Let’s Talk about Gluten

Gluten. (from Latin gluten, “glue“) is a protein composite found in wheat and related grains, including barley and rye. (Wikipedia)

It’s a word you hear a lot lately.  While there are definitely a lot of people with legitimate celiac disease or gluten sensitivities out there, you didn’t hear a lot about gluten until a gluten free diet became the world’s new fab fad diet within the past year or so  Now it seems like EVERYONE is worried about gluten.

My husband has (mostly) avoided gluten for several years now, to ease some pretty major digestive issues that went completely undiagnosed by his (rather stupid, in my opinion) gastroenterologist.

So when I started experiencing my own digestive issues with a high frequency, my first thought was ‘gluten’.  But then I felt silly…..after all, I reasoned, how likely was it that we BOTH have issues with gluten?  Not too likely, if you believe the statistics.

And yet….I have Type 1 diabetes.  Which means my chances of having celiac disease are at least TEN TIMES higher than someone of the ‘average’ population. (Auto-immune conditions tend to come in clusters, lucky us…)  In fact, I was tested for celiac disease 22.5 years ago, about a half a year before my Type 1 diagnosis (by the way, yesterday was 22 years with Type 1 for me – happy diaversary to me!) and my results were ‘inconclusive’. My parents were told to put me on a GF diet – and they did, for 6 months.  Back in the early 90s this was no small feat for a child who didn’t like most veggies and fruits, because there weren’t a lot of GF alternatives out there for my favorite processed foods. My mom said my diet went down to about 6 staple foods that I would eat all the time – and that was it (well, and my Flintstones multivitamins).  But my problems with nausea and weight loss and fatigue didn’t dissipate.  When I was diagnosed with Type 1 the doctors said ‘oops’ and told my parents that my symptoms had been due to the burgeoning Type 1….that I didn’t have celiac disease at all.

And so I went back to eating a gluten-filled diet.

Through the years I’d noticed that I seemed to have ‘digestive upsets’ more often than my family or friends …. but I attributed that to a bad immune system, poor control of my diabetes, minor food poisoning (over and over and over – how many times can you get food poisoning?!), etc. Never once did I think that it might be due to something I was consistently eating.

As I said, I recently (in the past few months) have experienced some major digestive issues with regularity.  I’ve had to call in to work on a few occasions and I missed school once back in early May. The symptoms would build up over several days, then get really bad for a day, then dissipate over a few days……only for the cycle to start again.

Two weeks ago I’d decided I’d finally had enough and cut out gluten completely.  This wasn’t the hugest jump for me to make – I was able to ‘copy’ many things from my husband’s diet and find alternatives for things I felt I still absolutely wanted to eat. The initial thought was that I’d do this for 3-4 weeks, see how I feel, and then reintroduce gluten to see if any improvement was coincidental or not. At that point if I felt it wasn’t coincidence I’d request re-testing for celiac disease.

My digestive issues haven’t resolved 100%…….but I’m about 70% better.  And as if that’s not reason enough to keep going with this……..

I have strong reason to believe that gluten has been causing insulin resistance in me.  Prior to cutting out gluten my Dexcom data shows that I was averaging a BG of about 137 and stayed between 70 and 150 about 60% of the time. I often had excursions over 180 after meals, no matter when I bolused.

Since cutting out gluten (and note: I am eating the SAME number of carbs per day!) I’ve decreased my meal-time insulin by about 9 units per day and I need to continue to decrease my I:C ratios because I continue to have lows after my meal boluses.  I am averaging a BG of 106 now, and I’m staying between 70 and 150 for 86% of the time.  Most of the time that I’m outside that range I’m BELOW it, not ABOVE it as I used to be. I’ve changed nothing else in my life the last two weeks.  I can only attribute this sudden increase in insulin sensitivity to the elimination of gluten from my diet.

I think that, regardless of digestive issues, I’m going to keep eating gluten free. Anything that helps me attain better control of my diabetes while simultaneously reducing insulin intake is a keeper, in my book.


2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk about Gluten

  1. Wow, I hadn’t thought about gluten causing insulin resistance before. I’m a type 1 diabetic with celiac disease and I’ve definitely noticed a better over all blood sugar average after cutting out starches and gluten.

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