What Is Gluten Intolerance
Wheat, barley, and rye are different types of grains that contain different amounts of gluten. Gluten is a protein that attaches to the starchy material of the grains and serves as a glue to hold the grain together. High consumption of these grains, especially wheat, often leads to some level of gluten intolerance in all individuals. The digestive system eventually cannot easily digest gluten and instead develops an acute immune reaction against these grains. After the consumption of these grains, the immune system will perceive the protein gluten to be a foreign protein and demand this invader to be eliminated. This immune reaction results in the lining of the stomach and small intestine being attacked, leading to the typical and uncomfortable symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity or intolerance.
Gluten intolerance is, unfortunately, fairly common: more than of the U.S. population has a certain degree of gluten sensitivity. It is highly likely that gluten intolerance is underdiagnosed, causing various symptoms to individuals who may not even realize the core of their physiological issues.
Understanding the signs of gluten intolerance, therefore, is crucial. Since there is a wide variety of symptoms associated with this disorder, it is wise to keep an eye on frequently occurring problems, especially if they somehow seem to be related to grain consumption, and tend to co-occur, pointing to a chronic, persistent problem.
What Is A Gluten Intolerance
If you asked for gluten-free pasta back in 2012, people looked at you like you were from another planet. But now, youre the odd one out if you dont reach for that GF cookie.
Believe it or not, gluten wasnt always the bad guy…
It started to become more intolerable with declining environmental conditions, new wheat varieties with a higher amount of gluten, and the mere fact that people are consuming way more wheat-based products than ever before.
These are just a few theories as to why gluten sensitivities and allergies have skyrocketed in the past decade.
Why Has Gluten Sensitivity Increased
Many people think that gluten sensitivities are just a marketing fad however, gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and celiac disease are real problems that affect real people. So why have gluten sensitivities increased? Beginning in the 1950s, researchers began experimenting with the DNA of wheat to try to create wheat that required less maintenance and could be grown in a smaller space.
The wheat created today is half as tall and more productive than what was grown 70 years ago. Unfortunately, the hybridization and modification done to wheat have caused other results. For example, wheat is lower in fiber and higher in substances like agglutinin, amylopectin, and gliadin, which are all found in gluten. These changes have had a drastic impact on the health of men and women around the world. Today, you will find gluten as an ingredient in almost every type of processed food. It is also found in lotions, makeup, medications, and much more.
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Joint Pain And Arthritis
What does gluten have to do with your joints? Quite a bit, actuallyif you have celiac disease, the gluten you consume can enter your bloodstream and cause inflammation both inside and outside your gut.
According to the Arthritis Foundation, this can lead to joint pain, swelling, and a worsening of arthritis symptoms. In fact, a 2019 study in the Journal of Community Hospital Internal Medicine Perspectives recommends regular rheumatoid arthritis screenings for patients with celiac disease, calling them a “high-risk group” after researchers discovered many had signs of preclinical RA.
Gluten Intolerance Sensitivity Or Non
Gluten intolerance, also called gluten sensitivity or NCGS, can be experienced by anyone who does not have a wheat allergy or celiac disease. These patients tend to experience digestive or inflammatory symptoms throughout the body when they consume gluten. These symptoms go away when they stop gluten consumption.
Gluten can cause a leaky gut in anyone, whether they have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity, or not. This can happen even with trace amounts of gluten.
Gliadin activates zonulin signaling, which leads to increased intestinal permeabilityotherwise known as leaky gut.
Zonulin is a protein that regulates gut permeability.
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Book An Appointment At Advanced Health
Gluten intolerance is a complex problem, affecting various systems of human physiology once the intestinal lining is damaged. Once gluten intolerance is successfully pinpointed as the central cause of symptoms experienced, with the help of an integrative physician, treatment becomes reasonably straightforward. While the elimination of gluten-containing grains and processed food is likely to become the backbone of medical treatment, integrative physician Dr. Payal Bhandari MD will help manage all related symptoms and restore an overall sense of physical and mental well-being. Book an appointment here!
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Think You Have Gluten Sensitivity Heres What To Do Next
There are quite a few people out there who would tell you that you should just go gluten-free and never look back if you find that gluten does indeed cause a problem. I dont quite agree with that sentiment and Id say that this point is one of my biggest regrets looking back regarding my gluten-free journey.
Because some estimates states that up to 83% of those with celiac disease are still undiagnosed and that it can take an average of 4 years to finally get a diagnosis, I do recommend if you find that you react to gluten to go get tested for celiac disease. The reason is that celiac can be a serious, life-altering autoimmune disease that further increases your risk of developing additional autoimmune diseases and even cancer.
