The Body and Its Wisdom – Don’t Accept What’s “Normal”

Posted on June 9th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Asthma, Emotions, Gluten Intolerance, Healthy Living | ADD A COMMENT »

Our own physical body possesses a wisdom which we who inhabit the body lack.  We give it orders which make no sense. ~Henry Miller

attunefoodsbrandam_buttonWhen did we become a society of people who think it’s normal to have discomfort and pain? We take medications for everything, without questioning whether we are really solving the problem or simply masking the symptoms. It seems like the more that people are affected by daily health issues, the less likely we are as a society to figure out what’s really wrong.

For most of my 20s, I suffered from stomach problems. One night in Boston, after I enjoyed some clam chowder, I wound up in a stall of the restaurant’s bathroom clutching my stomach. My friend suggested that I was lactose intolerant. I had not heard that term before. I wasn’t a picky eater – in fact, I enjoyed just about any kind of food, and I had never done any dieting of any kind. This was the first time I considered that there might be something I could not eat. Lactose intolerance made sense because it was fairly common as I was to learn. After all, they sold Lactaid (lactose-free mik) in the stores. My friend was wrong about the lactose intolerance diagnosis, but I believed it for 10 years. My body continued to tell me that something was wrong, but I didn’t listen – lactose intolerance seemed normal so I stuck with that idea, avoiding a lot of dairy and taking Lactaid pills.

To read more about not accepting what’s considered normal, go to my post at Attune Foods.

Asthma is linked to gluten, study finds (and so did I)

Posted on February 26th, 2011 by Alison | Posted in Asthma, Celiac Disease, Symptoms | Read 17 Comments - Add Your Own »

asthma-inhaler1People with celiac disease are more likely to develop asthma, according to a new study published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. And, those diagnosed with asthma are more likely to develop celiac disease. How are asthma and gluten linked? The researchers are not quite sure what makes people with celiac disease have a 1.6 fold increased risk of asthma (60% more likely to have asthma) than those without. However, one of the researching doctors in a Reuter’s Health article on the study, speculated that it is related to vitamin D deficiency.

Since people with celiac disease have damaged intestines, they are unable to properly absorb nutrients. According to the Vitamin D Council, Vitamin D helps “the immune and nervous systems defend the body, with defects in this intricate system leading to autoimmune disorders.” Several studies have shown that lower levels of vitamin D related to higher incidence of asthma in children. Just supplementing with vitamin D isn’t enough if the body can’t absorb it, as is the case with celiac disease. Removal of gluten is the only way to heal the intestines, so that they can begin to absorb vitamins again.

But forget those studies… just look at me. I puffed on asthma inhalers every day for about 25 years and took prednisone when the inhalers weren’t enough. Three months after I started a gluten-free diet after I was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 32, I stopped my medication cold turkey. I never used it again. It has been over 8 years.

I hadn’t considered vitamin D deficiency as a cause of my asthma before reading this new study. I recently had my vitamin D tested and it is low even now, so I can’t imagine what the level was before my diagnosis — I was never tested for vitamin deficiencies in the past.

If you have asthma, I urge you to get tested for vitamin deficiencies and for celiac disease. Think of your asthma as a symptom for which there is a cause. To be able to breathe again — now that is a gift.

You can read more about me and my asthma and if you’ve got a story about your asthma, please share it in the comments.

A story about me and my asthma

Posted on April 17th, 2008 by Alison | Posted in Asthma, Babies & Kids, Celiac Disease, Food Allergies, Gluten Intolerance, Symptoms | Read 16 Comments - Add Your Own »

inhaler.jpgIt is 1992 and I am on a train heading from the south of Spain to Madrid, where I am living and studying for the semester. I have just spent 5 days in Morocco, eating cous-cous, drinking mint tea and staying in beautiful mosaic hotel rooms. I am 21 years old and I am having trouble breathing and it is the first time it ever crosses my mind that I could actually die from an asthma attack.

Inhaler in hand, I take a puff every hour, then every half hour, eventually every few minutes and I am watching the clock to see how long I have until we arrive in Madrid, where I will have to take the subway and then walk to the boarding house where I live. It is taking so long. And I can only breathe short breaths, I can’t get air deep into my lungs. I am starting to feel panicky which only makes asthma worse. I talk to myself — you’re ok, you’re ok, we’re going to get there.

We arrive at the train station. I take the subway, and then a friend carries my duffel bag in addition to his because I can barely even carry myself up the steps of the house. I make it. I take the prednisone that I had left behind, never suspecting that I would need it. I lay sick in bed for 2 days, exhausted from trying so hard to breathe.

I have asthma, or as I now say, I had asthma. Since I was a kid I carried around my inhaler, taking a puff or two at the halftime of my soccer game or if I got a cold. Mine was not serious enough that I ever had to go to the hospital, but in my 20s, it got worse to the point that my doctor recommended I take a steroid inhaler every morning and every night to prevent attacks from happening.

It wasn’t until my diagnosis of celiac disease at age 32 that it ever occurred to me that my asthma could be triggered by food. Not one allergist had ever suggested it. It was my own idea to stop inhaling the steroid medication after 3 months on a gluten-free diet… I have not used it since.

I now know that my asthma was caused by gluten. It got worse with other triggers such as the flu, dust and exercise, but these weren’t the causes, they just made it worse. All those years I believed I had exercise-induced asthma, but within months of changing my diet, I ran an 8 mile race — without a puff!

To those of you out there suffering from asthma or whose kids are suffering from it, think about food being a cause. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) website, “asthma symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or difficulty breathing due to narrowed airways, may be triggered by food allergy, especially in infants and children.” According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America website, “babies in particular may have food allergies that can bring on asthma symptoms. Some of the foods to which American children are commonly allergic are eggs, cow’s milk, wheat, soybean products, tree nuts and peanuts.” Even adult-onset asthma could be caused by food.

It’s up to you: try a change of diet or be on medication the rest of your life. If you decide to try it, look at which foods are being consumed the most, usually gluten and dairy, and trying cutting one or both out for a few months. Of course, consult your doctor before reducing any medications (not like I did), but also know that your doctor may not believe that food could be the cause of asthma. But it can. Just look at me.