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Gluten Pain: The Best Teacher


pain the best teacher

I have met hundreds of people who are now on gluten-free diets. My daughter used to be one of them. Gluten pain can make life difficult and become a heavy load to bear. How can this grain that has been around since time began suddenly wreak such havoc on so many individuals? Well, it is definitely causing a lot of problems, but I was never one to just do something without understanding the reasoning behind it. I want to know the answers for myself and not just take someone’s word for it. When my daughter developed IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and couldn’t eat wheat, and every week the list of foods she couldn’t tolerate kept getting bigger, I became a woman on a mission to understand what was going on.

One of the things I have always hated about modern medicine is that they slap a band-aid on problems such as blood pressure, cholesterol, and a host of other problems. My question is, why do you have high blood pressure and why can you suddenly not digest wheat and other foods? What causes the body to develop these symptoms? This is the best part of all our beautiful bodies. They call out to us with problems to get our attention. They are our best teachers and when we start having troubles there is much to learn. The only way to learn is to go within and become attentive to something we take for granted – the inner world of our bodies. I will share with you what I learned. This is my journey to understanding and yours may be different, but maybe I can shed light on some things that will help you.

Every morning my sixteen-year-old daughter would climb out of bed and drag herself to the kitchen. Each morning I would pray that she would feel better that day. Her words were always the same, ”I never feel good, Mom.”‘ It broke me. She was only sixteen and she hated getting up every day to a life filled with pain. I took her to doctors and they wanted to remove her gallbladder for no good reason. It was just a guess. Then I took her to an acupuncturist. This was my first lesson in the body’s ability to talk to you. With much kindness, our Chinese acupuncturist talked with Maci.  He said things to her like, ”You have too much hurry worry and your body is hurting because of this.” I remember as those words came out of his mouth, I fought back tears, because it was so true. She came home that afternoon and broke up with her boyfriend and then the journey really began.

I started researching the foods that hurt her gut the most and eliminated them from her diet. Here is what I found – the reason she was having so much trouble digesting grains was really two-fold. First, her gut lining was damaged. Stress, certain foods she was eating, and a lack of nutrient dense foods was destroying her gut lining. The lack of the proper bacteria to turn her foods into vitamins and fatty acids was causing great stress on her gut. There was nothing to protect her gut lining. Years of antibiotics had stripped her of all her good bacteria and left her defenseless. Just eliminating the offending foods will eliminate the pain, but then you need to fix the lining and add foods to do this.

17- Coconut kefirThe best foods for this are cultured foods. She had a cultured food at every meal – kefir for breakfast and one to two tablespoons of cultured veggies at lunch and dinner, then kombucha or coconut kefir to drink at every meal. She also had a lot of bone broths made into soups. They are healing to the digestive tract because of the collagen in the broth. She also ate a ton of coconut oil – usually three tablespoons a day. I would watch as she got a burst of energy from this and I was always amazed. All these foods are healing to the gut. Each one plays a different part in the healing. As she got better, I discovered why we have such trouble with grains now. Grains are not the same as they used to be. For hundreds of years they would cut the sheaths of grain and stack them in the fields, leaving them to be gathered the next day. The dew would make the grains sprout – this sprouting would unlock the nutrients, as well as deactivate the phytic acid and enzyme inhibitors. Then the workers would gather the grains and take the seeds off the stalks to be used. Today we have combine machines that take the seeds off instantly, never allowing the grains to sprout. Then for years, and still today in European countries, we always used sourdough starters to raise our breads, which transforms the bread in the same way that sprouting does. It puts lactobacillus into the bread. These wonderful bacteria not only change our breads into healthful foods, but they also change our bodies the same way. Now we have instant yeast and the bread never has a chance to transform. Couple this with guts that are so damaged they can barely digest anything and you have a recipe for disaster. Grains take huge amounts of B vitamins to digest and when you are under a lot of stress you don’t have what you need. Sprouting a grain activates all the B vitamins that are locked in there, giving you what you need to digest it.

So, the formula: remove or deal with stress, then heal the gut with fermented foods and nutrient dense foods. Then, once it is healed, add sprouted or sourdough grains. This is what I did and have watched many others do. My daughter can now eat anything and is free from a life sentence of a life without grains. She loves life and can’t wait to get out of bed. Food is not something that she is afraid of but something that brings her great joy. If you are reading this blog, chances are your body is trying to tell you something. Your body is your best teacher are you listening?

