I’ve long known that I have a sensitivity to wheat. When I eat a lot of it—especially in yeasty foods (think pizza crust and delicious French bread)—I bloat up and my stomach doesn’t feel quite right. Still, although we’ve written about gluten (a protein compound found in many grains, including wheat) and gluten-free living here on Svelte, I never thought I would be in the position to have to give it up.
However, over the past couple of months, my psoriasis—a skin condition that I’ve had since I was a child—has become a lot worse. It’s always been manageable: a tiny patch here or there, nothing a little steroid cream couldn’t fix. Then, around February, it became more severe, with itchy, burning patches on many of my major joints (like elbows and ankles). Among other reasons, because I was breastfeeding, I didn’t want to take any of the super-heavy medications that are used to treat bad cases.
I waited it out for a while, hoping that it was linked to post-pregnancy hormone changes, and that taking more fish oil would help (several studies have shown that an increased consumption of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce symptoms). No dice. So I began searching medical research (by the way, PubMed is great for this) to uncover dietary changes that might help. Sadly, all of the newer studies suggested the same thing: give up gluten.
Turns out that individuals with psoriasis tend to have higher levels of gluten-related antibodies found in individuals with celiac disease (a condition in which eating gluten damages the body’s tissues and causes all kinds of less-than-pleasant symptoms). Other studies have shown that in addition to consuming more fish oil, reducing or eliminating gluten can help, often significantly, in treating psoriasis. Which brings me to my new diet.
Two weeks of not eating gluten and I’ve discovered that GF is not as hard as I thought. My mom bought me Bob’s Red Mill gluten free pancake mix, knowing my family likes to make pancakes on the weekend, and that yielded a tasty batch of pancakes. If I really want something bready, I have a GF waffle or gingersnap from Trader Joe’s. But for the most part, I’ve been eating more real, unprocessed food (fruits, veggies, beans, meat and nuts). Oh, and I discovered KIND bars, which are gluten-free and beyond delicious (although at roughly 200 calories each, should really be consumed in halves). Of course, I do have the advantage of not having celiac disease, which means I’m able to be less stringent about making sure what I eat doesn’t have a trace of gluten in it.
I lost a pound and a half in two weeks, but it has yet to be determined if my diet is to thank, or if it’s simply a byproduct of my new running regime. Regardless, my psoriasis is getting better. Even after such a short period of time, the spots on my joints have gone down significantly, and the tiny patches on other areas of my body are gone. I’ll be curious to see if the results continue to improve.
Have you given up gluten for psoriasis or another reason other than celiac disease? Any tips of the trade for this newbie?