Okay, so this is really interesting I promise you, read on….
Many of you know that Darcy suffers from an autoimmune disease called sarcoidosis which has led to lung disease (COPD), heart disease and body-wide granulomas. As we have discussed in our podcast, Darcy is also medically defined as obese – which he openly puts down to too many pies, beer and doughnuts (listen here, Episode 11).
Recently, we were traveling with a colleague who had reached a similar middle-age impasse, where he needed to lose some weight. While we were travelling, our colleague had sworn off all carbohydrates – like breads, rice and pasta – which is no mean feat given the food on offer. This was inspiring in itself and then, when we got back from traveling, Darcy and I recorded our podcast on Continuous Glucose Monitoring with Dr Paul Kolodzik (Listen here, Episode 25).
After we turned off the record button on the podcast, we chatted further with Dr Paul who challenged Darcy to limit simple carbohydrates in his diet and explained why. Dr Paul was blunt in a way Darcy responds well to – “don’t give me your excuses – the science is clear.”
So, Darcy decided to minimize simple carbohydrates, to lose some weight and gain better health.
He started to feel better (and lose weight) but was still experiencing gastro issues (which he insisted on describing in the office ☹).
He sought medical advice on the gastro issues and his doctor was concerned enough to book him in for a CT scan and blood tests.
His CT scan confirmed that he had some intestinal inflammation, but fortunately, nothing more serious than that.
However, his blood test showed he had antibodies to gluten, meaning he was at the very least gluten intolerant, if not coeliac.
When he told me, I said, “surely you have tested for gluten intolerance before” – and he said “no, never.”
What! - Darcy suffers from an autoimmune, auto-inflammatory disease, yet he (who has spent thousands of hours researching autoimmune diseases) and his medical team (he has seen many medical specialists during the course of his disease) never analyzed any dietary factors that might underpin, exacerbate, or even cause, his inflammatory disease.
We can’t say whether Darcy’s gluten intolerance is a cause or a symptom of his sarcoidosis (which is why it is not routinely tested for medically) – but it sure hasn’t help reduce his chronic inflammation!
On the good news front, Darcy has now stopped eating gluten. He is feeling amazing and is without gastro issues and has lost more than 20 kilos. He is well on his way to being “non-obese” – make sure you comment on his svelte appearance if you see him!
There are more and more data linking lifestyle to chronic disease – genetics make up a very small component of diseases like heart disease, dementia, diabetes and autoimmune diseases. This means that when we get medical treatments for disease, it is important to also evaluate all aspects of our lifestyle.
We will never know if Darcy had gone gluten-free earlier, whether he would have saved himself from heart disease and other challenges he has had thrown at him or saved himself from sarcoidosis itself.
We totally understand, it is easy to question medical testing in retrospect and that there are many lifestyle variables to evaluate and doctors have limited time and resources. However, we do think that variables like gluten are easy ones to experiment with – both by yourself - stopping eating gluten for a couple of weeks to see how you feel – and medically – a simple blood test.
Functional medicine, holistic health, preventative medicine, whatever you like to call it, we need to think widely about disease so we can be the owner and driver of lifestyle changes to move towards better health - let Darcy’s story be testament to that.
If you would like to discuss any of this further, please contact Darcy or Anna (who you can contact at 027 599 2255 or 027 4861418 respectively) or via email@example.com.