Strawberry Gingerade Coconut Kefir
This Drink is so delicious you’ll want to drink it every day. It is fizzy and bubbly and full of flavor. This is a great way to get probiotics into your kids.~Donna
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  • 1quart coconut waterYou can find coconut water in the Asian section of your grocery store or health food stores.
  • 1package Kefir Starter PackageOr 1/2 cup Kefir Whey Or water kefir grains
  • 1tablespoon gingerfresh, grated
  • 4-5 whole strawberries
Servings: quart
  1. Add four cups of coconut water to a quart jar.
  2. Add package of Kefir starter( or whey) and stir to dissolve thoroughly.
  3. You can also use ½ cup of kefir whey, but you will have to use a new ½ cup of kefir whey each time to make this. With the culture packages you can use the first batch 13 to 30 times to make new batches or until it quits culturing.
  4. Add 1 tablespoon of fresh grated ginger
  5. Pour into a closeable vessel such as a bottle with a clamp down lid. It will now take 4-5 days for the kefir to culture at room temperature. The coconut water will become cloudy as the culture grows and it will become "fizzy" and lose its sweetness and become tart.
  6. When the coconut kefir is complete, add 4 or 5 frozen strawberries to about 8 ounces of the coconut kefir and whirl in a blender.
  7. Then sit down and enjoy this delicious probiotic drink. Or refrigerate for later.
Recipe Notes

If you used the Kefir culture packages save ½ cup from each batch to inoculate the next quart of coconut water. It will culture faster each time. Many times it will only take a day to culture. You can do this up to 20 times on each package or until it stops culturing. Mine can go up to 20 or 30 times. If you use ½ cup of kefir whey, you will start over each time with your kefir whey in new coconut juice.



63 Responses to "Gluten Pain: The Best Teacher"
  1. Donna, you might not know the the USA dry harvests the wheat grown here. That means that right before harvest, they treat the wheat stalks with Roundup, then wait a few days, and then harvest the wheat. The USA, as far as I know, is the only country that does this. The farmers here say it makes it easier to harvest the wheat. No wonder we have such issues with gluten! We’re eating wheat with toxens on it!

  2. So informative. For 12 years we have had to deal with my husband wheat intolerance and untill just recently found out he also has a whole grain intolerance. UGH! I swear by using kiefer milk because I had battled with reoccurring BV. And Kiefer milk really knocked it out for me. Recently I had to go on antibiotics for an abscessed tooth and YEP UGH – bv is back. So my question to you is. Will this kiefer( milk or water ) help with my husbands intolerance to wheat and whole grains?

  3. Hi Donna!
    My son is now 20 and was diagnosed with severe Crohn’s disease 4 years ago. He also has lots of food sensitivies. He cannot eat any grains (except rice), dairy, eggs, the list goes on and on. I read your story about your daughter’s sensitivies. Could you please tell me how long from the time she started drinking the kefir until she could handle all those foods again? Thank you so much.

  4. Donna, I am so glad I watched your video. You gave me such hope. I actually did (month ago) purchase your ebook and register. I got discouraged because, running a business and life in general does not allow me time to make anything and not being able to do the dairy. I have been a year off of gluten, dairy, wheat, oats and pork. Having been told I am intolerant of these. I have been struggling over a year and given up on anything working. Is there a way to talk with you? Tricia (Patricia Moore)

  5. Donna- I have found that eating wheat makes my eyes puffy and draining continually until sufficient time has elapsed after consumption. So I avoid it completely, unless I have a weak moment and then must endure the physical consequences. I generally have kefir daily (my beagle gets it too!), and cultured veggies and kombucha from time to time. Am eating much better now, but still get puffy, leaky eyes (also makes me cough because drains in throat). Ugh! Have you heard of these symptoms before?

  6. Hi Donna,

    I have a 6 year daughter old with debilitating asthma. Since she was born I have been looking for an underlying reasons and a solution to this problem. No one in our family besides her has it. I read a lot on the subject and have come across a book called “Eat Right for Your Blood Type”. My daughter is Type A+. The book suggests that all types A cannot consume any dairy, because all type A produce excessive amount of mucus to begin with and Dairy makes it 100% worse. I took her off dairy and she got considerably better, yet not completely cured. We have had allergy testing done for dairy and nothing showed up. She gets sick often with upper respiratory and stomach bugs. I’m Type O+ and should not consume any dairy including yogurt, or anything in brine (which I think includes cultured foods) according to the book. I have been buying Lifeway Kefir and Synergy Kombucha for 4 months now. I give 2 oz of Kombucha to my daughter at breakfast, but I’m afraid to give her Kefir. Have you had any experience with this. Do you know if this blood type diet which excludes Dairy for Typer O and A has any merit? Types AB & B apparently do great with Dairy. What blood type are you, if it is not too personal? I’m just trying to help my poor child anyway I can. I greatly appreciate and respect any input you may have on this matter.

    • I did that diet many years ago and I have found I flourished on cultured foods and I am type O which is not suppose to have dairy. Kefir is so different than regular dairy that I think it is a completely different food.

