Dr. Deb and Jenny Levine Finke author of Dear Gluten, It’s Not Me, It’s You discuss Celiac disease and Gluten sensitivity. How it affects your ability to lose weight and why it makes you feel bloated.
Do not miss these highlights:
[4:26] After experiencing painful bloating that just got progressively worse over the day, Jenny was diagnosed with Celiac disease which started her journey into a gluten free lifestyle
[6:16] Individuals can suffer for up to 11 years before physicians think about testing for celiac, not having proper follow up with the non-classical symptoms as well
[7:04] Dr. Deb’s story of discovering celiac within her own immediate family and the impact it was having
[11:17] Connecting the dots that pointed to celiac earlier in life
[17:41] Dealing with the emotional component of food
[19:56] Utilizing gluten digestive enzymes when you cannot be 100% sure of being gluten free – but it’s use it not permission to eat gluten products
[21:25] The importance of proper nutrition to help your digestive system heal from the damage that has been done
[28:44] You have to be eating gluten in order to be accurately tested
[31:56] Age related diseases can cause inflammation and removing gluten can assist with decreasing that
[35:25] Dealing with feeling like the burden when going out for meals or restaurants
[39:49} Accessing apps that will tell you if products are gluten-free
[43:33] Gene casting to see if you carry the gene for celiac before you get tested
Jenny’s book: Dear Gluten, it’s not me, its you
For the best in Gluten Free Flour and Gluten Support Supplements, visit https://gf-naturals.com/
About our Guest:
Jenny Levine Finke is the founder of Good For You Gluten Free, the leading health and wellness blog for the celiac and gluten-sensitive communities. As a certified integrative nutrition coach and patient of Celiac disease herself, Jenny is uniquely qualified to help her readers manage their health challenges and feel good about eating gluten-free. Jenny writes articles and teaches webinars that educate, inform and support the gluten-free community.
She also creates delicious recipes and meal plans to help her readers learn how to create health in their own lives and on their own terms.
In 2020, Jenny released her highly anticipated published book, Dear Gluten, It’s Not Me, It’s You, a guidebook to breaking up with gluten and healing both physically and emotionally in the aftermath.
Jenny is also the founder of The Denver Bloggers Club, an organization of nearly 600 bloggers and influencers who meet regularly for learning and social opportunities. Jenny not only organizes the group, but also teaches a variety of workshops on marketing, blogging and everything in between.
Before founding Good For You Gluten Free, Jenny worked in marketing and public relations in Denver and Chicago. She is married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two kids and a rescue pup named Buddy. She lives in sunny Denver, Colorado.
When she’s not working, Jenny is busy cooking up new creations in the kitchen, spending time with her family, walking her dog while listening to books and podcasts, and binge-watching a good TV series.
Social Media & Website:
Transcription for Episode #114:
Debra Muth 0:02
Welcome to Let’s Talk Wellness Now. I’m your host, Dr. Deb. This is where we talk about everything wellness, and learn to defy aging, and live our lives on our own terms.
Debra Muth 0:16
Hey everybody, this is Dr. Deb from Let’s Talk Wellness Now and this is episode 114. I am going to speak with Jenny Levine Finke today, and she is part of Good for you Gluten Free. This conversation is going to be amazing because we’re going to talk about healing from celiac disease, which is so overlooked by doctors. I diagnosed my daughter with celiac disease about 13 years ago, she was 17 years old when I diagnosed her with celiac disease. And back then we really didn’t understand celiac disease very well. It was just kind of coming out to the forefront, it was just starting to be present. And we certainly did not have the products that we have available today. And we didn’t know a lot about it. And unfortunately, 17 years later, there are a lot of conventional or traditional doctors that still do not understand celiac disease. As a matter of fact, my mother in law was diagnosed with celiac disease about 10 years ago. And her doctor just said, you know, it’s okay, just cut back on the amount of gluten that you take in, you don’t have to worry about completely eliminating it from your diet. That’s the information we have out there and it is so wrong. So I’m excited to talk about Jenny today so we can talk about the myths about celiac disease, and how we can set you up for success with celiac disease. So for some of you, you already know that I created a gluten free flour product called GF Naturals specifically for my family. But we just brought that product to market last year and did a whole name change and a rebrand this year. So it just got relaunched about three weeks ago under the name gf naturals. It was originally stocky. It is available for you guys. Listen to this information right here about it.
Debra Muth 2:23
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Debra Muth 3:38
Everybody welcome Jenny Levine Finke to the show, we are going to have a great conversation for you today about celiac disease. But around that topic. Don’t worry, if you don’t have celiac disease, there gonna be a lot of great tips in here about living a gluten free lifestyle, even if you don’t have celiac and why it’s important to do that. So, Jenny, welcome to the show today.
Jenny Levine Finke 3:59
Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.
Debra Muth 4:02
Welcome. So Jenny, tell us a little bit about your story. How did you get involved in food free because nobody gets involved in it just because they’re excited about it. Right? Right. So how did you get started in the gluten free world?
