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Gluten seems to be the ‘it’ word in the world of health and nutrition. It is said that there are more than 55 diseases linked to gluten! And the scary part is, most of the times we don’t even know that we have gluten intolerance; that is, it remains undiagnosed. So, do you have gluten intolerance? The best way to find out is by knowing more about the symptoms.
Before we get down to the symptoms, we need to know what gluten is. Gluten is actually a kind of protein found in grains like wheat, spelt, rye and barley. Gluten is made up of chiefly two proteins, namely glutenin and gliadin. Gliadin is the one which has a bad rap and causes all the health problems.
The Top Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
It is true that we might suffer from gluten intolerance but we fail to associate gluten with the various common symptoms which we experience every day. Here are some symptoms which you may have experienced some time or the other.
1. Digestive Problems
The digestive problems like cramping, bloating, diarrhea or constipation are all common symptoms linked to gluten. If you experience foul-smelling stools or nausea immediately after you have a meal, you may know that gluten might be one of the reasons. Especially people with celiac disease, are the ones who have a pronounced gluten intolerance.
2. A Skin Condition Called Keratosis Pilaris
This is a fairly common symptom, but since it is harmless, it is often ignored. This skin disorder is characterized by raised, hard bumps on the skin which resemble goosebumps, the only difference they do not go away on their own like goosebumps do.
3. Suffering From Autoimmune Disease
If you suffer from any one the autoimmune diseases like Graves’ disease, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, Chron’s disease chances are the underlying cause might be gluten intolerance. Many people with gluten intolerance may suffer from an autoimmune disease at some point in their lives, especially if they also suffer from celiac disease.
4. Fibromyalgia or Chronic Fatigue
Chronic fatigue is a symptom which many of us suffer from and we put it down to work and stress. But we seldom take pains to find out the real reason and it might be something as simple as putting the right kind of foods on the plate. That’s right, eliminating gluten from your diet can have a number of health benefits.
Of course, if you want to make radical changes and do away with gluten completely from your diet, you need to consult your doctor and take a suitable decision.
5. Arthritis or Joint Pain
We all accept pains and niggles as if they are a part of our lives and choose to grin and bear it instead of finding out the real cause. You will be surprised to know that joint pain, swelling, muscle spasms and tingling sensations in your body and inflammation are all signs of gluten intolerance.
Many people with joint pain might also have gluten intolerance, and since it remains undiagnosed, they eat even more gluten, making things worse instead of better.
6. Brain Fog
Though brain fog is something which we don’t pay much heed to, it is one of the most prominent symptoms of gluten intolerance. “Unable to think clearly,” how often have you used that as an excuse? Many times, probably, but have you thought that this could be a symptom of gluten intolerance?
It is said that the cross-reactivity of IgG antibodies has something to do with this condition of brain fogginess. These antibodies can further aggravate the symptoms of gluten intolerance.
7. Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder ails both children and adults, and most of the time it can be traced back to something which we put on our plates. This hyperactivity is seldom associated with gluten intolerance.
Children who suffer from ADHD most are often forced to consume gluten, not knowing that the very cereals which we are forcing them to eat might be the reason for their hyperactivity and dwindling grades. A change in the diet can show miraculous results. That is why it is so important to get gluten intolerance detected at the right time.
8. Hormonal Imbalance and Adrenal Fatigue
You know you have a hormonal imbalance when you suffer from the following symptoms: weight fluctuations, irregular menstruation cycles, low energy levels, hot flashes, sleep disturbances and so on.
It is an almost accepted fact in medical literature that gluten can have a negative impact on women’s hormones, especially after menopause when there is a drop in the estrogen levels. The hormonal imbalance is further aggravated by the consumption of gluten.
9. Migraines and Headaches
A migraine can be really painful; this statement can be vouched for by most that have experienced a migraine at some point in their lives. Though all kinds of migraines cannot be linked to gluten, there are some that are indeed the main reason for a head-splitting migraine.
Ideally, the best way to tackle migraines is to follow a hundred percent gluten-free diet. More and more people are making that all important change in their diet and are amazed to see tremendous results.
10. Sudden Unexplained Weight Loss and Weight Gain
Are you trying to lose weight without much success? Well, we feel you, because most of us are traveling exactly the same terrain; but do you know that it can be indicative of a gluten intolerance somewhere, as large doses of gluten can affect your gut health?
Gluten causes impermeability and malabsorption of valuable nutrients from food. A gut imbalance can either lead to stubborn weight gain or drastic weight loss. Healing the gut should be your first step towards weight loss and health. Make sure you follow the protocol of a healthy diet, which is gluten-free and also which has varied amounts of probiotics in it. The equation is pretty simple, heal your gut, improve your health!
11. Dental Problems
Tooth decay, canker sores, broken teeth; all these can be due to gluten intolerance. In fact, scientific studies have shown that there is a strong link between recurring mouth ulcers and gluten insensitivity.