      • Thank you so much for your response. 🙂 My digestion is much better when I have the Kefir. I will try to give it to my little one, but I will start will small amounts.

  7. Hi Donna,
    I have a question about the Strawberry Gingerade Coconut Kefir. Should the bottle be left unopened for the entire 3-5 day fermentation process or should it be opened to allow gases to escape? If it is opened during the process… does it effect the fermentation of the coconut water?
    Thanks again,

  8. My son who is seven has been battling leaky gut syndrome. I know everyone is different, but how long did it take to really cure your daughter, where should could eat whatever. Love all the culturing advice, tips , and recipes!!

    • Hi Dana, it depends on how damaged the gut is but in about a year she didn’t have any food allergies anymore.The pain in her stomach every time she ate stopped in about a month. I am having a heal your digestion and allergy class that I am giving away when anyone buys my book. It will give you a planner and a class video and I think it will help you a lot. I fed her a cultured food at every meal and it made all the difference. It has helped many others too and it is quite miraculous and it can help your daughter too.

  9. Hi Donna,
    I am really enjoying the recipe ideas on your site. In particular, my children are loving the fruit juice kefir whey sodas I am making – what a great idea. I am just using fruits we have and juicing them – apple and orange so far. I am just wondering if it’s possible for alcohol content to buildup. Do you know? As I am feeding them to my little kiddies, I wondered if there is a way to test? We have been doing kefir for a few years, and they are well and truly over the smoothies and strained yoghurt/cheese style, but now, thanks to your creative ideas, we are enjoying fermented tomato sauce, kefir sodas and christams kraut 🙂

  10. Hi Donna, this is the BEST most comprehendible explaination of this syndrome I’ve read yet and i have been reading for yrs! I need help with this, do you do consults?
    Thanks for a great blog!

  11. I just discovered your blog, and it is a gold mine of information just as much as kefir is liquid gold! I have been suffering from gluten intolerance for the past 5 years now and recently started to cultivate my own kefir knowing that it can put back some good bacteria back in my gut. Yours and your daughter’s story gives me hope that one day I, too, can again eat anything I’d like. Thanks for the information and recipes!

  12. I have been reading around your blog for a short time and just found this particular article. Very inspiring. My 7 year old son has been struggling and started having reactions to so many foods and it just wasn’t making sense to me. I finally got in to a doctor that was recommended to me, but it took a month. It was well worth the wait. She sat and talked to us for over an hour and at the end told us she thinks he has yeast overgrowth along with alot of deficiencies. well we are still waiting for the test results, but I am confident we are on our way! I have been having him drink coconut water kefir and hope that he will try some other things soon. He is a very picky eater so hope he will eat at least a couple other things. Thank you for all the great info and encouraging stories. It is nice to feel like there are people who are out there who understand what you are going through.

    • Hi Dana, I do understand and want to cheer you on. You will learn so much and it will be a journey but one that you won’t regret. You doing a good job helping you son. You should be proud.

  13. Hi Donna, This looks sooooooo good. I tried it…used the milk kefir powder packet (that seemed to be what was indicated). It sat on my counter into the 5th day…got nice and cloudy….but, alas, no fizz!!! It tastes on the tart/sour side and almost a bit salty. But, why no fizz….don’t know whether to use it…now been in the fridge about 3 days while I’m tring to decide???? Thanks for any info….

  14. Great article. I developed a sensitivity to gluten over the past few years, when I eat it every joint in my body hurts. And I *love* bread, pasta & rice!

    I already make and consume kefir, so I guess I’ll keep at it and see if I can’t get my body back into balance. I’ve got natural sourdough starter and I’ve also read that I can use my homemade dairy kefir, basically just mix with flour, let rise and bake.

    Thanks for you informative and uplifting article. Nice to know these types of changes work for folks… gives me HOPE!

  15. tHanks for sharing such a positive experience. I have gone through a similar experience. Have you tried to make your own kefir? I found that the Trader jOES BRAND WAS PASTEURIZED, WHICH SORTA DEFEATS THE WHOLE PURPOSE. tHE KEFIR i MAKE NOW IS SO MUCH BETTER, CHEAPER, AND VASTLY HEATHIER. i’D BE HAPPY TO SHARE SOME GRAINS WITH YOU, OR THEY MILK KEFIR GRAINS ARE COMMON ON AMAZON.

  16. I have been making kombucha tea for a while with great success.
    I am interested in making this yummy kafir drink. I was wondering if the kefir powder has dairy milk in it.? I am off dairy, as it doesnt agree with me.
    I dring only organic rice milk and use coconut milk and coconut oils in my food. Thank you for all the info I have learned here on your webpage.

    • Hi Suzie, Yes the powder packs have dairy but very little. You can make kefir with coconut milk or almond milk with the packages and after the first batch the dairy would be gone form that package. Each package makes 7 gallons so it is economical.

