My 5 Favorite Essential Oils to Support Oral Health
I didn't realize how much our oral health effects our overall health until I started doing some research. So, this was my next "rabbit hole" I explored on my quest to get to the bottom of my health issues! As you know from my previous blog post, I started by flipping over my toothpaste and sure enough, there was a poison warning. Why would I want to put something in my mouth or worse, my children's mouths', twice a day that contained poisons....right there on the label....POISONS! Suddenly my tried and true whitening toothpaste was nothing to smile about. Read that post here if you missed it: top 5 chemicals to avoid in our personal care products
What's a Mom to do? Research, research, research and of course Young Living to the rescue, ONCE AGAIN! Their oral care line is not only all natural, with no poison warning or toxic chemicals, but they instead contain essential oils to actually SUPPORT oral health! Phew...one less toxic product in our home and they even make a kids' toothpaste! Here's some info for you so you too can learn why I love these products so much and trust them for my family:
I even now use their dental floss! Did you know that conventional dental floss contains a non-stick chemical that helps it slide easier-a chemical also in Teflon pans...yup, you put that in your MOUTH! Yikes! Even worse, a recent study by Emory University Rollins School of Public Health shows that this chemical is linked to thyroid disease. WHAT? You think you are doing a good thing by flossing and really you can be putting a harmful chemical into your body that may contribute to thyroid issues...now who nowadays doesn't have issues with their thyroid..I know I do and so do female members of my family! YIKES. See how these chemicals are hidden in things we use every day and see how they can unknowingly harm our health? Don't be scared, be empowered and make better choices for the products you and your family use! I am sure glad I learned this! Knowledge is power!! :)
Well, the next thing I stumbled upon for amazing oral health is oil pulling! Every heard of it or tried it? It's really simple to do, yet HIGHLY effective at supporting oral health and helping to get icky stuff out of your teeth, mouth and body! See, toxins accumulate and are stored in our gums, leading to gum disease, body wide inflammation and disease. In fact, 66% of adults over the age of 30 have some form of active gum disease and 60% of 15 year olds have gum disease! Since the mouth is an integral part of the body, gum disease can cause body wide inflammation, immune problems, pregnancy complications, cardiovascular disease and even cancer...so this is what opened my eyes to understand how important oral health is! So, the more toxins you can remove from your body and mouth, the better off you will be! That's where oil pulling comes in!
Read about the specifics below, but I have found that adding a drop of Young Living Vitality Essential Oil kicks things up a notch! Just 1 drop of the essential oil is all you need, as they are extremely concentrated and potent! My favorite oils to use are below and I always rotate which oil I use so my body doesn't get too use to one oil...like to keep my cells guessing!!
So, what exactly do these essential oils do for our oral health? Well, first off, they help to support the body's inflammatory response. Any time we can help the body lower inflammation, we are helping the body heal itself and protect itself from poor health. Secondly, the essential oils support a healthy immune response. This is so key because we need a strong immune system to help deal with the bacteria in our mouths and gums! Plus, anytime you are using an essential oil, it is one less chemical you are being exposed to. We want to reduce our toxin exposure as much as possible so we can give our bodies and mouths a chance to be healthy!
Here are some specific ways each of my 5 favorite essential oils for oral health can support your healthy mouth:
Want white teeth? Everyone stops me and asks how I keep my teeth so white...OK, I'll let you in on my secret: I use a drop of Orange Vitality or Lemon Vitality Essential Oil (again, switch it up once and a while) to naturally support my pearly whites!! That's it...simple right, and no whitening procedures/strips/chemicals! Best part, one bottle of the Orange Vitality Oil is only $6! That gives you 100 days of whitening power! And you thought my secret would be expensive, didn't you!!! :)
To learn more about how to support your oral health and keep that smile looking its best, you may want to read Cure Tooth Decay by Ramiel Nagel. In this book, he talks about how diet (mainly sugar and grains) play a HUGE part in our oral health. He stresses certain healthy fats as key to preventing oral issues. Weston Price is another one to google to learn more on the effects of nutrition on oral health. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I am a big believer in the power of nutrition and my family and I eat gluten, dairy and sugar free for many reasons! Catch up here by reading why we cut out gluten!
