Are You Enjoying Your Mucus? {Gluten Allergies}

Here I am, sitting, thinking about what I can do next.  Today is supposed to be my day off from blogging, or working online altogether.  BUT… I got an e-mail from a lovely lady that participated in the 30-Day Weight Loss and Health Improvement Challenge.  Here is what she wrote [with my comments in parenthesis]:

“Here are our results: Hubby lost 9.4 pounds, and I lost 7 pounds and 14 inches!  Pretty incredible for both of us for only one month!

I have grown to love the green smoothies every morning and will continue to do that.  We’ve also learned that we can make very tasty food without any cheese!  That’s huge because we used to eat cheddar cheese with everything. We’ve tried several new foods because of you: quinoa, vegan butter, coucous, Brussels sprouts, almond milk, soy milk and tofu. All we enjoyed, except the tofu! [I share her feeling on tofu, BTW.  4.5 years into being vegan and still not a fan ;).]

Yesterday I went to a steak house buffet with my kids on a school trip.  I prayed before I went in that God would help me make good choices and I was able to eat completely vegan there and enjoyed every bite!

You have helped us make better choices and think about what we are eating.  We are going to continue eating “veganish” as we call it.  I still want to stay away from dairy as much as I can and really limit the meat intake. [YEAH! I am doing a happy dance!]

I really really enjoyed all the fruits and vegatables we have been eating.  I even made black bean brownies for my family and the kids enjoyed them–until they found out what was in them, but that was after 1/2 the pan was gone! [I want the recipe! Don't you all?!]

It’s been a marvelous experience and we are going to continue on this journey to better health.

Love you, Elena!

~D”

You can’t imagine how this made me feel.  Well, I am sure you can, but I am so excited for D and her Hubby and the family.

Now, let’s move on to the title of this post.

Are You Enjoying Your Mucus?

Have you ever awakened and the first thing you do is go to the restroom to hack out mucus built up?  [You can call it "clearing your throat", I call it hacking ;); my college roommate called it "cleaning toenails" :).] Worse yet, going through the day having to nearly choke on mucus drainage coming down the back of your throat?  Did you enjoy it?  Mmmmm…. Mmmmmm… GOOD! :)  I know, I know, it sounds gross, but it’s the truth!

It can be due to many things, but if the problems persists, there is a high possibility you might have allergies… food allergies.  Most commonly ignored are dairy and gluten/wheat allergies/sensitivities.  After all, how can something so “good” be so bad for us?  Let’s assume, and hope, that you are vegan, or veganish  and do not drink milk.  What could it be that would contribute to you feeling this way?

You might have read how I had gone on Gluten-Free eating before and how good it made me feel, not to mention that the first time I did it I lost 10 lbs in one month.  Losing weight is great, if you have a few extra pounds, but feeling better tops it every time.  What we don’t realize sometimes is that our society overdoses on wheat products.  An average American family [I am talking about North America] probably does not go one day without eating some form of gluten product in their diet.  It is not just bread, pizza, pasta that we have to worry about–wheat is pretty much in everything.  Don’t be surprised to find it in your salad dressing, drinks, chocolate, candy, some cheeses and, if you are a meat eater, processed meats.

Fabulous, isn’t it?  No wonder that gluten allergies are on the rise in the “developed” countries.  More and more people develop Celiac disease–a severe form of gluten/wheat allergy, which might become fatal.

Not everyone who is allergic to gluten is aware of it.  A mild form of allergic reaction can be sensitivity to certain foods.  But how can you tell if you are allergic or even sensitive to gluten?

