Wellness Wednesday Content by Barbara Hay ~
Gluten is a widespread name for the proteins that can be usually found in wheat products. Grains that contain gluten include wheat, barley, rye, oats and others. People who eat gluten-loaded foods can feel a plethora of symptoms—often described as allergic reactions that can yield to intestinal inflammations. Problems like an unpleasant feeling in the stomach can easily become long-term damage.
Currently, you can’t be tested for gluten intolerance—but taking the test to rule out celiac disease can help. During normal digestion, enzymes are in charge of breaking down long strands of protein. Gluten amino acids are called peptides and they can be absorbed and transported within the body for later use. Occasionally, the body will treat peptides as foreign bodies and set off alarms, convincing the immune system the body is under attack, which can create all sorts of health problems and symptoms.
It’s often difficult to note gluten intolerance, because many food items can hide its presence. To find traces of this compound, you have to start reading labels. In that way, you will be fully aware of the elements that are in that item. Watch for food additives, medications, and flavorings. Having knowledge of what you put in your body is crucial for your health.
Here is a list of 15 Indicators that can help you determine if you are gluten intolerant.
- Constant headaches. The cause of recurring migraines after finishing your meal can be a big sign that shouldn’t be ignored. The biggest triggers are sugary foods, alcohol, dairy products, artificial sweeteners and processed meats. If you are eating lot of these foods, then there may be your answer. Be aware that everyday products like shampoos, products for cleaning and perfumes can contribute to migraines as well. The American Academy of Neurology hired researchers to do the study in 2001. If this is the case, the solution doesn’t necessarily mean medicating yourself. Miracles can happen with just a few everyday changes. Try consuming more vitamins and minerals. Not only will they contribute to the migraines fading away but they can help with your overall health.
- Digestive problems. Gluten can affect the stomach and it can be the first organ to indicate something Is off. A study done in 2013 that was published in Gastroenterology Hepatology revealed some interesting facts. Gastrointestinal symptoms can be created by following the consumption of wheat in some people. Those people are usually suffering from celiac disease or allergies. Some of the symptoms are bloating, cramps, constipation, gas or heartburn.
- Extreme exhaustion. Fatigue is a common symptom when we talk about gluten sensitivity. If you find you are extremely lethargic after a meal you may want to take a look at what foods may be triggering this feeling. Too many carbohydrates can give energy spikes that later lead to the feeling of somnolence. Hormonal imbalance due to gluten sensitivity can also yield some big changes to our body.
Sleep problems like insomnia and struggling with proper brain function can have an impact on fatigue.
- Mood swings. We can all be prone to irritability—it’s normal and it happens to all of us. However, extreme anxiety and anger issues can feel awful—leading to a lack of self-control. People with a gluten intolerance have a tendency towards mood swings, feelings of depression and sadness. Two reasons are cited for these emotional rollercoasters: either your body is assaulting its tissues and yielding to inflammation or the gluten is obstructing the absorption of nutrients.
- Dermatological problems. One prominent target of gluten allergy-related effects is, of course, the skin—the biggest organ in the human body. It’s no rarity that people allergic to gluten suffer from multiple skin conditions at once. When gluten latches onto the top skin layer, the epidermis cells can get damaged beyond repair—causing rashes, itching, blisters and severe redness. A lack of vitamin A can also manifests itself through acne, psoriasis and several forms of eczema.
- Muscle pain due to fibromyalgia. Fibromyalgia is the collective name for all types of muscle fiber-related chronic pain. It’s somewhat difficult to pinpoint, as it affects both muscle and connective tissue. Due to the prevalence of connective tissue, you may or may not feel pain in your bones too. One recently discovered cause of fibromyalgia just maybe gluten intolerance. During one prominent study, it was discovered that a non-celiac form of gluten sensitivity can be a cause of fibromyalgia. If you have fibromyalgia, you may want to try eliminating gluten-based products.
- Dental problems. Enamel is one of four major tissues that form the body of your teeth. Its role is to protect the body from acidic attacks and decay. Several proteins are responsible for its production—Enamelin and amelogenin are a pair of proteins responsible for creating and regenerating enamel tissue. If you suffer from gluten sensitivity or a gluten allergy, these two proteins will be affected. This will lead to discolorations and problems within the enamel tissue. Because of this, it may become weaker and more sustainable to breakage.
- A clouded mind. A condition known as “mental fogginess” is characterized by a severe lack of focus and trouble staying concentrated. It’s a hazardous condition to have, as it can affect your day-to-day life. This cloudiness can indeed be caused by an intolerance to gluten and hinder the normal functionality of your brain and cause it to become less efficient in every way.
- A sudden appearance of autoimmune diseases. When your body experiences gluten sensitivity, you tend to suffer from certain conditions known as autoimmune diseases. They are caused by the body attacking its own cells in a desperate attempt to preserve health and eradicate any presumed threat. There are 80 types of autoimmune diseases. Ones like lupus and multiple sclerosis aren’t surely caused by gluten. However, a person that already has MS or diabetes can see their symptoms worsen due to their gluten intolerance. A simple change in your diet can turn your whole life around in a matter of days.