Jenny Levine Finke 4:15
Right? I love that because a lot of people say, you know, nobody’s really gluten free for fun. Most of us are gluten free for a reason, a health or medical issue. So I you know, go on about my business nine years ago and just mentioned to my doctor that I had this very painful bloating that progressed over the day. And I seriously asked her for some gas medicine like is there something you can you know, help ease this bloating like I can’t get in my pants at the end of the day and in the morning. I can wear skinny jeans. It didn’t make sense to me. And so she just said I would like to run a few tests and this was nine years ago I hadn’t really woken up to this world of nutrition and food as thy medicine. Send in all of that. I was pretty naive. And I said, Oh, yeah, run some tests, let me know what you find. And then don’t forget to give me that gas medicine. And, yeah, a few days later, after she just ran some tests, she said, I had celiac disease, which was just a shock, because we hadn’t even talked about what that disease was that she was even testing me for that. But she had tested me for celiac, she had tested me for some AP Food allergies. And she had, you know, tested my thyroid, she ran a bunch of different tests. And it came back that I had celiac. So that’s how I sort of got into this gluten free community, it was definitely not something I chose to be a part of. But something that I eventually ended up embracing as, as my journey continued. And I started to learn and understand what was going on in my body,
Debra Muth 5:50
You were very lucky, because to have an intuitive doctor like that, to think about running those tests out of the gate is huge, because most doctors don’t think of that as their first thing.
Jenny Levine Finke 6:02
Debra Muth 6:03
That is an amazing story. And I’m so glad that that happened to you that way. Because that gave you an opportunity to get on to something that could help you sooner than later and have to go through so many struggles to figure it out.
Jenny Levine Finke 6:16
Right, I feel so lucky. And I know that the average time for someone to get diagnosed with celiac, from symptom onset to actually getting a diagnosis can be up to 11 years. So I feel lucky that, you know, I just made a simple complaint to my doctor. And yeah, she thought test me for celiac. And I think, as we, you know, continue to grow in our awareness of celiac disease, that my hope is that more doctors will see both classical and non classical symptoms, you know, not just the bloating, which would be classical, but also some of these non classical symptoms, like bone loss, and osteopenia and things like that, that they might actually test people for celiac disease sooner so we can identify the root cause and you know, get these people healthier, faster.
Debra Muth 7:04
Absolutely. You know, when I diagnosed my daughter, gosh, I think it’s been almost 13 or 15 years, somewhere around there. celiac was just kind of emerging, we didn’t know a lot about it. And my daughter had been kind of sick for a couple of years. And I just kept saying, you work in McDonald’s, stop eating McDonald’s, all you’re doing is eating crap food. That’s why you feel so bad. And I remember going to a conference and sitting in on a lecture about celiac disease and going, huh. She’s checking all the boxes of what my daughter’s problems are. And I came back home and I said, I really think we should test you for this. And you’re she’s 17. She want to be bothered with things until one day when she called panic stricken because she had gone to the bathroom and the toilet was full of blood. And she was freaking out. And she’s like, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m like, you have got to come to the office, and you have to get tested for this. And sure enough, she tested positive for celiac disease. And, you know, that leads you down the whole road of Okay, who in our family carries that gene? Because either my husband or I did. And my husband kept blaming me, of course, I kept blaming him. And it was him. And so then I started having conversations with my mother in law. And she said, You know, my mother used to have problems. Every time she would eat, she would run to the bathroom, because she’d have diarrhea right away after she ate and she was always so bloated. I wonder if she didn’t have problems? Well, her mom died of liver cirrhosis of the liver, but wasn’t a drinker. And I said, you know, I’m just at this lecture and they had so silent cirrhosis of the liver is usually due to celiac. I said, you know, Mom, I think you really should get tested because my husband does has the same gene. She goes to the doctor, she gets tested. She has celiac disease, and her doctor says, You know what, all you have to do is just cut back on eating gluten a little bit. You don’t have to give it up. And I was like, What are you kidding me? And so you know, here she is now 81 years old, and she hasn’t given up gluten because he said she doesn’t have to, but she feels miserable. And it’s like she says, Well, I don’t feel as bad as Kayla. So I don’t have to eat the gluten free lifestyle. I don’t like that food. And I’m like, okay, but you know, and but how do you argue with somebody when they’re 81 when their doctor says they don’t have to give this up?
Jenny Levine Finke 9:31
Right. And I think we’re seeing people being diagnosed with celiac disease later in life. In their fourth, fifth or even sixth decade of life. We’re seeing these diagnosis coming in because awareness is growing and oftentimes, you can be a silent carrier of the gene and then the symptoms sort of roar as you age as a normal aging process. But I definitely understand there is a huge burden to this diet. It’s or To this this diagnosis, I should say, and that is the gluten free diet. And it’s, it’s really hard to give up foods that you love. It’s really hard to eat out with friends, as you know, you guys have this firsthand experience as well. Yeah. So I get that emotional burden that a lot of people face, especially if they’ve been doing something one way their whole life and all of a sudden, it’s taken away from them. They say celiac is one of the most burdensome treatment diseases of all, you know, and, and we’re talking about really devastating diseases that people have to deal with. But this is not something that eventually will go away. Something that we only have to think about for a few hours a day. This is something we have to think about all day because I like to eat all day. I’m always having to ask, Oh, is that piece of gum gluten free? before I put it in my mouth? I always have to be on my game.