  17. Hi Donna,

    I am wondering if you can use boxed or canned coconut water to do this? Or does it need to be fresh from the coconut? I have a hard time finding fresh young coconuts in my area. Thanks!

  18. how long was your daughter without grains before you added them back in? She can now tolerate wheat? only soaked or soured or conventional wheat products as well? i restrict how much kombucha my kids drink because it’s made with caffeinated tea. is the caffeine eliminated in the culturing process, or is it possible to make kombucha with herbal or red teas? does she still consume 3-7 servings of cultured foods per day? my son is 1 yr into his cultured food consumption (2-3x day) and allergies/asthma are better, but not totally resolved. mostly cultured veggies, some kefir, very little kombucha.

    • My daughter added sprouted grains back in after 2 months. I not sure exactly, but that seems about right. We added sprouted grains and no regular grains. She handle the sprouted fine. Today she can handle bread of any kind, but mostly sticks with sprouted or sourdough but does have regular wheat and has no problems.The caffeine is greatly reduced in kombucha and you can make it with Roobius tea or naturally decaffeinated tea or white tea. I do not recommend herbal teas they don’t cultured well because they like the tea component and also have herbs that can kill the bacteria needed to culture the tea. She still eats a lot of cultured foods everyday and she does it because she likes them and she feels the difference when she doesn’t have them.

  19. Hi Donna,

    THis is the first time I make Coconut Kefir and I am unsure of what to expect.

    I made my first batch from coconut water and kefir powder – but forgot to remove the pulp – and left it for 5 days. I put it in the fridge once the smell changed from coconut to kefir-like. it took 2 days for it to transform further on its own. Now it is definitely fizzy and tangy tasting, but with the added bonus of it smelling rather like eggs and with a lot of white deposit on the bottom. Actually, I fear it may have turned for the worst. Or am I being paranoid? Is it because I did not remove the pulp that it may have turned?

    I appreciate any tips as I am just about to toss this batch just to be on the safe side.


    • It is really fine it is just a little over fermented a little. You could always add a little more coconut juice to it to up make it less fermented. The white deposit is just the act of fermenting the pulp. Don’t throw it out unless you don’t like the taste.

  20. Donna, I have water kefir grains instead of the culture packages. Is this ok or should I use both?? I cant wait to use this recipe.

      • Can the grains be thrown right into the coconut water or do they need to be hydrated in sugar water first?

        Thanks so much!

        • You can just put them in the sugar water. They will quit working over time because they need lactose in milk to stay alive. You can always use the kefir whey and it does the same thing.

          • I have had my kefir grains for over a year and only use them for water and they have grown and multiplied like crazy and never have any died. so once your done using them to ferment it is fine putting them back in sugar water. 🙂

              • I”m talking about water kefir grains that are still in the box 🙂 I know when I’ve made water kefir in the past I had to leave them in the sugar water to get them “going” so I’m wondering If I need to do that again OR If Ican start them in coconut water and all will be good.

                • You know I don’t know the answer to that. They need sugar so if there is enough sugar in the coconut water you could do it. They need a strong dose of sugar at first to get them going.

  21. HI, I’m wanting to make coconut water kefir but where I’m at now I only have water kefir grains available that I have not used yet. Could you tell me how I can make the coconut water keifr with the grains? Do I need to hydrate the grains first before putting in the coconut water.

  22. Thanks for that clarification. I have a couple other questions. I would not call my kefir fizzy at all. Does that mean I should ferment longer before refrigerating? I went about three days… turned cloudy. My other question is that I used the juice from four young thai coconuts. I have to say the process of chopping the coconut to get the juice out is a rather rigorous endeavor. I noticed you used bottled juice. Do you think there is a preference for one over the other?
    Thanks in advance!

    • You should let it ferment longer if it isn’t fizzy. Turning cloudy is the process of fermentation and you actually want that. Making it from fresh coconuts is always better but made me crazy for the amount of juice I got compared to the work. Adding the cultures makes the juice full of enzymes and probiotics and is much easier.

  23. Hi there. I just made my first batch of coconut kefir. My friend started me out with a powdered kefir starter pack… most of it went in to the coconut water and some in to the coconut “cheese”. I was told that to do my next batch I could just save about 1/2 cup of the kefir liquid and add to my next batch and could do so for about 6 times before needing a new powdered package. This seems to be different information than what is posted in this article. Can you help me understand the best way to keep my kefir going?

    • That is correct when you are using kefir packages to make milk kefir. When you are making coconut juice kefir with packages it goes longer. There is more sugar in juice than milk so the good bacteria seems to replenish itself. I have had one of the packages make 12 or 13 bottles of coconut kefir. When it stops getting fizzy you will need a new package.

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