OH NO, I’VE BEEN GLUTENED!
We’re heading into the holidays and that means lot of food! It probably also means you might be eating food other people have prepared. It also means an increased chance of being glutened. [insert scary music here]
Just to be clear, if you have celiac disease, there is no “get out of jail free” card for gluten ingestion. These tips are only meant to help alleviate discomfort. They do not mitigate or prevent the systemic damage caused from gluten ingestion.
That said, we all get accidentally glutened—it happens to the best of us. When I’m glutened, I can’t stay awake (it’s like I’m narcoleptic), I can’t think clearly, I can’t function, and my mood depresses.
While the damage is done, my goal is to return to being a functional human being sooner rather than later. You’ll have to try different methods and see what works best for you, but these are some of the things that help me recover faster.
Flush your system–drink lots of water. Water will help your body move things along more rapidly. It will also help you remain hydrated if your system is purging itself for you!
2. DIGESTIVE ENZYMES
Take digestive enzymes following your exposure to gluten and with any subsequent meals for the next few days. Digestive enzymes help accelerate the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.
Any assistance you can provide your digestive system will be helpful as your immune system is attacking the gluten you’ve ingested. Try to take an enzyme that has dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP-IV) in it. It’s the enzyme that breaks down gluten which has been shown to be absent or very low in the gut of people with celiac disease.
3. ACTIVATED CHARCOAL
Activated charcoal is frequently used to treat poisoning and drug overdoses. It isn’t something you should take regularly, but it can be helpful on occasion (being glutened, food poisoning, etc.).
It doesn’t absorb the toxins, but rather uses adsorption—a chemical reaction where elements bind to a surface. The porous surface of activated charcoal has a negative electric charge that causes positive-charged toxins and gas to bond with it.
You can find it in the vitamin section of your grocery store. It will help with gas and bloating, but it will also bind with other things like medication. So if you’re taking medication, this may not be an ideal remedy.
4. BENTONITE CLAY
Bentonite clay, like activated charcoal, is highly absorptive. It travels through the body attracting positively charged impurities (bacteria, heavy metals, pesticides, etc.).
The hydrated clay uses the impurities to fill gaps in it’s internal structure, while leaving negatively charged molecules (the good stuff) untouched. By removing digestive-distress causing chemicals from the gut, bentonite clay helps promote digestion.
Also like activated charcoal, it can bind with medicines.
Try not to eat anything for 12-24 hours to allow your digestive system to focus on healing itself—your body is very smart and knows what it needs. But often we get in the way.
If you continue to eat, your gut has to put its resources toward digesting and cannot focus on healing. So give your gut a break (for as long as you’re comfortable) and allow your body the opportunity to do its job.
Sleep is when the body can really get down to business and heal itself. In this study, researchers created wounds in healthy adults and demonstrated that relatively modest sleep disruption delayed wound healing. So don’t underestimate the power of rest!
Good quality teas can offer substantive health benefits. For being glutened, focus on teas that help with digestion or that help reduce inflammation (peppermint, ginger, nettle leaf, chamomile, lemon balm [Melissa], lemon verbena [Louisa], fennel, dandelion [root and leaf], turmeric, etc.)
8. ESSENTIAL OILS
Essential oils can assist health like tea, but with an exponentially higher impact. For example, one drop of peppermint essential oil contains the equivalent of 28 cups of peppermint tea.
A word of caution here—essential oils are not regulated by the FDA. They can claim to be 100% pure and that’s not a defined term (so they could be completely synthetic). If using essential oils in a therapeutic role, make sure you are confident in the quality of the oil.
Two oils I use frequently for digestive assistance (even if I haven’t been glutened) are DigestZen and Slim&Sassy by doTERRA.
9. EASY-TO-DIGEST FOODS
Don’t further stress your system with highly processed foods or foods full of sugar. Avoid grains (even gluten free ones), legumes, and diary.
Eat whole foods like meats, veggies, and fruits, that are nutrient-dense and easier on your digestive system. Bone broth is very nutrient dense, easy to digest, and will also help with hydration.
Also consider foods that will help accelerate your digestion—another way to help flush out the gluten. Of course, if eating gluten gives you diarrhea, then disregard this note. But if it makes you constipated, then help your body out by eating foods that will speed things up a bit (like prunes or senna tea).
Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that help keep your gut healthy. Take a probiotic supplement for about a week after you’ve been glutened. If you already take a supplement, take more than recommended for about a week.
Try to eat fermented foods like water kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, etc. that are high in probiotics and thus aid in digestion and boost immunity.
11. TALLOW BALM
If you have dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin manifestation of celiac disease), try tallow balm. It contains conjugated linoleic acid which is an anti-inflammatory, as well as a number of other beneficial acids and fat-soluble vitamins.
12. BE CAREFUL WHEN SELF-MEDICATING
If you typically reach for an antacid or ibuprofen, make sure it’s gluten free! Don’t accidentally gluten yourself trying to get over being glutened.