Gluten is a substance that is found in several grains, most commonly in wheat, that can wreak havoc on the digestive system and be at the root of many health issues. Even symptoms that you think may have nothing to do with a food allergy can be caused by an intolerance to gluten. Researchers are finding that people may be placed on a spectrum of gluten intolerance: those who are very tolerant at one end, and those who have celiac disease at the other.
How Do You Know if You're Gluten Intolerant?
Not everyone who has a gluten intolerance will test positive for celiac disease. If you have certain health problems that you just can't seem to get rid of, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a mood disorder, or persistent skin irritation, a gluten-free diet may be the answer you are looking for. A good way to determine intolerance is to try removing all gluten-containing products from your diet for three to four weeks. If your symptoms subside when it is removed, you may have your answer.
There are a variety of health issues that can surface as a result of gluten intolerance. Digestive problems, undiagnosed symptoms, and other issues that occur even after testing negative for celiac disease are a few signs that a change in diet may be in order.
You Have Leaky Gut or Other Digestive Problems
Leaky gut occurs when the lining of the intestine has been damaged to the point where toxins and food can pass through and enter into the bloodstream. This not only causes digestive problems, but also compromises your immune system, making you susceptible to whatever is going around.
Gluten attaches to the lining of the intestine, which causes it to tear. Healthy bacteria, also called probiotics, are destroyed and nutrient-absorbing villi are damaged. If you have gluten sensitivities, you may even have symptoms of malnutrition because your body is unable to absorb vital nutrients as a result of this injury.
You Can't Seem to Get Rid of Your Symptoms
The damage that is done to your intestinal lining can lead to a host of health problems. From irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to fibromyalgia, gluten can be the root cause of a wide range of issues.
People who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance may also have a lack of energy, problems with mood swings and depression, or itchy rashes.
You Tested Negative for Celiac Disease, But Your Symptoms Persist
In order to test for celiac disease, two types of antibodies are measured from blood samples. These "anti-gluten" antibodies help determine the presence of the disease.
There are several reasons why a person may test negative for celiac yet still have the disease, or some level of gluten intolerance. Some people are genetically deficient in these antibodies. Also, since the antibodies are viewed under a microscope to determine the presence of the disease, human error also comes into play. Certain test kits are more accurate than others, and some may produce a false negative result. If the person who is being tested hasn't recently eaten gluten, the anti-gluten antibodies will be reduced.
Some people say that a gluten-free diet is just a fad, but many doctors are discovering that gluten sensitivity is a real problem for a large portion of the population. Grains have been consumed for many years, but today's grains have been hybridized and engineered to be more prolific and pest-resistant, resulting in new compounds that have the potential to be quite damaging to human beings. An elimination diet, one in which you remove all gluten from every source for a period of several weeks to a month, should help you to determine if your persistent symptoms are due to a gluten intolerance.