Gluten Intolerance - Its Symptoms and How to Diagnose it
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Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

A simple medical test will not be enough to determine if a person suffers from gluten intolerance

Quite often, the results are negative even when we still experience the symptoms. Many people are sensitive to gluten and they are not aware, which is why they relate some health problem to other pathologies.

If you want to know if you are sensitive to gluten, pay attention to this six symptoms.

Gluten and Health Disorders

Gluten sensitivity will appear in very different ways. Most of the cases involve several symptoms like indigestion, headaches, lack of concentration and even overweight. Gluten intolerance is not a pathology that physicians take into account when it comes to making regular diagnoses.

Do not eat cereals

Many people experience gluten sensitivity on a daily basis without being aware.

Indigestion and Gluten Sensitivity

After years of suffering indigestion, many patients are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome. This disease tends to be associated with complex health problems that overlap with a gluten allergy. Another symptoms could be migraines, depression and sleep problems.

Fibromyalgia and Gluten

In the most serious cases, the migraines and pain without apparent reason can lead us to think that we suffer fibromyalgia. The issue is that the medication prescribed for this disease consists of antidepressants, analgesics and sleeping pills. As we know, these products can have dangerous side effects.

Gluten causes headaches and indigestion

The symptoms of gluten sensitivity can affect the digestive system and trigger headaches or migraines

Gluten Sensitivity Analysis

When we ask for an analysis to see if we are gluten intolerance, the test could be negative. However, if we follow a gluten-free diet, avoiding wheat or gluten we may experience that: the migraines disappear, we sleep better and, after four weeks, the digestive system works better.

Gluten Intolerance Tests

Usually, the analyses tend to assess gluten allergy by measuring a single “substance”, alpha/beta-gliadin. But, since gluten also affects this substance, it can also cause adverse reactions.

Consequently, it is possible to suffer gluten intolerance and have a negative test result in a medical analysis.

Bread, cereals, flour, pasta

The onset of certain symptoms after taking wheat can be a sign of gluten sensitivity or allergy

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

The diagnose for celiac disease is quite accurate. This is due to the fact that they usually perform a biopsy and blood tests, and the symptoms are very clear: diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight loss and nutrient deficiencies.

Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity

For example: indigestion, headaches, tiredness, sleep disorders, lack of concentration, ADHD, ADD, symptoms of autism, mood swings, dizziness and overweight. Moreover, it can also trigger autoimmune diseases such as chronic thyroiditis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Wheat allergy

Wheat allergy occurs when the body mistakes a wheat protein for a foreign substance that can be harmful.

Wheat Allergy

This allergy tends to cause health problems since childhood. In addition, wheat contains other proteins, apart from gluten, that can also cause allergy. Some of its symptoms go from eczema to epilepsy.

Wheat Allergy Tests

The diagnosis is done through IgE antibodies tests which are common to allergies. The typical symptoms occur after a few minutes of taking the allergen, wheat in this case.

Loaf of bread with a sad face

On the contrary, the symptoms of gluten-sensitivity can take several days to appear. Consequently, the physicians have a harder time when it comes to recognizing an allergy.

Gluten Sensitivity without Knowing

Celiac disease and wheat allergy are quite unusual. While the symptoms of celiac disease are quite clear, the ones for gluten sensitivity are more blurry. Therefore, they can affect many people who are not aware that they have this problem, since their symptoms are similar to the ones from other diseases.

Six Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

In order to help recognize a gluten intolerance, we are going to describe the six most frequent symptoms of gluten sensitivity. We hope that they will be helpful in case you are trying to find out if you suffer this intolerance. Sometimes, these symptoms can happen after a few hours, other times they can last for weeks and they can become chronic in the most serious cases.

1. Indigestion

Here we can include abdominal distension, bloating, abdominal cramps, constipation and diarrhea. The doctors tend to diagnose irritable bowel syndrome when they see these symptoms or when they do not find the trigger.

Indigestion

The most common symptom of a gluten intolerance is indigestion.

2. Migraine and Depression

There seems to be a connection between food and health disorders like migraines or headaches. For instance, some people are prone to experience these problems when they eat products with a lot of sugar. The same happens with people who are sensitive to foods rich in histamine (wine, smoked fish, etc.) or those who are sensitive to caffeine.

In the book The Gluten Syndrome: A neurological disease, Dr Rodney Ford, head of the Gastroenterology and allergies at the Hospital of New Zealand, states: “gluten damages the nervous system and can trigger neurological symptoms in both patients of celiac disease or gluten intolerance”. He also says that:

“Gluten causes a combined reaction between antibodies, serum sickness and neurological disease. This damage can result in an imbalance of the autonomous nervous system, brain ataxia (movement disorders that originate in the brain), hypotension (low blood pressure). Children can experience growth and learning disorders and symptoms of depression, migraines and headaches”.

“It is pointless to try to explain specific intestinal damage that people who are sensitive to gluten suffer. But we know that gluten is responsible for these symptoms of gluten intolerance”.

Gluten and headaches

Several studies have proven that gluten intolerance is a disease that can cause headaches and neurological disorders.

If you want more information about gluten and how it affects the brain, click on this link.

3. Tingling and Stiffness in the arms and legs

Symptoms like dizziness, loss of balance and muscle weakness, tingling or stiffness in the arms and legs can point to alterations in the nervous system. Therefore, it can be due to a gluten intolerance.

4. Autoimmune diseases

Gluten Intolerance

Some autoimmune diseases, like chronic thyroiditis or rheumatoid arthritis, can be due to gluten sensitivity or they can worsen their symptoms.

5. Fibromyalgia

It is not a disease, rather, it is a very complex symptoms whose cause is unknown. Like with irritable bowel syndrome, doctors tend to diagnose fibromyalgia when they do not find the source of the symptoms.

