Have you been suffering from several ailments for no apparent reason? If so, it could possibly be a reaction to gluten in your food. Lets’ explore this.
Are you experiencing symptoms such as:
A feeling of depression or anxiety;
Pain in the joints or muscles;
A strange feeling of numbness in the arms and legs;
Disorders of the immune system;
or other unexplained symptoms, such as dizziness, headaches, shortness of breath, etc.?
It might be as a result of intolerance of or a reaction to gluten!
Gluten – an Explanation
Modern society is unfortunately afflicted with an increasing number of people who are gluten intolerant. In years gone by, it most likely would have been a health problem, but without modern medicine, people would have suffered dramatically from the debilitating effects of gluten intolerance – and they would not have known why.
The illness is usually caused by an adverse reaction to gluten, which is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and something called triticale (a cross between rye and wheat). Foods retain their shape with the help of gluten.
Several factors can cause gluten intolerance. Some of these include:
Celiac (coeliac) disease;
non-celiac gluten sensitivity; and
an allergy to wheat.
These forms of gluten intolerance can cause widespread symptoms. Many of these disorders do not affect the digestive system, contrary to popular belief. Most people with celiac disease are sensitive to gluten, but some do not experience any digestive symptoms that indicate the condition.
Celiac disease is recognised as the most severe form of gluten intolerance. There is a risk of severe, irreversible damage to the digestive system due to this autoimmune disease. It can cause skin problems, mood changes, gastrointestinal issues, etc. It affects about 1% of the population.
People that suffer from celiac disease experience discomfort in the small intestine following the consumption of food that contains gluten. It damages the gut lining and results in poor nutrient absorption, resulting in significant digestive discomfort and frequent diarrhoea and constipation, both of which can have serious health consequences over time. Additionally, their poop is very pale and smelly. Again, this is due to poor nutrient absorption.
People with autoimmune diseases, such as celiac disease, often feel tired. This could be due to:
chronic pain; and/or
sleep disruptions; and/or
psychological conditions such as depression.
A condition called iron-deficiency anaemia may also be associated with celiac disease, which impacts the body’s ability to produce healthy red blood cells. The side effects of this could include fatigue, decreased energy levels, and other serious consequences.
A skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis can also be caused by gluten intolerance. The skin breaks out in blisters as a result. However, other conditions, such as psoriasis and alopecia, could be eased considerably if gluten is avoided.
Are you prone to depression or anxiety attacks? You may be sensitive to gluten as a result of your diet. In addition, there is evidence that individuals with digestive disorders are more likely than others to suffer from anxiety and depression.
Celiac disease patients are especially prone to depression and anxiety.
Unexplained loss of weight
Unexpected weight loss is generally a cause for health concerns. Whilst it can stem from various reasons, unexplained weight loss is a common side effect of undiagnosed celiac disease. There is evidence that weight loss for no apparent reason could be due to gluten intolerance. On the other hand, the weight loss could be explained by digestive problems and the lack of nutrients.
An iron deficiency is the most common nutrient deficiency and accounts for half of all cases of anaemia. Anaemia may be the first sign of gluten intolerance noticed by a doctor or healthcare professional. It causes symptoms like:
shortness of breath;
pale coloured skin;
Celiac disease causes your immune system to launch an attack on your digestive tract after you eat something that contains gluten. Consequently, you are more likely to develop other conditions, such as autoimmune thyroid disease.
Numbness in the legs or arms
A symptom of gluten intolerance is neuropathy. It causes tingling or numbness in the arms and legs. People with diabetes or vitamin B12 deficiency are more likely to suffer from it.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity
Celiac disease is the most serious and debilitating form of gluten intolerance. However, some people may also suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is a milder form of gluten intolerance.
Some of the most common symptoms are:
Bloating is very common in ordinary everyday life for several reasons. However, it may also be an indication of gluten intolerance. People who are intolerant or insensitive to gluten products often experience a bloated feeling.
Diarrhoea or constipation
Getting diarrhoea and constipation is a regular occurrence in everyday life, but it is a cause for concern if it happens regularly. If you have a gluten sensitivity, it may cause digestive issues, such as loose or impacted stools. Around half of people with gluten intolerance suffer from diarrhoea, and around a quarter suffer from constipation.
Stomach pains are the single most common symptom of an intolerance to gluten, with around 80% of people that have a gluten intolerance will suffer from abdominal pains.
Everyone gets headaches from time to time, for various reasons. Some get migraines too. It is thought that gluten intolerant people are more prone to migraines, so it might be worth getting checked out if you do get migraines or headaches regularly and without any apparent cause.
Feeling tired is very common. Who doesn’t get tired on occasion? However, if you are constantly feeling very tired or worn out, you should explore the possibility of an intolerance to gluten – especially shortly after eating foods containing gluten.
Anxiety encompasses nervousness, agitation, a feeling of uneasiness, etc. Anxiety and depression go hand in hand. People with an intolerance to gluten are apparently prone to worry and depression, which is especially noticeable if there are no reasons for those feelings. It is well worth cutting out gluten products to see if these feelings subside.
General/chronic pain, or inflammation
This is usually felt in the joints and the muscles. People can also feel numbness in their arms and legs.
Have you ever suffered from ‘brain fog’? I think we all experience it every now and then, but if you regularly forget things, can’t think clearly on occasion, or have mental fatigue, it may result from gluten in your diet. In fact, almost half the sufferers of gluten intolerance experience these symptoms.
Symptoms of wheat allergy
Wheat allergy is a food allergy that causes the body’s immune system to react against certain proteins that are found in wheat. These include gluten (and other compounds).
Here is a range of some of the most common symptoms:
Wheat allergies may be associated with some skin conditions, e.g., hives. When a sufferer consumes a wheat product, hives will flare up shortly after and then slowly subside.
Wheat allergies can cause the following:
Vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, stomach cramp.
A runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion can be signs of a wheat allergy.
Anaphylaxis is an extremely severe reaction that could be life-threatening if medical intervention is not sought. It can cause severe symptoms, including hives, nausea, vomiting, swelling, and difficulty breathing after exposure to an allergen like wheat. Symptoms will begin within an hour following exposure; however, most symptoms will reveal themselves after a few minutes.
Gluten – Summary
As you can see, gluten intolerance can portray numerous symptoms. However, please keep in mind that most of the symptoms that we have listed may also be something other than intolerance to gluten or a wheat allergy.
Having said that, if you regularly experience any or some of them without identifying the cause, you may be reacting to gluten in your diet. It is important to rule this out, so contact a healthcare professional to see if you can get a test for gluten intolerance. Alternatively, get an online test – it is much faster, doesn’t go on your medical records, and will give you the answers you are looking for.
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