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3 Steps to Recover After Getting Glutened

3 Steps to Recover After Getting Exposed to Gluten - Woman In Pain Holding Her Stomach - Amy Myers MD

If you are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease you know all too well about accidentally ingesting gluten — otherwise known as getting “glutened.” This can be a result of eating foods that contain gluten, such as white bread or whole-wheat pasta, or eating foods that have come into contact with gluten. People with celiac disease have to be especially careful, as the effects of getting glutened can result in serious health complications

An outward manifestation of getting glutened can be different for everyone; it can lead to a variety of symptoms such as brain fog, diarrhea, constipation, headache, rash, abdominal pain, joint pain, swelling, vomiting, and fatigue. However, inside your body is where the damage is really being done — gluten is wreaking havoc in your gut. 

There’s a particular protein found in wheat and gluten which triggers the release of zonulin in your intestines. This is a chemical that tells your gut lining to “open up,” allowing toxins and large food particles to escape into your bloodstream, and ultimately leading to inflammation. It’s essential to your health to get the inflammatory protein out of your body so that you can reduce inflammation and heal your gut, and recover from any damage done to your body as quickly as possible.

Follow these 3 steps to recover after getting glutened:

1. Get the Gluten Out

If you continue to eat gluten, your immune system becomes overly stressed as the inflammation just keeps on coming with each bite of yeast bread, bagels, durum wheat pasta, or even multi-grain crackers. Your immune system can begin to malfunction! The result is that it begins to misfire. It begins attacking your body’s own tissues as it tries to combat the source of inflammation. 

The more quickly you can get the gluten out of your system, the better you’ll feel. These three things will help you do that promptly and effectively:

Digestive Enzymes. Digestive enzymes help speed up the breakdown and absorption of macronutrients. Be sure to take an enzyme that includes dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP-IV), which helps break down gluten specifically. In fact, I recommend that those with celiac and gluten intolerance take enzymes with DPP-IV as an extra precaution when dining out.

Binding agents. Activated charcoal binds toxins and help reduce gas and bloating. It’s best to increase water intake when taking this supplement to avoid constipation, which will only delay healing.

Hydration. Fluids will help flush your system and keep you hydrated if you’re vomiting or have diarrhea. In addition to regular water, you can try coconut water, which contains electrolytes that may have been lost through vomiting or diarrhea.

2. Decrease Inflammation

Inflammation occurs naturally in our body when there has been an insult or injury to it. Decreasing this inflammation is essential to healing your gut. These three things will help you reduce inflammation quickly:

Omega-3 fatty acids. Fish oils, flax and chia seeds are full of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. I recommend 1-2 grams of omega-3 oils daily. You can go up to 4 grams a day for a week after accidental gluten ingestion.

Ginger has high levels of gingerol, which gives it a natural spicy flavor and acts as an anti-inflammatory in the body. It also has potent anti-nausea properties and can ease stomach cramping. I like to drink warm ginger tea as a comforting, anti-inflammatory beverage.

Turmeric is a member of the ginger family that contains the active ingredient curcumin, which is known for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. My anti-inflammatory smoothie with turmeric is a great drink to help you quickly recover from getting glutened.

3. Repair Your Gut

This may the third step, but it’s also the most important! Nearly 80% of our immune system is in our gut. Having a healthy gut is crucial for optimal health. The supplements below will help your gut repair itself more quickly.

Collagen is rich in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline, which protect and heal the mucosal lining of the digestive tract that may get disrupted by being glutened.

Probiotics. Routinely, I recommend taking a highly concentrated probiotic (25-100 billion units) a day. I advise my patients to “double-up” on their probiotic dose for a week after a gluten exposure.

L-Glutamine. Glutamine is an amino acid that is great for repairing damage to the gut, helping the gut lining to regrow and repair, undoing the damage caused by gluten. I recommend 3-5 grams a day for a week after exposure.

Once you realize that you have been glutened, implement this three-step approach as soon as possible. If you are not seeing any improvement in your symptoms after three days or you’re getting worse. I would advise you to follow up with your physician.

How to Avoid Getting Glutened

Now that you know how to recover, let’s discuss how you can avoid this uncomfortable situation in the first place. 

Even if you eat a gluten-free diet full of fruits, vegetables, and organic sources of protein, gluten is hiding everywhere! To ensure you’re body stays healthy and gluten-free, I recommend reading all of the nutrition labels for packaged foods and avoiding them altogether if you can. Gluten hides behind many names in packaged and processed foods, including sauces and condiments such as soy sauce. You can easily find alternatives to mainstream processed snacks and sauces that are better for your body — or you can make your own! 

In addition to hidden sources of gluten, your body may not even tolerate naturally gluten-free foods such as dairy, corn, and gluten-free grains because their proteins resemble gluten in your body. This is known as cross-reactivity. Your immune system confuses innocent sources as invaders and begins to destroy them. If you determine that there are foods that are cross-reactive for you, you will want to permanently remove these foods from your diet.

The best way to find out if you’re sensitive to certain foods is through an elimination diet. By eliminating common inflammatory foods such as gluten, dairy, grains and legumes, nightshades, corn, and soy among others, you can help your body repair the damage from inflammation. From there, you can slowly reintroduce foods through a reintroduction process that will help you identify the foods you’re sensitive to. This becomes a smoother process with the help of a symptom checker. 

Remember that the first step to taking back your health is repairing your gut so that you can set the groundwork that will help get you closer to your goals of optimal wellness. Whether this means supplementing your diet to ensure your body absorbs the right nutrients, completing an elimination diet, or both, you can find helpful information through my blog and website.

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