Have you ever eaten out at a restaurant or café and specifically asked for a gluten-free meal, but then an hour or two later started to experience stomach pain, severe bloating, a headache, and had to make a few emergency trips to the bathroom?
Sounds like you could have been ‘glutened’.
Common Symptoms of Accidental Gluten Exposure:
- Headaches or migraines
- Diarrhoea or constipation
- Stomach pains or cramping
- Anxiety or mood changes (irritability, etc)
- Brain fog
- Gluten induced fatigue
- Unnaturally thirsty
…to name just a few.
Unfortunately for many people, a lot of these symptoms could last for days or even weeks as their body tries to deal with being exposed to gluten. So let’s take a look at 10 helpful ways you can assist your body in recovering from an unforeseen gluten exposure (you might like to note them down for future reference).
1. Drink Lots of Filtered Water
This step is a given and essential for recovery. Your body is working overtime trying to deal with the gluten, so one of the best things you can do to support it is drink lots of filtered water.
2. Have Herbal Teas
I love herbal teas, especially ginger tea. Ginger is a wonderful addition to any cup of tea as it’s anti-inflammatory and it also helps to relieve digestive discomfort and pain that can be caused by gluten consumption. Another suggestion is to make a tea with either or both Changing Habits Inflammation Ease and Changing Habits Turmeric, as they will help to reduce any inflammation caused by the gluten exposure. Peppermint tea is another great option as it helps soothe and ease gas pains and bloating, plus it has an anti-spasmodic effect on the smooth muscle of the digestive tract.
3. Take Activated Coconut Charcoal
I always carry a bottle of these charcoal capsules with me. They live in my handbag or in my suitcase and they’re an absolute must have for when I travel. I recommend them to a lot of my clients for those rare times they may experience random bouts of nausea, diarrhoea, stomach pain or food poisoning, or get unknowingly exposed to gluten. It’s a supplement that’s generally used for emergency situations like alcohol or drug overdoses and exposure to certain poisons. It has the ability to absorb the toxins in your stomach and intestines and escort them out of your body via the intestines. It’s best taken right at the onset of the gluten exposure, but you can also continue taking it for a few days afterwards as it will help to ease any negative symptoms you may still be experiencing. Note: Charcoal attracts and absorbs many substances (and we don’t know exactly which ones). So, if you take activated charcoal for general detoxification purposes, do so 2 hours between any food and drink so it doesn’t interfere with the body’s mineral and nutrient intake, or medications or supplements. Follow the instructions on the bottle, working with your chosen health care provider. You can read more about charcoal in my blog ‘Activated Charcoal: What You Need to Know‘.
4. Be Kind to Your Body & Rest
Your body is going through a lot and will need time to recover. Take it easy, sleep more if needed and just relax and rest.
5. Eat Simply
Try to give your digestion a break by consuming only cooked and/or pureed foods. Soups, stews, smoothies, cooked veggies and slow cooked meats are all good options because they’re much easier to digest. Try to avoid salads and raw foods as they can be quite taxing on the digestive system.
6. Consume Inca Inchi Oil
Inca Inchi oil is one of the richest sources of Omega-3s which are particularly helpful for reducing inflammation and boosting the immune system. You can make a beautiful mayonnaise or pesto with the Inca Inchi oil as well as drizzle it onto your meals.
7. Consume Bone Broth & Gelatin
Both bone broth and gelatin contain proline and glycine, which are amino acids that help heal and soothe a damaged gut lining and reduce inflammation from gluten exposure. Gelatin and bone broth are also a rich source of collagen which helps to support skin, hair, nail, joint and gut health. Bone broth can be used as the base in curries, spaghetti sauce, soups, and stews. You can cook your vegetables or rice in broth or simply drink it warm/hot with a bit of lemon, turmeric and seaweed salt to taste. Gelatin can be used to make cheesecakes, panna cotta, custard, jelly, or gummies or added to hot drinks like hot chocolate. You can read more about the health benefits of gelatin here.
8. Use Bentonite Clay
Bentonite clay can be really useful if you’ve been unexpectedly exposed to gluten because it helps to expel many toxins (whether ingested, from water or from the environment, like pollution, petrol fumes, etc), resulting in an increase to your immunity and a reduction in inflammation. It alkalises the body and relieves digestive issues such as constipation and pain. Like the activated coconut charcoal (mentioned above) normally I recommend you mix ½-1 Tbsp in filtered water (using a plastic spoon or fork) and drink just before bedtime (at least 2 hours after food). However if you need to take it straight away to help reduce your symptoms after being exposed to gluten, do so. This is the food-grade brand I recommend and consume personally.
9. Consume Probiotics
Fermented foods are rich in prebiotics, probiotics and enzymes which help to support the healthy microbes in the digestive tract, crowding out the bad bacteria and yeast strains. Fermented foods are essential in helping to repair a leaky gut, replenishing good bacteria in your gut, improving digestive health and boosting your immune system. Add fermented foods such as coconut yogurt, coconut water kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi and other fermented vegetables to your daily diet.
10. Immerse Yourself in Nature
Get outside and go for a walk, even if only for 15 minutes. It will help to clear your mind and boost endorphins, which in turn will help to reduce stress hormones.
Note: When traveling to foreign countries, you might want to think about what you could take with you to help you recover if you do accidentally get ‘glutened’.
What tips do you have for dealing with unexpected exposure to gluten? Please comment below as we’d love to know.
If you would like to read more information on how to avoid gluten, read the following blogs:
- Are Your Gluten Free Foods Really Gluten Free?
- Life After Gluten: How to Start Repairing Your Gut
- How to Stock a Naturally Gluten Free Pantry
- Sneaky Wheat: 12 Unsuspecting Foods Containing Hidden Gluten
- The Gluten Free Trap: How to Avoid Processed Food
- How You Can Boost Your Immune System Naturally
By Jordan Pie
Nutritionist & GAPS Practitioner