Is it the Gluten?

My Mom is awesome, a little crazy, but awesome. She does more research on health matters than anyone I know… including myself. So last night when I got a text message asking if I had white spots on my nails, I sort of knew where it was going.

I should give you a little background to this situation.

I have an 11 year old brother who has Type 1 Diabetes and a 21 year old sister who has just had half her thyroid removed and is going through trying to find a happy balance for her hormones. My brother was diagnosed at 2 and this was really the start of my Mom’s trip to research-ville. I have never ever seen someone read so many books on nutrition, hormones, exercise and mental health, EVER.

Recently she started with a nutritionist who has a book about hormone health. She started reading a few more books about hormones and how diet affects them, and that is when she texted me about my nails.

So the question: Do you have white spots on your nails?white-spot-on-fingernail

My nails are painted right now so I couldn’t look, but now that I was thinking about it, no, right now I don’t have any white spots. Come to think of it, I used to have those all the time. I would probably have 2-3 white spots on my nails at all times and I never thought anything of it. I haven’t had them in about a year though… weird.

Before she could expand further on this I did a quick google search. Go ahead, google “white spots on nails”. I’ll wait.

Back? I bet you came up with a bunch of articles telling you that it’s because the nail bed was damaged. That’s a possibility. But buried amongst those articles of lazy doctors saying “it’s nothing” are articles that say it’s caused by Zinc Deficiency. Interesting…

My Mom texted back a bit later about the zinc deficiency, but added something that was definitely not among the top articles on google. The fact that zinc deficiency is a common sign of gluten intolerance because it cannot be absorbed by the damaged intestine. If you look up zinc deficiency you will find some fun side effects, but the worst one is thyroid damage. I managed to avoid this completely by accident by going gluten-free because I generally feel better on a gluten-free diet.

After that little tidbit I started scrounging around the internet for more weird symptoms of gluten intolerance. If it affects one hormone, there are bound to be other things that it is affecting. At the same time I started doing an inventory of the things that used to be issues but aren’t anymore. This is the list of things I came up with.  I’m not saying ALL of these are a direct cause of giving up gluten, but I’d be willing to bet that the majority are.

  • Fatigue – I still get tired a lot, but I used to be tired all the time. Surprisingly, over Christmas while I was eating small amounts of gluten, all of a sudden I wanted to sleep 18 hours a day. I haven’t done that in a long time. 3 days gluten-free and I am getting my energy back… interesting.
  • General pain – this is a weird one. I think some people might call this fibromyalgia, but all I know is that when I eat gluten the places on my body that carry fat, they hurt. Not like an ache or injury, the skin and muscle are just sensitive. This is particularly noticeable on the side of my thighs because I brush against things and it hurts… not bump, nothing that should hurt, just pressure and I’m in pain. Start cleaning up my diet and the pain subsides. Right now I still have some sensitivity, but I’m guessing in a week or two it will go away.
  • Stomach pains – this is not an upset stomach. This feels like sharp, stabby pains. This is definitely gluten because it always happens within an hour or 2 of eating a little more gluten than I should.
  • White spots on nails – like I said, they are completely gone now. I haven’t had them in over a year.
  • Healthy hair – there is a definite line between where my hair is healthy and where it is dry. This might be from dying it, or exposure to the environment… or it might be about a year and a half worth of growth while I have been limiting gluten.
  • Illness – I used to get sick a lot. If someone was sick around me, I was done. Now I rarely get sick, and if I do it is mild.

Yes these could have different reasons (other than the stomach pains), but I am slowly accepting that gluten might have been a bigger problem than I thought it was. For a long time I have been brushing it off as no big deal… but maybe it is.

I know the whole gluten thing seems a bit like a fad, but if you have some generalized health issues and you don’t know the cause, try doing some research on it… you never know.

Oh and another thing… apparently if you go gluten-free they cannot test you for gluten intolerance. You have to continue eating gluten to get tested. So I can’t find out for sure because I’m not willing to do that to my body, but if you are currently still eating gluten, don’t stop just yet. Talk to your doctor and get tested. Or do what I did and just cut it from your diet and see if you suddenly feel way better.



12 thoughts on “Is it the Gluten?

  1. Huh – very interesting. I always thought the white spots on my nails were from damage. The general fatigue from, well, just doing too much and the all over achiness from working out. I am doing the 21Day Sugar Detox so I am very curious if I will get any change in those conditions. I will be watching for sure!

    • Let me know how it goes for you. I really noticed it after I had a bit too much gluten over the holiday jen i have been gluten-free for so long before that and suddenly symptoms started coming back. I’d be really interested to know if it helps you too 🙂

  2. A naturopath diagnosed my gluten intolerance, they used touch test. It exposed my skin to gluten to see it I reacted. During the testing time, I did not have to eat gluten. It was pretty incredible, I just thought I had a skin condition.

    • Really? This is why alternative medicine is gaining steam. They find ways that aren’t damaging and are preventative. Why would I continue to do something that is damaging me just to get a diagnosis? I might go talk to a nutritionist. Thanks 🙂

  3. My sister (Jennifer Mota) sent this to me as she thought it would be of interest. So many people have these white spots on their nails and think nothing of it. I truly believe most north americans are gluten-sensitive. Check out the book ‘Wheat Belly’ if you haven’t already for more background – very interesting!

    I gave up wheat a year ago and will never look back. I removed it for a few weeks to see if I felt better – lost weight instantly, tried to eat some again a few weeks later and felt GROSS!

    Now I eat a gluten-free, dairy-free and mostly plant-based diet and feel better than I ever thought!

    • I’ve been meaning to read that for a while now. Ill definitely pick it up. I agree that most people probably do have a sensitivity to at least the crazy dwarf wheat gluten of today. I know I have a much weaker reaction to ancient grains like kamut even though I still definitely react. I’m so glad Jennifer told you to check out the blog! I love connecting with people who have gone through similar things 🙂

  4. I read somewhere that 80% of the world population has some degree of gluten tolerance. I was skeptical at first but I’ll be damned if that was the one thing I’ve given up that made the biggest difference in how I feel and perform.

    • I was extremely skeptical. Especially when Oprah was going on about it as a weight loss diet. That’s not what gluten is about at all. I mean it may be stopping some people from losing weight but you won’t suddenly lose weight by going gluten free. It’s strictly a health thing. Once I figured that out is was much more willing to look into it.

      • You can lose weight because it lets people repair their intestinal lining and reduce inflammation and insulin resistance. But replacing gluten containing foods with sugary gluten free crap is still awful for you.

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