- Frequent miscarriages and an inability to conceive. Everything about child conception and being pregnant is about hormones. There are several disorders which may severely disturb the hormonal system’s balance. One such disorder isn’t really a disorder, but an intolerance to gluten. One woman went to a nutritionist as her last resort. He suggested that there may be a possibility of gluten intolerance. She laughed it off and tried removing bread and all wheat products from her diet. This instance proved to be the deciding factor in transforming her life. Several studies followed, describing the effect of gluten on human hormones. The results were astonishing.
- Unexplained weight gain. One side effect of celiac disease is unexplained weight gain. Weight gain might not be a direct result of gluten intolerance, but a side effect of a malfunctioning gut. As people who are gluten intolerant consume gluten-rich foods, the inner lining of the small intestine becomes inflamed, causing, tiny fissures appear allowing bacteria and other food molecules escape into the bloodstream. These foreign molecules are seen as foreign substances in the bloodstream and the white blood cells start to attack them, causing more inflammation. This makes for the perfect environment to pick up weight. The easiest way to determine if gluten is the cause of weight gain is by gradually decreasing or removing gluten from your diet. If your body weight starts to drop, chances are you are gluten intolerant. To be sure, however, you need to reintroduce the gluten-rich foods, one at a time. When you do this, you will be able to see if you gain weight again.
- Depression and anxiety. There are certain foods that seem to lift a person’s spirits and others that seem to bring a person down. Gluten can be a depression-inducing food. Only one percent of people in the US have celiac-disease, the most extreme form of gluten intolerance. There are a number of other people who live with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and these people can experience digestive problems that are related to depression and anxiety. Gluten is also a major allergen that can cause unwanted brain reactions. A study was done 2014 where 22 people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity were given a gluten-free diet for three days. They then received either a gluten-rich, whey rich or a placebo diet to follow for a further three days. The researchers assessed the candidates after the three-day period and calculated their depression scores. The candidates who received the gluten diet showed much higher depression scores than the candidates who had either the placebo or the whey diets. This strong correlation pointed towards how gluten could actually make you feel depressed. Another study published in 2007 also showed that people with celiac disease were 80% more likely to suffer from depression than those who were gluten tolerant. The study was performed on 1400 candidates. Furthermore, a Swedish study that was done in 2011, showed that people who had celiac disease also had a higher risk of committing suicide. Although the correlation between gluten and depression might not be a direct correlation, if you suffer from depression, you might want to consider cutting down on the gluten.
- Leg and arm numbness. One of the more surprising symptoms of gluten intolerance is peripheral neuropathy. This condition can manifest itself in a number of different ways, including numbness, tingling, burning and in some cases pain of the arms, legs, and feet. When you are gluten intolerant, your body sometimes starts to produce anti-gluten antibodies. When these antibodies attack the gluten, it occasionally also causes nerve damage. A study was done where 215 patients were screened for axonal neuropathy and the results showed that none of the patients had any medical reason for the neuropathy. However, when these candidates were tested to see if they were gluten intolerant, the study showed that 34% had high amounts of anti-gluten antibodies. Surprisingly 80% of all the candidates showed that they had the celiac disease gene. A clear indication that there had to be a connection between the neuropathy and gluten intolerance. According to the University of Chicago, it is actually quite common to show signs of neuropathy and not show any of the other gastrointestinal signs of gluten intolerance. Physicians recommend that you follow a gluten-free diet to alleviate and even remove any sign of neuropathy.
- Iron deficiency anemia. Iron is a vital component of hemoglobin (the red pigment) to enable the transport of oxygen. The symptoms that accompany iron deficiency anemia is fatigue, irritability, headaches, brittle nails and a decreased appetite. Celiac disease can cause damage to the small intestine and restrict the absorption of iron. During the early stages of the disease, the upper two parts of the small intestine become damaged—this is where most iron is absorbed. If you have been suffering from chronic anemia and medication has not alleviated the issue, it is recommended that you have yourself tested for celiac disease by your physician. Once you have been diagnosed with celiac disease and you start with a gluten-free diet, you will notice a change in your energy levels seeing that your intestine begins to heal and absorbs more iron. You need to give the diet between two through eight months to correct the imbalances that occurred.
- Canker sores. Canker sores are little lesions or sores that form around the gums, the inside of the cheeks and underneath the tongue. A person can typically have one to six canker sores at a time and they usually last for about 10 days. These pesky little sores are quite common and can be triggered by a number of things. They typically start to form between the ages of 10 and 20 and tend to resolve or fade away during a person’s 30s. These tiny ulcers can be quite painful and irritating, seeing that they are extremely sensitive and make eating a chore rather than a pleasure. When these sores occur repeatedly, the condition is known as Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis, or RAS. Doctors wanted to find out if there was a correlation between gluten and RAS and found 247 patients which were screened with the IgA antibody test, IgA and IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase. Seven random patients that tested positive for at least one of the sets were then sent for further biopsies and the results showed that they had gluten-sensitive enteropathy. These seven patients did not respond to the normal canker sore medication and were, therefore, put on a glutted-free diet for six months. During that time, four out of the seven patients showed a remarkable reduction in canker sores. The researchers concluded that when a person is diagnosed with RAS, he should consult a physician and test for celiac disease.