One thing that may have helped was the fact that I replaced a lot of the processed foods I'd been eating with more fruits and vegetables. I had to; just about every box, can, or packaged item at the grocery store has wheat in it somewhere. While you can find ready-made gluten-free substitutes for wheat products (gluten-free breads, cookies, donuts, pizza crusts, etc.), I was never that crazy about the gluten-free versions, especially of bread. Instead I ended up eating more salads and stir-fry meals. (No, I'm not a health freak... my kind of salad has a bunch of meat, seeds or nuts, and a tasty dressing slathering it.) This ended up in a diet that was much higher in fiber than I'd known previously. According to Dr. Loren Cordain, in The Paleo Diet, that higher fiber diet can be a big help in fighting off digestive diseases (as well as other "Syndrome X" diseases):
"Fiber is absolutely essential to your health--and at least thirteen illnesses can result when you don't get enough fiber in your diet. Some of the most common digestive diseases that develop when you eat the standard American diet with its overload of refined grains, sugars, and processed foods are:
- Varicose veins
- Diverticular disease of the colon
- Crohn's disease
- Ulcerative colitis
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Duodenal ulcer
- Hiatal hernia
The Paleo Diet is naturally high in fiber because of its abundance of fruits and vegetables--about three to five times as much fiber each day as there is in the average American diet."
Check out the book for more on The Paleo Diet (I find it too restrictive to stick to 100%, but the book is an interesting read, and I suspect even making vegetable/fruit choices over grain/sugar choices half of the time can help).