And if you want to fall in love with the natural products I shared that my family and I use daily, please contact me or click here...jennifercaggiano.marketingscents.com and I'll teach you how to get started on your wellness journey! The more chemicals you kick out of your life, the less toxins you will have building up in your body and gums. I want you to feel great and keep smiling for many, many more years, so take the time to learn the importance of reducing your chemical exposure and supporting your oral health! You are worth it and your kids are worth it...I'm sure you agree! So, until my next post, turn over that toothpaste label and toss it! Replace it NOW and you'll thank yourself later!
The Top 5 Chemicals I Avoid In Our Personal Care Products
I hope you have been enjoying and learning from my health story so far. I am still learning more and more every day. In fact, some of the things I found out about to try for myself were discovered in blogs like this, written by others who were trying to figure things out regarding their own health and wanted to share to help others! So, here's more of my story-maybe something I share will spark an idea for you!
The entire realization that every food you put on your fork either contributes to inflammation (and disease) or reduces inflammation (and risk of disease) really opened my eyes! No doctor had ever told me how impactful dietary choices can be! This truly made me more aware of what the ingredients are in our foods. I decided that if I can't pronounce it, we shouldn't be eating it in our family. The kids were really good about all the changes and I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I educated them about why we are no longer eating ingredients like dyes, additives and artificial flavorings. Since they learned all the horrible things those fake "foods" can do to our bodies, they understood why I didn't want them to eat these chemicals.
Then I got really thinking...I know, me, analyze something...unheard of, right (for all of those who know me by now through my blog or personally, you know I am a bit of a, ummm thinker!!! LOL!) So, I wondered, if things like the patch, used to stop smoking, and the birth control patch get through our skin and effect our bodies, then what does that mean about things like body wash, shampoo, hand soap and deodorant?? Do all the big long fancy names on these products absorb through our skin too? Well, sure enough, once I started some research, I uncovered just that...everything we put on our skin absorbs into our bodies within seconds! YIKES!
Think about how many products you put on your skin/hair in your morning routine alone...if you're like most people, especially women, there's a ton...shampoo, conditioner, body wash, shaving cream, body lotion, perfume, toothpaste, mouthwash, deodorant, hair products and hair spray and that's not even counting all the cosmetic products in your make up routine!! Now think about the long list of chemicals on each of those products! Mind blowing when you start to add up all the chemicals you put on before you even eat breakfast, right! According to the EWG's site, "The average woman uses 12 products containing 168 unique ingredients every day. Men, on the other hand, use 6 products daily with 85 unique ingredients, on average." Then we wonder why as women we suffer from a higher rate of autoimmune disease and other illnesses. No more wondering for me...especially when I learned all the horrible things these chemicals do to us.
Here's my list of what I personally consider to be the top 5 chemicals I discovered in my personal care products that I think are the most dangerous. I'll also share with you how I either make or buy safer alternatives because you guys keep asking me what I use, so here you go!
1. Propylene Glycol-Ok, I have to start with this one because do you know what Propylene Glycol is...don't worry, I didn't either, but brace yourself...it's ANTIFREEZE! Yup, there was antifreeze in my toothpaste! WHAT? Yup, go read yours...I actually learned my toothpaste had a poison warning seen below! I even found some "natural" brands still claiming their source of propylene glycol was naturally sourced, renewably sourced and is approved by the US government. Now I don't know about you, but the government thinks a lot of things are "safe in small quantities." But my question is, what happens over time from daily exposure to these chemicals. I decided I no longer want to be a human guinea pig! For starters, I quickly swapped out the toothpaste I use and my kids use. I use the Thieves Aromabright Toothpaste...no icky ingredients in there and my holistic dentist just told me that my teeth and gums look "beautiful!" My cuties use the kids version from Young Living.
If you prefer to make your own tooth powder for pennies, here is what I do: Mix the following in a glass container and sprinkle on a wet toothbrush! This will last you a LONG time!
1/3 C pure baking soda (not the kind found in the orange box at supermarkets...I get mine here: food grade baking soda
1 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
several drops of pure essential oil, my favorite choices are Peppermint or Clove from Young Living, which are both supportive of a clean, healthy mouth!
2. Triclosan-This is found in most antibacterial hand soaps and hand sanitizers, but unfortunately it causes major health issues, like thyroid conditions (yup, how many of you reading this have thyroid issues like me...could our soap be to blame as one of the causes?) and antibiotic resistance! Not good. Read the label on your soaps and body washes and make sure they don't contain triclosan! Mine did!