Symptoms of a Gluten Allergy

[this list is not exhaustive]

  • Upper repository tract problems
  • Fatigue
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Anemia
  • Iron-deficiency anemia
  • Osteoporosis
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Chronic constipation
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Diverticulitis
  • Depression
  • Attention and behavioral problems (in children and adults)
  • Skin problems
  • Keratosis pilaris
  • Asthma
  • Irritability
  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Eczema
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Arthritis
  • Migraines
  • Mucus drainage
  • Adult Acne
  • Allergies
  • Bone Loss
  • Rheumatic diseases
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Diabetes
  • Thyroiditis
  • Psoriasis
  • Infertility
  • Celiac Disease

Now, don’t panic, if you have one or more of these symptoms, save Celiac disease, it does not mean that you have gluten sensitivity or allergy, but there is a possibility if your problems persist and nothing seems to help.  There is also a possibility you might be allergic to something else, like dairy or soy.

Why Do We Develop Gluten Allergies?

Good question.  There are a few possibilities, and I will give you only a few for now:

  1. We abuse gluten intake–too much of a good thing, sometimes is not so good;
  2. In our modern world there are too many chemicals in our foods, especially if those not organically produced.  There are also hormones to consider, even in a plant based diet! [I know, I know, you think it is a stretch, but, farmers apply hormone-like substances or “plant growth regulators” that affect wheat characteristics, such as time of germination and strength of stalk. These hormones are either “natural,” that is, extracted from other plants, or synthetic. Cycocel is a synthetic hormone that is commonly applied to wheat.]
  3. Use of chemicals in storing grains;
  4. Milled grain rancidity

To read and in-depth look into this topic, visit my previous post: Going Gluten Free and the Reason Why.

How Do I know if I am Allergic?

Many gluten sensitivities/allergies go undiagnosed for years.  Don’t believe me?  A few months ago I was working with a family to help them improve their health and lose weight.  They had numerous health issues, for two of them one of which was eczema.  I immediately asked them if they were allergic to gluten and both were not even considering it as a possibility.  I had requested they did not consume gluten products and within a few short weeks their eczemas disappeared.  One of them, Barb, went on to get tested for gluten allergies.  Her doctor, who never thought to suggest the test, was surprised to confirm that she indeed was allergic to gluten.  [You can read the entire journey of this family on the Biggest Winner Blog.]

If you looked through the list of symptoms I provided above and you experience some or a lot of them on a regular basis it might be beneficial to get tested for wheat/gluten allergies.  It is not a commonly offered at this point, so you do have to request it from you medical or naturopathic provider.

Another way, which is less expensive ;), is very simple.  All you have to do is exclude all gluten products from your diet for about a month and observe your body.  If you see an improvement you are more likely either sensitive or allergic to gluten.  Easy way to confirm this is by reintroducing gluten into your diet.  If you go back to feeling symptoms that dissipated, you are very likely allergic/sensitive to gluten.  Nothing easier than that, right?! :)

Gluten Free for a Month?

A months is not a long time, especially when it concerns your health.  It is only 30 days!  Those of you who just finished the 30-Day Weight Loss and Health Improvement Challenge and benefited would agree.

So, as I have already been cutting down on my wheat intake in the last few weeks, I thought it would be FUN to go gluten free for 30 days again.  I am actually excited at the thought of trying to bake with different grains [see example here: Almond Muffins].

I certainly can do it and will enjoy it [this comes from a bread lover!], but I wanted to see if any of you would be interested in finding out if you actually can wake up without mucus in the morning [given that you would also give up dairy ;)], and/or see if you can get rid of any other unpleasant symptoms you might fighting, maybe some from the list in this post.

If you are intrigued and simply waited for a little push or an incentive, this is your chance.  All you have to do is leave a comment under this post, share your thoughts, your symptoms, and tell me if you can be fully committed for 30 days to this challenge.  If I get enough interest we will plan it out and kick off in a week or so… together! So, what do you think?

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  • ashleydawn

    Hello, for years now I have suffered from migraines, excess mucus, depression, fatigue…the list goes on. I have a lot of it under control except the mucus. It is so bad to where it is putting a damper on my relationship. Every time I eat or drink I spend a good hour after hacking up clear-white mucus. It seems difficult to get out therefore the hacking is causing body aches :-( I had never realized that it 95% of the time only happens after eating and drinking until recently and came across this page. It is starting to make sense to me. I plan on going to a allergist now and being tested for food allergies. Thank you for helping me make this decision!