Debra Muth 10:55
Yeah, it’s such a huge learning curve for people because there’s so many hidden names for gluten or so many hidden things that people don’t think are gluten that are there when you first got diagnosed other than the bloating, did you have any other symptoms once you started going gluten free? that’s starting to go away that you didn’t come back to celiac disease?
Jenny Levine Finke 11:16
Yeah, I write a lot about how I connected the dots. You know, I think a lot of us just think, Oh, well, it’s normal, or we just have this or that. And I wasn’t able to connect some of those dots until after my diagnosis. One thing that was so annoying to me that I had was this thing called geographic tongue. Oh, yes. And it’s for a lot of people don’t know what that is. But if you have a you know, you have it because you actually have these crop circles on your tongue. And these likes, they look like sores. And I, I’ve had these for since I was a kid. And I remember every doctor, every dentist I ever asked to say, Oh, it’s nothing to worry about. It’s just there. It’s not contagious. It’s not a virus, it’s just something that you have. And I just took that for granted. And when I was growing up, I mean, there really wasn’t an internet to go search and research this kind of stuff on. And so now you know that the the crop circles have pretty much disappeared very rarely do I see a little little sore on my tongue, or redness on my tongue. They’re all gone. And, and I learned that that is really a sign of potentially celiac disease, but also the nutritional deficiency. And we know celiac disease is a devastating disease because it basically impairs you from absorbing any nutrients, you’re very nutrient deprived, your body can’t function properly without nutrients derived from the food that you’re eating. And so yeah, that went away. And I used to have these, these red bumps, they didn’t itch, but they were almost look like I had zits along my arm. And they weren’t itching. They weren’t popping or anything. They were just these like red little dots. And those I haven’t had those in forever, you know, so you start really connecting the dots, how everything really is intertwined in your body. And, you know, ditching gluten finding out I had celiac disease really helped me overcome some of these other what I consider maybe minor ailments, but they were annoying. You know, it’s annoying. I didn’t want to wear tank tops didn’t want to open my mouth. I didn’t want people to see the sores on my tongue. Just like your daughter.
Debra Muth 13:23
Yeah, my daughter too. She had some skin rashes. But she only weighed 90 pounds in high school as a 17 year old. So the school would always call me and say, you know, we think she’s anorexic. We think she’s on drugs. We think she’s this and I’d be like, Well, no, she’s dealing with a medical condition. And then after she went gluten free, she started slowly gaining weight a little bit at a time. Even though she’s gluten free and had been gluten free for quite a while she struggled a little bit with getting pregnant, because it’s an autoimmune disease. And that can happen even though you’re gluten free. But more so of a problem. If you don’t know you have celiac, right. And the brain fog and some of that mood swing and that emotional up and down was really big for her before she was diagnosed, but she was pretty sick. When we diagnosed her she had been pretty sick for quite a while before we figured everything out.
Jenny Levine Finke 14:21
So yeah, that’s and that’s hard. And that’s kind of going back to what we were talking about in the beginning is that there’s so many what we’re seeing nonclassical symptoms, it’s not just the digestive stuff, but we’re seeing people maybe not being able to put on weight or failure to thrive as a child. We’re seeing skin disorders, we’re seeing, you know, bone issues or seeing all sorts of issue mood disorders, anxiety, depression, which you may also have after you get diagnosed because the high burden treatment for for this disease.
Debra Muth 14:54
Is there. Right,
Jenny Levine Finke 14:55
Right. Right. But yeah, like that’s where I think we just need to really, truly understand that, you know, celiac disease just isn’t about bloating and gas and diarrhea and all those kind of common symptoms. It’s so much more.
Debra Muth 15:10
Yeah, I remember when my daughter got diagnosed, you know, at 17, you’re telling her she can never have pizza, never have grandma’s cookies again, you know, no doughnuts, nothing like that. And she looked at me, she says, Well, what happens if I choose not to do this diet and I said, Well, you have the choice, you can continue to feel like crap, and eventually get liver cancer, colon cancer and die from that, because you’ve choosing not to eat a healthier diet and do what you need to do. Those are your choices. It’s a choice you get to make. And as soon as I said that, she was like, I’m done. I’m not dying of liver cancer or colon cancer. And I’m really tired of feeling like this, I’m going to give this a shot. And, you know, certainly it, she felt better quite quickly, like within about two or three weeks. And at that point, she still wasn’t 100% gluten free, because we were still learning everything that had gluten in it and all the hidden sources. But it was a miracle how much better she felt so quickly, and she bought in instantly because she felt so much better.
