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THE TRUTH ABOUT GLUTEN AND ECZEMA
Gluten is a very real problem for people with eczema and allergies. Most people think that you have to be diagnosed with Coeliac Disease to be allergic to or intolerant to gluten. Not so. The majority of people - I would even go so far as to believe, ALL people - with Eczema are intolerant to gluten in varying degrees; even though these people are not clinically diagnosed as Coeliac.
I’ve never been diagnosed as Coeliac even though my doctor knows that I am completely intolerant to Gluten. Fact is that gluten, in the past, has put me through almost all the symptoms that a Coeliac suffers and then some … my eczema symptoms explode into action so intensely it takes everything I have to get through it and recover. You can understand therefore, that these days I don’t go anywhere near gluten.
Intolerance to gluten in the form of wheat and other grains is a very individual thing and tolerance, or lack of it, can be in varying degrees. How much gluten you can tolerate is going to be a learning experience for you and done with trial and error and sometimes by accident. Being aware of the problem and with a little knowledge under your belt should help you work out the severity of your relationship with Gluten.
Gluten Intolerance Symptoms may include all or some:
Iron Deficiency Anaemia and/or other Vitamin & Mineral Deficiencies.
Gastrointestinal Symptoms ie., diarrhoea, constipation, nausea, vomiting, flatulence, cramping, bloating, abdominal pain, and steatorrhea.
Autoimmune Disease (autoimmune conditions commonly occur together).
Weight Loss (although some people may gain weight).
Fatigue, weakness and lethargy.
Easy bruising of the skin
Recurrent mouth ulcers and/or swelling of mouth or tongue.
Skin rashes such as dermatitis herpetiformis
Altered mental alertness and irritability
Bone and joint pains
Failure to thrive in children
Delayed growth or delayed puberty in children
A family history of coeliac disease
FOODS CONTAINING GLUTEN
So, which foods contain gluten you ask? Well I can’t give you a complete list as I'm sure it would be the length of a toilet roll, so let’s keep it simple. There are 4 common grains that contain gluten – Wheat, Rye, Barley & Oats; and a couple of not so common grains, spelt & millet, which contain a moderate amount of gluten.
Almost all highly processed and packaged foods and cosmetics may contain gluten. If you look in your pantry at just about anything on the shelf and check the ingredients list you’ll find wheat or wheat byproducts, therefore the presence of gluten. Wheat is the most widely used of the 4 common grains these days. In the bathroom you’ll find that most shampoos and conditioners contain wheat and wheat byproducts, which will be a problem in the shower when it washes over eczema skin. Many liquid soaps and skin care products contain wheat.
RYE & BARLEY
Not as commonly used as wheat in processed foods but used nonetheless. Always, always check the ingredients labels when buying processed/packaged foods. It may surprise you how regularly these grains are used.
Unfortunately these days most oat crops are grown next to wheat crops and cross pollination occurs which leaves traces of gluten in the oats. Oats are almost always processed alongside wheat, which also leaves traces of gluten. You may as well assume that all oats these days contain gluten unless you are 100% sure the oats are NOT grown next to wheat or NOT processed on the same machinery as wheat. It’s sad because oats are such a fantastically nutritious grain. If you are able to tolerate tiny amounts of gluten then by all means include this queen of grains in your diet.
LESS COMMON GRAINS
It broke my heart when I found out that SPELT is a cousin to wheat and does contain a moderate amount of gluten, because i do like it. If you can tolerate a small amount of gluten, this is another highly nutritious grain that should be included in a whole food diet.
MILLET is an interesting grain. Whilst it does not contain gluten it does contain gliadin, which is a protein, a principal toxic component of wheat gluten. Coeliacs should be wary of this grain. I find I can tolerate Millet on an irregular basis. As with Spelt, if I was to eat Millet every day I’d find that it builds up in my system and then I find my eczema symptoms exacerbated.
Unfortunately CORN or Maize as it is also known can be a problem for some as it is for me. It is becoming known that corn can cause allergic reactions in some. Maize contains Lipid Transfer Protein an indigestible protein that survives cooking. The allergic reaction can cause skin rash, swelling or itching of mucous membranes, diarrhoea, vomiting, asthma and in severe cases, anaphylaxis. It is unclear how common this allergy is in the general population and at this point is understudied.
Including corn in your diet is entirely up to your tolerance of this grain.
SO HERE’S THE GOOD NEWS … THERE ARE MORE RAW FOODS THAT DO NOT CONTAIN GLUTEN than there are that do and these can be included in a diet that is Wheat & Gluten free.
Beans: chickpeas, lentils, red kidney beans, lima beans, soy beans etc.
Vegetables: potato, sweet potato, broccoli, zucchini, carrot, tomato, corn, snow peas, peas, beans, all green leafy vegetables, pumpkin & squash, onions, beetroot, capsicum, chilli, herbs, ginger, garlic.
Quinoa <<click here for a Quirky Tabouli recipe using this Quintessential grain
Amaranth << click here for an Awesome take on Breadcrumbs using this Amazing grain
So if you’re feeling overwhelmed with the news that you should remove gluten from your diet, I hope that this information has eased your mind that you are not going to starve and that it is possible to have a tasty diet free from gluten with loads of variety and nutrition toboot.