What’s your relationship with gluten? You may be familiar with the label gluten-free because you live it, read about it, or have heard it in passing. But could it be impacting your health?
Gluten is a protein that’s found in wheat, rye, and barley. When it comes to understanding all the fuss about gluten, it pays to know the differences between the conditions connected to it. There’s celiac disease, wheat allergy, and/or gluten sensitivity.
For people with celiac disease, ingesting gluten damages the small intestine. Antibodies form and attack the small intestine. It’s typically detected through a blood test, though some of its hundreds of symptoms include abdominal pain, brain fog, and weight loss. With a wheat allergy, WebMD states symptoms dissipate but include a rash, wheezing, and diarrhea.
Gluten sensitivity can mimic the signs of celiac disease. You may not even know you have it. Called non-celiac gluten sensitivity, it can be hard to detect since there’s not a blood test like the one for celiac disease. Let’s explore some of the signs of all these conditions.
Because gluten problems can inhibit your ability to absorb vitamins and minerals, essentials like calcium and Vitamin D can be depleted. Enamel erosion and decay are common effects. A study published by BMC Gastroenterology also connected mouth ulcers to gluten sensitivity. Those canker sores on your tongue or in your mouth could be related to gluten.
Fatigue is associated with so many conditions that it’s hard to pinpoint the cause. One of the reasons gluten is linked to fatigue is because it causes inflammation for those with a sensitivity or celiac disease. That, in turn, can cause sluggishness and lethargy.
Joint or Muscle Pain
Again here, gluten-related inflammation is the culprit. Pain can flare up in the muscles, joints, or cause arthritic pain. Some people have found relief once they eliminate foods containing gluten.
Researchers at Columbia University Medical Center found those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity had a high incidence of migraines and chronic headaches. More than half of gluten sensitive participants reported headaches and about 30% of celiac disease patients did.
Numbness in Limbs
Have you ever had unexplained numbness or tingling in your arms and legs? For some, gluten is a trigger that activates a response in the nervous system. With celiac disease, some patients experience neuropathy, or nerve damage. Others who have a sensitivity may have tingling, numbness, or carpal tunnel that springs up during sleep or normal activity.
Feeling forgetful or a little less sharp? It could be a gluten sensitivity. Brain scans of celiac patients revealed lesions linked to the autoimmune condition. Even without a diagnosis of celiac disease, according to specialists interviewed by Allergic Living, eating gluten can cause changes to the brain resulting in mental fog or poor concentration.
Weight Ups or Downs
If your weight has gone up without explanation, gluten could be impacting your gut. Besides inflammation causing problems, it can also mess with your hormones – specifically cortisol production. More cortisol means more belly fat.
On the flip side, when gluten blocks the absorption of calories and nutrients, weight loss could be the result.
Bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, or constipation are among the first signs of a gluten problem. Do you consistently experience this after eating certain foods containing wheat or gluten? Stomach pain and other digestive discomforts immediately following ingestion are usually a response that indicate something’s off.
Itchy rashes. Psoriasis. Eczema. Acne. The skin is often the first organ that an invader will use to show itself. Often the connection is hard to make; food sensitivities like gluten can cause inflammatory conditions in the skin. If it impacts your gut and bloodstream, it can show up in the skin too.
Many people try eliminating gluten from their diets to see if they notice any changes with these symptoms. With trial and error, they find success, good eats, and relief. But it’s important to visit a physician for testing to verify whether you have one of these conditions. Don’t dart to the gluten-free section of your store just yet!
Have you tried kicking gluten from your diet because of these issues? Do you have any gluten related problems or success stories to share? Tell us in the comments!