May 10, 2013

Celiac Sourdough "Fail": Hypothyroid and Adrenal Fatigue Symptoms

Before my family went gluten-free, my husband made our own bread on the weekends.  We greatly enjoyed doing that together and knowing that we were consuming fresh bread with ingredients we could control was gratifying.

After almost a year of being gluten-free, I wondered if we might be able to eat true, fermented sourdough bread, as others with gluten issues have been reported to do.  The idea is that the fermentation process breaks down many of the intolerable properties of wheat, including the gluten. 

Then I talked with a friend whose little boy with gluten sensitivity can eat her "extra" fermented sourdough starter recipe for pancakes. 

I also read in Nourishing Traditions about our ancestors' habits of making bread this way, as opposed to yeast breads, which were not introduced until relatively recently.  They didn't have nearly the issues we have with gluten, now, did they? 

Maybe . . . just maybe we could eat it, too, I thought. 

So after Easter this year, I began my own sourdough starter using King Arthur Flour

I so enjoyed the rhythm of feeding my starter by whisking in water, then flour.  I relished seeing it on the counter in its jar.

When the time came to make the first loaf of bread, I used this recipe.  I blended part of the starter with water and flour and salt.  I let it rise for 24 hours to give time for the gluten in the newly incorporated flour to get broken down by the starter.  And I baked it on my baking stone over a boiling-water bath - all just as the recipe calls for.  

It turned out a little dense.  I needed to get back into the "feel" of bread-making since it had been so long since I'd done it. 

But it was delicious and we ate the first loaf with dinner guests, and felt no ill effects from it. 

When the time came to make a second loaf of bread, I sifted the flour before measuring.  I even weighed it after measuring to compare.  I also skipped the water bath in the oven since the extra rising time gave the bread a sort of crust (the first loaf was too crusty). 

It was perfect!

But after two days, my oldest daughter and I both reacted horribly.  Her behavior was awful for about a week - irritable, aggressive, defiant - all very unlike her!  My husband and I kept remembering how difficult things were in our house before we went gluten-free. 

For myself, I experienced intense hypothyroid and adrenal fatigue symptoms.  For a few days, my whole body felt like lead and I was extremely fatigued in the afternoons.  And for weeks, I experienced:

  • brain fog
  • ear ache
  • fluid in my ears
  • carpal tunnel flared up in both wrists
  • afternoon fatigue
  • dry skin
  • acne
  • water retention
  • weight gain (10 lbs.)
  • hair loss
  • irritability
The hair loss and irritability have still continued even to now, although taking the adrenal adaptogen Rhodiola has helped the irritability the past few days. 

Before the gluten, I felt wonderful.  I was having none of these symptoms, except some slight hair loss, some slight water retention in my ankles, and acne but only when my estrogen peaks.