3. Parabens-increase the shelf life of your products, but do you know they also disrupt our hormones (especially estrogen in women), cause allergic reactions, have been linked to cancer and reproductive issues. What if women are having trouble conceiving due in part to these parabens? Making simple switches can really impact our health so dramatically! I wish I knew this back when we were 'trying" since I had trouble AND because all these chemicals in the mom's body gets passed along to baby! According to a past study by the EWG, poor innocent babies are being born with 287 chemicals in their umbilical cord blood. "We know that 180 cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 are toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests." This makes me SICK. We are poisoning our unborn babies and ourselves! What's worse is other countries ban parabens in personal care products and the good USA does NOT! Nice, real nice, right!
So, once I learned all this, I vowed to only use paraben free products! Castile Soap is a safe option for an all-purpose soap/body wash that we dilute with water. Or you can check out some safe choices here.
4. Fragrance- This one scares me because sooo many things can be hidden in this word because the FDA doesn't require fragrance ingredients to be listed! Sooo not good since the EWG says they can be carcinogenic. I stopped using any products with a non-descript "fragrance" ingredient. Yet why do people tell me everywhere I go that I smell AMAZING? Well, I use all natural essential oils from Young Living as my "perfumes!" My favorites are StressAway or Bergamot! Both not only smell amazing, but help me to feel calmer and less stressed! Do your research if you decide to give essential oils a try, since purity makes a HUGE difference. Go here to learn how to select a safe brand.
5. Petroleum- Yup, that's right, Vaseline, which we've all used at some point, but did you know that it contains petroleum, meaning it's a byproduct of the oil industry!? Now, while that particular brand claims to use what the government considers to be "noncarcinogenic," I remain skeptical. The government seems to think many things are safe in small quantities that other countries flat out ban! And just so you know, petroleum can appear as mineral oil, liquid paraffin or paraffin oil on labels.
So, I now make sure all or our products are petroleum free. For a moisturizer, we use coconut oil (get a huge jug of it at Costco), jojoba oil (I like Trader Joe's) or for severe, cracked skin we cut open a Vitamin E capsule (or Trader Joe's sells Vitamin E Oil)!
But what do you use when you or your kiddos are feeling in need of some respiratory support? You guess it, we don't use the popular Vicks Vapor Rub anymore! Here's what I use on both myself and my cuties:
We mix together Coconut Oil or Jojoba Oil with a drop or 2 of R.C Essential Oil Blend and rub onto our feet! I know, you're thinking, FEET??? Yup, the feet are one of the most effective places to apply natural, health supporting products since the feet are a map of the entire body (google vitaflex foot points)! Plus, no matter where you apply essential oils, like any other substance, they absorb into the skin and get throughout the body in seconds! Now, finally good news when it comes to things absorbing into my body! As long as you are using pure, properly grown, distilled and bottled essential oils like we do, then you will be SO GLAD they are absorbing into your skin and in this case of RC, helping to support your respiration!
Even easier, you can diffuse RC or other respiratory supportive essential oils as an alternative to smearing your kids or yourself with petroleum! You're welcome!! ;)
Of course, we avoid other chemicals I've discovered in our personal care products like SLS, DEA and others, but those are the 5 biggies I wanted to share with you! I hope this has helped to open your eyes to see that in addition to what is on our forks, we need to consider what we put on our bodies all day long!
Don't try to change everything all at once or you'll drive yourself crazy! Just pick up one thing, and I suggest you start with your toothpaste since you put that in your mouth 2 times a day! Read what is in there and if you see some of these scary ingredients or a poison warning, don't wig out, just shop for or make your own safe alternative! Small changes over time make a BIG impact! I'm living proof! The more chemicals you get out of your life, the less your liver is stressed from all the toxins and it can work more efficiently! I have found this helps me have more energy and less symptoms from my auto immune issues!
So, until my next post, let me know what products you changed first! I hope you too are amazed at how great you feel the more you eliminate chemicals from your life and your children's lives!
Soy, GMO's and Food Sensitivies OH MY! Part 3 of my Health Journey!
