Gluten intolerance is a health issue increasingly recognized today with advances in medical science. Before the last ten decades, celiac disease was the only recognized gluten-induced illness. Thankfully, these days, more people are understanding gluten intolerance better with gluten-free meal delivery services gaining popularity as well.
Wheat intolerance was first discovered in 1888 by Dr. Samuel Gee of the Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children in the United Kingdom. Dr. Gee once said, “To regulate the food is the main part of treatment. The allowance of farinaceous foods must be small, but if the patient can be cured at all, it must be by means of diet.”
But through the years, more people were getting hormonal imbalances, feeling worse, and gaining weight. The whole healthy diet-and-regular exercise combo, it seems, wasn’t working for many.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2014, 39% of adults (18 years old and above) worldwide were overweight, with 13% of these obese. In the U.S. alone, a staggering 68.8% of adults is overweight, with 35.7% of these considered obese.
With these depressing statistics, scientists started searching for answers.
After years of independent and collaborative research from Belgium and the U.S. among others, it was discovered that gluten-induced illnesses do not only refer to the celiac disease but also includes an array of different disorders, including hypothyroidism. These conditions all point out to gluten intolerance, a type of disorder that disallows a person to digest the gluten protein and any of its byproducts properly.
Just last year, researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) reported that there is a biological explanation for gluten sensitivity. As Dr. Peter Green says, “Our study shows that the symptoms reported by individuals with this condition are not imagined, as some people have suggested.” Dr. Green is currently the Director of the Celiac Disease Center.
Effects of ingesting gluten by those intolerant to it can range from endurable to life threatening. Side effects can include nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, hives, difficulty breathing, bloating, stomach pain, and headaches. More serious effects include depression, infertility, osteoporosis, anemia, and dental defects.
It is, therefore, crucial for you to check if you’re gluten intolerant if you have the signs as can be seen below. The sooner you avoid gluten, the sooner your body can get rid of the protein that wreaks havoc on your body. It takes three to four months to cleanse yourself off gluten depending on how long you’ve been exposed to it and depending on how healthy your body can handle a gluten antigen.
According to Dr. Chris Kresser, a famous naturopath from the U.S., there are two ways to know if you have gluten intolerance: a Cyrex Array 3 panel that tests for your autoimmunity; and a self-experiment wherein you slowly introduce gluten after strictly eliminating it from your diet for 60 days.
But aside from the costly gluten sensitivity test, and if 60 days is too long for you to wait, how do you know if you are gluten intolerant?
Here are the telltale signs that you have gluten intolerance:
- Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation
Once you ingest gluten, your body gives out every sign to tell you that it is uncomfortable with what you have just eaten. Therefore, you can experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and at a later stage, constipation. It will feel like you’ve eaten something off that your body does not want to digest. You can get gassy not just for the day that you’ve taken gluten, but the bloated feeling can last for up to until a week. These stomach signals are the top visible signs that you cannot tolerate gluten.
- Lethargy and headache
When you’re a coffee drinker, you know the feeling when you miss your morning cup and feel lightheaded? You cannot think clearly, tend to be forgetful, and cannot be on your toes, right? Feeling lethargic (or foggy brained) is a common sign of hypothyroidism. Even with caffeine, you feel like something is not normal, and you are not in your best self. This weird feeling is because your body is working extra hard to digest gluten; so, instead of putting that energy into maintaining your proper circulation, all the work goes to digestion.
- Itchy skin
You may not have a visible rash, but you suddenly feel itchy for no apparent reason. This itchiness may be because of your body’s way of coping up with the antigen introduced into your body. Therefore, your body is trying to send signals that something is not right with your dietary habits; or, it is a coping mechanism for the body to keep up with trying to deal with the indigestible gluten. Dandruff, too, is a gluten intolerance sign.
Gluten intolerance can be easy to pinpoint once you become more aware of your body’s needs. The top three signs of gluten intolerance are: 1) Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea and constipation; 2) Lethargy and headache; and, 3) Itchy skin. You must quickly act when dealing with this intolerance as it takes a while for your body to get rid of gluten. If you have these three signs when ingesting gluten, you can be almost sure you are intolerant!
Chris Kresser. Still Think Gluten Sensitivity Isn’t Real?
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Overweight and Obesity Statistics.
World Health Organization. Obesity and Overweight.