More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s estimated that 99% of the people who have either gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed.
It is also estimated that as much as 15% of the US population is gluten intolerant. Could you be one of them?
If you have any of the following symptoms it could be a sign that you have gluten intolerance:
1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea, and even constipation, with constipation particularly in children after eating gluten.
2. Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends to be a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.
3. Fatigue, brain fog, or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis.
5. Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off-balance.
6. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS, or unexplained infertility.
7. Migraine headaches.
8. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pinpoint the cause of your fatigue or pain.
9. Inflammation, swelling, or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees, or hips.
10. Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and ADD.
How to test for gluten intolerance
The single best way to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to perform an elimination diet where you would take it out of your diet for at least 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. Please note that gluten is a very large protein and it can take months and even years to clear from your system so the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better.
The best advice is that if you feel significantly better off of gluten or feel worse when you reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem for you. In order to get accurate results from this testing method, you must elimination 100% of the gluten from your diet.
How to treat gluten intolerance
Eliminating gluten 100% from your diet means 100%. Even trace amounts of gluten from cross-contamination or medications or supplements can be enough to cause an immune reaction in your body. The 80/20 rule or “we don’t eat it in our house, just when we eat out” is a complete misconception. Research has shown that for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity eating gluten just once a month increased the relative risk of death by 600%.
Many of these facts remain relevant today, almost twenty years later. I myself have been eating gluten-free for almost ten years. I say gluten-free although I was diagnosed with an intolerance to wheat, not gluten. Gluten-free is wheat-free, but not vice versa, so I say gluten-free when eating outside of my home.
Occasionally I “cheat” and consume something with a bit of wheat in it, but usually regret it later with stomach cramps and diarrhea, depending on just how much wheat I consumed. I know I probably should not do that, but it does keep me eating healthy. This cheating is not recommended for someone with celiac disease or a sensitivity stronger than mine.