The term “fibromyalgia” comes from “Fibro” which means connective tissue; “Myo” which means muscle; and “Algia” which means pain.

How can we know if its symptoms are due to a gluten intolerance?

The only way to know is changing what we eat and see if the symptoms disappear by removing gluten. There is no need to take antidepressants, muscle relaxants and analgesics.

Study on fibromyalgia patients

A clinical study conducted in 2005 on patients who suffered fibromyalgia showed the relation between the chronic fatigue syndrome and food intolerance. The conclusion was that a higher excretion of IgG antibodies, which is common in fibromyalgia, can be due to food allergies.

Conventional medicine also allows a connection between IgG antibodies and some chronic diseases. However, it does not provide a change of diet to solve this problem.

Procedure

During the study, the researchers studied 68 patients who have suffered fibromyalgia for 10 years. After 8 weeks without eating gluten, only a 25% experienced muscle pain, while at the beginning a 66% suffered muscle pain. In the beginning, a 63% slept really bad, after 8 weeks with a gluten-free diet, only a 22% slept bad. Again, 54% suffered joint pain, and after 8 weeks only a 29% still suffered joint pain.

Conclusions of the study

In this case, the patients did not only follow a gluten-free diet. In fact, they also removed products that were personally problematic for them depending on their IgG test. However, since gluten is one of the most common allergens, it is worth trying – specially those who have not done any IgG test – to follow a diet without milk nor gluten.

After the study, the following symptoms improved considerably: migraine, depression, irritable bladder, back pain, painful menstruation, tingling sensation, feet stiffness, tinnitus, mucosa dryness, and swollen hands, feet or face.

6. Constant fatigue

Some people suffer constant tiredness and they are diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Like it happens with fibromyalgia, the symptoms of chronic fatigue are very complex. In alternative medicine, CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is not a disease, rather, it is a group of symptoms whose cause is unknown.

Gluten and tiredness
In the clinical study that we pointed out previously, a 60% of the patients suffered tiredness during the day and a 42% suffered weakness. After removing gluten from their diet, only a 22% suffered tiredness and a 17% weakness after eight weeks.

Tiredness and fatigue

Constant tiredness is one of those symptoms that can disappear more quickly in cases of gluten intolerance once it is removed from the diet

Are you Gluten Sensitive?

If you suffer one or more of the previous symptoms, either constantly or intermittently, and you eat gluten regularly, you may suffer gluten intolerance.

Symptoms of gluten intolerance

You may experience other different symptoms than the ones we have described that may depend on your gluten intolerance

How to know if you suffer Gluten Intolerance

First, avoid eating products that can contain gluten for 60 days. To do so, it is not enough to just stop eating bread and pasta with gluten. Let’s not forget that gluten is also a food additive in many processed products. Therefore, read the product label carefully. Moreover, you will have to order a gluten-free meal if you go to a restaurant.

Gluten-free bread and flour

It may be difficult to give up the products that you usually eat as well as the belief that whole bread is always healthy.

Results of a Gluten Intolerance test

If you still have the same symptoms afterwards, it is quite likely that you do not suffer gluten intolerance (unless you still have eaten processed products with gluten).

On the contrary, if the symptoms have disappeared, you most likely suffer gluten intolerance. Therefore, it would be advisable to fully adopt a gluten-free diet.

Gluten-free Diet

Exclude all the products made from cereals. For instance, wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, oats or emmer wheat. Don’t forget that many processed products contain gluten, such as instant soups, sauces, seasonings, chocolate bars and many more.

Toasts and coffee for breakfast

Be careful and check the nutrient facts to see the ingredients of each product

Gluten-free Cereals

Some of the gluten-free cereals are: millet, teff (a type of millet), rice, pseudo-cereals like quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat.

Gluten-free bread

Ezekiel bread toasts

Ezekiel bread is a type of bread that we can cook at home using gluten-free cereals.

Gluten-free Products

These are some of the gluten-free products that you can eat without any issue: quinoa, buckwheat, millet, amaranth, rice, corn, chufa sedge, chestnuts, teff, almonds and millet flakes.

Bowl of quinoa with mint leaves

Quinoa can be a great substitute for wheat.

Gluten-free Breakfast

This is an example of a delicious gluten-free breakfast that you can make with chestnut flour and a crunchy dry fruit sauce.

Gluten-free Breakfast

Cook this gluten-free recipe to start the day off with all the energy that you need.

Recipe Tips
  • Preparation time: 8 minutes
  • Cooking time: 20 minutes
  • Portion size: 1 Bowl
  • Number of servings: 10
  • Cooking style: American
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of chestnut flour
  • Around 80ml of hot almond milk
  • ½ a cup of dried fruit (raisins, figs, plums, etc)
  • 200 grams of chopped fresh seasonal fruit
  • 1 cup of almond paste
  • 50 grams of berries (blueberries or raspberries)
  • 2 dates without bone
  • ½ orange juice
  • Gluten-free chufa flakes
Nutritional Information per serving
Calories:135kcal
Fat:0.9g
of which saturates:0.2g
Carbohydrates:30g
of which sugars:14.4g
Fiber:3.5g
Proteins:1.5g
Salt:0.01g
Preparation
  1. Mix the chestnut flour and the dry fruit with the hot almond milk and let it cook for a few minutes.
  2. Then, mix the fruit with the almond paste.
  3. Use a blender to make something similar to a marmalade with the berries, dates and orange juice. Then, pour the blend of the chestnut flour until and mix everything until it is well combined.
  4. Season with cinnamon, vanilla or ginger.
This breakfast provides saturated fatty acids and many nutrients and vital substances for our body. You can store it to eat it in the following days.

Bibliography

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