As a teenager, I was diagnosed with autoimmune disorders, specifically fibromyalgia, Reynaud’s and Sjogren’s. (Rhematoid Arthritis and Lupus were also suspected, but my symptoms changed and the diagnoses were later thrown out.) I tried different medications to relieve the pain, but I couldn’t live with the terrible side effects from the drugs. Inflammation in my body was rampant. My joints ached, my muscles felt stiff, and I was completely fatigued.
For years, I ate whatever I wanted–my only thought about food was to appease my insatiable sweet tooth. Grains and ice cream made up most of my diet, but they always left me wanting more.
After lots of trial and error, and research, I found ways to allow my body to heal. Many healing pathways were involved (including chiropractic care, removing toxins from my environment, emotional and spiritual healing), but changing my diet made a DRAMATIC difference in my health. I used an elimination diet to identify food intolerances and then began removing them from my life. Unfortunately, lots of foods caused problems, but the biggest problem of all was grains.
Why Grains Made Matters Worse
I removed all grains from my diet for about three months and experienced a major breakthrough in my health. The joint paint, unbearable muscle aching, diarrhea, fatigue and brain fog all cleared. Grains were causing some serious damage in my gut. Here’s how…
2. The inflammation from an irritated digestive tract didn’t allow for proper digestion of essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. The gluten and fiber exacerbated this for me.
3. Lectins in grains are known to keep the digestive system from repairing. That means that my wrecked gut couldn’t heal. So, my gut walls couldn’t stop undigested protein molecules from leaking out of my gut and into my bloodstream–known as Leaky Gut Syndrome. When undigested proteins leak from the gut, systemic inflammation results.   
It became clear to me that my fibromyalgia was directly linked to my damaged gut and grains were only making matters worse. I was tired of living in so much pain and I had to do something.
I began rebuilding my gut flora with therpeutic-grade probiotics and decreasing inflammation in my body through chiropractic care, counseling, and removing toxins in my environment. After the rebuilding process, I slowly added gluten-free grains into my diet (and ate gluten free for years). Eventually my fibromyalgia and other autoimmune symptoms diminished!
Where I Am Now
Amazingly, I no longer have fibromyalgia. It took a long road to get here, but I feel better than ever. I’ve even experimented with eating gluten again. This past year, I’ve tried to see if I could tolerate soaked, sprouted, and fermented glutinous grains and my symptoms still haven’t returned. When grains are treated properly, they are tolerable because my digestive tract has healed. Even while writing this post though, I have come to the conclusion that it’s just not worth it to me to keep eating a ton of them on a regular basis. I’m sure I’ll occasionally enjoy properly-prepared grains (and even a few not-so-properly prepared ones), but the days of experimentation and including them as a regular part of my diet have ended. Why? Because I’ve since had to take more antibiotics and want to rebuild my gut flora again. By decreasing the grains, I’m giving the ol’ gut some R&R.
Do I Think Grains Are Bad?
Nope. I sure don’t. They produce these anti-nutrient properties to protect themselves from getting eaten. Who can blame them?! I do think they should be prepared by either soaking in an acidic medium or by souring/fermenting them (you can read more about it here) if they are to be consumed. I also think that if you have digestive issues, autoimmune issues or other pesky health problems, going grain free may help for a time as a part in healing your digestive tract.
What about you? Do you tolerate grains? Has a going grain free helped you?
*This has been my experience with fibromyalgia. I recognize that everyone is different and may respond differently. Disclosure.
If you have given up grains or are thinking about it, the lifestyle change can be daunting at first. I recently got The Paleo Slowcooker by Arsy Vartanian. She too healed from health issues by removing grains. Since I now have the book, I want you to have one too!
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