If you’re following the news about food and nutrition, you must have stumbled upon food items billing itself as gluten free. These food items are designed for people with gluten intolerance or insensitivity, and that can include you. You may also have celiac disease, which is another form of gluten intolerance. With this condition, your body becomes much less efficient in absorbing the nutrients you need from the food you eat. That can lead to malnutrition even if you think you’re not eating enough.
Gluten is a protein, and you can find it in grains like wheat, barley, and rye. These grains are very common. You can find wheat salad dressings and soups. Beer usually contains barley, and you can also find barley in other food items that contain malt. Rye bread contains rye too, as do rye beer and a few cereals.
Are You Gluten Intolerant?
There are signs you can watch out for if you’re not sure that you’re intolerant or sensitive to gluten. This include:
- Various digestive issues. You may tend to suffer from either constipation or diarrhea. You may also feel some bloating, and gas can also be a problem.
- Mental and physical fatigue. After you eat dishes with gluten, you may get really tired or experience brain fog.
- Chicken skin. This is also known as keratosis pilaris, and you may find it at the back of your arms. It’s because you’re deficient of needed nutrients that you don’t get because your intestines are unable to absorb fat properly.
- Various symptoms of celiac disease. For children, the symptoms may include stunted growth and development. Adults may feel fatigue and headaches, along with joint pains and depression.
But before you self-diagnose and self-treat with a gluten-free diet, you may want to get a checkup from your doctor to see if you have celiac disease. About 1 in 133 people in the US have this condition, and that translates to 2.44 million patients with celiac disease in the US alone.
Unfortunately, it’s not all that easy to detect. About 83% of those with celiac disease are undiagnosed, or their condition may have been mistaken as something else. On average, it takes 6 to 10 years to get a proper diagnosis.
One way to speed up the process is to get a blood test for celiac disease before you go to a gluten-free diet. The test checks for antibodies in your blood, and your body may not produce these antibodies when you suddenly remove your usual gluten from your diet.
If you do have celiac disease or any sort of sensitivity to gluten, then a 100% gluten-free diet is mandatory for you. There’s no other way to treat it, and you can’t ignore it either. Celiac disease can lead to other serious health conditions, such as reduced bone density, infertility, a few types of cancer, autoimmune problems, and neurological disorders.
If you’re in any way sensitive to gluten, it’s possible to go without gluten in your diet. Many food items now have gluten-free versions. You don’t have to tolerate the symptoms of gluten intolerance, as many pieces of bread and pasta can have other ingredients instead of wheat, rye, and barley.