In my last 2 blog posts, I started sharing my health story by explaining how I discovered that I need to eat gluten free and dairy free and the detox reaction I experienced when cutting these foods out cold turkey. (if you missed them: health journey part 1 and Part 2
So, once I determined I felt WAY better not eating gluten and dairy, (often referred to as a GFCF diet), my health returned, or so I thought. I felt absolutely great for a while, with more energy, better sleep and to me the most dramatic difference was in my gut health. I was beyond happy BUT, I had some flares up now and again and by keeping a detailed food journal (I highly recommend everyone do this...especially for kids and their mysterious tummy aches) I discovered I was also sensitive to soy. Once I researched this, I was not surprised I was reacting to this since, according to the prestigious Weston A Price site, soy contains things with fancy names like protease inhibitors, phytic acids (prevent our bodies from being able to absorb minerals and nutrients), lectins, oxalates, oligosaccharides and allergenic proteins that contribute to ongoing irritation to the gut. I couldn't even pronounce some of those things at this point in my quest for health facts, let alone know what they were, but I knew I felt better not eating soy. In fact, I learned when rats are fed these soy anti-nutrients, they fail to grow normally! Yikes...why would I want to feed my children something that can potentially make them fail to grow correctly!? To reduce these components of soy, it is safest eaten as fermented soy such as miso, natto, tempeh and fermented tofu and soymilk if they agree with you. Many cultures continue to eat fermented soy without any health problems.
Non-fermented soy also contains goitrogens - which depress thyroid function. Many people, women especially, suffer from thyroid issues and soy can be a huge contributing factor. YIKES again!
On top of all that, soy is likely to contain GMO's or geneticaly modified organisms. Now if you haven't heard of GMO's you need to google this and learn as fast as you can because they are suspected to be causing major health issues. A GMO food has been changed to contain unstable combinations of plant, animal, bacterial and viral genes that do not occur in nature. According to LiveStrong and Organic Consumers: "the rise in autoimmune diseases, infertility, gastrointestinal problems, liver problems, obesity, and chronic diseases may be associated with the introduction of GM foods." Over 90% of soy in the US contains GMO's! Now that can't be good!
Many other developed countries ban or at least have restrictions on GMO's but not the good USA! In fact, GMO's aren't even required to be labeled on our foods (yet)! I am outraged by this and I strongly feel we have a right to know what's in our foods so we can then make an informed decision whether we want to feed that food to our families. (If you are also disturbed, you can go to: Just Label It to learn more or donate.) That is where the Non-GMO Project comes in. Look for the Non-GMO Project seal on foods to know they are safe and free of GMO's. Even my kids know that it does not go into our shopping cart unless it has that stamp of approval! You can go to their site to see a list of brands that are safe: nongmoproject.org
What other foods contain GMO's you ask? Well, unfortunately many foods the average person eats every day such as anything with sugar (yup...ice cream, cookies, cakes, muffins), corn (including corn starch and high fructose corn syrup), Hawaiian papaya, canola oil and zucchini that is not specifically labeled by the Non-GMO project. Organic gets a little fuzzy. If a product says 100% organic, it does not contain GMO's. If it says certified organic/USDA Organic then it is likely non-GMO as well! However, if the food simply says, "made with organic ingredients" it very well may contain GMO's. That's why we try not to buy anything processed and if the kids do want pretzels or chips or something in a package, then it has to have that Non-GMO Project seal!
So, if you eliminate gluten or dairy for yourself or your children but still have symptoms, consider soy and other GMO's as the culprits. I know my own son ended up being highly sensitive to both corn and soy. That is one of the reasons why it is best to avoid processed foods. They often contain soy flour, corn and other gut inflaming processed gums, flours, starches and chemicals. Eating as little packaged/processed foods is always the best for your health, whether you are gluten free or not!
Luckily, I slowly discovered which foods unknowingly were compromising my health. It was very empowering to know that I can dramatically affect how I feel simply by watching what I put on my fork! We have control of our health and our vitality! All food either creates inflammation or decreases inflammation. But we are all different, so what is good for me, may be unhealthy for you to eat. So how can you figure out your list of that trigger inflammation for YOU? There are several ways. You can do food sensitivity testing (I believe Cyrex Labs is a reputable one), the elimination diet (google this...it's not easy to do!) or simply do what I did for myself and my kiddos which is to keep a food journal. You can easily set this up in Excel or a plain old spiral bound notebook and make sure you note how you feel each day, including your energy levels, any bloating/gas/headache, whether you had a bowel movement and your mood for that day.
So, start being more aware of how you feel when you eat certain foods and be sure to look for that Non-GMO Project seal next time you go grocery shopping!
