Signs You May Have a Gluten Intolerance or Sensitivity
You may have heard of someone who needs to avoid gluten products in their diet due to a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. You’ve probably also seen the gluten-free sections of grocery stores, and heard of foods being advertised as gluten-free. It may seem like a relatively new “food phase” or “diet craze.” This could very well be linked to the fact that there has been a 30% increase in digestive disorders since GMOs (genetically modified organisms) were introduced to our mainstream food supplies in the 1990s. GMOs have been directly inked to gluten disorders (source).
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in foods created from all types of wheat and other grains, like barley and rye. This does not mean that only breads and grain-related foods contain gluten. There are a surprising number of foods at our supermarkets that contain this problematic protein, such as chocolates, meats, soy products, even toothpastes and vitamins (source). Gluten is prevalent in many foods because of its ability to give bread dough a stretchy, spongy texture, as well as thicken many kinds of soups and sauces.
Signs you may want to avoid gluten in your diet
If any of the following symptoms apply to you, you may have slight gluten sensitivity or perhaps full-fledged gluten intolerance, such as Celiac Disease. Celiac disease is the body’s complete inability to digest the gluten protein, and results in autoimmune problems and complete digestive distress. Talk to your doctor if you feel any of these problems could be affecting you.
- Chronic gas, bloating, diarrhea or constipation after meals
- Keratosis Pilaris - “chicken skin” – the appearance of rough, red bumps on the skin (most commonly on the back of the arms, but also found on thighs, legs, sides, or buttocks
- Sleepiness/drowsiness or “brain fog” after consuming gluten
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis
- Feelings of dizziness or being off balance
- Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility
- Migraine headaches
- Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
- Inflammation or pain in your joints
- Anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD
- Chronic allergies (sinus, nuts, etc)
Again, it is important to talk to your doctor about your potential gluten sensitivities. Making the switch to a gluten free-diet is expensive and inconvenient, but the health benefits reported by going gluten-free make it definitely worth the while. People who remove gluten from their diets report of having increased energy, a higher level of mental clarity and healthier, more productive though processes, weight loss, and many more positive health benefits. There is a wide variety of research available on this topic, as well as tips on going gluten-free and gluten-free recipes.