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.
How May Gluten Intolerance Show Up
If you have any of the following symptoms, it may be a sign that you have gluten intolerance.
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation.
- Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat malabsorption secondary to a gluten damaged gut.
- Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
- Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling unsteady.
- Hormone imbalances such as premenstrual syndrome, unexplained infertility, or horrific menopausal symptoms.
- Migraine headaches.
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
- Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and attention deficit disorder.
How to test for gluten intolerance?
The single best ways to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to do an elimination diet and 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 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.
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.
A commonsense way to go gluten-free is to eat a whole foods diet since the processed gluten free items are just as unhealthy as the gluten containing items. A good rule of thumb about whole foods diet is that such a diet contains single ingredient items such as broccoli contains only broccoli.
- Get your grains. Whether you’re on a gluten-free diet or not, eating a variety of grains is healthy, so don’t cut out whole grains. Replace wheat with amaranth, quinoa, teff, and the occasional serving of rice.
- Stick with naturally gluten-free whole foods: fruit, vegetables, lean meat and poultry, fish, most dairy, legumes, some grains, and nuts.