It is estimated
that 1 in 133 people in the USA may be sensitive to gluten and, although the condition is hereditary, it often appears later in life particularly after extreme stress or some form of life changing event. This could be a physical injury, undergoing surgery or some other trauma. Even the stress of pregnancy can be a trigger. The condition of GI is more likely in those whose ancestors originated in Northern and Eastern Europe with people of Irish or Scandinavian ancestry being particularly prone – as high as 1 in 50 to 60 people. The gluten intolerance and sensitivity has so many, varied symptoms that it can often go undiagnosed.
Recent research has discovered that ignoring gluten sensitivity leads to early death by 20 years or more
Although it is obviously best to undergo a genetic, laboratory test, there is actually a self test quiz that you can use for some answers. The full information can be found here
but the basic gut symptoms and other conditions for you to check appear below – those in bold
are particularly important.
- Craving baked goods (cake, cookies, brownies)
- Craving high sugar foods
- Frequent intestinal bloating or gas especially after eating
- IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
- Acid reflux – GERD (aka heartburn)
- Indigestion, constipation or diarrhea
- Frequent nausea and or vomiting
- Difficulty gaining weight (children under the growth curve)
- Iron deficiency anemia
- Frequent headaches
- Sinus congestion
- Migraine headaches
- Poor memory, difficulty recalling words, brain fog, poor concentration
- Vertigo (dizziness)
- Diagnosed with ADD or ADHD
- Anxiety, irrational irritability, mood swings
- Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
- Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s
- Muscle and joint symptoms, frequent joint pains with or without activity, chronic muscle aches
- Migrating joint pain (without injury) and/or frequent muscle spasms (especially in the legs)
- Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
Diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis (RA, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjogren’s)
- Bone pain, growing pains
- Osteoporosis or osteopeni
- Inability to lose weight
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, restless leg syndrome RLS
- Infertility, history of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion
- Menstrual problems – PMS
- Thyroid disease
- Diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia
- Diagnosis of Diabetes (type I or type II)
- PCOS (polycystic ovary disease)
- Chronic urinary tract infections
- Chronic respiratory infections
- Vaginal, oral or nail bed yeast infections
- Fever blisters or mouth ulcers
- Skin rash, eczema, psoriasis
Dermatitis Herpetiformis - this a skin condition known to be caused by gluten. If you have been diagnosed with this disease, you are gluten sensitive.
- Gall bladder problems
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Non alcoholic fatty liver
- Autoimmune hepatitis
- Platelet disorders
How do you rate?
- Tick the boxes for 1 to 3 symptoms? Then it is a good idea to be genetically tested for gluten sensitivity.
- Tick 4 or more items, you are most likely gluten sensitive and testing is advised to confirm the need for a permanent diet change.
- Tick any of the symptoms in bold, it is highly likely that you are gluten sensitive and should be genetically tested for gluten sensitivity immediately.
Celiac disease is the extreme form of gluten intolerance
If you have gluten intolerance and you then eat foods containing gluten, an immune reaction occurs in your small intestine, causing damage to the surface of your small intestine and an inability to absorb certain nutrients, leading to vitamin deficiencies that deprive your brain, peripheral nervous system, bones, liver and other organs of vital nourishment. In addition, this deprivation can lead to other illnesses as well as stunted growth in children.
For obvious reasons, it becomes vital that you remove all gluten from your diet
There is no cure but you can effectively manage this condition through changes to your diet so that once gluten is removed, inflammation in your small intestine will begin to subside (usually takes some weeks) but you may start to feel much better in just a matter of days. In the meantime, it is wise to take a vitamin and mineral supplement to counteract any nutritional deficiencies. If you remove all gluten from your diet and you soon start to feel so much better, you will have confirmation that gluten is the problem. Even a small amount of gluten is enough to cause symptoms and complications so all foods or food ingredients made from many grains must be off the menu, including wheat, barley and rye. Many people with GI find it helpful to consult a dietitian to help them manage their gluten-free diet.
There many basic foods allowed in a gluten-free diet
- Fresh meats, fish and poultry (not breaded or marinated)
- Most dairy products
- Gluten-free flours
if you would like to learn more about gluten, go to my friend Peggy Gannon's article Gluten-Intolerant: Mythe, Meme or Epidemic? which you can find on the Hawkes Health site here.