Q. When I first met my friend Mike twenty years ago, he was going through bottles of antacids. He’d been doing this for 12 years, far longer than the bottle label recommended.

He had a severe bout of anemia and was told he had an ulcer. More medicine!

Finally, three years ago he learned he had gluten intolerance. Now on a gluten-free diet, he no longer suffers heartburn at all.

A. Gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, can lead to a wide variety of problems, from migraine headaches and itchy skin rashes to acid reflux or osteoporosis. With the correct diagnosis and treatment (a gluten-free diet eliminating wheat, barley and rye), those who suffer from celiac disease can avoid a lot of suffering and unnecessary medication.

Another reader shared her story:

“As a child, I had stomachaches almost every night. No one could figure out why. I also was anemic for several years in grade school, again without a clue as to the cause.

“I am now 
in my 50s and have osteoporosis. I recently learned that my chronic abdominal pain, bowel problems, anemia and osteoporosis are all related to gluten sensitivity! I used to eat a piece of toast to calm my bowels down, not realizing that the toast was the culprit. When I modified my diet I was amazed at how much better I felt.”

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  1. Katy
    New York, USA

    I suffered with acid reflux for many years. I was also overweight, craved sugar. I suffered with anxiety and depression, was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, and most recently was diagnosed with Lupus.

    After suffering a painful recovery from a nervous breakdown, I went on a very low carb diet consisting of fresh/frozen veggies, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, cheese, nuts, low sugar fresh fruits, almond milk (no soy). I do not eat refined carbs or sugar in any form other than naturally occurring sugar in fruits such as berries or sugar free applesauce. I no longer suffer from acid reflux! In addition, I have lost 52 lbs. in 7 months. I feel so much better with significantly more energy and a marked reduction in fatigue and pain. I am not cured, but SO MUCH BETTER!

    When I got to a point where I allowed myself to “cheat” and eat the foods I missed (chips,pizza or cake) I paid dearly for my indulgences with acid indigestion, headaches, and pain returning within days. It was enough to make me run back to my healthy eating plan with gratitude :)

    Hope this helps someone to find some relief, as I have found. I believe diet is so important in helping ourselves as much as we can.

  2. PL

    I too am hypoglycemic and have hashimotos disease (thyroid disorder) for which I take synthroid. I recently went on a gluten free diet and found the hypoglycemia much improved, but now I too have acid reflex which I haven’t had before. If you find any solutions for this problem please forward them. Thanks

  3. jamie

    I just wanted to point out to an earlier commenter that Ezekiel bread is NOT gluten free.

  4. Tim Q.

    @ Bruce. Try a little aloe vera juice before meals.

  5. Blake

    I have suffered from Acid Reflux for easily ten years now. Been on medicine and it never seems to really fully help. I mean there were points when I would be fine, then it would really flare up again, the Doctor would switch medicine or up my dosage and I would be fine for a while.
    This past September my Reflux was so bad I ended up in the ER. I thought I was having Heart Attack. Had an EKG done (nothing wrong with the heart), had Blood Work done (everything was normal), was tested for Gall Bladder issues (do have Gall Stones but the Gall Bladder is functioning fine). Had a few Endoscopies/Scopes (Acid Reflux and a small Hiatal Hernia).
    Was put on new medicine and told to follow a Low-fat Diet. Got slightly better but not great. Went to another Doctor (one that specializes in Internal Medicine) and she put me on an Elimination Diet. No corn (corn syrup and corn starch included), diary, wheat, yeast, or soy. On day three of the diet and still feel miserable. Acid Reflux is as bad as it was when I was in the ER in September. Help!

  6. amazed

    I’ve had constant heartburn, joint pain, migraines and fatigue for years. I assumed weight gain and stress was the cause. Then I went on a low-carb diet and only ate meats and vegetables for 2 weeks, I felt FANTASTIC! I thought it must be the weight I’d lost that stopped those things.
    But then I went off my diet for 2 days during Christmas, I didn’t want to seem rude at the in-laws by not eating anything that was served at Christmas dinner. (yeah, I’ll admit, I didn’t want to miss out on Christmas cookies either) But then all those old problems came back! I only regained 2 pounds, so it CAN’T be a weight issue.
    I thought maybe I was just getting sick until I read an article in a magazine about gluten sensitivity and the wide range of symptoms associated with it. Back on my diet again, and feeling good again. I think it’s time to talk to my doctor about getting tested for celiac disease.

  7. mad jax

    I haven’t been officially diagnosed with anything but have had stomach, fatigue and memory problems my whole life. I have been diagnosed with hypoglycemia and take synthroid for a thyroid condition however nothing has helped with the symptoms. I am now trying a gluten free diet to see if I see any change but I now have found I am getting heartburn several times a week which I really didn’t have a problem with on a normal diet. Does anyone have any suggestions?

  8. jmillergal

    I am intrigued! I’ve had heartburn, acid reflux, and joint pain for years with no solution. I recently decided to go on a low-carb diet to lose some weight and I started feeling much better. I think I need to ask a doctor about celiac disease. Thanks for the great info!

  9. GDM

    I found Ezekial Bread at Publix in the frozen health food section. Some health food stores sell it. It is dense but good. I also found a millet -flax bread that is wonderful!! no gluten. I just finished a hamburger on it. It is pricey; so I limit it to a few slices per week. It is very difficult to eat wheat free. but I feel so much better; NO Reflux!who knew?

  10. JV

    My granddaughter at 18 was diagnosed with celiac. I had been tested through endoscopy, and was not found to have celiac. I have always, however, suffered with IBS, diahhrea, etc. I decided to go gluten free myself. I feel so much better. I did find, however, that I have trouble with GF breads, etc., so have cut those out also.

  11. Chris L.

    Eating gluten free is a major improvement in how I feel, bloat gone, nausea gone, headaches gone…if I stray and eat gluten it all comes back. I was tested negative for Celiac, but tried eating gluten free anyway, and I know it works for me. Just try it to see how better you can feel.

  12. Marti C.

    I have seen this and like stories over and over. Actually, gluten intolerance runs a wide spectrum, much like autism(there is no black and white, like specialists used to think). Newer estimates show that over half the world carry one or more genetic markers for gluten sensitivity.
    It is no wonder that we are now seeing an explosion of the problem, given the amount of gluten, processed food and sugar in the diets of Americans. Other numerous factors are also present. The testing is often inconclusive, so the best advice is, if you have any symptom that could possibly be related to gluten, consider a trial gluten – free diet.
    Better yet, consider a grain-free, dairy-free, and soy – free diet as those who are gluten sensitive are often sensitive to other proteins as well. Many folk respond well to what is called a specific carbohydrate diet. To further assist the upper gi symptoms(and to help with just about everything else), try eating your biggest meal at breakfast, and make it protein, veggies, and good fats – the ole’ saying “Eat breakfast like a king (or queen) works wonders for digestive health, weight balance, blood sugar balance and so much more!
    And beware of the plethora of gluten – free foods available. Most contain ingredients that are potentially reactive. Be especially weary of sulfites and MSG.
    Stick with Mother Nature’s bounty – eat fresh and eat what’s available locally and in season.

  13. Loretta

    Since there is no cure for this disease, many physicians are not good at diagnosing the condition. To be fair, the symptoms are so wide ranging this it is not easy to diagnose. It is also hard to treat someone when compliance is the key. Many people have difficulty staying on this diet, which from personal experience is no fun. I miss toast more than anything.

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