Jenny Levine Finke 16:08
Right. I hear that a lot too, is that you know, some people feel better right away. Some might take time. Something else I hear a lot of is that people maybe didn’t have as much of a reaction to gluten, they found that they had celiac disease, they removed gluten from their diet. And now if they take even just a little bite of gluten, they are just they feel like that. Yes. And so I do think that your body really gets used to functioning without it. And it can the symptoms can worsen over time. But yes, she made a great choice. And I feel like I made that similar choice. I had people say to me, too, you know, well, why give it up? You know, like, Is it really worth it? Are you really going to die? And I’m like, Well, I probably won’t die right now.
Debra Muth 16:54
Jenny Levine Finke 16:55
I feel I’m gonna feel pretty icky for a long time. And, you know, I don’t know about you, but I like to be able to button my pants. You know, I like to, you know, feel light and normal and not, you know, have this heavy burden weighing down on my digestive system at all times.
Debra Muth 17:12
Well, in for you. That might have been the very beginning. But you don’t know that. Had you continued eating gluten, it wouldn’t know progressed to being something worse for you over time. You know, as things got worse and worse, and your nutrients weren’t absorbed properly and more inflammation created, you just don’t know. You were just lucky. I got caught really early.
Jenny Levine Finke 17:34
Right. I feel very lucky that I you know, thoughts even asked my doctor and that my doctor thought to test I’ve definitely.
Debra Muth 17:41
Yeah, absolutely. You know, and I think it is hard, like that whole emotional component with food that we have. It’s hard because that’s right now that’s our only treatment. And I know they’re looking at new treatments and different medications people can take so that they can eat gluten. And I’m curious about how you feel about this, because I asked my daughter that all the time, like if they came up with a medication that would allow you to eat gluten again, would you? And she says no. She’s like I wouldn’t. Would you?
Jenny Levine Finke 18:09
Well, I’m not sure. I mean, I think if there is, you know, a cure or whatever, I want to be a part of that. And I have seen there’s a couple of new technologies out there where they’re actually making wheat without the protein without the gluten. And so I would definitely be open to that. It is hard to think about eating gluten again, if it doesn’t impact me, and it doesn’t hurt me, you know, even silently hurt me. I was I would consider those cures. But I do think celiac disease has changed me and has changed my outlook on food and gut health and everything and so that I wouldn’t want to change. You know, there’s still so many other foods that are toxic that are you know, assaulting our gut every day. And so that I would not change, but I think I would, you know, I would be open to a cure for sure. I don’t think a cure is on the horizon. There are these digestive supplements that a lot of people take, like gluten digest. I don’t endorse any of these. I’m just saying the names here. But you know, a lot of people who maybe have a gluten sensitivity are taking them but it’s still like what they’re not realizing is Yeah, me relieves some of the symptoms. It’s not relieving you of the damage that’s been caused. Right. So I think we have to be careful with some of these and you know, digestive enzymes out there. But yeah, this there’s like a I think it’s called CRISPR technology where they actually take the gluten gene or whatever out of the wheat and they can grow wheat. That is gluten-less. How cool is that? So we’ll see if that maybe that will become the dominant wheat in our country one
Debra Muth 19:56
day, who knows that would be nice. I don’t know how it’s gonna stick together when you come up with it with I know, we’ll see, you know if they’ll genetically do something to it that it’ll be just like gluten. But I want to point out to you about your incense because you’re absolutely right, you know, the idea that you can take an enzyme and then have gluten doesn’t really work that way. But those enzymes can be really great if you’re going out to dinner somewhere, and you’ve done everything you can to make sure that you’re not getting exposure, but you’re worried about a cross contamination. That’s where those enzymes can be helpful. You still have to be extremely careful. But I usually that’s what I tell my daughter, like, if you’re going to a restaurant, you’ve done everything else just take an enzyme just so if somebody touched something with your plate, you’re not getting that contamination quite so strong. Because you’re right, like my daughter’s gotten more sensitive over time. And so even a little contamination can make her pretty sick. Where it wasn’t always like that. But it’s gotten worse over time for her for sure.
Jenny Levine Finke 20:57
Right, right. Yeah, that’s a great point. And I definitely have some and we’ll take a digestive enzyme, before I eat out, although eating out is few and far between these days.
