August 19, 2013 - To recognize a gluten sensitivity is not the easiest thing to do as symptoms can overlap other health issues making it difficult to distinguish what is causing what. It is important to determine whether we have a sensitivity to gluten because not only can we increase our health and quality of living by doing so but we can avoid having the ignored sensitivity turn to Celiac Disease. Generally blood tests are used to determine whether or not you are sensitive to gluten but these tests are not always completely accurate making it important to check with your gut feeling if you are showing any of these symptoms.
One of the issues with blood testing is that it only looks for one of six polypeptides in wheat, gliadin. But there are five other polypeptides that can cause sensitivity; wheat germ agglutinin, glteomorphin, gltueinin, prodynorphin, and omega gliadin. Any one or a combination of these five can bring up reactions in anyone sensitive to wheat.
Here is a list of symptoms we can assess on our own to determine if we might have a gluten sensitivity. It is important to note that these symptoms can appear right after meals and may not always last long. In other cases, symptoms can stick around for a few weeks or even chronically, which then can lead to a diagnosis of an autoimmune disease instead of gluten intolerance.
1. Headaches and/or migraines can be common after eating gluten.
2. Gastrointestinal (GI), stomach, and digestive issues. This can show up as one or more of the following: bloating, queasiness, gas, diarrhea, abdominal cramping, constipation, or an alternating combination of both IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
3. Fatigue can appear chronically or after every meal that contains gluten. Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a syndrome, not a disease. If a doctor diagnoses you with CFS, they are simply stating they cannot locate the cause of your fatigue.
4. Sudden changes in mood and emotions. Irritability or irrational changes in feelings can also be a symptom.
5. A number of neurological issues can also be present. These include: difficulty balancing, dizziness, and peripheral neuropathy affecting nerves outside the central nervous system which results in pain, weakness, tingling or numbness in the extremities.
Now knowing the potential symptoms, this is where things can get tricky because many of these symptoms can be common in other health issues. This is why diagnosing gluten sensitivity can be a difficult thing for some people.
One or many of the above symptoms may be present in your life. If so, make a list of what is present and be honest with yourself about them. Dont find reasons to explain them and not include them, if they are part of your life, put it on the list. Tuck that list away somewhere and move onto the next step.
Begin a gluten-free diet for about 60 Days. This will help you determine whether or not you are sensitive to gluten because you will be off of it for long enough to notice a difference in your health. If you feel this is not possible for you because you love certain foods, this might mean you are addicted to gluten as we can sometimes be addicted to foods we are allergic to.
Some foods that contain gluten: wheat, pasta, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, oats, certain cereals etc. Update: Not all oats contain gluten, some contain a minute amount. Others may be processed within a facility that also processes grains that contain gluten.
Foods you can eat instead: Quinoa, rice, rice pasta, buckwheat, and sorghum grains.
If you are looking for a larger list of foods that contain gluten and ones that dont, here is a great reference.
Once you have completed your 60-day period of cutting out gluten, go back to your previous list of symptoms and determine what is still present. If you notice the symptoms are gone or mostly gone, you might choose to stick with a gluten-free diet. If they are still around, symptoms might be related to something entirely different. Finally, if you are unsure of your symptoms, start eating gluten again and see how you feel. Observe and listen to your body, it is often the best sign of what might or might not be wrong.