Since gluten insensitivity leads to malabsorption of important nutrients, people with gluten intolerance can have low levels of calcium, which in turn affects the teeth and bones. Get yourself checked; if you have low calcium levels, having large amounts of gluten can be one of the reasons behind the nutrient deficiency.
Treatment Plan for Gluten Insensitivity
The thought of giving up wheat is scary for most people. ‘What am I going to eat, if I take out gluten from my diet?’ is the question which hits you first and the second one usually is, ‘Wait a minute! Isn’t whole wheat good? Then why is that I have to eliminate it from my diet?’ They are valid questions, so let us find out how should we go gluten-free, without feeling miserable about it. Follow some of the below-mentioned techniques to fix the gluten intolerance symptoms.
- Try to go gluten free for a month– It isn’t as difficult as it is meant out to be, you can eliminate gluten and find out whether the symptoms you were previously experiencing have gone as soon as you stopped eating gluten. Also, there are a number of gluten free options which are absolutely sumptuous, so leaving out wheat or rye or spelt cannot mean you have absolutely nothing to eat. Now that you have made up your mind, find out what are the foods which you must eat and which are the ones you should exclude.
Foods to Exclude From Your Diet
The list is surprisingly lengthy, so it is going to be difficult at first, but there are a great many gluten-free options which can give you the right nourishment to your body.
- Cakes, cookies, and pastries
Most processed foods contain wheat, so if you are trying to go gluten free foods and make sure you avoid processed foods altogether or choose the ones which do not contain wheat, try reading the labels.
Foods to Include in your Gluten-free Diet
There is a large number of flours and grains which you never knew were gluten free, but nutrient-rich and delicious too!
- Almond flour
- Coconut flour
However, though oats are regarded as gluten free, some of them are contaminated, so it all depends on your label-reading skills. Yes, when it comes to nutrition, it is all about reading your food labels.
Now that you know about the foods to include and the ones to exclude, follow a gluten free diet for a month, but remember it must be exclusively gluten-free and not dairy-free and sugar-free too, otherwise you will be confused about the results. So follow it up for a month or more, ideally three months, and see whether you get relief from symptoms of gluten allergy.
Eat the right kind of foods:
If you do not have celiac disease, chances are that if you consume foods with gluten, you might not feel the effects immediately, but in the long run, gluten intolerance symptoms can bother you. So focus on nutrition and adding more anti-inflammatory foods to your diet.
The foods which are a must include are vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, gluten-free flours, grass fed meat, raw dairy products and probiotic foods. When it comes to flour, there are many options such as quinoa, coconut flour, chickpea flour, almond flour and so on.
Drink plenty of water:
When you drink more water, there will be the better assimilation of valuable nutrients and you will be better equipped to fight gluten intolerance.
Get adequate sleep and rest:
Enhance your body’s immunity by giving it an adequate amount of rest and repose. Sleep is the time that your body detoxifies, so never skimp on your sleep. 7-8 hours of sleep is mandatory to foster good health and wellness.
Drink Bone Broth:
The Bone broth is chock-a-block with valuable vitamins, minerals and gelatin. This food is not only nourishing for the body but also improves your body’s digestion prowess.
Include ginger tea to your diet:
Ginger is extremely beneficial for the digestion process. So make sure you add ginger tea to your everyday diet. It aids digestion and helps in the assimilation of important nutrients. In fact, make yourself a cup of ginger tea whenever you experience digestion issues.
How to Increase the bio-availability of certain foods?
When it comes food, just eating nutrient dense foods is not enough, make sure you are able to absorb those nutrients too. Though grains are enriched with many nutrients, we are not able to absorb those nutrients, because they contain certain anti-nutrients like gluten, phytates and so on.
Phytates (and phytic acid) are antioxidant compounds which are found in whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds. The chief problem with phytates is that they can bind to certain dietary minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese and to smaller extent calcium, which slows their absorption.
So, even though whole-grains are part of some of the healthiest diets of the world, it should be a part of a balanced meal. Start adding other important food ingredients like healthy fats in the form of olive oil, vegetables, fruitss, and proteins. The best example of such a kind of diet is the Mediterranean Diet.
Next, even if you have , to increase their nutrient quotient, prepare the grains by soaking them, fermenting them and soaking them. Bread like sourdough is also more easily digestible than conventional bread. So, when you prepare the grains well, you will observe a more positive impact on your health.
Once you ease into a gluten-free diet, you will instantly start feeling better, you will feel increased energy and the digestive issues of bloating, diarrhea, constipation will gradually disappear. With time, the more serious issues like joint pain, fatigue, and migraines and so on will also go away.
But before you start on any new diet, make sure you get the final approval from your doctor, once he or she gives the all clear sign, go ahead and makes this diet your very own!