Accidental gluten exposure seems like such a bougie problem that I hesitate to publish this blog. I feel like the title alone will elicit some eye rolls. But I also know firsthand how horrible it can feel to inadvertently eat gluten when you’re sensitive to it. I recently covered this topic extensively, so if you ARE rolling your eyes right now, read that.
I write this in hopes that if you ever come across this issue, some of these ideas can help you.
As I mentioned in my previous blog, the symptoms of gluten exposure will be different for everyone, and they can even vary from case to case. Some symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, abdomen cramping, headache, rash, weakness, joint and body pain, swelling, fatigue, and brain fog.
I won’t go into details of what exactly happens in your body and how gluten can run amok in your gut right now. (If you are interested in that, you can read this article by Dr. Amy Meyers - she’s great.)
But understand this: for those who are sensitive, gluten exposure causes inflammation and damage to the intestines. It is viewed by the body as a foreign invader or a toxin. So the goal in recovering from the exposure includes:
Removing the offender from your system quickly
Repairing any intestinal damage
Here is the exact protocol I put myself on a few months ago when I got glutened BAD. I was back on my feet in a week after working in the following solutions.
Remove gluten & detox your body
Drink lots and lots of filtered water and water rich foods. If you’re having a hard time stomaching food, home cooked bone broth is a great thing to sip on as it’s extraordinarily healing to your gut AND provides nutrients your body needs to support its detoxification pathways.
These can help you break down food. Extra digestive support is a good idea during this time. I like the company Enzymedica. Take a digestive enzyme with each meal.
Dipeptidyl peptidase (DPP-IV), can help break down gluten specifically. GlutenEase is a supplement that contains this, and may be helpful post-exposure.
Side note: this is a good thing to have on hand for when you eat out. This doesn’t allow you to consume gluten without harm, but could potentially provide extra protection around cross contamination. Still, don’t order the pasta…ya heard?
I swear by this for detoxification. All yoga can be helpful - the physical asana and movement can help to move things through your body. But I find the heat and the sweat is extremely helpful for swelling and joint pain - two of my gluten symptoms. I will admit that I scaled back my practice a little bit during that recovery week, but I felt better when I did go.
If yoga isn’t your bag, go for a walk.
Castor oil packs over the abdomen
These castor oil-soaked cloths are believed to assist liver detoxification, increase lymphatic circulation, and reduce inflammation. I find them to be soothing and calming during times of discomfort and unease.
Check out a how-to guide on castor oil packs here.
A few of the suggestions above can help to combat inflammation, but I would also work in some of these anti-inflammatory foods:
Sip ginger tea, sprinkle dried ginger into smoothies or warm breakfasts, use grated fresh ginger in cooking and salad dressings.
Gut loving smoothie bowl (I made a variation of this daily)
Turmeric tea (I drank this often)
Long chain Omega 3 fatty acids
These fats are found in fatty cold water fish (wild caught salmon and sardines), and in smaller amounts in grass fed beef and egg yolks from pasture-raised chickens. But go for broke with the seafood if you’re able to eat it.
Reduce consumption of Omega 6 polyunsaturated fats
...specifically from vegetable oils (canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, sunflower seed oil, etc.). This is not only true for gluten exposure, but always.
Repair the gut
If you already take probiotics, double down for the few weeks following gluten exposure. If you don't take them, start. High quality brands that I like:
You can also sip kombucha, kefir, or the juice from fermented veggies to get potent probiotics.
Bone broth is high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids, and also helps to protects and heal the mucosal lining of the GI tract, as this is often damaged by gluten. Making blended soups with homemade broth is a great way to get healing nutrients into your system, while being super gentle on your digestive tract.
An amino acid that is the primary fuel source for intestinal cells, this can improve gastrointestinal health since it helps the intestines regrow and repair. It can also balance mucus production, which is helpful for the health of the gut lining. This is the one I use - it also contains Vitamin C and Zinc Carnosine. Follow directions on label for dosing. (I used twice a day until I felt better.)
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL)
This is the deglycyrrhizinated form of licorice, which can increase mucus production, soothing the lining of the GI tract. I use chewables, and would chew a few a day (I also use these for heartburn).
This root can ease inflammation in the stomach lining and creates a protective lining on the digestive tract. I take this in tincture form - drop into water and drink.
Rest & Sleep
Do this much as you can, especially the first few days. It will support all the other healing suggestions I just made. When I got glutened, I was lucky that I had people around who could help out, because I needed it. Don't be afraid to accept - or ask for - help!
Bookmark this post for future reference. I hope you won't need it, but in the event that you ever do...you want to be ready! Also, please share with anyone you know who might be able to use this information. Be well!