The Death of Bread

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Rachel Laulu

I’ve been on a bit of a self improvement mission to cast of things in my life that no longer serve me. I went on to do a 30 day challenge of drinking no alcohol, which I’ve extended to possibly forever, my energy and motivation levels have doubled and I’m sleeping so much better now that  I’m not having that glass of wine with dinner.

I was going to try cutting coffee out for another 30 day challenge but the thought of that made me need a latte.

I like to think I live a pretty healthy lifestyle. I wake up and meditate, drink warm lemon juice water and then do some yoga, pretty much everyday – like around 5am. It’s a good start to the day, I follow this little routine with a green smoothie and then have a second breakfast a little later in the morning... this is where my day sometimes takes a turn.. I reach for toast or cereal... these are comfort foods that I was brought up with – kiwi kids are weetbix kids after all.

Recently I was out to dinner with friends at seafood gourmet, I’ve been eating there every other day because they make the best fish burgers on island (Thanks for the tip Jayde)... anyway, So I offered my friends a bite of the ultimate in deliciousness and was turned down by one of my friends... He told me how he has a condition called coeliac bipolar... this is where things get really interesting. I had heard of both those things but not put together.

Coeliac disease (pronounced ‘seel-ee-ak’ and spelled celiac in some countries) the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats), causing small bowel damage. The tiny, finger-like projections which line the bowel (villi) become inflamed and flattened. This is referred to as villous atrophy. Villous atrophy reduces the surface area of the bowel available for nutrient absorption, which can lead to various gastrointestinal and malabsorptive symptoms, these symptoms can also be caused by inflammation in other parts of the body. Scary.

Bipolar is a serious psychiatric condition that causes people to experience extreme mood swings, from mania to depression. The illness can be treated through medications, and people with bipolar disorder also find that counselling may help.

So I’ve been looking into gluten intolerance, I myself clearly don’t have coeliac disease – I’m so proud of my poo, but I do feel sleepy straight after pastas, cereals and breads – this is where I think my intolerance stops – however, I am prone to bouts of sadness and anxiety, and am wondering if it could be the gluten?.

I am on a mission always to balance – this is what yoga is about -  balance!,  as far as my body goes I’m pretty strong but my mind is a bit of a wanderer and I can often find myself ruminating the past or expectant of the future – this is normal I guess but I do crave to be peaceful and I’m embarking on yet another challenge of gluten free for a month. I want to see how my head goes without the gluten in my gut. There has been a lot of research into gut flora over the last 15 years and we’ve discovered our gut is actually a brain of sorts and the things we eat affect the way we think... so the malabsorption thing that the gluten causes to the gut makes sense.

 So what exactly is gluten?

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheats (there are many). Gluten helps foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue that holds food together. Gluten can be found in many types of foods, even ones that would not be expected like baked beans, soy sauce, beer and of course breads, pastas and anything with flour – the general rule I,s: if it doesn’t read gluten free, it’s probably not. We’re lucky here in Samoa with the abundance of fruits and veggies, I’ve thus far found it pretty easy on my 5 days in already.

Gluten intolerance can manifest in many ways in the body and the brain, the list is scary but I’m in need of the fears to push me through my lasagne addiction.

1.) ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder affects children and adults alike, but many don’t make the connection of their symptoms to diet. Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D, co-author of the best selling book, “Cereal Killers,” wrote an article on celiac.com citing several studies linking ADHD and gluten together. He states, “The concept of drugging a child to facilitate learning is upsetting to me, especially when there is cause to suspect that, on the gluten free diet, they may improve without intervention.”

2.) Low Immunity

If you’re prone to getting sick, you should consider gluten to potentially be an issue. Autoimmune diseases including the thyroid condition known as Graves’ disease, Lupus, Type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis have all been linked to gluten intolerance

3.) Dental Issues

Cavities, canker sores (mouth ulcers) broken teeth, and tooth decay can plague those with undiagnosed gluten sensitivity as well as Coeliac disease. A 2009 study found a positive link between gluten sensitivity and recurrent mouth ulcers.

4.) Skin Problems

From eczema and acne to psoriasis and dermatitis. Gluten can cause some extremely uncomfortable skin issues. Basically inflammation under the top layers of skin can occur and cause eruptions of rashes, itchiness, burning, redness, and even painful blisters.

And the list goes on and on including alzheimers disease, fatigue, sleepless nights, stress!. So what’s the best way to find out if you’re gluten intolerant? It’s the elimination diet, what I’m doing... cutting out gluten for a month and then reintroducing it to see how you feel, I’m a few days in and feeling great. I had a slip up with it the other day when I ordered a soup and it came with amazing looking home made bread and I ate some, I noticed I felt pretty yucky later in the day but it may just be psychosomatic, we’ll see. So this is me running another 30 day challenge, I had a fair few of you join me on the alcohol free stint, and I’m happy you joined me, thank you...

There is one thing about this gluten free diet thing that is quite interesting and I have looked online to find research into it but have found none but will share it with you. A friend of a friend gave up gluten for two years, he wasn’t intolerant but did so for his lover at the time and after a couple years when they broke up he went back to eating gluten and found that he was quite badly gluten intolerant... so my friend reckons, a meal a month blow out of full gourmet pasta, pizza and yummy breads is a good thing... I think this will be my reward and research at the end of my 30 days free.


Rachel Laulu is a local yoga teacher who offers fermenting workshops, private meditation and yoga classes to corporate groups, schools, retreats and individuals. If you have any inquiries please feel free to contact Rachel via email at yogasamoa@gmail.com or add her on facebook through her Yoga Juice Samoa group page.

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