I’ve been gluten-free since April of 1998, when I discovered that my decades-long crushing depression lifted considerably 12 hours after I stopped it. I now believe my quick recovery was due to a major reduction in brain inflammation due to the elimination of gluten *** IN ADDITION TO *** the accidental, inadvertent, and very strict mold avoidance I’d been practicing for five months, the latter of which I will cover in a later post.
Why gluten can be unhealthy
In terms of the dangers of gluten itself, I have concluded that its already-inflammatory nature is magnified 3.62 gazillion times by being coated in glyphosate like no other food staple in the US. The combination is a disaster when added to the dozens of inflammagens we’ve all been ingesting and breathing for years. Some of us just hit a crucial high-water mark faster than others.
The celiac disease explanation for gluten’s effect on people — that anyone reacting to gluten does so because of a genetic glitch — was for a long time the only one available. However, many people who improved on a gluten-free diet also tested negative for celiac. A valuable lesson: just because the only explanation we have for a phenomenon turns out to be wrong doesn’t mean that the phenomenon is not actually happening.
Other possible explanations for gluten’s effect on people:
- The test is inaccurate, which is not outside the realm of possibility based on what I’ve heard about the traditional tests for Lyme disease, lead poisoning, and pyroluria, among others.
- Wheat of US-origin is plagued with mold. The US does not monitor mold in food staples to the extent that other countries do. As you can imagine, Japan especially is very particular about mold in its rice supplies.
My reactions to gluten after 18 years of avoidance
About a year into mold detox, and enjoying a major drop in inflammation, I decided to test the gluten-as-inflammagen idea. I went to Starbucks and bought three baked products from the case. After 18 years of eating only the much-sweeter rice-based grain alternatives, wheat tastes like sand, or maybe that’s just Starbucks fare. The brownie tasted so bad I couldn’t finish it, which will be a momentous statement to anyone who knows me, but I still managed to get a good dose of gluten.
I felt fine the rest of the day, but at night that weird stabbing pain happened that I remembered being a constant companion back in the day — below the shoulder blade, on the left. As if Drano had collected there. The next day I had stabbing pains in one ear. The day after that, the pains switched to the other ear. At some point I also had a brief wave of pain similar to the effect of eating fresh dill when you have diverticulitis. There was no plummeting mood or sudden onset of bleeding, however, which was a relief.
My gluten tasting continued over the next 18 months and included:
- Sourdough imported from France, on the theory (not mine) that European foods are less blitzed with pesticides AND the sourdough fermentation process breaks down more toxins. I had no reaction.
- A few very small bites of the bottom layer of mousse or cheesecake desserts, because some chefs are lazy food architects and don’t know how to make an otherwise-perfect dessert stand up without some dumbass grain foundation. I don’t recall reacting to these incidents.
- A bright orange dish which I believe was a mesquite-flavored sauce over breaded chicken nuggets. After a few hours I developed a sensation that I eventually identified as a mildly inflamed esophagus, but it is possible that the very chemical-y tasting mesquite flavoring was the culprit. Even so, after that experience, I decided to go back to a stricter avoidance. Something about the esophagus swelling up …
All in all, I am happy not to have to worry anymore about drastic mental reactions to accidental ingestion and am intrigued by the European sourdough experiment. However, it is still pretty obvious that my body does not like gluten.
Gluten and the lymphatic system
By the way, if I were to give any advice on the subject of gluten avoidance, I would say to pay more attention to your lymphatic system. For years, celiacs were warned about the increased risk of lymphoma, a cancer that starts in the lymph nodes, but I decided early on not to spend any energy worrying about that. I have since realized that my lymphatic system has been struggling for a long time and is responsible for some annoying symptoms that were fairly easily corrected.