Friday, January 15, 2016

Going Gluten Free



Wheatfield by The Crossing
So long wheat (and a few other grains). I knew thee well. 

We would still be intimately acquainted had you not made my intestines feel like they were full of buckets of Pop Rocks--for most of the last month, but you did, so we are no more. 

It's true. I've had to go gluten free. Unaccustomed to having to acknowledge or slow down because of any type of pain, my digestive woes which began before Christmas, truly took the cake. Actually, I had to also admit the source of my woes which is Celiac Disease, a hereditary autoimmune disorder. Thanks Dad!

I am not writing this post to garner any sympathy from people. Giving up gluten is not a big adjustment in my life. Rather, I feel it is important to address whether or not particular diets alleviate some symptoms of autism and if so, how much. For at least a couple of decades or more, special eating programs have been touted as a cure for autism--as if a diet were responsible for the brain's woes. Unfortunately this is not the case, although a poor diet certainly does affect cognition. Sometimes even dramatically. 

As for me, the absence of gluten has done wonders in keeping me out of the nearest bathroom at any given moment, but there is no difference at all in my thinking or energy level. There is also no change in how I socially interact, either. The fact is, years ago I began to believe my problem with food (at the very least) had to do with estrogen in processed meats and milk as well as the 150 pounds of sugar I consumed in a year. That's how much most of us eat in 12 months, on average.

To think, back then, that sugar caused emotional and cognitive issues was just a hunch, but as it turns out eating excessive sugar causes what's called glycation in your brain's nerve cells. When I gave up most of my junk food (i.e., ice cream, ice cream, and ice cream) eating habits my emotions leveled out in just about a week's time. The change was immediately noticeable and has remained consistent for the last seven years or so. 

I have been wanting for some time to write a post like this because as hard as it is for you to get your kids to eat--and you are just happy if they eat anything, my heart breaks every time I see a child on the spectrum (which is often) downing one serving after another of nothing but fries or some other carb. Not only do foods along these lines have no nutritional value, they also cause more damage in the brain--the very damage many of you spend tons of time and money trying to reverse through other means besides diet. The healthiest eating possible is a must for potential healing to occur. 

So why do people think gluten abstinence helps with behavior issues? There are a number of possible reasons. If a child on the spectrum does also have Celiac Disease the absense of gluten will reduce pain and discomfort, which will in turn, reduce a child's need to act out to communicate pain. 

Also, when people make one life change they usually make others related to that big change without realizing it. In this case here, eliminating gluten will usually mean a reduction in simple carbs, which again is really what is behind brain fog and energy loss. When the fog clears and energy increases, better and healthier choices are made which allows for greater energy expenditure which usually helps with sleep cycles. You may attribute all of these improvements with gluten elimination because that is the only choice you were aware of making, but really so many other factors truly made up this entire equation. Correlation does not equal causation. 

Autism is a brain disorder that affects the whole body on a systemic level. It is not the body that affects the brain. That's a bummer, I know. I've been thinking about autism's internal origins due to battling autoimmune issues for over ten years now (I've had them my whole life but have only been fighting back this last decade). Is my brain messing up my body? Or is my body messing up my brain?

For me, the question is now settled and at present, except for this recent digestive issue, I'm healthier than I've ever been. My goal is to stay that way! I hope all the same for you and yours.

Goodnight and blessings to you! 

Kelly

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