I was struck by a recent New York Times article (see link at bottom of this post) about a 3 year old who was diagnosed with arthritis. The drugs he was put on did little to help and it was not until his mother radically altered his diet, eliminating gluten, dairy, and refined sugar among other adjustments, that his arthritis went away. She is quick to point out that the meds may have played a role in his recovery, but she is convinced that it was the diet that not only cleared things up, but that brought on the arthritis.
The syndrome she refers to is known as “leaky gut” syndrome. The belief is that inflammation in the gut (which is often caused by gluten or dairy or by antibiotics which wipe out good bacteria) causes the intestines to leak undesirable proteins or bacteria into the surrounding tissue; this then triggers an inflammatory response by the body – in this case, arthritis.
I have known about this syndrome for a while, but it was a bit of a personal wake up call. I’ve always been a conscientious eater, but when you have a little less time on your hands and a lot more baby in your arms, it is shockingly easy to let poor eating habits creep in. And those poor eating habits usually contain a lot of gluten and sugar. As I admitted in this post here, I had begun a decline into a world of morning muffins (rich in gluten and refined sugar) and evening cereal. I saw no reason to end this pattern as it was easy, comforting, quick and I felt pretty good despite the diet.
But the truth is I do feel better when I eat well. I am sure there is an element of the placebo effect at play – when I’m eating a kale and quinoa salad, it is not only the kale itself that’s working its healing power, but my mind backing up the kale’s effort. So I’ve left my coffee-shop breakfast and boxed-dinner ways behind me, and am back to eggs in the morning (albeit sometimes in the form of crepes with a hint of maple syrup) and something-other-than-cereal in the evening.
As for Finn (my 11 month old) and his diet, I don’t have him on a gluten-free diet, but I don’t feed him wheat-based cereal or toast and today I went out and bought gluten-free fussilli (made with brown rice flour). This came about after witnessing him inhale a bowl (a baby bowl, but a bowl) of gluten-rich pasta. Were it not for me tugging the bowl away in between mouthfuls to allow him to breath, he would have stuffed the entire portion in his mouth. (As a side note, rice is still a grain and I try to limit both my intake as well as Finn’s but as it’s gluten-free, it is arguably easier for the body to digest.) I wrote about the difficulties the body has digesting grains here.)
So that’s where we are on our food odyssey. How are you feeling, now that we’re six weeks into the New Year and many of us have “resolved” to Eat Better in 2013…
(Here is the link to the NYTimes article.)
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