8 Signs You May Be Gluten Intolerant

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Gluten intolerance — or celiac’s disease — can be difficult to diagnose, as there are dozens of varying symptoms, all of which could easily be attributed to other things. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. It can be found as an ingredient in not just hundreds of common foods, but also cosmetics, sauces, medications, and an array of other products that you wouldn’t consider related to grains. Gluten intolerance can present itself as a mere sensitivity to gluten or complete rejection of it, causing eventual malnutrition. Often, treating one of the symptoms caused by gluten intolerance without understanding the cause of the symptom can be useless, since the only real cure is to cut gluten out from your diet.


  1. You Have Weight Gain or Loss

    Having a gluten allergy can cause weight gain or loss because the nutrients are not being absorbed correctly. If you have an undiagnosed case of celiac’s disease, every time you eat foods with gluten, the nutrients can’t be absorbed, and thus your body will not be able to convert food to energy. Effectively, this results in malnutrition and weight loss. On the other hand, if you recognize that you have a celiac’s disease and begin to eat a gluten free diet, you may gain weight because many gluten-free choices are high in fat and calories. Likewise, some patients may gain weight after beginning a gluten-free diet because they are finally able to digest and process food properly.


  3. You’ve Started Having Migraines

    According to a study done by the The American Journal of Gastroenterology in 2003, 4% of people who suffer from migraines also suffer from gluten intolerance or sensitivities. That study was done in 2003, when celiac’s disease was reputed to be extremely rare, so one can likely deduce that the percentage of those suffering both from migraines and gluten intolerance would be higher today, when gluten intolerance cases are on the rise. Likewise, a study done by the American Academy of Neurology found that ten patients participating in the study with gluten intolerance had MRI tests done that showed they had inflamed central nervous systems. They also all complained of having endured persistent headaches or migraines their entire lives. After eliminating gluten from their diet, all but one of the participants found migraine relief or a decrease in the severity of them, while the remaining patient refused to participate in the diet.


  5. You Have Gastrointestinal Problems

    Gluten intolerance is often misdiagnosed as simply being a case of irritable bowel syndrome. If you have gluten intolerance, consuming gluten damages the villi in the small intestine. The villi are small hair-like strands that line the walls of the small intestine and work to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. When the villi in the small intestine become damaged, gluten-rich foods will rush straight through you since you are unable to process them correctly. The resulting diarrhea, stomach cramping, bloating, and other digestive issues can take a form similar to irritable bowel syndrome.


  7. You Have Aches and Pains

    Bone, joint, and muscle pain are some of the symptoms associated with gluten intolerance. As an unknowing gluten intolerant person continues to eat foods containing wheat, barley, and rye without gaining any nutrient absorption, the body can begin to deteriorate in various ways. This may include conditions that impact your bone and joint health. According to an Arthritis Research and Therapy study concerning gluten-free diets and their impact on arthritis patients, eating a gluten-free diet can alleviate arthritis symptoms, suggesting that many sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis may in fact be presenting joint pain symptoms as a result of gluten intolerance.


  9. Your Teeth are in Bad Shape

    A study conducted by European Journal of Oral Sciences recently confirmed that gluten immunizes the body against a protein that is essential for creating tooth enamel. Thus, if you continue to eat gluten in spite of having celiac’s disease, your teeth will wear down over time. This can cause a myriad of dental issues including cavities, tooth chipping, and even tooth loss. Dentists, becoming particularly attentive to this problem, are looking at potential gluten intolerance as the cause for tonsil stones, canker sores, pharyngeal erythema, inflammatory gum disease, and cystic frenula. Additionally, when gluten damages the tongue, it can cause what is known as geographic tongue, in which patterns begin to form on the tongue that somewhat resemble the undulations in topography on a map.


  11. You’re Depressed or Anxious

    Dr. Vikki Petersen, Certified Clinical Nutritionist and co-founder of HealthNOW Medical Center says that, aside from the digestive system, the nervous system is the second most affected system in the body to gluten intolerance. This can manifest itself in crippling depression, and without understanding the cause, it can be hard to really address the problem. Many people turn to antidepressants. However, Peterson suggests that people take a closer look at the root cause of depression, be it hormonal imbalance, adrenal exhaustion, or gluten intolerance. Gluten intolerance causes problems in the nervous system because the body treats the protein found in gluten like a toxin, wherein the immune system attempts to attack the area of the body affected by the protein in order to purge it from the system. Unfortunately, the protein greatly resembles other proteins in the body, such as those in the brain, so the immune system begins to attack the brain as well. Ultimately, this causes anxiety and depression.


  13. You Have Skin Rashes

    Dermatitis herpetiformis is commonly seen in those with gluten intolerances, as are other various skin diseases and rashes. In a study conducted by scientists at the Medical University of Silesia in Poland, 67 patients both with psoriasis and without were given blood tests. In the patients with psoriasis, higher levels of the antibodies transglutaminase and gliadin for IgA were found, implying a distinct link between psoriasis and celiac’s disease. For those with gluten intolerance trying to rely on a corticosteroid cream, little help can be found, as it doesn’t address the greater problem of the gluten allergy. Administering a gluten free diet could eliminate psoriasis symptoms or other skin rashes related to gluten allergies.


  15. You Have Liver Abnormalities

    Since the liver stores nutrients from food and breaks down toxins, it too has a correlation with gluten intolerance. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics’ study “Autoimmune Cholestatic Liver Disease in People with Coeliac Disease” has collected growing proof that liver injuries can be related to celiac’s disease. The direct cause is not entirely understood. However, celiac’s disease has been found to be present in 5 to 10% of patients with chronically abnormal liver tests and no clear cause of liver disease, as well as 6 to 8% of patients with autoimmune liver diseases. The evidence is undeniable. Some liver damage may be reversible depending on how long the person has gone undiagnosed if they change to a gluten-free diet.

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