More than 55 diseases are linked to gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. It is estimated that 99% of people with gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed.
It is also estimated that up to 15% of the US population is gluten intolerant. Could you be one of them?
If you have any of the following symptoms, this could be a sign that you have a gluten intolerance.
- Digestive disorders such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation. I see constipation, especially in children after eating gluten.
- Hairy keratosis (also known as “chicken skin” on the back of the hands). This is usually due to a lack of fatty acids and a lack of vitamin A due to malabsorption of fat caused by gluten damage.
- Tiredness, confusion or tiredness after eating food containing gluten.
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, rheumatoid arthritis, ulcerative colitis, lupus, psoriasis, scleroderma, or multiple sclerosis.
- Neurological symptoms such as dizziness or feeling off balance.
- Hormonal imbalance such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
- Migraine headaches.
- Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate that a regular doctor cannot pinpoint the exact cause of your fatigue or pain.
- Inflammation, swelling or pain in joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
- Mood problems such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and attention deficit disorder.
How to test for gluten intolerance?
One of the best ways to tell if you have a gluten problem is to go on an elimination diet and cut it out of your diet for at least 2-3 weeks and then reintroduce it. Note that gluten is a very large protein and can take months or even years to clear from your body, so the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better.
Dr. Amy Myers states, “The best advice I give my patients is that if they feel significantly better after eating gluten, or if they feel worse after reintroducing gluten, gluten is probably the problem for them. To get accurate results from this testing method, you need to remove 100% gluten from your diet.
How to treat gluten intolerance?
Eliminating gluten from the diet 100% means 100%. Even small amounts of gluten from cross-contamination or from medications or supplements can be enough to trigger an immune response in your body.
The 80/20 rule, i.e. “we don’t eat it at home, only when we eat out” is a complete mistake. An article published in 2001 states that the relative risk of death for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity increases by 600 percent if they only eat gluten once a month.