Many years ago, after moving to Japan, I developed sinus troubles. This happened after spending some time in a hospital. During my stay, I was prescribed antibiotics for weeks. Antibiotics work like an atomic bomb. They kill indiscriminately. The antibiotics took away my infection, but they also destroyed my gut. Research shows your gut affects your immune system. It also affects your response to stress, cognition, and reaction to allergens. A healthy gut with a variety of bacteria cultures means a strong immune system.
After discharged from the hospital, I felt sensitive to common allergens. I was reacting to pollen, something that never bothered me before. I couldn’t tolerate alcohol. Moments after drinking, my nasal passages became inflamed, especially after beer.
I became dependent on allergy medication and antihistamines for my sinus congestion. I couldn’t breathe through my nose. This persisted for two years. My mouth was always dry from being a mouth breather. I had trouble concentrating. I looked forward to steamy showers because this was the only time I could breath through my nose.
I began to read obsessively about allergies. Eventually, I found my way to research about the gut. I learned antibiotics negatively affect your gut bacteria and wheat can exacerbate this. Certain proteins in wheat irritate your intestinal tract, cause leaky gut, decrease nutrient absorption, and promote growth of problematic gut bacteria. I was skeptical. Then, reading about autoimmune disease was enough to convert me to the gluten free cult. It won’t hurt to try, right?
My findings all pointed to avoiding wheat for at least three weeks. This was the autoimmune trigger. This removed pasta, bread, pastries, sandwiches, and my beloved pizza from my diet. I usually had one or two wheat servings daily, so I would only have to change a few meals and snacks.
Four days. That’s how long it took my sinus tract to clear up. Those first deep breaths of air through my nose felt amazing. After a week, this turned into a cascade of other improvements. I could now taste and smell. I felt like a wild animal. I knew what was cooking in my neighbors’ kitchen. I could tell what ingredients were in my dish blindfolded. I could concentrate and think clearly throughout the day. My brain fog disappeared. I felt relaxed, never moody. I wasn’t bloated after meals. My appetite stabilized, e.g., no more sudden hunger strikes, nor food cravings. My skin, especially the acne on my back, cleared. The random flushed look on my face blended to an even tone. My abs looked more visible than ever. Even my obliques were showing definition. After a month, even my hair texture changed. It was stronger and healthier.
It felt too good to be true. Too many things were improving based this dietary change. I wanted to test it. After a few months of avoiding wheat, I tried to reintroduce a few wheat dishes. My first time eating wheat again was no problem. The next day, I had another serving of wheat. A few days later, I felt sinus congestion, bloating, brain fog, moodiness, random hunger, and food cravings. There was acne on my back again. Every symptom I described earlier was creeping up again. Was it all just a coincidence? I thought it was. I wasn’t ready to believe my findings yet. I stopped eating wheat again. Within a few days, my symptoms improved. It was too simple.
I experimented going on and off wheat for two years. It was clear. I functioned and felt better without it. I found if all conditions were ideal, e.g., sleeping a lot, exercising regularly, getting a lot of sun on my skin, managing stress levels, eating healthy… I could have up to three small servings a week with little drop in performance and clarity.
How often do I eat wheat now? Usually once a week. Ramen, cheese naan, cheesurgers, and pizza are my occasional treats. I don’t crave or miss having daily wheat though. The hardest part is explaining to people at social outings I don’t eat wheat. Most of the time, it’s easier just to say I’m allergic.