Next time I'll share with you some more tips I discovered along the way to reclaiming my health, including foods that I found to reduce inflammation! And you are probably wondering what I actually EAT since it must seem to you that there is nothing left if I don't eat gluten, dairy or soy! I'll share some of my typical menus!
And remember, unfortunately my blog does not have a comments section at this time, so please contact me or post comments on my Facebook page so I know if you are enjoying and learning from my story!
So, in my last blog, I shared how I discovered that I need to eat gluten free, how much better I feel eating this way and how much I had to learn to avoid all the hidden sources of gluten. (if you missed it: last blog post).
In this post, I'll share more of my health story as promised! On a side note, unfortunately my blog does not have a comments section at this time, so please contact me or post comments on my Facebook page so I know if you are enjoying and learning from my story!
Picking up where I left off, after eliminating gluten and dairy from my life, I went through a "detox" reaction, as did both of my children. I stopped eating gluten and dairy on October 8, 2011 and that winter I was sooo super sick. Prior to this, I had gotten frequent colds, but nothing major, well except for mono in college (more on that in future blogs since it is strongly linked to other recent health issues I experienced). But that winter, OMG, I had a ridiculous sinus infection for months, something I never had before and hope I NEVER get again! I had it so badly that I had no sense of smell or taste for weeks. The doctors scared me and said there is a slight chance I would never taste again. Now talk about depressing. I had just learned I couldn't eat some of my favorite foods like pizza, eggplant parm, pasta and crackers and now you mean to tell me I may never taste ANYTHING again. It was an emotional and frustrating time to say the least! My kids had fun with it, though. They would often give me blind "sniff" tests to see if my sense of smell was returning. They would stick nail polish remover (I know what you're thinking-chemicals... and of course I don't use that anymore!) under my nose, raw garlic, onions...the stinkiest of things and I couldn't smell A THING! Well, luckily, slowly both my sense of smell and taste returned! But what an ordeal!
At this same time, my kids went through a detox too and they got super sick. My daughter, who was only 1 1/2 at the time, got bronchitis badly and needed to be nebulized. And my poor son got pneumonia. I treated all this as naturally as I knew how at the time (this was before I knew about essential oils) and we all made it to spring!
But I wanted to know why we all got so sick. If cutting gluten and dairy out is a good thing and helps you avoid health issues what went wrong!? Well, turns out I was experiencing what docs call the "storm before the calm!" See gluten and dairy act as drugs and can affect the brain as strongly as heroin and morphine. YIKES! No wonder why crackers and pizza are so addicting! So, when you go cold turkey, you rapidly change your body chemistry and the immune system reacts. So, I wanted to share this experience with you, not to scare you or discourage you from getting some toxic and addictive foods out of your diet. But I shared in case you decide to go gluten free (and/or dairy free) and now you know that you can feel worse before you feel better. One way you can try to reduce the chances of this happening is to wean yourself off these foods gradually instead of all at once like we did! And if you do have some withdrawal symptoms, try not to reach for sugar and empty gluten free carbs to get that opiate fix your body is craving...try to instead get some exercise especially outdoors, put on some feel-good music or get a massage! That's what works for me!
And you may be wondering why I took dairy out of our diets too. My chiropractor had been on my case about taking dairy out for a while. She knew I had digestive issues and that my son had seasonal allergies super badly. I thought she was nuts, but after doing my own research, I learned over 70% of the world's population does not have sufficient enzymes to digest lactose in dairy! Plus, dairy creates a lot of inflammation and can be make seasonal allergies worse, cause digestive issues, joint pain and inflammation, weight gain, a higher incidence of hormone related cancers (prostate and ovarian), and acne!! We are the only species to drink the milk from another animal! That fact grossed me out, honestly! AND think about it, baby cows drinks milk to get big and fat! No wonder why dairy contributes to weight issues in humans! And another BIG one for me that convinced me to take dairy out of my family's diet is the fact that studies have proven that consuming dairy actually leeches calcium out of the bones and can cause weakened bones and bone related diseases like osteopenia (one was done by Harvard published in the American Journal of Public Health (1997, volume 87)!! Guess milk doesn't actually "do a body good" like the dairy industry would like us to blindly believe. So, when I learned all this, it was a no brainer for me to get dairy out of our diets! Please do your own research and don't be brainwashed by the big wigs in the dairy industry who are after your money and not your health! Make your own informed decisions about how often, if at all you wish to feed dairy to your family!
