Exciting news! My final symptoms are fading away

Exciting news! My final symptoms are fading away.

According to this Harvard website,

The ideal blood pressure is 120/80; as it rises above that threshold, the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other health problems steadily rises. At 140/90, doctors generally recommend blood pressure medication.

I have a new cuff at home that I am using to check on my readings once or twice a day. My doctor recently recommended that I cut my medication in half, and monitor the results. She said that if my numbers continue at recent levels, she’s comfortable with me cutting out the medication altogether. So far, my results have been hovering around the “ideal” levels identified in this article.

That is wonderful, yes it is. A dozen years ago I was deathly ill (literally) with an unknown condition that turned out to be celiac sprue. [see my note below the line]

So, for the past 12 years, I’ve eliminated gluten from my diet (I have been a vegetarian for over 52 years), and tried to keep my weight under control and get adequate exercise (lately, mostly hiking). All of that gradually cleared up all of my symptoms and blood levels (low everything from B-12 to cell counts to hemoglobin, etc.), but the blood pressure continued at elevated (though not extreme) levels.

In the past year or so, my blood pressure readings started to come down, and have stayed there. With any luck (and a lot of hiking) I’ll have one less thing to worry about…



Addendum: About 15 years ago, I began to develop strange symptoms of fatigue and other uncharacteristic problems. I discovered my gluten-intolerance only after undergoing every test known to medical science without finding anything wrong. In a way, this was good news, but I was still very sick!

There are several websites (including the one I linked to above) giving a reasonably clear description of celiac sprue, although¬†I do object to it being called a “disease.”

In my opinion (uninformed by any scientific evidence — in other words, I’m just making this up), it is more likely that the inability of the immune system to tolerate gluten is a throwback to a pre-agricultural condition when people (especially in northern climes, where it is most prevalent) had very little in their diets of the grains that contain gluten. As wheat, rye, and barley became more common, many people developed (and passed along to their offspring) the ability to cope with the elevated levels of gluten that came with the new reliance on cultivated grains.

People who did not develop this tolerance did not produce as many offspring, since they probably died of malnutrition at a relatively early age. Celiac sprue is so called because it is an auto-immune condition in which the immune system attacks and destroys the celia in the small intestine, thus (eventually fatally) compromising the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. That is where I was headed.

But perhaps the adaptation was imperfect, and there are those of us who, later in life, lose the ability to tolerate gluten. People like that could still produce and raise healthy children, but might themselves die prematurely. I won’t bother to link to the articles here, but in the past few years there has been much written speculating that JFK (in particular, but probably many others, famous and not) might have suffered from an undiagnosed case of celiac sprue. In JFK’s case (and he was, like me, of northern European descent), if he did have the condition, it might have contributed to his many ailments, including his back problems. One author went so far as to speculate that he was so ill he might not have lived to see the end of a second term, had he not been assassinated.

The condition has been known to medical science for the past couple of hundred years, but it is only recently that an appreciation has developed as to how widespread is celiac sprue. When I first started my gluten-free diet, only a dozen years ago, it was difficult to eat out and even to find gluten-free products such as pasta. Now, every restaurant seems to have a gluten-free menu and every supermarket has a gluten-free section. Some people go gluten-free because it makes them feel better, but for people like me it is literally a life or death decision.

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