Glutened! Gut Healing After Accidental Allergen Exposure

I’ve had amazing improvements in my health since going paleo and especially gluten-free.  Since going gluten-free, I’ve never electively eaten any gluten-containing foods and I really thought I was on a roll with knowing what to look for while shopping and dining out.  Unfortunately, I learned the hard way recently that you can’t always trust the information you get from restaurant staff and had the misfortune of finding out how very, very (extremely) poorly I respond to the reintroduction of gluten.

Needless to say, I will never knowingly eat gluten again but I know that it’s not something I will always have control over.  The experience of getting accidentally glutened did teach me a lot, however, so I suppose that’s the silver lining of my sad story.  The following is all my approach to gut and whole body healing after gluten exposure…fortunately, this apporach  it can be extrapolated to any allergen exposure.

Glutened! Gut Healing After Accidental Allergen Exposure

#1. Start with the most nutrient dense foods

I couldn’t keep anything down for over 48 hours after I got glutened so I started adding foods very slowly and carefully.  The first thing I tried was bone broth (here’s my never-ending bone broth recipe) because I knew it would provide hydration (I was pretty severely dehydrated after 48 hours), help correct any electrolyte imbalances I had developed through fluid losses, and begin to give my body the nutrients (minerals and vitamins) to start the recovery process.  It also takes very little processing to start being absorbed by the body so it was a logical place to start.

Next, I moved to the most potent nutrient-rich foods I could think of that were easy for the body to assimilate: liver, offal, stewed/braised meats and vegetables (“predigested”, so to speak).  After I felt up for it, I started to add foods that were slightly harder to digest but that were dense energy sources such as high quality fats and starches.  I tried to stay away from questionable foods for a while but I also just kind of went with my cravings.  I figured the day I started to crave dark chocolate was the day I was able to handle it and that’s pretty much how it worked out.  I also interpreted my cravings as possible nutrients that needed to be replenished…for example, I focused on getting dense sources of magnesium along with those dark chocolate cravings.

#2. L-glutamine

This amazing little amino acid helps repair the gastrointestinal tract epithelial cells and help promote normal cell signaling between cells.  I took 3 capsules 3 times a day, on an empty stomach and I really feel like that made a big difference.  I tried using it at a lower dose but it didn’t work as well. I buy this kind of L-glutamine at the Vitamin Shoppe.

#3.  Deglycerized licorice

I’ve heard this explained as “nature’s Pepto Bismol”.  It helps coat the lining of the gut to help protect it from mechanical and chemical damage, as well as to help limit inflammation at the epithelial level.  I got a chewable form but in retrospect I wish I had gotten capsules because when I went back to look, the capsules had fewer additives in the ingredients.  Guess that gluten brain fog got the best of me that day…but I still feel like it helped.  I chewed 2 tablets 2-3 times per day on an empty stomach.

#4. Gelatin

Gelatin was another way to coat my gut lining to help diminish inflammation and protect from any mechanical or chemical irritation.  I made my capsules with empty gelatin capsules filled with Grass Lakes Grass Fed Gelatin.  I was also getting gelatin in the form of bone broth (bonus!) but I also made some chamomile jello from the gelatin as yet another way to get some extra gut-healing goodness in.

#5. Marshmallow and peppermint tea

I already did a post, references included, on why this combination is great for the gut so please refer to this post here.  As extra bonuses, it’s yummy and helps you rehydrate.

I’ve written about how I buy my teas in bulk and for a very reasonable price over on the Tea Directory page.

#6. Sleep and magnesium supplements when you can’t

I know a lot of people say they sleep more when they are recovering from being glutened.  If this is you, I say the best thing to do is to let your body sleep as much as it wants to.

I, on the other hand, get total and complete insomnia when getting exposed to gluten and even though I know getting some sleep would help me recover, I can’t stay asleep for the life of me.  Thank goodness for homemade magnesium oil because it has never let me down in terms of getting to sleep (I would just reapply it when I woke up in the middle of the night).  Magnesium is also hard for your body to absorb if your gut is in distress so getting it transdermally is a really great alternative at times when you are most likely utilizing a significant amount of the magnesium stores in the body (illness!).  Another great option is to take epsom salt baths and I totally would if our apartment didn’t have the worlds smallest water heater (certainly better for the environment but I sure miss taking baths sometimes…).

#7.  Probiotics

Anyone with gut issues needs to focus on getting good probiotics into the gut because they help with cell signaling in the gut (important for repair and fighting inflammation) and to help us digest important food sources.  This is an especially important aspect for those of us who lose the contents of the gut entirely after being glutened…you need to repopulate the good bacteria before the bad bugs have a chance to lay down camp.  I needed to get serious about reinoculating the gut so I started taking probiotic supplements but I also included fermented foods such as kombucha, goats milk kefir, coconut kefir, and sauerkraut (sauerkraut was the last addition to the group since it is the hardest out of the bunch to digest).

#8. L-theanine for mood support

My mood was most definitely affected for the worst after being glutened.  I was super touchy and had inappropriate crying spells (deepest apologies to Mr. Dig…) for about a week or so after.   I also woke up very anxious which made my insomnia even worse.  In addition to the magnesium spray, I started taking l-theanine, another amino acid, along with the l-glutamine I was taking and I feel like it helped both my foul mood and the anxiety.  I was taking 2 capsules once a day, on an empty stomach.

Along with the l-theanine, I tried to spend a bit of time outdoors by taking long, slow walks.  I also feel like this helped my mood some but it’s hard to tell how much it was because of the l-theanine and how much it was from the time spent being active.

So those are all my current tricks to help heal your gut after being glutened.  Please share in the comments below if you’ve found other things that work for you!

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10 replies

  1. My daughter recently developed headaches, body aches and sore throat after a dose of antibiotics. I took her off dairy after hearing a similar story and she immediately improved. I suspect an inflammatory reaction in her gut. She’s only 6 so a lot of these would be hard to implement. Which do you think would be the top 3-5 to help heal her gut?

    • Aw, poor girl! I’m sorry to hear that. For kids, I personally would do things like powdered probiotics mixed into food (like coconut yogurt or something), lots of bone broth, and grass fed gelatin gummies (I have a chamomile jello on the blog and there are tons of variations all over the internet). I did this with my baby sister (7 at the time) and she ended up liking/not really noticing these 3 things. With other herbal supplements, I think working with a practitioner is the way to go because they are pretty powerful. Hope she feels better!

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