How to Tell if You Really Have Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance is a big one, but is it really behind your discomfort?
Thankfully, people are becoming more and more aware of the adverse effects certain dietary elements are having on their bodies. This is largely due to the increasing amount of press on such issues, as well as a heightened public interest in general health and wellbeing.
At MedFanatic, we’re over the moon that this is the case, but we know that there are still many people out there who remain oblivious to the impact their diets are having on their health.
Even if you shop mainly with supermarket giants for your staple food items, you’ll probably have noticed by now the presence of ‘Free From’ or health food sections.
If you’ve noticed what is on offer there you’ll surely have spotted the gluten-free range. Regardless, the fact remains that being aware of ‘gluten-free’ products, or hearing others’ talking about their gluten intolerance doesn’t equate to genuine education as to the functions of your body. Most people know about gluten intolerance but aren’t necessarily aware of the symptoms.
How can you tell if you are intolerant to gluten? Read on for more information…
Symptoms of gluten intolerance
Firstly, people have different biological constitutions so will notice different symptoms; this doesn’t mean they don’t have the same intolerance. Consider that we have been conditioned to view minor ailments or upsets as normal, especially if they only cause a slight discomfort or anomaly.
For example, you may have become accustomed to having excess or trapped wind in your abdomen most afternoons after a daily lunchtime sandwich, thus unaware that this is a sign something is out of whack.
We’re not suggesting that any digestive dysfunction means you have got a gluten intolerance; but it’s safe to say that your body is having problems digesting something.
We should perhaps be questioning why that is, and what else it might mean for our long-term health… rather than just ploughing on through minor irritations just because we love the taste of our convenient sandwiches.
Gluten intolerance can result in an array of symptoms, such as:
#1. Severe problems with digestion
Digestive issues are very common with gluten intolerance due to an allergic reaction occurring in the stomach. The gluten can cause irritation within the gastro-intestinal tract, so excessive mucus is produced.
At this point you will notice wind and bloating, but there are other symptoms of digestive dysfunction that can also range in severity. You may find that you experience cramps and diarrhea, but it can even result in nausea and vomiting. Not nice!
When this allergic reaction is severe, it will also challenge the nervous system. This can result in dizziness, loss of concentration and/or physical coordination. More serious symptoms can include pain in the hands and feet, or a sensation of numbness. Any of the latter symptoms requires medical attention.
#2. Skin rashes
Skin rashes are typical symptoms of many different allergies. In response to the presence of gluten the body will start to create antibodies that can cause itchy skin, blotches and even blisters.
Gluten intolerance is also known to cause this kind of reaction. Fortunately the rash isn’t permanent and will subside, but it should certainly a deterrent to eating gluten in future.
An intolerance to gluten can cause damage in the lining of the intestines; it destroys the villi (responsible for absorption of nutrients from your food). As a result, your body does not receive optimum nutrition and cannot function as normal, hence the tiredness and low immunity.
Again, the villi damage is not necessarily permanent and will probably heal, but this is another major reason to avoid products that contain gluten.
#4. Emotional instability
Who would have thought that gluten intolerance could have you yanking your own hair out? Well, it can—theoretically.
Your diet is linked to your emotional and mental state in so many ways. For instance, when blood sugar levels are spiking and dropping incessantly and your absorption of nutrients is minimal, this can really upset the body.
The production of hormones may also be disrupted, and all of these things can result in changes in mood. Feeling irritable, nervous, depressed, anxious or restless are all common when you’re allergic to gluten.
Emotional pain is extremely debilitating, and shouldn’t be underestimated. The worst thing is that feeling emotionally unstable often has you wandering toward the cookie jar… and the cycle repeats.
Gluten intolerance does not mean you have celiac disease
If you’ve heard of gluten intolerance, you may also have heard of celiac disease. Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that manifests in genetically predisposed people.
When these people ingest gluten it can damage their small intestine and lead to severely uncomfortable symptoms. Celiac disease is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.
Yes, this is a form of gluten intolerance but as with many conditions, there are degrees of severity. Most people who eat bread or pasta and have a bodily reaction such as bloating cannot be considered a celiac sufferer.
Celiac sufferers have a severe intolerance to gluten, tantamount to danger. They can’t eat anything at all that contains gluten, as they’re likely to have a serious and dangerous negative reaction to it.
Could you have a candida overgrowth?
It is also important to assess the likelihood of a candida overgrowth in the body. Many of the symptoms described above can be attributed to candida.
The difference is that symptoms like mood swings, fatigue, skin problems, digestive issues (and others on this list) are likely to be ongoing, whereas if you’re intolerant to gluten, this will happen only when (and soon after) you’ve consumed products containing it.
If you feel that you may have gluten intolerance, you can verify it easily enough by removing all gluten from your diet for a period of time and then reintroducing it. You’ll notice the difference immediately as your body will do its utmost to reject it.
Again, if you feel your problem could be candida overgrowth, it could be worth testing for it.
Whatever is the case, digestive dysfunction is a sign that you’re doing something wrong, and it may be necessary to make some healthier dietary and lifestyle choices so you can go back to feeling your absolute best.