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Does Gluten Disagree with You?

If you're not feeling well or bothered by nagging symptoms, it could be due to wheat in your diet

The gluten-free diet has become one of the most popular diet trends around the world.

Most people may eat gluten-containing foods as part of a healthy diet. For others, gluten causes numerous health problems and worsens their quality of life.

So how do we know if we might be reacting to gluten?

Here are 9 signs that gluten isn’t working for your body. These symptoms most commonly occur in patients with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).

#1 - Brain Fog or Fatigue

Neurological symptoms may be triggered by gluten.

Common signs include brain fog, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and mood swings. There are numerous other neurological symptoms, as well.

#2 - Pain or Numbness

Joint pain, tenderness, or swelling may be caused by a reaction to gluten. Often this pain is attributed to arthritis and so the true trigger remains unidentified. Nerve pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness (neuropathy) are also symptoms.

Likewise, headaches and migraines are significantly more common among undiagnosed and untreated patients with celiac disease or NCGS. This is seen in both adults and children.

#3 - GI Complaints

Bloating, indigestion, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, or constipation are not normal or healthy. Plus, they make life miserable!

IBS is frequently diagnosed prior to identifying gluten as a trigger for one’s symptoms.

#4 - Skin Rashes

Eczema, psoriasis, acne, hives, and alopecia areata (autoimmune-triggered hair loss) may indicate that gluten isn’t working for you.

These conditions have been most studied in relation to celiac disease. However, eliminating gluten may improve symptoms in people without this autoimmune disease as well.

#5 - Vitamin or Mineral Deficiencies

Recurrent vitamin or mineral deficiencies are a frequently missed sign of celiac disease. Left untreated, they cause serious short- and long-term health problems such as sleep disorders, osteopenia, or osteoporosis.

Patients are most likely to be chronically low in iron, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, zinc, folate (vitamin B-9), vitamin B-12, and/or fatty acids (omega-3 and omega-6).

Prior to diagnosis and treatment with a gluten-free diet, supplementation may not help due to malabsorption.

#6 - Oral or Dental Health Problems

Dental enamel defects (stains, pits, lines, and grooves), partial or complete loss of enamel, delayed tooth eruption, frequent cavities, and recurrent mouth ulcers (canker sores) are often caused by nutrient deficiencies.

These deficiencies may be the result of a reaction to gluten.

#7 - Infertility and Miscarriage

When the body isn’t getting the nutrients it needs, it reacts havoc on our hormones. This can lead to reproductive problems.

Amenorrhea (no period), highly irregular menstrual cycle, endometriosis, unexplained infertility, recurrent miscarriage, and stillbirth are all possible signs of celiac disease or NCGS.

#8 - Slowed Growth

Failure to thrive or delayed onset of puberty are most commonly seen when celiac disease begins in early childhood.

These growth problems are signs of malnutrition. Again, when our body isn’t getting enough of all the nutrients it needs to live and grow, numerous health problems will occur.

#9 - Autoimmune Diseases

Gluten is an inflammatory food and may worsen inflammatory conditions, such as autoimmune disease. Many people living with autoimmune diseases have noticed improvements in their symptoms by going gluten free.

If you think you may be reacting to gluten or wheat, talk to your doctor about comprehensive celiac disease and allergy testing.

Laurel Otey is an infant and family wellness educator and owner of Layered Living, a holistic wellness practice. She specializes in autoimmune disease, food allergies, and stress reduction.

  • Photo by Victoria Shes on Unsplash