Debra Muth 21:09
Yes, that is true. So Jenny, I’d love to hear your approach to healing. Like, once you were diagnosed, what kind of journey did you go on to heal your gut or even to learn about this diagnosis? Yeah,
Jenny Levine Finke 21:25
I, you know, I didn’t know anything about nutrition, I always say I was asleep at the wheel here, and I just ate whatever I wanted without a care in the world. And then, you know, obviously, I was diagnosed with celiac disease, and could not eat gluten, but that I didn’t realize that just eliminating gluten wasn’t really the cure all for what was going on in my body because the damage had been done. And so I your daughter’s very lucky that she felt well, pretty quickly. And I remember feeling better without the gluten, but then feeling like almost relaxed A few months later, and I just it wasn’t the gluten, I wasn’t eating gluten, but I wasn’t something wasn’t right in my body, there was more going on. And it just over time came to this aha moment that, you know, in a way I broke my digestive system, like you would break a leg, you broke, I broke a leg, I break a leg. And I was not really allowing my digestive system that time it needed to repare and heal and restore itself. It’s, it’s, you know, we’re using our digestive system all the time. Now imagine if you broke your leg, and you’re still out running every day and you’re running errands, you’re taking your dog for a walk, you’re not truly resting that broken leg and it’s not going to heal, it’s going to continue to be impaired, or it’s going to take a lot longer to heal. And so obviously couldn’t not eat, you know, I had to eat, I had to have my digestive system working. But I didn’t go on this journey to understand how I could potentially accelerate the healing of my digestive system. And I went on, I did a bunch of different things. You know, I think probiotics, probiotics were huge part of really restoring that bacteria balance in my gut, I know, I had a lot of bad bacteria in my gut that I had accumulated over the years that I wasn’t really addressing. I know I had a lot of tears. And you know, the outside of my intestinal wall was damaged, probably had small holes or scrapes all over it. And so I you know, the probiotics were definitely helping to restore that bacteria balance, I also did what I call juicing, and it was more of this way of allowing me to, to have this intermittent fasting very small periods, 1216 hours of fasting, maybe all I would have this juice, and just to really allow my digestive system to rest and not feel like it was eating and working all the time. And really taking several hours between meals, you know, not eating foods that were also hard to digest really cut back on my sugar. And I did all of these things sort of at the same time. And, and other things as well. And I feel like all of it really contribute to contributed to restoring my gut health and really, like we like to say back to its factory settings a little bit, right, like I was, I had a broken leg in a way right. And so I was staying off the leg and the same I was staying off my digestive system as much as possible to really allow it to restore and I think that so few people talk about that, you know, you might get a diagnosis and say, Oh, you have celiac disease. You can’t eat gluten, you can eat bread and pizza and all these things. But they don’t tell you like well there’s been damage, you know, like the damage is done. You got to do a little bit to repair that damage and we can’t see the damage. It’s inside our bodies. And so that’s where I really went on this need to learn that and I enrolled in a nutrition you know, impact to school to study nutrition, I enrolled in a nutrition program. And I just started to read and learn and attend different seminars and just truly understand gluten, celiac disease, gluten sensitivities, all sorts of gluten disorders, and nutrition and all of that stuff to help me sort of heal my whole body. There was a process, it wasn’t just gluten, you know?
Debra Muth 25:25
Yeah, that is awesome. Did you opt for a colonoscopy once your blood test was abnormal to see if the gut lining was severely damaged?
Jenny Levine Finke 25:35
I did an endoscopy not a colonoscopy. And so they did do after I had the positive bloodwork. This is this is kind of how messed up our system is sometimes it’s right, yeah. And this was nine years ago, I had the blood test came back positive for my primary care doctor, she sent me to a GI specialist, a gastrointestinal doctor. And he I remember meeting with him and I, you know, I never met him before. First time I was there. I remember him saying, you probably don’t have celiac disease. These tests aren’t trustworthy. And oh, really, you know, I didn’t know anything. But that’s so not true. These tests are super accurate and of course, we did the endoscopy. And when I came out of the the procedure, he said to me, Well, visually, I think you have celiac disease, I definitely want to wait for the biopsy to confirm it. But it was just so funny thinking about how he said you probably don’t have it. And then he actually took a look. And he’s like, yeah, you have it right. But yes, it the end asked me sort of, I guess controversial, as you might know, like, do we do we need that? Do we need that invasive procedure to diagnose celiac disease when you have a positive blood test? And I think some countries do not our country does consider the endoscopy, the gold standard diagnosis, I think if you’re going to make such a drastic lifestyle change, and I will say the gluten free diet is a drastic lifestyle change. It is nice to have just an extra level of confirmation. So I am glad that I did that endoscopy when I did. Just so I have that extra level of ‘Yeah, you have celiac, there’s no doubt in my mind.’
Debra Muth 27:17
Yeah. And and you know, sometimes those blood tests aren’t accurate. Because if people have already eliminated gluten from their diet for a while, you’re not gonna see those antibodies show up. We have this conversation a lot with clients is do you go back to eating gluten for a few weeks? And then test to prove that you have it? Or do you just say, Hey, I feel better when I don’t eat gluten and to stay on a gluten free life. And it’s different for each person, right? We all have to make our choice. However, we want to do that. But for a lot of people, it ends up being you know what, it’s really not worth it for me to bring gluten back in for the next three weeks to feel terrible. Just to get a blood test to confirm something that I already know that I don’t feel well when I eat it. Right? Yeah, my daughter opted not to do the endoscopy colonoscopy at 17. But she ended up doing it about five years ago. And her gi was like, Oh my God, your colon looks beautiful. It doesn’t even look like you have celiac disease. I’m not going to biopsy it at this point. And she was really grateful to hear that she kept feeling like she was getting a hit from gluten at different times and having flare ups. But it wasn’t affecting her gut lining if she was and it may have just been something else she was sensitive to. Because there’s so many things that cross react with gluten that we know now that we didn’t, either, but yeah, so she was really happy to at least see that her gut lining was healthy and everything looked good.