By not getting tested and assuming that what you have is gluten sensitivity may not be accurate. This essentially clouds your ability to know exactly whats going on with your body and what risk factors may be down the road that you should be aware of. Maybe you can stave them off, maybe not. Either way, having that knowledge and knowing if your issues stem from your body stumbling into a state of autoimmunity is critical.
And one more thing Compliance with the diet is a major problem for people in our community who need to be gluten free.
Unfortunately many are still struggling even longer . Thats an awfully long time to 1) continue to feel like dirt and 2) not give your body a break.
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Signs And Symptoms Of Gluten Intolerance
There is a huge fad component to the gluten-free movement.
However, many people genuinely cannot tolerate it, even if they dont have celiac disease.
The problem is they dont realise this, and then live with digestive symptoms as though its normal.
This article looks at the most common signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance.
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- Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease where the immune system reacts abnormally to gluten.
- For people with coeliac disease, even small amounts of gluten can damage the lining of the small intestine , which prevents the proper absorption of food nutrients. Inflammation also occurs elsewhere in the body.
- If you have coeliac disease, inflammation and damage can occur even if you have no symptoms.
- Correct diagnosis of coeliac disease in adults can only be made by gastroscopy.
- There is no cure, but coeliac disease can be managed by a lifelong gluten-free diet.
- A person with coeliac disease can still have a nutritious, balanced and varied diet.
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Symptoms Of Food Intolerances Including Gluten Intolerance
Mystery Pain & Stiffness
As you can see, there are a whole range of possible symptoms caused by the inflammation of a food sensitivity such as gluten intolerance.
How it manifests in your body is individual to your genetic makeup. For me, it showed up as brain fog, skin rashes, fatigue, irritability, headaches, and low mood.
Gluten Sensitivity: 50 Signs And Symptoms
25. Dizziness or trouble balancing
35. Feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten
38. Join pain and swelling
39. Exacerbation of autoimmune disease symptoms
40. Low immunity
49. Poor sleep
50. Night blindness
Be aware that this list is in no particular order and that having any of these signs does not necessarily mean that you are indeed gluten sensitive.
Sometimes you can react to other food proteins and think that youre getting glutened even though theres no gluten in your meal. Or you might discover that gluten is still hiding in spots in your kitchen and making its way into your mouth.
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Could You Have Intolerance To Gluten
Gluten intolerance, also called nonceliac gluten sensitivity , is a possibility if youve tested negative for both celiac disease and a wheat allergy. But unfortunately, there isnt a good test to diagnose this condition.
The main treatment for NCGS is a gluten-free diet, but as with celiac, be sure to work with your healthcare team to make sure youre properly nourishing your body.
Damage To The Small Intestine From Coeliac Disease
The normal lining of the small intestine is covered with tiny, finger-like projections called villi. The cells on villi break down and absorb nutrients in food. If you have coeliac disease, the mucosa of your small intestine is damaged. This causes inflammation of the villi, referred to as villous atrophy. As a result of this inflammation, the surface area of your small intestine, which enables the absorption of nutrients and minerals, is seriously reduced. This can lead to nutritional deficiencies.
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Symptoms Of Anxiety And Depression
An increase in the symptoms associated with depression and anxiety were linked to eating gluten-containing foods, according to a 2014 study published in Alimentary & Pharmacology & Therapeutics. As we know, the gut-brain connection is very much realan unhappy gut can lead to substantial changes in mood.
Diagnosis Of Autoimmune Diseases
There are well-known genetic links between CD and a multitude of autoimmune diseases, but type 1 diabetes is the most common one. Being diagnosed with either of the conditions can increase the risk of developing the other.
The missing link here can be found in the genetic code of patients. The genetic link between CD and autoimmune conditions such as type 1 diabetes is the HLA DQ2 and HLA DQ8 genes.
In my functional medicine training, we are taught that if your patient has an autoimmune disease, we must immediately test for the above-mentioned HLA DQ2/DQ8. Thats how strongly CD and other autoimmune diseases are associated.
According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, for people with celiac disease, the later the age of diagnosis, the greater the chance of developing another autoimmune disorder.
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Improved Nutrient Absorption And Weight Normalization
Some celiac disease patients become unhealthily thin due to malabsorption. When they stop eating gluten and manage their celiac disease, they can finally regain some healthy weight.
Other people cannot lose excess body fat due to inflammation. In these cases, they may lose weight on a gluten-free diet.
Generally speaking, a gluten-free diet can be healthy for everyone if gluten-free highly processed foods are avoided and other whole grains, fruits, and veggies are consumed.
Signs You Might Have A Gluten Sensitivity
Think you may have a gluten sensitivity, but arent quite sure? We dont blame you gluten sensitivity can be hard to spot. Oftentimes, the symptoms overlap with other conditions, such as IBS, making it difficult to tell which is which and self-diagnose.
