Three weeks ago (Monday, September 27, 2010), I took a big step towards a healthier me. At 25 years of age, I weight 225-230 pounds, have asthma (exacerbated by cold, exercise, and any type of respiratory diseases [e.g. bronchitis]), dry skin, cuts/sores that take forever to heal, and achy joints. Growing up, I had a lot of intolerances (sugars – sucrose, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, xylitol, and eventually lactose). I was also tested for Celiac’s Disease (gluten intolerance). My blood test was positive, but by the time the doctors did the bowel biopsy, I was negative. Keep in mind, however, that Celiac is a cyclical disease (when not following a gluten-free diet). Sometimes you’ll test positive, other times you’ll test negative (even when you are positive). Additionally, bowel biopsies are not always an accurate prediction of damage to the small intestine. Think of it this way – you have a length of 7 meters (Grey’s Anatomy Textbook). Taking a microscopic section of 7 meters will not give you a generalizable.
When puberty came around, all of the symptoms of the sugar intolerances went into remission. The past few years, my weight has fluctuated up and down dramatically. Over the past 4 years alone, I’ve gained about 40-50 pounds! Part of this increase is from stress (PhD program, getting married, etc.) and just not taking care of myself like I should. My mother-in-law is a chiropractor and Celiac. After much convincing, I decided to get tested for gluten intolerance again. This time, it was a fecal sampling to test for antibodies – Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA and Fecal Anti-tissue Transglutaminase IgA. The hardest part was waiting the 3 weeks for results.
The results are in!
Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA 40 Units (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)
Fecal Anti-tissue Transglutaminase IgA 17 Units (Normal Range is less than 10 Units)
Interpretation of Fecal Anti-gliadin IgA: Intestinal antigliadin IgA antibody was elevated, indicating that you have active dietary gluten sensitivity. For optimal health, resolution of symptoms (if you have them), and prevention of small intestinal damage and malnutrition, osteoporosis, and damage to other tissues (like nerves, brain, joints, muscles, thyroid, pancreas, other glands, skin, liver, spleen, among others), it is recommended that you follow a strict and permanent gluten free diet. As gluten sensitivity is a genetic syndrome, you may want to have your relatives screened as well.
Interpretation of Fecal Anti-tissue Transglutaminase IgA: You have an autoimmune reaction to the human enzyme tissue transglutaminase, secondary to dietary gluten sensitivity.
So, in short, as of 1:06PM, October 18, 2010 I am officially gluten intolerant. However, this is NOT the end of the world! Instead of being very depressed about this diagnosis, it’s almost like a weight has been lifted … now I know what has been causing all this trouble. And while adjusting to a gluten-free diet may be difficult at times, in the long run, it will be worth it. I’m also looking at this as a creative challenge from God. I love to cook and bake … now I get to try new things!
This blog is to be a record of how to adapt, the ups (and downs), the good, bad, and ugly gluten-free products, and recipes. A lot of the recipes will be regular food, adapted for gluten-free diets. A lot of items will also be organic in nature. Feel free to share these with your family and friends. Please contact me if you have any questions or comments!