A RETIREE in her 50s who would like to be known only as Lee said she avoided gluten food after she was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in mid 1990s as she suffered stomach cramps and non-stop vomiting.
“The pain could last for hours or more than a day until I started purging,” she said.
She had gone for two surgeries to remove sections of her big colon which were ulcerous.
She said that medication did not work for her and she stopped taking it.
“I learnt through experience that I should avoid wheat products if I didn’t want to be sick.
“So, mee, ramen, udon and bread are out for me,” she said.
Lee said flare ups could occur anytime and they were mostly food related.
Besides gluten food, she also avoids milk as she is also lactose intolerant, and cannot take acidic and high fibre food.
“Surprisingly, meat is fine with me,” she said.
She said she had a bad flare up again in early 2015.
“I couldn’t get out of bed due to severe cramps, couldn’t eat, and kept throwing up,” said Lee, who quit her job so she could manage her diet better.
An American trainer based in Malaysia who wanted to be known only as Evelyn, 66, said she started having body rashes, itchiness, abdominal bloatedness and diarrhoea 20 years ago and doctors could not diagnose her condition despite various tests done on her until one day her gastroenterologist suggested that she avoid gluten.
“I stopped running to the bathroom after 40 minutes of eating. I also don’t have anymore headaches, rashes and fatigue,” she said.
After getting advice from nutritionists, she started preparing most of her food and identifying restaurants she could go to.
Angeline Arumugam, 32, a special officer in a company dealing in power generation in Kuala Lumpur, said her symptoms started more than a year ago.
“Whenever I eat food with gluten, I get indigestion and feel lethargic. I get brain fog later and suffer from mood swings.
“I also get skin rashes on my legs a day or two later,” she said.
She said she did a food diary and started noticing that the symptoms occurred when she ate food with gluten in large portions.
“I can eat a bit of capati but not cakes or pasta,” she said.
She said blood tests, endoscopy and biopsy were taken and the results were normal except for mild gastric.
She said she had also cut down on milk as she suffered from diarrhoea after drinking it.
Marcus Leong, 20, said that he suffered from wheat allergy and the symptoms would begin almost immediately with itchiness in the throat and phlegm and then difficulties in breathing.
“My parents told me that they fed me with baby wheat cereal when I was little and my whole body swelled. That was when they discovered wheat allergy,” the student said.
“If I eat out, I go for more rice-based food and avoid noodles,” he said.
Even with rice cooked in the same water as wheat noodles, or wheat added in gravy, he would get an immediate allergic reaction.
Putri Siti Nordiyana Mohd Zain, 31, said she started going on a gluten-free diet after her son Muhammad Iman Daim Mohd Norshawal’s eczema condition did not improve.
Her son, Daim, now 21 months old, started having eczema when he was four months old, and she went off gluten when he was six months old as she was breastfeeding him.
“Any cookies or cakes I make from scratch,” she said.
She said that eczema has a lot to do with gut health and gluten affects the gut health.
“He flares up when I eat out. I also avoid processed food and anything bottled,” she said. – By Loh Foon Fong