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Eat Yourself Healthy

One Man’s Incredible Story…Why he quit gluten

One Man's Incredible Story...Why he quit gluten

For those of you who have seen me as a patient or have read my e-book Eat Yourself Healthy In 28 Days, you’ll be familiar with my stance on gluten.  Gluten is something we are hearing more and more about and the impact it is having on our health.  If you missed my first post on gluten, you can read it here to bring you up to speed.  But in this post, I wanted to share with you a truly inspirational story about one man’s journey with his health and the life changing impact when he quit gluten. For the purpose of this post I’ll refer to him as Fred!

Fred was a man in his mid 30’s and when I met Fred he had been suffering severe panic attacks that at times left him convulsing and too scared to leave the house.  He also experienced depression and anxiety that followed him everywhere, in fact  Fred couldn’t recall a moment where he didn’t feel anxious to the point he could not even walk into a crowded restaurant or drive in heavy traffic at times. In his plight to find answers, Fred sought the advice of countless Dr’s and the only treatment they could offer were prescription drugs….. at one point being prescribed up to 5 different pharmaceutical medications, including SSRI anti-depressants, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotics and a pycho-stimulant drug containing amphetamines, with side effects that included dizziness, nervousness – (remember this was a man  that suffered severe anxiety and panic attacks) , weight loss caused by appetite suppression, as well as increased heart rate, low blood pressure and decreased libido.  In fact when I discovered he was on this particular drug, my research revealed it had been banned in many countries because of its links to increased risk of cardiac arrest and that it was in fact contraindicated with anti-depressant SSRI drugs – which he was taking. Basically Fred was on a daily chemical cocktail of upper’s and downer’s that left him with no motivation, fatigue, insomnia, irritability, and of course anxiety.  But as far as his Dr’s were concerned Fred’s case was being successfully managed because the severe panic attacks had been brought under control.  Meanwhile Fred was far from functional and struggled to go to work more than a few days a week and spent much of his time in the day sleeping and watching TV and awake much of the night.

When I see a patient, no matter what condition they present with, I conduct a thorough assessment of their eating, sleeping, digestive and lifestyle habits, along with comprhensive pathology testing. In the case of Fred, he was lucky to sleep more than 3  – 4 hrs a night and never before midnight, was constantly constipated – averaging 2 -3 bowel movements a week and ate no more than two meals a day – thanks to the appetite suppressant effects of the pycho-stimulant drug he was taking. But Fred enjoyed a healthy appetite for  beer, averaging 15 cans a day! If you do the math, that’s 105+ units on any given week –  up to a packet of cigarettes a day and consumed a diet based mainly on processed foods and gluten, whether it was from wheat based products or hidden sources in the processed food he was eating. It became very clear Fred wasn’t just a functioning alcoholic, but also a GLUTEN ADDICT and what I describe as an undiagnosed SILENT COELIAC and most likely had been, since he was child, judging by his medical case history. Fred was a high school dropout and had been written off by the conventional schooling system as a lazy, disruptive and unable to learn –  classic ADHD behaviour.

Interestingly enough Fred had never developed a coffee addiction, usually typical with a case like his, because of the action caffeine has on the stimulant hormone dopamine, nor has he ever had a huge appetite for sweet foods, something I expected because of the effects sugar has on the neurotransmitters (brain hormones) serotonin and dopamine. BUT Fred was in fact replacing  sweet foods with alcohol and what could have been expressed as a coffee addiction, was being satisfied by the effects of the pycho-stimulant.  Fred was also addicted to salt which I diagnosed as a symptom of the severe stress his adrenal glands were under, thanks to the effects of the pycho- stimulant drug ( a stronger version of Ritalin).

Pathology revealed he was severely adrenally exhausted (you can read more about adrenal exhaustion here), deficient in essential nutrients such as vitamin D, B12, magnesium, selenium, and essential fatty acids, all critical to the proper functioning of the brain in the form of neurotransmitter and energy production.

In essence Fred’s brain was a walking, talking cluster F*#@ of dysfunctional biochemical reactions, dictated by the effects of his diet, alcohol and nicotine addiction and lifestyle habits, capped off by the effects of the prescription medications. So it was my job as his practitioner to slowly unravel the maze of biochemical chaos that he had been enduring over the years and assist in the rewiring process, through a combination of overhauling his diet, replenishing major nutrient deficiencies and importantly – fixing his gut –  another significant underlying issue contributing to his health predicament.

