In recent years, many people have been adopting a gluten-free diet for health and weight management reasons. However, there are those who must follow this type of diet not by choice, but out of necessity. For people who suffer from gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, also called celiac disease, consuming gluten can lead to illness or even death in the most extreme cases. Here’s what you need to know to determine if you might have gluten intolerance.
Gluten Intolerance Signs
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a common substance found in wheat, barley, and rye. While most people’s bodies have no difficulty processing gluten, there are those who are sensitive to or even completely intolerant of it. In fact, more than 200,000 people in the United States alone report gluten intolerance each year.
What Are the Effects of Gluten Intolerance?
Gluten intolerance, also called gluten sensitivity, is tricky to diagnose and near impossible to accurately test. Individuals with gluten intolerance exhibit near identical symptoms to celiac disease, but their blood tests and endoscopies do not reveal damage to the lower intestine.
Through process of elimination or simply a period of eating a strict gluten-free diet, an individual may self-diagnose an issue with gluten despite the presence of the molecules that would cause a negative reaction to gluten.
Doctors have yet to determine what causes gluten intolerance, and what damage it causes to the body. Many doctors dispute the existence of gluten intolerance, claiming that a lack of cohesive testing practices, symptoms, and visible intestinal damage prevents them from labeling it as a disease. Most doctors do agree that celiac disease should be ruled out before going on a gluten-free diet.
Gluten Intolerance Signs & Symptoms
If you suffer from gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity, you’ll experience digestive troubles any time you consume something containing the substance.
This can include symptoms like:
- stomach cramping
- skin problems
- joint or muscle pains
Of course, these symptoms can also be brought on by other factors, like stress or food poisoning, so it is important to observe these symptoms consistently over time whenever you eat foods containing wheat, rye or barley.
The reason for all of this digestive discomfort is that gluten causes inflammation of the small intestines in those who are gluten-intolerant. While this may not seem like a big deal at first glance, it can lead to serious health problems over time. When the small intestines become inflamed, their ability to absorb nutrients properly is diminished drastically. This malabsorption of nutrients can cause you to become malnourished, even while following an otherwise healthy diet.
Over time, the inflammation of the small intestines can damage their lining, resulting in even more digestive complications. Other common symptoms of gluten intolerance include anemia (low iron in the blood) and even osteoporosis (lack of calcium in the bones). If those complications sound a bit scary to you, you are right to be concerned.
Is There a Cure for Gluten Intolerance?
At this time, there is no known cure for gluten intolerance. However, that does not mean that all hope is lost if you suffer from the condition. Dietary changes have been shown to be remarkably effective in mitigating symptoms and even reversing the damage that has already been done. When you cut gluten out of your diet, your small intestines will be able to heal, restoring normal digestive function.
If you have been suffering from digestive issues and don’t know why, it is possible that gluten intolerance may be the culprit. To identify the source of the problem, take the time to document what you eat at each meal so that you can figure out when your digestive issues are most likely to occur. The quickest way to discover it, is with a gluten-free diet. If you start to notice a pattern of digestive discomfort whenever you eat foods containing gluten, you should see your doctor right away for a diagnosis.
Although there isn’t a cure yet for gluten intolerance, it is entirely possible to live a long, healthy life with celiac disease. While it may seem difficult at first to cut gluten out of your diet, once you get in the habit of choosing gluten-free foods, you’ll likely find that you don’t even miss bread and other foods that contain gluten.
Your physician or nutritionist can provide you with guidelines to ensure that you still get all of the necessary vitamins and nutrients from a gluten-free diet. Especially now that the gluten-free diet has become popular among the health-conscious set, even dining at restaurants should be a breeze.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material provided on this Site is provided for information purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you have regarding a medical condition, before undertaking any diet, exercise, other health program, or other procedure set out on this Site.