Gluten sensitivity is sometimes mistakenly referred to as gluten intolerance. And while they share many of the same symptoms, gluten sensitivity doesnt cause an immune response or intestinal damage, whereas intolerance does.
In the United States, an estimated 6% to 7% of the population may be gluten-sensitive, meaning some 20 million people could have the condition however, the percentage of people who are gluten-sensitive actually could be much higher. The discrepancy is in patients going undiagnosed or wrongly diagnosed, plus studies are still being conducted to get a better understanding of these conditions. This makes it difficult to get a better estimate.
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Chronic Fatigue And Muscle Aches
Profound and debilitating fatigue is often one of the most common complaints among patients with autoimmune disease.
Fatigue is multifactorial and broadly defined, but the resulting symptoms commonly include exhaustion with the normal activities of daily living and can make simple tasks such as walking, climbing stairs, doing laundry, and loading and unloading groceries difficult.
The cause of fatigue is multifaceted and diverse, but one of the main drivers of debilitating fatigue is central nervous inflammation. When one suffers from CD, WA, or NCGS, generalized inflammation is abundant throughout the body including in the central nervous system.
Generalized inflammation is a hallmark of gluten intolerance, whether it be from CD, WA, or NCGS. Fibromyalgia is a growing and mysterious diagnosis wherein the patients often suffer from widely disseminated muscle pains in multiple areas.
Diagnosing Gluten Sensitivity / Gluten Intolerance
It is important to distinguish between celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity, also known as gluten intolerance, in order to ensure you get the right care. Your doctor can test for celiac disease with a simple blood test. If your test results for celiac disease are negative but you still have symptoms, you may then be diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Learn more about getting tested for celiac disease.
An important note on getting tested: you must continue to eat gluten. Going gluten-free before getting tested can affect your results. If youre already gluten-free but want to get tested, consider undergoing a gluten challenge.
Complete our celiac disease symptoms checklist and then share the results with your doctor to get the conversation about getting testing started.
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Gluten And The Low Fodmap Diet
Lets get this out of the way – the Low FODMAP diet is NOT a gluten-free diet. That said, youve probably noticed that there are many gluten-free suggestions especially while on the initial Elimination Phase of the diet.
Remember that FODMAPs are carbohydrates, while gluten is a protein. Wheat contains both gluten and fructans, which are both FODMAPs so, you can clearly see where the overlap lies.
Since food scientists are still figuring out how gluten intolerance works, and how it can affect people with IBS or gluten sensitivity, it can be difficult separating the symptoms of these two stomach conditions.
Many people with gluten sensitivities are misdiagnosed with IBS and vice-versa. However, its worth trying out the Low FODMAP diet to see if its right for you! Remember, its best suited to those with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, rather than celiac disease. If you have any hesitations about getting started, you can learn more in our resource center or speak to your nutritionist/doctor.
Think you may have a gluten sensitivity? Many of Fodys products are gluten-free
How To Test For Gluten Intolerance
I have found the single best ways to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to go through an elimination diet and take it out of your diet for at least 2 -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 that I share with my patients is that if they feel significantly better off of gluten or feel worse when they reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem for them. In order to get accurate results from this testing method, you must eliminate 100% of the gluten from your diet.
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Easy Tips For Going Gluten
1. Encourage Whole Food.
Whole, unprocessed foods like fruit, vegetables, nuts, meat, fish, and whole grains, like rice or quinoa, are naturally gluten-free. When you choose whole food, you dont have to worry about interpreting a list of mystery ingredients or eating highly processed gluten-free products.
2. Limit Between Meal Snacks.
When transitioning to a new diet, a hungry kid is more willing to try new foods. Snacks are also a common source of gluten. If your child needs a snack between meals, try a crunchy carrot or a sweet apple.
3. Drink Lemon Water With a Pinch of Salt.
A squeeze of lemon juice and a pinch of high-quality salt in a large glass of water can reduce inflammation. The lemon water flushes toxins from cells, the electrolytes help to rebuild damaged tissue, and the act of drinking water between meals reduces cravings for gluten-containing foods.
4. Care For The Buddies In Our Belly.
Naturally fermented foods, like kefir or kimchi, help balance our microbiome to stabilize mood and conquer cravings. Many kids are also motivated to try a new food if it will take care of the Buddies in their belly. High fiber foods like apples, bananas, and asparagus help to feed our healthy gut bacteria which manufacture B vitamins and happy hormones.
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Gluten Gliadin And Glutenin
The two proteins that comprise gluten, gliadin and glutenin are found primarily in wheat, but the proteins are also present in other grains, such as rye and barley. Gluten sensitivity is simply intolerance that causes the body to have an abnormal response when it attempts to break down the proteins during the digestive process.
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