Long time readers of Ergoblog (or those who have mastered the art of browsing the archives) will know that I started out having all sorts of trouble with repetitive stress injuries in my hands, as well as some other health problems (acne, acid reflux, migrains, insomnia, and back pain for starters--I sure was a wreck!). After paying way too much for mediocre medical advice, drugs, and physical therapy (read: big time debt for someone who couldn't work because she couldn't use her hands without pain), I found a natural doctor who thought to have me tested for food allergies.
My results were almost off the charts for sensitivies to gluten, dairy, and eggs. When I eliminated these foods from my diet, my symptoms improved vastly, as in 100% if I was very good about avoiding these foods.
And when I'm not good? As you can imagine, it's hard to avoid all those foods all the time. Gluten and whey (a milk product) show up in a lot of foods. I recently went on a cruise to Mexico, and I decided I'd let myself break some of the rules, instead of just eating fruit, fish, and vegetables (they try to accommodate food allergies on cruises, but don't expect them to have a lot of specialty gluten-free foods). I let myself be particularly bad for some of the extra yummy treats (hello, chocolate buffet cannot be avoided!).
Needless to say, my hands were pretty achy by the time I got back, and some of my acid reflux symptoms were showing up at night. Sometimes I almost envy those folks who go into anylphylactic shock when they eat a food they're allergic to, because they have to avoid it (no, I don't really envy them, but it can be hard to be good all the time when there aren't any immediate dire results).
All this just emphasizes the food intolerances-RSI connection for me. When I've done research, I've found that gluten intolerance in particular is very common for folks (something like 1 in 8 people are suspected of having a sensitivity, enough though they may not know it).
For those who don't know, gluten is found in wheat (which is almost as pervasive as soy and pops up in all sorts of food products you wouldn't suspect), rye, and barley.
Today, for your reading pleasure, I'm providing some links to articles on gluten intolerance. If you have RSI, or any other chronic health symptoms that your doctor can't pin down, you may want to do some reading. I also highly encourage you to get tested for food allergies (it only cost me about $100 to have a blood test done, which checked me for sensitivities to the 100 most common foods in the western diet).
While it's possible to do an elimination diet on your own, but solid results can be elusive if you end up having multiple food sensitivities. (Many gluten free foods use soy, corn, or other grain substitutes, but soy and corn are also foods that many people have trouble with).
Further reading on gluten intolerances:
Gluten Intolerance FAQ -- This page starts out with answers to commonly asked questions and goes into some more information on gluten and celiac disease.
Signs & symptoms of gluten intolerance -- My symptoms aren't the most common, so check here to see if any others plague you.
Could you have undiagnosed food allergies? -- Even more symptoms that can be caused by undiagnosed food allergies (gluten isn't the only thing that could be causing your pain)--even those dark circles under your eyes could be from your diet!
Please leave a comment and tell us your story if you've found a connection between gluten (or other foods) and your health problems.