Do You Know Gluten?

Have you met gluten?
Staff of Life? Really? 

One thing I really miss now that I am “Paleo For Life” (PFL) is beer. I love beer. I could not care less about bread or pasta, but I love beer. I am thankful that there are ways to make paleo cookies and muffins because they are better (all around taste and nutritionally) than traditional bake goods and they are a good treat here and there. But there is no way to substitute beer. Sad face…well, I guess there are gluten-free beers, but they are just not Harpoon IPA.

Do you know why I don’t drink beer any more? GLUTEN! Gluten is the reason I no longer drink the beaaahhhs. Gluten is the toxic, inflammatory devil protein found in certain grains – wheat, rye, barley, etc. So, yes, anything that contain wheat contains gluten. Check out just about any packaged food at the grocery store and you’ll probably find wheat in the ingredients. It’s hard to escape. Even things you wouldn’t think contain gluten actually do…chicken broth, soy sauce, marinades, seasonings, deli meat, and imitation seafood meat (ewww)…just to name a few.

I grew up eating gluten. I always had eczema. It was a pain in the ass, especially when I became a teenager and I was actually concerned with how I appeared to others. I remember sleeping with an ice pack between my knees to numb the itch on the skin of my inner thighs. Horrible experience. Went to the doctor, got cortisone creams and ointments, took Benadryl, and all that fun stuff. “It’s probably because of the weather”…”Did you change your laundry detergent?”…never once did anyone suggest it could be diet-related.

When I moved to Oregon I was in heaven because there was a microbrewery on just about every corner; walking distance from my apartment. There was also a place with amazing pizza, American Dream, they even used beer in their dough recipe. Double-whammy! I wondered why I broke out in a full body rash, despite the fact that I was drinking beer and eating pizza about three days a week.

When I “went Paleo” in January of 2010 I stopped having regular breakouts of eczema and psoriasis. Now, after completely transforming the way I eat and adapting to “a new normal” I rarely have skin issues. Unless of course I choose to eat the gluten and see what happens. This is what I did about a month ago. I enjoyed an IPA or two and a fairly large hamburger bun and voila…

 Angry, angry skin.
 Inflammation City!
Do not do this to yourself!
It took about two weeks for my elbow to completely heal up. It got red, hot, sore, then it became itchy flaky and peel. I also broke out in an itchy, bumpy rash all over my legs. I know, this might be TMI, but I want to share this because I know there are many people with similar experiences. I wish someone had clued me in earlier. I also experience other symptoms related to gluten consumption. I get really achy and feel like I am 80 years old. I feel fatigued, have no energy, and experience moodiness. So it’s not good for the people around me either. 
If you suspect you might be sensitive to gluten my suggestion is to eliminate it completely for at least 30 days. I mean completely. Scour ingredient lists, prepare you own food, don’t go to restaurants. After complete elimination add it back in. Take one day and eat cereal or a big bagel for breakfast, a sandwich for lunch, and then pasta for dinner. Note how you feel on that day and the days and weeks following. If you have no symptoms then you make the call as to whether you’ll allow gluten back into your life permanently or not. But before you do, do me a favor and Google and read about “leaky gut”. If you do have some sort of reaction you probably are sensitive to gluten.
As for me, I will not be enjoying pints of beer or slices of pizza any time soon. I am happy with my meat and vegetables and occasional margarita.
Cheers, friends! Please post comments here or on Facebook. Let me know how your body reacts to gluten.

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