Jenny Levine Finke 28:44
That’s great. Yeah. I like to say to people, too, if they if they suspect they have an issue with gluten, and I think intuitively A lot of us might Yeah, we do. Before you go gluten free. Go get tested. And this is what you were saying like you have to be eating gluten in order to get an accurate test. So just go rule out celiac. Hopefully you just rule it out. Right? Yeah. And this way, there’s no doubt in your mind that it’s either celiac, or it’s a gluten sensitivity. And I will say the gluten has to be super serious as well. It’s not as known or understood as a disorder. But that doesn’t mean it’s not real. There’s six to 7 million people who have a gluten sensitivity or intolerance in our country. And that can be six to 7 million people “making this up” not six to 7,000,006 to 7%, which is I think about I think it’s like 20 million people. 20 million people aren’t making this up. It’s just that we don’t understand science hasn’t caught up to the way people are feeling at the moment. But yeah, go rule out celiac disease before you eliminate gluten. And then there’s also tests for gluten sensitivity out there. They’re not as widely accepted and employed by the medical community. But I think that technology is changing, and it’s coming. And there are some tests that you can take, you can take to find out if gluten or wheat or any of those things are hurting you. And then obviously, you could do an elimination diet after you’ve ruled out these other things and just, you know, see if you feel better or not eating gluten. And that’s another way you can, in a way diagnose yourself, I guess, obviously, a doctor diagnose you with this disorder, but you are your best scientist, and you are your best detective. And you can do the hard work to figure this out.
Debra Muth 30:43
Yeah, I totally agree with that. And you know, we’re we’re talking about celiac disease, we forget that celiac disease is an autoimmune disease. gluten sensitivity isn’t that, but it doesn’t mean that your symptoms are any less or any more. I mean, I’ve seen people with gluten sensitivity over the years that have way more symptoms than some of the people I’ve diagnosed with celiac disease. So they’re real, they’re there. And the technology for food allergy testing has come such a long way, but that testing is different. So if you’re looking for a true food allergen, kind of like if people eat shrimp, and they have an allergic reaction, they can’t breathe, that testing is different than the food sensitivity testing. So you definitely want to work with a specialist or a functional medicine practitioner that really understands gluten sensitivity, or food sensitivity versus food allergies, because they’re different for sure, but very different tests. Yeah,
Jenny Levine Finke 31:35
yeah. And gluten causes this, like, immense inflammation and people with gluten sensitivity and right. You know, inflammation is a precursor to many diseases. And so really, we just don’t quite understand the disorder, but it can definitely have devastating effects on people.
Debra Muth 31:56
Yeah, you know, any of our age related diseases is inflammation. And so anything that causes inflammation, it’s going to cause us to age more rapidly. And we see a lot of people with arthritis and bursitis, and things like that. And if they just simply take gluten out of their diet, it’s not so bad. Even brain fog, and behavioral issues. And kids, all of those kinds of things can simply be a food sensitivity, not just gluten. Gluten is a big one. But I mean, I’ve seen women put on 20 pounds from having a sensitivity to lettuce For God’s sake. And they’re eating salads all day long. And they’re gaining weight, and they don’t know why. And we do a food sensitivity test and lettuces their biggest food sensitivity, they take lettuce out and the waitress comes flying off of them like crazy. And it’s like, okay, who would have thought somebody would have been sensitive, don’t let us but when you’ve got a disruptive gut and you have those microscopic holes, like you were talking about, any food can become a sensitivity.
Jenny Levine Finke 32:52
Right? Right. And inflammation is, you know, you’re retaining weight, you’re retaining all sorts of swelling and redness and all that stuff. So yeah, it can definitely, if you’re struggling to lose weight, that it’s something to investigate. And back to your points you if you know brain disorders being contributed to gluten and wheat. There’s a great book. Grain Brain great Dr. Perlmutter, and he actually Dr. Perlmutter wrote a beautiful endorsement for my book. It’s on the cover of my book, and his work has definitely influenced a lot of my thinking and understanding of gluten disorders beyond those classical bloating symptoms. It really can affect your mental disorders, brain disorders, Alzheimer’s, all sorts of things.
Debra Muth 33:38
Yeah. I love Dr. Perlmutter. I met him about 24 years ago, at a conference that my colleague took me to was one of the my first conferences in functional medicine and, and he sits down and we’re chatting and he says who he is, and he’s just normal guy, right? And then he’s up there speaking and I’m like, wait a minute, that’s it. Like Holy cow, Oh, my gosh, I didn’t know who he was at that time that he wasn’t as big as he is now. And I’ve met him multiple times over the years. He’s just the nicest guy in the world, and just so knowledgeable about all of this stuff, and I’m so glad that he’s getting this information out to the world. Yeah,
Jenny Levine Finke 34:17
it’s funny that you say that I be, you know, in our own little community of gluten free people, we would be starstruck by Dr. Perlmutter, or, or, you know, Dr. O’Brien, Tom O’Brien, sensitivities or, you know, there’s there’s like rock stars in our community that we, we left. Yeah. Davis Have we got, like starstruck, right. Yeah, it’s Dr. Davis.
