Tuesday, December 09, 2008

My Daughter Began My Gluten Journey

Today is my daughter’s 16th birthday. You may wonder the appropriateness of bringing that up on a gluten blog but it actually is completely germane. You see it is because of her that gluten sensitivity got on my radar in the first place. I had two children prior to my daughter and they were both quite healthy. I breastfed all three children so it was with some concern that I viewed my third child’s weight and overall health. She was “skinny” as compared to my previous “chubby” babies, tended towards rashes and liked to projectile vomit. Yes it was definitely that last trait which got my attention. It’s one thing reading about projectile vomiting and quite another thing witnessing it!

So like any good mother and doctor, I tried to discover what was bothering my daughter. Simultaneously I was trying to help my mother who had never enjoyed good health and was almost 70 when my daughter was born. Coincidentally I discovered they were both sensitive to gluten about the same time. And, much to my own dismay, I realized I was the sole genetic link between them!

And while my response of - “Why Me?” - was very similar to many who are diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, it soon became a blessing as all three of us started to exhibit excellent health.

My mother is now 85 and says that she’s enjoyed the past 15 years much more than the first 70 due to her improved health and vitality. She is spry, healthy and takes no medications (exclusive of bio-identical hormones).

My daughter fortunately never knew the poor health that both my mother and I suffered from and I am very happy about that.

Earlier today I had a conversation with a patient whom I haven’t seen in many years. She suffered from many digestive problems when she originally came to see us and we diagnosed her with gluten sensitivity. She definitely noticed an improvement being off gluten but never really stuck with it. She would “limit” consumption but that was as good as it got. She called to tell me that she was recently diagnosed with an autoimmune disease. It was so frustrating to realize that the odds of that autoimmune disease being prevented by a strict adherence to a gluten-free diet all those years ago were great. We discussed, once again, the importance of being completely gluten-free but unfortunately I don’t think she is yet ready to hear it.

It is so wonderful to have the opportunity to help patients each day at the clinic. But I want to do so much more. I want all the millions of people who are being affected by gluten to know it before they suffer any longer.

I am convinced that what we know to be true about gluten and its ability to ruin people’s health will be common knowledge within the decade. But in the meantime we can only continue to communicate about it – a message I hope that our book does well. Speaking of which, The Gluten Effect is finally about to go to print. Getting this book completed has felt like a fourth child - very exciting and a lot of work! January is the expected release and I’ll fill you all in on the specifics as they’re available to me.

So the takeaway from this message is this: Don’t rule gluten out as a causative factor in your health problems or those of the ones you love. Take a lab test but better yet change your diet. Go gluten-free for several weeks and see how you feel. If you have questions write me; I truly want to help!

To you good health!

Dr Vikki Petersen