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Could it be IBS? Beyond Gluten Sensitivity

I’m going to get this confession out of the way first:  I have IBS.  Generally, it’s not something I lead with in conversations because it not only makes me self-conscious, it’s generally a conversation killer.  Really, where do you go from there with someone who’s asked you why you’re not eating gluten or dairy?  Even better, when they don’t know what IBS is so you blurt out, “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”.  I’d rather stay at home and not socialize, thank you very much.

I was originally diagnosed with IBS at 24 after a trip to the hospital for what was thought to be an appendicitis attack but turned out to be my intestine.  At diagnosis, I was told by my doctor to eat lots of fiber.  That meant going to town on whole wheat products, and this was the 90s, so that meant the low fat bagel mania and I ate my fair share of bagels.  But I still had symptoms that hit at various times and I learned never to combine pasta and dairy at a restaurant if I didn’t want to run home before dessert.  But then, about 7 years ago, what I was doing just wasn’t working anymore with additional symptoms including headaches, sore joints and fatigue.  After negative Celiac tests, I was at the end of my rope.  I had to do something different and so I began exploring what was beyond a high fiber diet.  I tried various things from acupuncture to juicing.

And then about 4 and a half years ago, I found my sweet spot so that I now generally have my symptoms under control unless my routine gets off course.  I was able to do this through much research and plenty of trial and error.  I combined whole food FODMAPs, probiotics (including both supplements and daily kombucha), fish oil and vitamin D plus added in meditation and more consistent exercise for stress control.  In the last 6 months, I’m now even able to have small amounts of dairy and gluten as long as I don’t overdo it.  If I do, I get inflamed within hours which may be gastro-intestinal but may just as easily manifest in sore joints, headaches and exhaustion.

So when I saw “The War on Gluten – What’s Really Behind “Gluten Sensitivity” published last week by Science Magazine, I saw my personal regimen validated by research.  Not that I really needed it; both my family and I know when I’m on track and when I’m not, but I would have absolutely loved to have known this 7 years ago.  I like to think that I would have recognized myself and my symptoms right away.

So that’s why I share it now, along with my confession.  If you are experiencing these symptoms, or have received an IBS diagnosis and have tested negative for Celiac Disease (do NOT forget that very important test if you haven’t had it completed already), Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity and FODMAPS may very well be your saving grace along with mindful stress reduction.  So read the article, learn more about FODMAPS, consider prebiotic supplementation, and explore one of the  free guided meditation apps (my favorite is Insight Timer) to help with stress reduction.  Go into it with your head in the right place by focusing on the delicious whole foods you CAN HAVE (and there are plenty!) not on what you can’t.

It may all seem like a lot of work but the difference it’s made to my quality of life has been priceless.

Alana Elliott is the Founder and President of Libre Naturals (formerly Nonuttin’ Foods), a gluten free and allergy friendly food company she founded in response to her family’s many food allergies and immune disorders. 

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