For years, Karen Schecker of Murrells Inlet suffered from major gastrointestinal problems including; severe stomach aches, bloating, and diarrhea.
“There was one time when i was just so sick and for a long period of time, and I was losing a lot of weight. I was an intake and then right away an out take.”
Her husband, Dr. Mark schecker of Coastal Carolina Allergy and Asthma Associates, p.c., helped her through the process and referred her to a specialist. In this case he referred her to a gastroenterologist.
Through a blood test and biopsy, the doctor confirmed she had Celiac’s disease. “Celiac’s disease for the most part affects people who have true gluten sensitivity and they eventually develop at some point true gastroenterology symptoms whether it’s bloating or just abdominal discomfort or diarrhea,” says Dr. Schecker.
Dr. Schecker says the number of people suffering from food sensitivity is on the rise, but it’s unclear why. Some people claim to just feel better when they eliminate certain foods such as gluten without really knowing why. Some of the most common foods eliminated include gluten, dairy, nuts, sugar and alcohol.
“There’s a growing group of individuals that seems to feel that they are sensitive to gluten but when you do the test that I described as of doing blood and biopsies don’t see the typical markings that would say you have with Celiac’s disease. But when eliminate gluten from their diet they say that they feel much better and a lot of the issues that they’re dealing with are going away.”
Researchers have yet to scientifically prove that an elimination diet can help cure headaches, fatigue, and skin or digestive problems.
However, there are doctors and patients who are convinced it works. For those diagnosed with sensitivity to certain foods, eliminating them, like in Karen’s case, is a must and makes all the difference. “And i was feeling like a totally different person. My energy, everything was changing. And I was gaining weight too, ” says Karen.
Dr. Schecker says if you suspect a certain food makes you feel bad, then start a food journal.
“If you keep a journal every day of what you’re eating and then you try correlate it with your symptoms that’s a good start. Then you can go through a temporary elimination diet and start to reintroduce foods one at a time. So adding foods back one at a time, writing down symptoms and trying to correlate like looking for a continued pattern so that you’re just doing things randomly because that can even lead to more confusion.”
Dr. Schecker does say it’s important to get a proper diagnosis because you may unnecessarily eliminate foods and deprive yourself of proper nutrition. “If you are really having a lot of severe symptoms like my wife was having when she was starting to lose a lot of weight and she was showing signs of malnutrition.” That’s when it’s time to seek out professional help.
Just to be clear, sensitivity or intolerance to certain foods is not necessarily a food allergy. A food allergy causes a specific part of a person’s immune system to react in negative ways, your body responds immediately, and it can be life threatening.
Symptoms you may experience if food irritates your stomach or your body can’t properly digest it include: gas, cramps, or bloating; heartburn; headaches; irritability or nervousness. Be aware that a food allergy can also cause some of these symptoms. That’s why it’s important to be tested if your symptoms are severe.
“i think there’s a lot of interest in this these days as more and more people are discovering these types of problems that they’re suffering from which will fuel more and more research,” says dr. Schecker.
As for Karen she knows a gluten free lifestyle is necessary to maintain good health. And thankfully, more gluten free products are showing up on store shelves as the interest in food elimination diets continues to rise.
To learn more about food elimination, and the signs and symptoms of food sensitivity and food allergies, visit the following websites: