid you not, I felt amazing.  I have never in my life felt as good as I did then, and I thought to myself…this is what it feels like to be normal. So, I continued with the diet for another few weeks longer then I needed to. I had more energy, I could think straight, bowel movements were regular and normal, rashes were gone, no anxiety or emotional upset, my hair was growing back, I was sleeping better, no muscle or joint pain (this helped me perform better at the gym); I felt like a super hero. 

It was not until I started eating dairy, processed foods and grains again that symptoms returned, even though I was gluten free. I remember eating a piece of cheese for the first time after cutting it out for a month and having sharp pains in my gut from it. I have never had trouble with it before. Just like the time I came home from Costa Rica, two weeks of eating fresh and unprocessed foods, and eating gluten free bread again and instantly having sharp pains in my gut. At the time, I did not think much of it, but about 2 years later, I then started to research why this would be. 

Fun facts: I now know that some naturally gluten free grains and products that are labeled gluten free (without being certified gluten free) may contain gluten depending where they are processed. Also, the Canadian government, the FDA and other governments around the world, allows 20 parts per million or less of gluten in “gluten free products” because research says that this is apparently safe for celiacs. Personally, I am still not convinced of this. This means that products can be made with gluten, but processed to have the gluten removed…think about this, some products are made with gluten and then processed in a way to have the gluten ‘removed’, which means it could technically still contain gluten of 20 parts per million or less.

No wonder three years later I still do not feel great and my tTG blood levels are still high. This subject alone is going to be one of my blog posts in the future, as I feel this criteria needs to change. It even says on the FDA website, “This level is the lowest that can be reliably detected in foods using scientifically validated analytical methods. Other countries and international bodies use these same criteria, as most people with celiac disease can tolerate foods with very small amounts of gluten.” This means that not all celiacs can take this small amount of gluten in their systems.

Australia and New Zealand have the toughest labeling laws in the world, stating that absolutely no detectable gluten can be found in any gluten free products. Since setting this standard, there has been an increase in improved health across the two countries. I plan to write a blog post about this subject in more detail later on. More information on the FDA guidelines can be found here, https://www.fda.gov/food/nutrition-education-resources-materials/gluten-and-food-labeling.

Three months after diagnosis in Costa Rica, I can hardly recognize myself in this photo to what I look like now. My body was healing here, but I felt so much better.

Through trial and error you do start to learn what to do and what not to do, what to look out for and what to avoid. As an example, three months after my diagnosis I went to Costa Rica and while I was there I definitely ate gluten by something as simple as eating the peanut butter that had knives dipped in it after it was spread on toast and then placed back in the peanut butter. I then spread that same peanut butter onto my banana. I was instantly bloated and uncomfortable. Another example was taking a bit of a curry from a friends plate, which had naan bread dipped in it; this made me sick and uncomfortable for a week or two following this. Specific details as small as they may seem, you will learn very quickly.

Next week will be part three of my story; what happened when I accidentally ate gluten again, my biopsy experience and what I will be doing now over the next year to heal my gut.

Please always keep in mind that what I write about is my own personal experience. What I experience may be different from what you will experience. There was no partnership with any products mentioned, they worked for me and may or may not work for you. As always, consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting anything new.

With love, be kind to yourself,

LEW xxx

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Part 1: The beginning of a positive lifestyle change

“I was assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.”

This is a progression of photos of me over the years. 2013: I was 24 in this photo and just a few months away from graduating from a very intense program at school, probably around 120-130lbs, pale, blackened eyes, stressed and thin hair. 2016: 27 years old, 155lbs and 3 months into what I did not know was an autoimmune response in my body. 2018: exactly one year after diagnosis, healthy and looking better then I have in years and feeling fantastic.

Just over two years ago, at the age of 27, I was diagnosed with Celiac Disease through a blood test. Six months before that I became extremely ill after a trauma from an accidental hit to the face with a hockey stick. Don’t get me wrong, now that I know about this, I realize I actually have had symptoms my whole life but just thought of them as my “normal.” 

Growing up I remember having frequent ear infection after ear infection and I do remember a lot of arguments over taking this artificial banana tasting medicine, which really wasn’t the best. As a fun fact, I have now been informed that repetitive ear infections in a kid can be a sign of a food allergy or intolerance. Now keep in mind, it is not always associated with food allergies and can be due to a virus or bacteria and can be a serious medical condition that needs to be looked at right away as it can lead to hearing loss or the infection spreading.

Along with ear infections, I had knee pain and other joint pain, seemed to get the stomach flu quite a bit, when I was 17 I had my first go at gastritis (which I now realize this may have been an autoimmune flare up because I also had another trauma; to my knee this time; and it occurred around the first time I had gastritis) and again another time 5 years later in the Dominican Republic (May 2012). I could never seem to get my iron up no matter how much red meat and iron supplements I took (this was before I realized you could get iron from vegetables and fruit as well) and I was always anemic (I now realize this was most likely due to malabsorption in my small intestine). 