Debra Muth 34:46
Dr. Davis. I love Dr. Davis. He actually practiced right here in Milwaukee. So he and I shared lots of patients together over the years before he wrote his book and became known for what he is now but wonderful doc. I mean, his patients Miss immensely but just a sweetheart super down to earth and just great people doing the right things. Right, right, right people what they need to know. So Jenny, what was one of the biggest hurdles that you’ve had to overcome in changing your life around gluten?
Jenny Levine Finke 35:25
You know, I think for me, I mean, there’s so many hurdles but what came to mind when you said that is just that some emotional connection with food was so hard for me. I mean, what is mac and cheese without Mac? Right? We, you we have such an emotional tie to food. And I just, I love you know, those baguettes, the soft middle and the crunchy outside. And I remember like growing up and sharing that with my grandma, she loved the crunchy outside, I love the dough inside and like, I just had this emotional attachment to food. Yeah. And then it’s like, all of a sudden, I can’t eat this food. And I’d say another burden that came along with that is just feeling like a burden, you know, and feeling like everyone has to sort of cater to Jenny Jenny’s coming for Thanksgiving. You know, let’s keep the stuffing over here. You know, I hate that feeling of being this this burden. And I think even people have described it as high maintenance, which I don’t want to be described as, right. But there is there is that level of comfort people have to give me before I can eat at their house or at a restaurant. And it does come across as sometimes like to cater to her. And I hate that feeling with every bone in my body.
Debra Muth 36:48
Yeah, I can hear that, you know, I when my daughter was diagnosed, we started playing with back then all we had available were nut flowers, which were terrible to bake with, you know. It’s just awful. Luckily, today, we have a whole bunch of nice products on the market to use. But I would try all these different recipes and waste all this money and time and we’d end up throwing them in the garbage. And my boys would be like, Mom, aren’t you ever gonna make something that isn’t gluten free anymore? This stuff is disgusting. And so I have to make two batches. Here’s the one for the boys. Here’s the one for my daughter. And hopefully the one for my daughter turned out halfway decent that she could eat it. And I remember one time having my entire family over. And this was maybe about 10 or 11 years ago, and we had this huge turkey meal and everybody was eating everything was great. 10 minutes after dinner, my daughter’s in the bathroom throwing up and having diarrhea. And I’m like, What is going on? Like nothing here has gluten in it. And we were racking our brains and racking our brains and it was the turkey. I had never thought that Turkey had gluten in it. And one of my co workers that said, Deb what turkey did you buy? And I’m like Ashley, I think about this, I don’t remember we looked it up. Sure enough, it was soaked in a gluten solution. And it was contaminated and made her sick. And my entire family kind of always thought that my daughter was faking a little bit until they saw that episode. And then they were like, Oh my god, she’s really sick. Is she okay? And we’re like, well, this is what happened something we had gluten in it. We didn’t know it now. Now every time I make turkey she’s like, is that a gluten free Turkey? Mama? Yes is a gluten free Turkey, I promise and we’re 11 years out and she still says that everything. But it’s things like that, that really make your life change. And she’s felt the same way. Like, I don’t want everybody else have to suffer because I can’t have something. Go ahead and make what you make. And don’t worry about me. But it’s like, yeah, that’s never gonna happen.
Jenny Levine Finke 38:52
Yeah, yeah. Nobody wants to sit there and eat in front of you. Right? Yeah. And this is why it’s so important with, you know, people with celiac disease to have those difficult conversations with friends and say like, I do want to eat at your house. Is there a way we can talk about it before I come over? This way I don’t show up at your house and be like, oh, not eating that. You know, that person worked really hard to make a meal for you that you’re not going to eat so these conversations are so important. I definitely feel for your daughter like who would have thought these things at Thanksgiving. I do think a lot of companies are eliminating gluten from a lot of their, you know, a naturally gluten free product they’re eliminating gluten from it. Although there’s still a few holdouts like something like rice krispies rice, gluten free, but Rice Krispies contain a barley malt coating on it and they’re not gluten free, which is a bummer.
Debra Muth 39:49
Yeah, I’m really happy to see a lot of people using like xantham gum now instead of flour, or a corn substitute or something like that so that people can Eat it safely, even though they’re not marking it as gluten free. If you look at the ingredients you can usually check in, there’s so many awesome apps these days that can tell you if the product is gluten free or not. Even if it’s not labeled gluten free. There’s a lot of great products that way available. So that’s nice. So Jenny, I have to say, I absolutely love the title of your book and can’t wait to hear more about it. So the the title of your book, and I loved it when I saw it. Yes, “Dear gluten, it’s not me, It’s you”. I love that title. It’s like a breakup title. Right? Right. Tell us a little bit about your book. What made you write it? What’s it about, how people can find it?