Especially if you too have bone related issues, seasonal allergies or joint pain/inflammation, you may want to do a trial to see if dairy can be the culprit. Just keep in mind that dairy stays in the system for a while, so give it 3 weeks or so before you make a decision if you feel better or not! For my son, the effects were immediate in terms of his mood/behavior and his allergies didn't seem so severe! Fast forward to present day and he has little to no seasonal discomforts since we use Young Living essential oils (Lavender, Lemon and Peppermint) to support him naturally! (here is where you can read my post on exactly how we use these oils for seasonal support.
If you're wondering what we eat since we don't eat gluten or dairy, here's just a few of what the kids, especially enjoy:
Coconut milk (my daughter can drink Almond Milk too, but my son is allergic)
Organic Rice Dream Unflavored Rice Milk when making mashed potatoes or something we don't want a coconut flavor added to
As you can see, there are plenty of choices and options and honestly, now that we have made the transition, we don't miss dairy at all! In fact, on a holiday, my daughter had a little "real" cheese from cow's milk and she instinctively spit it out! She said it was gross! In reality you get use to eating cleaner without gluten and dairy! We are living proof it can be done and I am so glad and thankful to have it out of our diets! Not only do we have way less health issues like seasonal allergies, digestive issues and behavioral issues, but we avoid so many toxins in conventional gluten and dairy! I learned how many Celiacs (remember from my last blog that is an autoimmune disease I have) cross react with dairy and how their health and intestinal lining improves greatly with the elimination of dairy in addition to gluten! This re-confirmed my decision and I never looked back!
I hope something in this part of my story helps you or someone you care about! Please share this with anyone you think can benefit! I will share more of my health journey next time! If I can help answer any questions in the meantime, please reach out via facebook or my webpage! Now go enjoy some of those tasty snacks my kids give 2 thumbs up to! :)
Ok, so I'm breaking out of my comfort zone here by sharing something personal about myself. I am usually a very private person, but I have come to realize that if I share my health journey here on my blog, maybe someone reading it will relate to something I have gone through and it can help them! My whole mission in life is to help others and I know I learned a lot and had aha moments from reading other peoples' blogs and health stories! So, my hope in sharing this over the course of many blog posts is to help someone figure out their own health issues!
My main health symptom that has plagued me my entire life has been constipation...ok, so you can already see why I haven't really shared this story! From a young child on, no matter how much fruit I ate or how much water I drank, I just couldn't go! And with that of course comes discomfort, bloating...I sometimes use to look like I was 4 months pregnant just because I couldn't go to the bathroom for days. It was embarrassing, being a skinny girl and having this big, bloated belly. I would also get irritable and even depressed for constantly feeling like that. The most frustrating part was whenever I went to see a doctor, I was told the typical "eat more fiber, drink more water, exercise" advice. My gastroenterologist told me I had IBS and it was just something I was going to have to learn to live with. Not exactly comforting, nor helpful. I felt so alone and hopeless.
Would you believe that the only time I did not suffer from this condition was during both of my pregnancies! Now how weird am I? Most women struggle with that symptom only during pregnancy and here I am the complete opposite! So, that gave me the clue that there is a hormonal link to my symptoms.
Then in 2010, after I had my daughter, I was told by her pediatrician to cut gluten and dairy out of my diet to help with her colic symptoms. Of course I did and kept it out the entire rest of the time I nursed her since it seemed to help her. When my daughter eventually weaned off nursing, I didn't think anything of it to add gluten and dairy back into my diet since it was affecting her, not me...or so I thought. But boy was I wrong! I instantly felt terrible...worse than ever...bloated, headaches, tired, irritable, random skin issues (pimple like rash on face), foggy brain (like I couldn't think clearly) and of course constipated beyond words. I was shocked. I was never once told that my diet could have anything to do with my symptoms. See, traditionally trained doctors are given a few hours of nutrition training in all their years of med school. Whereas functional medicine doctors receive 100's of hours of nutrition training. I now am addicted to listening to natural online health summits that have hours and hours of free talks by functional medical docs and naturopaths. I have learned so much about how much food affects our health. Food either decreases inflammation or increases inflammation and the worst inflammatory food...yup, you guessed it: Wheat!
