This may be a really dumb question but a co-worker got REALLY upset with me when I told her about how I ate a little gluten last night and became incredibly ill. She told me that I had chosen to make my self gluten intolerant by choosing this life style and basically called me an elitist, as I was choosing to make myself sick while hundreds of others suffered without a choice.
It was insulting and I want to think non-sensical but I need to make sure: Can eating clean bring about gluten sensitivity?
Paleo can make you gluten intolerant in the same way that quitting smoking can make you tobacco intolerant. Years ago, I smoked half a pack a day and "felt fine". Now if I smoke one or two, I feel like death for two days. We do get desensitized to the ill-effects of the crap we put in our bodies, including gluten.
I hate judgemental people like your co-worker. Best of luck ignoring her and surrounding yourself with positive, supportive folks!
If you got sick it's because your body was reacting to it all the time, but you were just used to feeling (minorly) crappy all the time. The bigger reaction would be because you weren't constantly bombarding yourself with it so you had more to give.
I think it can make our already gluten intolerant bodies more sensitive. From what I understand, we are all gluten sensitive, it's just to what degree. Feel good that you are no longer poisoning yourself with an imperfect food source we'be been brainwashed to eat practically since birth. Your co-worker can say and believe what she chooses. That doesn't make her right. Keep your chin up. All that matters is how YOU feel!
That co-worker is not your friend. Ignore her, forget her, her future unhealth and sickness is not your problem if shes not interested. You reacted to a poison your body was no longer used to. What exactly would she KNOW about your health? End of story.
you made yourslef gluten intolerant is like saying you made yourself cyanide intolerant...
you can make yourself tolerant of cyanide and gluten, doesn't make it any less poisonous....
I just don't understand the attitude of your coworker. As a very sensitive celiac, I am grateful that so many people are trying gluten-free diets and raising awareness. The more people are aware, the better labeling will get.
As for whether it makes you more sensitive, Jenna hit the nail on the head. But I want to go a little further. The risk of not going gluten-free if you have celiac disease (and probably also gluten intolerance in general) is an increased risk of cancer. Even if you don't think you're gluten intolerant, the risk is still there. So uncovering it with a gluten-free diet, even if it means more hassle and being more sensitive, is a great tradeoff.
I went 30 years not realizing I am intolerant to gluten. In retrospect, I can see the signs were clear, but I had considered and discarded the issue long ago, and never went on a gluten-free diet (until this past year) because I didn't want to "follow a fad diet" or needlessly restrict what I ate... basically, because I succumbed to this negative attitude that some people (including a lot of nutritionists!) have.
I wish I had tried a gluten-free diet sooner. I wish I had learned about this stuff years ago. Maybe it would have saved my dad (who probably also had celiac disease) from cancer. Who knows. But this attitude that going gluten-free is somehow bad makes me want to scream. How many lives can we save by raising awareness? And if someone finds they aren't gluten sensitive, and they want to go back to eating gluten, no big deal. I just don't see why some people are so against it.
Just to be clear here, there is a difference between gluten intolerance and gluten sensitivity. In a broad sense, no, eating Paleo does not make you either of these things. Celiac disease is defined as a gluten intolerance. In this case, the body makes antibodies to its own small intestine tissue as a result of exposure to gluten and this is why it is defined as an autoimmune disease. It is genetic in nature, but many factors can affect the expression of the gene. I've seen a case of Celiac disease that developed in a 46 year old woman after a course of antibiotics for a sinus infection. Until that time she denied having any symptoms related to anything she ate, so should we say that antibiotics cause gluten intolerance too? Since it is genetically based, eating Paleo can not "give" you gluten intolerance, rather by removing gut irritants it can give the gut a chance to heal. Since there is much inflammation happening in the gut mucosa in this condition, the immune system has a limited ability to react to gluten in this inflamed state. Calm down the inflammation and the immune system reacts to gluten more 'normally' if the predisposition to gluten intolerance or sensitivity is there.
In the case of gluten sensitivity, the inflammation of the gut is present as a result of gluten exposure, but there is not the autoimmune component. However, Dr. Fasano's work at the Univ of Maryland's Celiac center has shown that gluten sensitivity, by inflaming the gut and creating 'leaky gut,' can set the stage so to speak, for the development of other autoimmune diseases in genetically predisposed individuals. This is why some might develop RA, others MS, and others multiple AI diseases and subsequently why we see dramatic improvements in these folks when they adopt a Paleo diet. (Also see Robb Wolf's latest blog post for the link to works by a doc who was talking about this connection over 50 years ago.)
As for your coworker's response, I find this somewhat common in those diagnosed with Celiac disease. Two things I believe are at play here. First, these folks have really bad reactions when they eat something contaminated with gluten. If gluten-free diets are perceived as merely a fad diet, they risk not being taken seriously by waitstaff, chefs, and other food service personnel. Its not like an anaphylaxtic reaction that can be seen immediately, so its' really important that the food service industry understand the seriousness of the consequences. If you're Paleo and going to a restaurant, and if you ask for no bun with your burger because you're "gluten- free" and then chose to cheat and order a beer, this can undermine the seriousness of gluten-free for those that really suffer from it. Also, if you have diagnosed Celiac disease, gluten-free foods are considered "medical foods" and can therefore be deducted as medical expenses for tax purposes. Potentially the "fad" of gluten-free could jeopardize this.
The second reason is as someone else already stated- for a person with a gluten intolerance, there can be a real frustration that they have no choice but to eat gluten free. They wish things could back to "normal" and they could eat all their old foods again. They are tired and frustrated with having to be so careful about everything they eat all the time. From this perspective, it can be hard for them to understand why anyone would voluntarily choose to take on that level care when eating. I think education is really important here and that practitioners can help these patients see that in the end, this is an advantage as they will be healthier, rather then a burden. If we can all agree that the end goal is being healthier, these kinds of situations may no longer arise in the future.
I'm with those who say "paleo" doesn't cause the sensitivity/intolerance.
I'd felt crappy much of my life but had no clue wheat was my problem until I experienced the improvement from wheat's absence and the acute symptoms from having a meal that included some. At that point, your question was highly relevant.
However, what actually happened was that as my gut continued to heal subsequent tests of eating wheat triggered reactions that were milder and milder. Finally, at about the 10-month point, I ate something with wheat and had no negative symptoms at all.
I think if avoiding wheat was causing my sensitivity, I wouldn't have seen milder and milder reactions over time. The reactions would have stayed bad or gotten even worse.
I count myself as one of the lucky ones. Despite 60+ years of gut distress I was able to recover and thrive. Now and then I eat a little corn--I like crunchy yellow taco shells/chips--but I've finally lost my taste for wheat and probably won't purposefully eat it again. At least I have hope now that accidentally ingesting wheat-adulterated food won't make me ill.
Confusion with my gluten intolerance 2 Answers
Thrombocyopenia and gluten? 8 Answers
Paleo Lunch for Co-Workers 9 Answers