Jenny Levine Finke 40:42
Yes, if you can tell that emotional journey for me is is powerful is a big part of my journey. And so I wrote this book as a breakup, like how to break up with gluten, why break up with gluten and then how to heal in the aftermath, you know, and how to get over your X right?. And so, you know, I did feel I did feel like, you know, gluten was my ex-boyfriend in a way. And both with the physical changes I had to go through and the emotional changes and so it’s, it’s it’s truly that guidebook to breaking off things with gluten. And I, you know, tried to write it in a little bit of a clever way. And then like I said, one thing that I was really, that was really important to me to add with that healing component, you know, how to not just implement a gluten free diet, but how to just even go beyond gluten free and heal your body and live this healthy whole life, symptom free, you know, remission in a way. And, and so a big part of that journey is, you know, getting over getting over gluten and really healing and moving on.
Debra Muth 41:49
Absolutely. And where can people find your book?
Jenny Levine Finke 41:52
So it’s on Amazon right now. And just search for deer gluten, it’s not me, it’s you. And so and, you know, I really hope you guys will get it has some fun recipes in it as well. And then I also have my website, my blog site, which is a wealth of information as well. And that is: goodforyouglutenree.com. And if you are new and starting your journey on this gluten is gluten free journey, you can go to my other website guide.goodforyouglutenfree.com. And you can download a free quickstart guide to getting started with a gluten free diet.
Debra Muth 42:29
Beautiful. And I will say I’ve been on Jenny’s website. And it is amazing. It’s got great information, really high quality, it’s beautiful, aesthetically, to look at. So you can sift around on there. spend a little time on there, you’ll find some really great information there.
Jenny Levine Finke 42:47
Oh Thank you!
Debra Muth 42:47
Yeah, absolutely. So Jenny, is there anything else you want to share with our listeners today about living that gluten free lifestyle?
Jenny Levine Finke 42:55
Oh, well, I don’t know if there’s anything we haven’t we’ve covered a lot today. So I just I want people to the takeaway message from some of the things that we talked about too, is that you just get tested, if you suspect you have an issue with gluten, please go get tested, you can talk to your doctor, there’s even at home blood tests you can take you know, there’s kind of it’s like a finger prick at it, you gotta gotta squeeze blood out of your finger. But you don’t even have to go to a doctor to get the test done. And then obviously, you can just bring the results to your doctor to get your diagnosis. But yeah, I think that’s really, really an important thing for people to know about.
Debra Muth 43:33
That is a really great point. And there’s also if you have little ones that you’re afraid of poking their finger, they’re cheap swabs you can do for DNA testing to see if you carry the HLA gene. It’s not an absolute confirmation, but at least you know that you maybe carry one or two genes. And if that’s the case, then you know, you definitely need to go get some blood testing done to confirm an active infection or an active disease, I should say not infection, but because it may not be activated now, but it may activate sometime in the future. Right?
Jenny Levine Finke 44:05
Yeah, that’s a good point. Gene casting is important because you have to have one of the genes, right? celiac disease. So if you don’t have it, then you don’t have to get tested. But if you do have it, you need to get tested. And you need to monitor because celiac disease can turn on at any time. It’s not just something you have right now. And maybe some of you have in five years from now.
Debra Muth 44:25
Yeah, I really think my daughter’s turned on we were in Mexico when she was seven. And we both got sick from the water. And after that it was about a year and a half after that, that she started getting sick. And I really questioned whether or not that parasitic exposure is what actually turned on her celiac disease and I’ve done a lot of research about infections and things like that, that can trigger it and I suspect that’s what it was, but my you know, you’ll never know 100% but you always wonder like what turned it on at that age but right.
Jenny Levine Finke 44:59
We can only speculate but you’re right trauma or other viruses, a lot of connections to mono. Yeah. And I think mine turned on maybe in the years following pregnancy, which is, which is a trauma in itself to your body. And so, yeah, I felt I didn’t feel this way my whole life. I had some of those symptoms. But after I had my daughter I remember, you know, feeling progressively worse with time.
Debra Muth 45:28
Yeah, you bet. And pregnancy is a big one. You know, we’ll see autoimmune thyroid get turned on other autoimmune diseases. It’s very common to trigger that. So not uncommon to think celiac would have been triggered by a pregnancy for sure. Right. Okay. Even if it was an uneventful pregnancy, it doesn’t really matter.
Jenny Levine Finke 45:44
Yeah, yeah. Oh, wow. So that Yep. That’s what I feel to you. I and I hear it all the time. You know, I don’t know that we have 100% proof of what turns on that gene. But we hear you know, I hear so many stories like what you shared and what you’re sharing. So
Debra Muth 45:59
yeah, absolutely. Well, this was a wonderful conversation. I’m sure we could chat for hours, but I want to be so respectful of your time. Thank you for joining us today.
Jenny Levine Finke 46:08
Thanks for having me. And thanks for all your work in this community.
Debra Muth 46:11
Debra Muth 46:14
Hey, it has been really great sharing this time with you guys on the let’s talk wellness now podcast. If this episode has helped you, or you feel as though this episode would help someone else we’d love for you to leave us a review. Share this podcast. And if you don’t want to miss the most exciting episodes we have coming. We’d love for you to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes or Google Play. Until next time, live every day to the fullest.