Gluten is basically like "glue" that holds foods together. For those of you who are not familiar, gluten is defined by the FDA as any type of wheat, rye, barley, or crossbreeds of these grains. So, going "gluten free" can mean eliminating only these grains. But in reality, every grain has "gluten." For example, there is gluten in rice, corn and oats. I found through trial and error that I feel best on a grain-free diet. The only exceptions are quinoa and buckwheat, which I tolerate well and enjoy as a source of B vitamins.
So, through this whole process, I learned how inflammatory gluten is to our gut lining and how it causes a cascade of health issues, including something called "leaky gut." This can then lead to autoimmune disease. Well, unfortunately all those years of eating gluten did exactly that to me. I was unofficially diagnosed with Celiac Disease, a disease in which the little villi of the intestines are damaged and no longer function properly if at all. (by the way, I say unofficially diagnosed because I was already off gluten for several months and my doctor and I agreed that putting me back on gluten again would likely make me so sick, that I would end up in the hospital). So, this damaged intestinal lining prevented my body from absorbing nutrients. It finally made sense to me how I always seemed hungry, craved things like crackers, bread and pasta and ate more than my father! Yet, I have always been underweight!
So, I started to follow a very strict gluten free diet. But I had no idea how hard this could be to learn because gluten hides in so many foods that you would never suspect! It can be in salad dressing, soy sauce, gum, chicken broth, seasonings and spices, candy, you name it! And that's only the food items. Gluten can also be in personal care products (think toothpaste, mouth wash, dental floss, shampoo, lotion, make up), the adhesive on envelopes and stamps and even in vitamins and medications! It was quite a learning experience and if anyone needs help learning how to eliminate all the sources of gluten from their diet and life, please feel free to reach out!
I'll never forget the day I went gluten free permanently: October 8th, 2011! A life-changing day for me that ranks up there with the birth of my children! I noticed immediately how much better I felt and how my bathroom habits were more normal! At the same time, to lessen the chances of cross-contamination, I replaced many kitchen gadgets...yup, a pain to have to throw out perfectly good stuff, but I couldn't risk getting sick again. It takes a spec of gluten that the human eye can't see to make a person with Celiac or sever gluten sensitivity sick. So, I replaced cutting boards, wooden spoons, our toaster, colanders and put my entire family on a gluten free lifestyle! My son was 4 at the time and at first he asked for bread and his usual cereal, pasta and snacks. But luckily, it wasn't that hard to convince him that he is much healthier not eating these foods that make everyone sick, not just those with Celiac or gluten sensitivity. It creates sometimes silent symptoms and sometimes they can be completely unrelated to the gut...like joint pain, depression, anxiety, weight issues, thyroid issues, adrenal issues, immune problems like allergies and asthma and so much more.
Like everything in life, I believe things happen for a reason. So, I am actually grateful I found out that I feel so much better without gluten in my diet. Plus, this now forces me to feed my family "real, whole foods." We eat mainly lean, properly sourced poultry and grass fed meat, organic pastured eggs, wild salmon, seeds, tons of veggies, fruits and grains like quinoa and buckwheat. Sure, this means I have to cook every day and from scratch, but now there are so many restaurants that accommodate gluten free dinning out! And of course we can occasionally enjoy a gluten free snack item, cookie or piece of bread, but honestly, these foods are no healthier than their gluten containing counterparts. (obviously except they do not contain gluten!). But select carefully because these "gluten free" alternatives are often loaded with preservatives, GMO's, tons of sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. So for anyone going gluten free for better health, I HIGHLY recommend focusing on real foods and your body will thank you, trust me!!!
Or if you are not Celiac and want to use a much healthier, ancient form of wheat that was the kind of wheat our grandparents ate without any health issues, then you may want to try Einkorn wheat. This wheat is not hybridized like modern wheat of today and has way less gluten. It is much easier to digest, has tons more nutrition and your body can absorb the nutrients out of it! If you are interested in learning more, reach out, or check out this link (free recipe included! Enjoy): Einkorn Flour Info and recipe. This comes in a flour, spaghetti, rotini pasta, pancake mix or granola! I can help you order any of these items (you'll need my member number) if you wish!
I'll be sharing sooo much more to my story, because going gluten free improved my life and health dramatically. However, I did go through a "detox" reaction, as did both of my children. And my story has many ups and downs as I discovered that gluten was just the beginning of my issues with foods, infections and environmental influences!
So, until next month, please contact me if you have any questions about what I shared so far! I'm here to help as many people as I can. Getting your health back is the greatest gift and if I can help someone do that, then I will feel like my mission in life is served!