A Brief Lesson in Gluten Intolerance & Sensitivity

menstrual_cropYour headaches, joint problems, weight issues, skin rashes, and cravings could be a result of eating wheat and other gluten containing foods.  Truthfully, the list of symptoms is much larger- there are hundreds of them!  1% of the population has the autoimmune disorder Celiac- a severe intolerance to eating even a crumb of gluten.  And it can only be remedied by eliminating gluten from their diet.  An even bigger portion of the population, 6-10%, are gluten sensitive.  Still, an even larger population – over 15% – are wheat sensitive. While they would test negative for Celiac disease, their symptoms do improve when they stop consuming gluten or wheat foods.  

Wheat itself is a gluten containing food. Other grains that contain gluten are rye and barley.  Keep in mind that spelt, cous-cous, bulgur, farro, durum, triticale, and kamut are all forms of wheat!

When those with Celiac eat gluten, it causes damage to the small hairs in their intestine (villi), preventing them from absorbing adequate nutrition.  If one is only sensitive to wheat or gluten, the villi are not affected, but symptoms can still be serious, or at the very least uncomfortable.  Common signs of gluten sensitivity include a large abdomen, chronic diarrhea or constipation, headaches, and/or rashes.  According to Dr. D’Adamo, if your are eating foods that don’t agree with your body, it causes a process known as agglutination to occur.  Basically, your body creates a glue around the food your are eating to prevent you from digesting it, so as to protect you.

Think you might be gluten sensitive? The solution?  Keep it simple.  Stick to eating unprocessed whole foods — avoiding wheat, rye, and barley — for 2-3 weeks to see if your symptoms improve.  Gluten is hidden in all sorts of packaged and processed foods, including sauces.  So even if the package doesn’t read “wheat,” “rye,” or “barley” on it, that doesn’t mean it is gluten free.

If you think you may have Celiac, get tested as soon as possible!  It is important to be tested for Celiac BEFORE you go gluten free, otherwise the test will not work.  Those with Celiac NEED to stay off gluten so that it won’t evolve into more serious symptoms.

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