Nina posted this tale of an entire family’s health gone sour, treated with medication after medication, only to discover that it was wheat at the bottom of it all.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for your book. So many answers in one place.
My oldest daughter had what moms call “upset stomach” a lot while growing up. She began having acid reflux which only got worse and, by her sophomore year of high school, she had grade B esophageal ulcers and was diagnosed with depression. By senior year, her GI doctor had run all the tests. She was on 3 types of meds: one for reflux, one for irritable bowel, and one for [gastric] emptying which was sluggish. She also contracted mono—our bright, National Honor Society student could barely attend school and would sleep 14 hours a day. Finally, she interviewed another student for yearbook who had celiac. We asked the GI doc to do the blood test, but he said the blood tests were not reliable and he had seen no sign of celiac on the upper and lower GI. Hmmm. Luckily my daughter, who was exhausted and miserable, took it upon herself to remove gluten from her diet and search out materials she shared with me. We were horrified by the amount of foods and sauces that contained wheat, even Tylenol. We started reading labels. My daughter is now a junior in college and doing well.
Her younger sister, however, began having seizures at age 15. She also was underweight for her age. In grade school at 8 years old, she was diagnosed with ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder], a mood disorder, and exercise-induced asthma. She had an elevated heart rate at rest and her triglycerides were elevated.
My kids were very medicated. I lived in doctor’s office waiting rooms.
I became more concerned after reading more about gluten intolerance. I read that it could cause poor uptake of nutrients, including magnesium, which was one of the supplements my second daughter’s neurologist had her on. I asked the neurologist to do a gluten intolerance blood test along with her routine blood tests for her carbatrol level. She had to look up what to test, but she did and my daughter tested positive with elevated antibodies to gluten. I also asked my pediatrician to test my son, who also tested positive.
My ophthalmologist ex-husband was furious because I asked for the tests and insurance refused to cover them. My son didn’t immediately go gluten-free, but earlier this year, when GI distress and reflux got out of control, my son, now 13 said, “Okay, Mom, you were right: It’s time to go gluten-free.”
There’s been a mixed reaction from family members. My ex-husband has been reluctant to acknowledge there is such a thing as gluten-intolerance. My mom, who has been learning along with us, went gluten-free, especially after looking at a long family history of irritable bowel,reflux, her younger sister diagnosed with GI cancer. After reading your book, I have been wheat-free for under 2 weeks. By the 6th day, my pain from osteoarthritis diagnosed in my early 40s eased. Ahhh.
The reason I’m writing you is my 18-year old, now living at home and attending beauty university after a disastrous 1st semester at our local university, continues to be on meds for seizure, mood disorder, and ADD and refuses, despite testing positive for gluten intolerance, to eliminate wheat. We argue daily over my refusal to buy wheat at the grocery store or drive her to McDonalds. She eats wheat whenever she can manage. I’ve tried to talk to her about the repercussions to her health, but her father denies the problem and our pediatrician just nods his head and says “You can do a gluten free diet,but it’s a pain.”
If you have any ideas on how to convince my now 18-year old, high maintenance child that she is doing irreparable damage to her body, please let me know. I’m not getting a lot of help from my local medical community. Thanks for listening to my long story.
What is so bothersome about Nina’s case–beyond the long delay between onset of symptoms and diagnosis–is the resistance she encountered from the doctors around her, as well as the indifference to the power of eliminating the cause of many of these problems. After all, seizures (especially temporal lobe seizures, less commonly grand mal) may be part of Nina’s younger daughter’s wheat-related syndrome, a genuinely serious condition.
Perhaps the reluctance on the part of my colleagues to accept the destructive health effects from wheat stems from the overall indifference to nutrition. Or perhaps it has to do with the reluctance to admit that many of the conditions they have been treating over their careers are nothing more than expressions of wheat toxicity. Or perhaps it has to do with their own intuitive sense of their own opiate addition to the gliadin in wheat. It’s probably all three.
How many other foods can be the cause for such an incredible range of health conditions, from acid reflux and esophageal ulcers, to asthma, to seizures and worsening of the phenomena of Attention Deficit Disorder? And what other food can be responsible for such an astounding frequency of blundering misdiagnoses that leave lives shattered, bodies pained and disfigured?
With regards to helping Nina persuade her stubborn 18-year old, I can only suggest that continued efforts at education are the only solution. Because she is an adult who will make her way out into the world on her own, nobody can force someone to follow a healthy diet minus wheat. Nina can only hope that, with her continued encouragement and information, her daughter will, thanks to efforts such as Wheat Belly, hear this same message in the news, on talk shows, in magazine articles and eventually say, “Gee, I guess my Mom was right.”