Wednesday, January 20, 2010
During my recent internet travels I've been harping on and on about probiotics. There are a few things, as Celiacs, that we need to acknowledge.
Our bodies are not the same as everyone else. We are not on an even playing field. Our digestive tracts have been damaged. It is difficult for us to digest food and absorb nutrients from this food. Many people are led to believe that simply going on a Gluten Free Diet will cure them, that their inner workings will spring back to life and flourish. This is partially true: our bodies can heal themselves to an extent. But they need help.
A Gluten Free Diet is not healthy for everyone! I want to be very clear: A Gluten Free Diet is essential for anyone with Celiac Disease and those with Gluten Sensitivities. There is no debating this issue. However, a GF diet is not "healthy" in the sense that it does not promote total body wellness. This study shows that a GF diet decreases the level of good bacteria in the gut. Gut bacteria provide a whole host of services to our bodies; we exist in a mutually beneficial, symbiotic relationship. Without this good bacteria, we are more likely to physically struggle.
Gut bacteria help us break down food that our gluten-damaged bodies are struggling to digest. An exhaustive read of many sites will tell you all about the functions of gut bacteria. Here it is succinctly: Gut bacteria is able to 1. digest unused energy substrates (food), 2. stimulate cell growth (healing!), 3. repress the growth of harmful microorganisms (awesome!), 4. train the immune system to respond only to bad guys (reduced inflammation!), 5. defend against some diseases. How is this NOT something you want in your body?
Besides the GF diet naturally reducing the level of Good Bacteria, if you've ever been on antibiotics you are already at a Good Bacteria Deficit.
Antibiotics kill bacteria. They are not picky, they do not choose between good and bad. They just attack. Think back over your life...have you ever been on antibiotics? In this culture of Western medicine I'm going to go out on a limb here and say "yes" for many of you. If so, you have a triple wammy: 1. You body is damaged from Celiac 2. Your GF diet is decreasing the amount of good bacteria in your body 3. Your antibiotics have killed off a lot of the good guys. Good news! You can replace them with probiotic pills!
Even if you don't read any of the above information you should Definitely Read This. If you:
1. Have been on the GF diet and are now experiencing unexplained symptoms
2. Have ever been on antibiotics
3. Experience bloating after meals
4. Are unable to eat a strange variety of things such as spices or fruits
5. Suddenly feel as if you are developing multiple food allergies/sensitivities
PICK UP A PACK OF PROBIOTICS. Try it for a month or two. After taking probiotics I have been able to expand the number of foods I eat, no longer feel bloated and have seen a marked reduction in the severity of my symptoms when accidentally ingesting dairy (and perhaps gluten). Probiotics are not a cure for Celiac Disease, dairy allergies or the like. They simply make your gut a more hospitable place for natural digestion and bodily function.
I personally use Pearls, which can be purchased online, at Whole Foods, Drug Stores and probably several other places. Strangely enough, many probiotics have dairy in them, Pearls are the only I've found which are dairy free. They make them for children, adults and a super-souped up version for people who are at a real defecit. As I have endured no less then 15 or so interactions with antibiotics I did a course of the Intensive Care for good measure. This is what has worked for me, I will never stop taking probiotics. I went a few days without them once and was a hurtin' cookie.
If you use a different kind of probiotic, have experienced benefit (or not) from taking them or have anything else to add, please share in the comments. I'm talking about this because I feel it is very important and not something the community discusses. Our autoimmune disease is about more than just a diet. It's about healing our bodies, supporting them, acknowledging that we need to do a little extra because of our damage.
Big thanks to Karina for re-sending me this article after I carelessly lost it in my email! (I swear, things disappear from there all the time, it's like the virtual take on the sock mystery)