Suspect Gluten Allergy? Telltale Signs
I have news for you — you may have a gluten allergy and not even know it. Do you feel bloated all the time? Are you prone to migraines but not sure what the trigger is? Do your joints ache and complain and feel creaky? Do you have a constant case of brain fog? Have you been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS), fibromyalgia, or find yourself bogged down by some inexplicable malaise? Are you prone to candida and yeast infections? Is your immunity down and do you find yourself falling ill all the time? Does your digestive system need an overhaul? In spite of eating whole grains and whole foods, do you find yourself unable to lose weight? Tired all the time?
The list actually goes on if you are allergic to gluten. KJ Callihan writes about gluten for the Kind You blog: “If you feel lethargic after ingesting gluten, you may be intolerant and can find out by trying a gluten-free diet for a month or so. If you find you are gluten-sensitive, then you may not only be getting tired from it, but also depriving your body and brain of vital nutrients and carrying extra weight unnecessarily. Headaches and other signs of nutrient deficiencies may accompany your condition as well.”
Gluten is one of the trigger foods or common food allergens as covered here on the Elimination Diet post. Some of the common side effects include chronic carbohydrate intolerance, bloating, constipation, diarrhea, joint pain, lethargy, rashes, sleeplessness, general malaise, chronic inflammation, leading to a horde of conditions like type 2 diabetes, fatty liver, arthritis, respiratory illnesses, digestive irregularities like ulcerative colitis and irritable bowel syndrome, affinity for visceral fat, water retention, bloating, to mention just a few. Most common side effects are metabolic syndrome related issues like diabesity, chronic respiratory ailments, and chronic fatigue. And research demonstrates that gluten allergy and gluten sensitivity can lead to most, if not all, of these reactions. If allergic to gluten, chances are you might have celiac disease. Some of the other outcomes of this is chronic inflammation in the body and a leaky gut. But you could also have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Here is a list of the most common symptoms of gluten allergy and gluten sensitivity. If you have/suspect you have any of these symptoms, you should consider consulting with a nutritionist in the relevant field. You could also consider a gluten elimination diet, wherein you will deprive your body of all forms of gluten for at least 4-8 weeks and monitor your responses carefully. All this needs is the will to stay off gluten and to communicate with your body. If most of the troublesome symptoms disappear during the elimination period, you could well be gluten sensitive or allergic to gluten. This is not to say that you should self-diagnose, but sometimes, a clear mind and a light body is all the relief you need. Even if you do follow the elimination diet, it is always advisable to consult with a professional to manage your diet and lifestyle.
Signs You May Have Gluten Allergy
- Bloating and Digestive Issues: More than 80% of those with gluten sensitivity will experience bloating, acidity, GERD, and other related digestive issues like constipation and diarrhea. These might become so chronic that you just accept that that is how your digestive system is designed to function. But what you might not know that this is the onset of the dreaded leaky gut syndrome.
- Chronic pain and tightness in the abdomen: This is the most common symptom of gluten sensitivity. Again, you might be so used to experiencing this that without knowing, you may be taking it in your stride.
- Headaches/Sudden Migraines: If you have sudden headaches or migraines without any obvious cause or trigger, you might be sensitive to gluten. In fact, gluten intolerant people seem to be more prone to migraines than others.
- Chronic Lethargy, Brain Fog, and Joint Pain: If you constantly feel tired, and if that feeling exacerbates after a meal of pasta or bread, then yes, you could be sensitive to gluten. Ditto with creaky joints and pain in the knees, elbows, and fingers.
- Acne-prone skin: If you are constantly breaking out, you could be allergic to gluten, dairy, or sugar.
- Emotional Stress: Anxiety prone, or do you fall into bouts of depression? Gluten could be to blame.
- Auto-Immune Disorders: Gluten allergy or celiac disease can also make you more prone to other auto-immune disorders T1DM, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, and liver inflammation.
This is getting repetitive, isn’t it? As someone who tried the elimination diet for three months and gave up gluten altogether, I vouch for all of these. I had most of these symptoms, and ever since I gave up gluten, all of them have disappeared, only to resurface when I eat anything gluten for a couple of days back-to-back. No more joint pain, headaches, brain fog, or digestive issues. But I also did consult with a dietitian after my “self-diagnosis”, and her advice to me was simple: always listen to your body. If you have any of these symptoms, get yourself tested for gluten allergy.