Will Eliminating Gluten and Dairy from my Diet Really Help?

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I’m going to get right to it. Yes it will! Eliminating gluten and dairy is absolutely critical in a MS lifestyle, and I’m going to help you understand why this may be your gamechanger! 

Trust me, I wish this could be different too!  Being diagnosed with MS at the young age of 15, ice cream and pizza were some of my comfort foods! It was tough for me to give up some of my favorite foods, but once I understood why I needed to, it became so much easier! I wasn’t blindly heading into this, but there was science behind it. It also became even easier when I started feeling better too. I want to help you feel that way too, fellow warrior.

When starting a wellness journey, we want to eliminate all of the common autoimmune sensitive foods first. This means we’re eliminating foods to get rid of excessive inflammation in the body! Gluten, dairy and eggs are a great place to start! I am going to help you understand why these three foods are so pivotal in your wellness journey.

Let’s Look at Gluten First

Let’s look at gluten first, since dairy and gluten have an extremely similar molecular structure. I also want to throw in that gluten and dairy turn into morphine like compounds in the brain. They stimulate opioid receptors that can make these foods extremely hard for you to eliminate. Please give yourself grace! 

Gluten is everywhere in our modern society! Modern day gluten is NOT made of the same things our grandparents ate! Our bodies are unfamiliar with this new form of gluten that can dissolve into our lunch meats, shampoos, and even toothpastes. (I know, even toothpastes, what the heck!)

Our body does not know what to do with this new strain of “gluten”.

Reason 1: The Leaky Gut 

Gluten has three main detrimental effects in the body that causes all of this chaos:

First, gluten is a primary culprit of our leaky gut, as it weakens the gut barrier.

I love this analogy by Dr. Myers: “Think of your gut lining as a drawbridge. Teeny tiny boats (micronutrients in food) that are meant to travel back and forth are able to go under the bridge without a problem. However, when gluten releases zonulin, it causes the drawbridge to go up and allows bigger boats (large proteins) to cross over that aren’t meant to travel through. In the case of your gut, it’s microbes, toxins, proteins, and partially digested food particles passing under the drawbridge and escaping into your bloodstream.”

So, when you eat a piece of gluten, this travels to your stomach and eventually arrives at your small intestine. This triggers the release of zonulin. Zonulin is a chemical that signals the intestinal wall to open up, creating a “leaky gut”. A leaky gut allows proteins, foods as well as toxins that contribute to our inflammation, throughout the body!

Reason 2: Increased Inflammation

Inflammation is your body’s natural response when the body detects a foreign invader, it’s trying to eliminate anything it sees as dangerous! 

This is what leads to chronic inflammation since our bodies are being overworked and overstimulated. Our bodies are always trying to help us and fight off a virus, gluten, or any foreign substances that slipped through a leaky gut.

Your stressed immune system is less able to attack pathogens and invaders with precision. Instead, it begins indiscriminately sending wave after wave of attack, and eventually, your body’s own tissues.

Reason 3: Molecular Mimicry

Which leads us to reason number three of why eliminating foods such as gluten and dairy is extremely  critical!! 

Our leaky gut is a main factor in the manifestation of our autoimmune disease!

When gluten molecules slip through the leaky gut, our body wants to attack and fight it off.  This is when the PROBLEM arises. Gluten & dairy (casein) have a very similar structure to our own tissues.

This phenomenon is called molecular mimicry, because its identity can be mistaken for its similar structure!! Our immune system is memorizing its structure so it will not know the difference between these “foreign invaders”.

Our body is trying its best to keep us safe but when it’s overworked our antibodies are not perfect (just like us) and it eventually gets mixed up and starts accidentally attacking our bodies. 

This is why we need to help our body out! We want to make sure that drawbridge is shut so more foreign invaders don’t pass through and cause our body to be constantly overworked. When our bodies are in a state of being overloaded, we create consistent inflammation! Here is a silly cartoon to get a better understanding:


Dairy

As I mentioned before, dairy has a similar molecular structure to gluten and has the same inflammatory response throughout the body as I walked you through with gluten. The casein in dairy creates gut issues therefore worsening diseases, especially autoimmune ones. 

Eggs

Eggs are also a potential risk factor of an autoimmune food sensitivity! Eggs can allow proteins (usually lysozyme, from the egg white) to cross the gut barrier where they don’t belong and can  contribute to molecular mimicry. A lot of people with autoimmunity will notice that eggs are triggers for them, but this is also not the case for every one!

I recommend completely cutting out eggs for at least 60 days. After the 60 days, I recommend slowly and carefully adding eggs back in to check if it’s a trigger for you!


Substitutes

When a client of mine goes gluten or dairy free I’m always asked if substitutes such as dairy free ice cream or gluten free bread are compliant! Yes it can be! This is how I started my wellness journey too! the transition became a lot easier with having these substitutions available to me! I don’t expect you to be perfect right off the bat, as these foods are so hard to give up!

BUT, I will ask that you read the labels on these substitutes to make sure there are no refined sugars, gums or oils as this will only create other problems in your body. 

I left you a reference in your workbook of the exact names of these foods to look out for. 

Also, stay mindful of how these foods make you feel. If they cause symptoms, it’s a good idea to stop immediately. Your body may be sensitive to it, so track and log this down in a “food and mood journal” so you don’t forget!

Melody Sapien


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