Now for all Fred’s foibles one thing he did not struggle with was compliance, in fact he turned his addictive personality traits towards a determination to heal his body and be able to function as best he could.  So there was little resistance from him when it came to implementing the exact dietary and nutritional medicine treatment protocols, I prescribed him. The thing that saddened me most about Fred’s case when he first came to me, was the fact not one Dr, therapist or teacher – when he was at school – had ever considered Fred’s diet, lifestyle, or digestive function – or lack of – as playing a part in his condition.  Instead Fred was just medicated more and more heavily, until eventually his symptoms also became a product of his medication.

In my eyes, Fred was a clear cut, text book case for silent Coeliac disease, amongst other things.  Sure he was a pretty good candidate for ADHD, a social alcoholic, which were likely contributing  factors to his anxiety, depression, and associated behaviour, but these conditions / symptoms were  in fact resulting from the fact Fred had an ‘inflamed brain’, which was being triggered by an inflamed gut and these were resulting from severe silent Coeliac disease.

Now because this is a long story and being succinct is not always one of my strong points,  I am going to break it into two parts, so you can read my part II to this post, where I explain about the tell-tale signs that lead me to diagnose Fred as a ‘silent’ coeliac and his inspirational journey to recovery here.

If you or someone you know can relate to Fred’s story so far, I’d love you to share your story below as I believe Fred is not alone in his case and the more people share, the more we can all help each other towards over coming situations like Fred’s and change lives. So don’t be afraid, please speak up and leave a comment below. 🙂 to recovery from anxiety here.

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5 Comments
  1. Hi Sally, a friend linked me this article. I am glad to have found your blog, I had never heard on ‘silent’ c. Could you please link me anything you have on GAPS diet? Have a blessed day. Tara

  2. Hi Sally, a friend linked me this article. I am glad to have found your blog, I had never heard on ‘silent’ c. Could you please link me anything you have on GAPS diet? Have a blessed day. Tara

  3. Wow Sally, what an eye opener this post is! There is so much mental illness now days and I totally agree with you in relation to the fact not enough focus is put on understanding how our diet could be influencing our brain function! I know certain foods impact my levels of anxiety for sure, as well as alcohol, but I have not tried cutting out all gluten yet, so will have to try it out. Can’t wait for part 2 of this post! Thanks for writing this Sally

  4. Wow Sally, what an eye opener this post is! There is so much mental illness now days and I totally agree with you in relation to the fact not enough focus is put on understanding how our diet could be influencing our brain function! I know certain foods impact my levels of anxiety for sure, as well as alcohol, but I have not tried cutting out all gluten yet, so will have to try it out. Can’t wait for part 2 of this post! Thanks for writing this Sally

  5. Thank you so much sally, for posting this story. I too have a story similar to “fred” although I have never ever taken prescirption medication because I knew it would do everything you explained above. So thankfully I am thankful that I listened to my inner voice to not take the drugs that were almost prescribed to me. So here’s my story. I was 18 when I first had my very first Panic Attack. I was actually out partying and was under the influence and will admitt that I did pop a pill. I was scared to the point that I thought I was going to die. My heart was racing, and I was confused. It went away after a few minutes and I was shaken up by what had been the scariest encounter I had ever experienced. I went home that night and was back to my normal self the next day. Within a few months I started to feel really anxious for no reason. I kept checkin my pulse and whether my heart felt ok, I then started to get a rapid heart beat and got the panic attack again this time with a feeling like I was going to faint and i was sure again I was going to die. This has been ongoing and I am now 23. I Had never suffered depression untill I was about 20. my parter was working away at the time and I was in my lounge room feeling uncomfortable and felt like i was crostophobic (sorry I dont know how to spell that word!) then came along the anxiety and panic attack. I was also feeling sad for much longer than normal at the time. right now my parter is working away and I am finding i am again in this vicious cycle. Although after much research, for the past year and a half I have been avoiding all dairy, wheat, gluten, make my own food from scratch as I also have two children. I drink smoothies/juices daily too. I am feeling more depressed now that i am alone whilst my partner is away and find it also is brought on when I start thinking about the feeling you get when feeling depressed or have the panic attack which also can bring it on. I am finding it a struggle to motivate myself with exercise as I just cant be bothered half the time. I struggle with my libido too. It’s just a good thing to hear things like this and know that there really is hope even though the dr’s tell you that the reason why u feel this way and have random pains in your body each day is because it’s all in the head and I need medication for it. Its crazy. I have been to a naturopath before and she didn’t really help me much but did do a blood analysis and said I had alot of stress in my life. She gave me St John Worts tablets to take to help balance out the chemicals/transmitters but I still havent taken them as I feel like I just dont want to take anything like that and I really dont know if its safe! Im extra carefull with things llike that. – sorry for the ramble but I thought I would share this with others and maybe they might relate to me aswell!

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