Want to know something super ironic? I worked in a bakery for 7 years, yup, a full on gluten infested, flour in the air, bakery. This is when I really started getting symptoms; shocking, I know. 

This is my hand recently with Dermatitis Herpetiformis.

Symptoms such as: shortness of breath, anxiety, menstrual problems (infrequent, heavy, light, painful, PMS, etc), clustered blistering bubbles all over my hands (Dermatitis herpetiformis), hair falling out, nails always breaking and nail beds always peeling, painful acne spots on my face and buttocks, red bumps on my upper arms, mouth ulcers, stomach sickness, difficulty concentrating and I was ALWAYS hungry; I literally could out eat all of my friends in school. It was very difficult for me to gain any weight, I remember my family doctor telling me I needed to be around 140lbs for my height and I was always around 115-120lbs (I’m not complaining and I was really active but it was just weird eating as much as I did and not gaining any weight). My hair dresser always pointed out to me that I was loosing a lot of hair at my appointments and mentioned a handful of times that I had psoriasis on my scalp. I do remember having flaky chunks of skin come off my scalp in my finger nails when I would scratch my head.

Jan 2017, just a few days after diagnosis (super inflamed gut), to Feb 2017, just one month after. The difference after one month of being gluten free was huge. Also, take note of how messy my room was, this just goes to show how awful my mental state was at the time. I had no motivation and just did not care.

Before the trauma occurred, I was sluggish, gaining weight (I was around 150-155lbs, which could have been muscle), unmotivated, bloated, my hair was thin, and I was tired. After the hockey stick trauma in 2016, I did not know what was going on with me, I became very mentally and physically ill. It started with really low energy which I thought was from lack of sleep because my sleep pattern went from sleeping well to falling asleep fine but waking up all night. I had maybe 2-3 hours of sleep a night, which resulted in me nodding off in the middle of the day. Concentration and thinking was a struggle, my brain was in a fog all day and everyday. I started to experience becoming sick with the common cold at least once a month, which turned into a sinus infection which I was put on one dose of antibiotics for and soon after got my first ever yeast infection. PMS was HORRIBLE, I had headaches that later turned into migraines, cramps, bloating, and nausea. I had the Dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) rash on my hands blistered and cracked open with sores all over my fingers. I had a mental hit as I was depressed and mentally fatigued, quite literally crying 2-5 times a day over what seemed like nothing.

The last month before I finally went to get help (6 months after the trauma), I had migraines which I have never had before in my life, really sharp pains in my gut, and what got me going to see a doctor was my mouth bleeding every time I brushed my teeth and huge bleeding oral cankers as I know this can be a sign of malnutrition.

The stubborn human I am, it took me 6 months of being sick to finally consult a doctor. The first doctor I saw told me to go back on birth control…yup. Talk about negligence, keeping in mind he was a walk in doctor that was extremely tired but that is absolutely no excuse. Knowing what I do now, he let me walk out of his office after less then 5 minutes of talking, close to being hospitalized. Thankfully I knew better and threw out the prescription paper as I was leaving the office and the next day I went to another walk in and met the incredible doctor that I now proudly call my family doctor. She spent what felt like 30-40 minutes with me and listened to my entire story and all of my symptoms for the last 6 months. Palpated my abdomen and sent me on my way for a blood test looking into multiple conditions.

Fifteen minutes after this appointment (about 3pm), I was in another building having my blood taken. This is when I really knew something was wrong as they were having trouble finding my veins and getting blood from them. The nurses had to go to both arms to try and get enough blood for the tests.

9am sharp the next morning, when the walk in clinic opened, I received a phone call telling me my blood results have come back and I needed to go in to speak to a doctor immediately. This of course, got my heart racing. Getting my blood results back this quickly had me thinking I had a serious health condition. The doctor sat down and told me I had Celiac Disease and I was extremely anemic. To test for celiac disease they test for a tTG result in the blood (IgA antibody level) and this level should be less then 12. Mine was over 300, and the iron/ferritin level was 3.4 when it should be between 40-200. 

I left that doctors office surprisingly relieved and felt as though the bag of bricks I was carrying around had been lifted off my shoulders. I went home and immediately spent hours researching celiac disease and the more I read, the more my life made sense.

If you are in a position of not feeling well, or knowing something is just not right, do not give up – your answer is around the corner.

Next week will be Part 2 of my story, three years after diagnosis.

With love, be kind to yourself,

LEW xxx

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness. You must consult with your professional health care provider before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking, varying the dosage of or ceasing to take any medication.