3.1 million Americans are currently following a gluten-free diet. But many people may be gluten intolerant and not even realize it. If you’ve been wondering if gluten has a negative impact on your body, this article is for you.
Read on to learn how to test for gluten intolerance, and the top signs you may need to cut gluten from your life.
Ready? Let’s get started.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that’s found in barley, rye, and wheat. For people who have problems processing gluten, this protein triggers an immune response, and their body attacks their small intestine.
These constant attacks cause damage to the small intestine. This is a problem because it’s the small intestine’s job to help your body absorb nutrients. For people with Celiac disease, their bodies can’t process food when they eat gluten.
Approximately 1% of the worldwide population has Celiac Disease, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation. And approximately 2.5 million Americans have Celiac Disease but are unaware.
If your body has problems with gluten, you may have symptoms right after you eat a meal that’s heavy in gluten. However, you may also not experience symptoms for weeks after that meal. That’s why it can be difficult to know if you’ve got Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity.
Signs of Gluten Intolerance
If you’re constantly feeling unwell, there are many things it could be attributed to. But there are a few signs of gluten intolerance that you should know. Here are some of the telltale signs you could be sensitive to gluten:
Bloating is one of the most common signs of gluten intolerance. It’s not normal to feel bloated every time you eat. The reason this happens is that gluten is causing inflammation in your digestive tract.
Gluten can even cause bloating for people who aren’t particularly sensitive to gluten. But if you have persistent bloating in your lower abdomen, it may be related to gluten intolerance.
This is another one of the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance. If you’re constantly suffering from loose and/or watery stools, it may be related to the gluten you’re eating.
If you cut out gluten and you’re no longer running to the bathroom, you may be sensitive or intolerant to gluten.
If you’re constantly exhausted no matter how much sleep you get, this is also a symptom of gluten intolerance.
Since gluten can damage your small intestine, your body can end up deficient in important vitamins and minerals. These deficiencies can also lead to fatigue and exhaustion.
While many people suffer from diarrhea with celiac, constipation is one of the less-known symptoms.
Out bodies have tiny projections called villi in our small intestines. Gluten intolerance damages these villi, which are responsible for nutrient absorption. As your food travels through your digestive tract, your villi can’t absorb these nutrients, and will often take extra moisture from your stool. This leads to constipation.
5. Dermatitis Herpetiformis
Dermatitis Herpetiformis is an itchy rash that typically occurs on your butt, knees, and elbows. It’s one of the telltale signs of celiac disease.
You may even notice this rash without any of the typical gastrointestinal symptoms that many people experience with gluten sensitivity.
6. Canker Sores
Canker sores can be extremely painful and can make it difficult to eat, talk, and even swallow.
These sores occur in the mouth and are common for people who have braces or are sensitive to Sodium Lauryl Sulfate which is found in toothpaste and shampoo.
If you’re constantly suffering from canker sores and you’re using an SLS-free toothpaste, gluten may be the culprit. These are a sign of inflammation in your upper digestive tract.
There are many things that cause migraines, including chocolate, alcohol, cheese, menstruation, changes in the weather, and more.
However, if you can’t pinpoint a common trigger for your migraines, they could be due to gluten sensitivity. People who are intolerant to gluten typically have more migraines than those who are not.
Endometriosis leads to painful periods and can be debilitating for some women. One study found that 75% of women who had been diagnosed with endometriosis had a significant change in the wors of their symptoms after they went gluten-free for 12 months.
This is a massive statistic, so if you have endometriosis, a gluten-free diet could change your life.
9. Iron Deficiency
As mentioned people who are sensitive to gluten have problems absorbing nutrients. This can cause iron-deficiency anemia, which occurs when you have a lack of red blood cells in your body.
If you’re deficient in iron, you may notice dizziness, headaches, chest pain, weakness, and fatigue. If you’re eating iron-rich foods and/or taking vitamins but you’re still deficient in iron, the problem may be caused by the gluten you’re eating.
How to Test for Gluten Intolerance
If you were nodding along while reading the above signs and symptoms, you may be gluten intolerant. Before cutting out gluten, it’s a good idea to get tested so you can be sure that this is your problem.
A simple lab test can tell you whether you’re gluten intolerant, or if you have another issue that’s impacting your health. While gluten may very well be the problem, it’s important to get tested before you cut it out of your diet.
Gluten-free foods are not necessarily healthier than those with gluten and are often higher in sugars, fat, and sodium, and lower in nutrients. A simple blood test can tell you for sure if you have an issue with gluten.
If you’re gluten intolerant, you may have simply gotten used to always feeling sick, tired, and bloated.
You don’t need to live this way. A diagnosis can help you learn which foods to avoid, and help remove these signs and symptoms from your life.
If you’re wondering how to test for gluten intolerance, we can help. Get in touch today to book an appointment and get the tests you need to regain your health.