Gluten intolerance is a fairly common problem. It is characterized by adverse reactions to gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye.
Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. It is an autoimmune disease that affects about 1% of the population and may lead to damage in the digestive system.
Table Of Contents
- What is Gluten?
- Gluten Sensitivity
- Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
- Foods to Avoid If Your Have Gluten Intolerance
- Gluten-Free Foods
- How to Reduce Gluten Intake
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein complex found in the grains wheat, barley and rye.
Flours made from these grains are commonly used to make foods such as breads, cereals, pasta, pizza, and baked goods. The gluten in these foods gives them the elastic texture and it helps provides the structure of the food.
What is Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten sensitivity, also called non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance, can be diagnosed if a person doesn’t have celiac disease or a wheat allergy but they have some similar symptoms and they feel better when they are on a gluten-free diet.
While someone with gluten sensitivity will have similar symptoms as a person with celiac disease, they do not have the same intestinal damage.
It is unclear whether people with gluten sensitivity need to be as strict adhering to a gluten-free diet. There is no definitive test for gluten intolerance.
Fast Facts on Gluten
Gluten refers to a protein that is present in wheat, rye, and barley. It is an ingredient in food products as diverse as salad dressings and beer.
Cosmetics, medications, and nutritional supplements may also contain gluten.
Gluten causes damage to the small intestine in people with celiac disease.
Gluten can cause problems for those with or without celiac disease.
7 Clear Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
Many of these symptoms occur shortly after consuming gluten. However, the exact combination of symptoms can vary.
People who report gluten intolerance note the following symptoms as some of the most commonly occurring ones when they include glutenous foods in their usual diet.
1. Diarrhea and Constipation
Those who report gluten intolerance say regular instances of Diarrhoea and constipation are a common symptom. Occasionally having such digestive issues is normal, but experiencing them on most days can indicate an underlying condition.
People with celiac disease may also experience diarrhea and constipation. They may also have poop that smells particularly unpleasant, as the condition causes poor nutrient absorption.
Another very common symptom that people report in cases of gluten intolerance is bloating. This refers to the feeling of a full stomach that is uncomfortable and lasting. It is common also to feel a buildup of gas.
Overeating is the most common reason for bloating, but it can happen for a number of different reasons.
In people with gluten intolerance, the feeling of bloating may occur very regularly and is not necessarily related to the amount of food they eat.
3. Abdominal Pain
Similarly, several different causes can lead to abdominal pain. But, again, those reporting gluten intolerance often note experiencing abdominal pain frequently and without another obvious reason.
Fatigue is another symptom that people may find hard to identify, as it can have a lot of different causes, many of which are not related to any medical condition.
People with gluten intolerance may have persistent feelings of tiredness that impair daily functioning.
People with gluten intolerance may also experience nausea, particularly after consuming a meal containing gluten. Nausea can have many causes, but if it often occurs after eating gluten it can be a sign of gluten intolerance.
Experiencing regular headaches is another symptom that can occur in people with gluten intolerance.
7. Other Symptoms
People with gluten intolerance may experience several of these symptoms on a regular basis. It is also possible for other symptoms to occur with gluten intolerance, although they are less common. These may include:
- Joint and muscle pain
- Depression or anxiety
- Severe abdominal pain
Foods to Avoid if Your Have Gluten Intolerance
People who have a gluten intolerance try to avoid any food with gluten in it, which includes any food that contains:
- Wheat, and any derivatives of wheat, such as spelt
- Barley, including malt
- Brewer’s yeast that is usually derived from beer
This policy of elimination rules out many different types of foods and drinks. The most common foods and drinks containing gluten include:
- Bread and pastries
- Many baked goods
- Pancakes, waffles, and crepes
- Many sauces and gravies
- Malt beverages
Many natural foods are safe to consume on a gluten-free diet, including:
- Dairy products
- Nuts and seeds
- Other starches, such as potatoes, rice, quinoa, buckwheat, and more
Always check the packaging carefully when buying these products to make sure they do not contain added gluten.
How to Reduce Gluten Intake
While people with celiac disease must exclude gluten from their diet as soon as a doctor has diagnosed the condition, many people with gluten intolerance slowly reduce the consumption of gluten, rather than cutting it out straightaway.
It can help if a person starts by including one gluten-free meal per day before slowly adding more. It may not be beneficial for everyone with gluten intolerance to cut gluten out of their diet entirely, as people’s symptoms will vary in their severity.
Some people may be able to consume small amounts of gluten without experiencing any symptoms. The majority of people with gluten intolerance, however, may want to eliminate gluten from their diet gradually.
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