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Please let me know what you find out!

  • Jana Dahl

    I am interested. My son has some of the symptoms of the mouth ulcers, fatigue and stomach aches. He was tested by the MD and even had a upper GI. No celiac, but I am 95% sure he has an intolerance. We have tried cutting out gluten and his sores clear up. I am willing to learn more!

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Jana, yes, you do not have to test as Celiac to hurt from this.  Make sure to also read this article http://www.vega-licious.com/2008/12/going-gluten-free-and-the-reason-why/.  If he clears up without gluten, the best bet is to go gluten free.  Try it for 30-60 days and you should know for sure. I know a few that went misdiagnosed because their intolerance was not bad enough, but it is still an allergic reaction.  It might get worse if left unandressed. 

  • Tracy

    I just found your site yesterday after being diagnosed “borderline celiac”, whatever that means.  All the reading I’ve been doing on the subject has gotten me all confused and not even all that confident in the blood test results.  False positives, false negatives and too many contributing factors.  ugh.  Anyway, my doctor advised to go gluten free for 3 months and then retest.  She also stated that I am Vitamin D and B12 deficient.  I have found great advice on your sites and look forward to making some of the recipes.  Thank you for sharing this wealth of information.

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Tracy, your vit B12 deficiency and “borderline celiac” might be connected–a lot of people with digestive issues are B12 deficient.  Going Gluten Free for 3 months is a great idea, however, request your doctor to put you on B12 injections, and then also add sublingual B12–you can find all of the info you might need in these posts [they are listed 1-9, and the post they are in is #10 in the series]: http://www.vega-licious.com/2011/07/B12-deficiency-dangers-of-B12-deficiency-and-resources/.  You will find it very helpful and I am glad you found me :)

  • Vera Nika T

    Elena, 
    Did you ever do the 30 Gluten Free, or not yet?

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Funny you asked, because I just blogged about it today: http://www.vega-licious.com/2011/06/laying-off-gluten/.  I am starting as of today and will be posting more about my daily food intake on a regular basis. 

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  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all the information you provided in this post!

    I have definitely been considering going on a gluten-free trial month. But after realizing just how many foods have gluten in them (and I don’t even buy a lot of processed food!), I was a bit discouraged/overwhelmed and thought it might just add more stress to my life. Plus, I love to bake! But… I have heard that there can be a link between gluten sensitivity and depression (which I am experiencing) so I still feel a nagging that I should give it a try. So, yes, I would appreciate any tips you could provide for a 30 day gluten-free challenge. I think with the extra push that I could probably do it!

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for all the information you provided in this post!

    I have definitely been considering going on a gluten-free trial month. But after realizing just how many foods have gluten in them (and I don’t even buy a lot of processed food!), I was a bit discouraged/overwhelmed and thought it might just add more stress to my life. Plus, I love to bake! But… I have heard that there can be a link between gluten sensitivity and depression (which I am experiencing) so I still feel a nagging that I should give it a try. So, yes, I would appreciate any tips you could provide for a 30 day gluten-free challenge. I think with the extra push that I could probably do it!

    • http://www.vega-licious.com/ Elena

      Audrey, if you make your own food it will be SO easy to stay away from gluten. And, from what I am hearing, there are books and books about gluten free baking, so you won’t feel neglected :). Better yet, you might try making more raw desserts :).

      As far as depression it should be approached on all three levels: spiritual, emotional and physical, since we are prone to experience depression of things are not connecting in one of these arenas. I had experienced depression when I had hormone imbalance due to hypothyroid condition, which in turn was inflicted due to emotional stress. To heal I had to deal with emotional and physical issues, and, having gone vegan to help. I have now been depression free for a while. So, look at all aspects, and certainly give a shot to going gluten free. I am only asking for 30-days ;). The benefits might be so huge that you will never look back.

      • Anonymous

        I am definitely willing to give it a go for 30 days! : ) Your post has encouraged me that it might be do-able.