Gluten is a type of protein that can be found in wheat, rye, and barley. That means it is also generally found in foods made from those grains, including breads, pastas, and baked goods.
Gluten intolerance means that your body is unable to properly digest this protein and therefore causes a range of uncomfortable symptoms. The two primary conditions associated with gluten intolerance are celiac disease and non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Surveys have estimated that around 13% of people claim to have a gluten sensitivity. However, clinical research has found that less than 7% of people are actually diagnosed with celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Gluten-avoiding diets can be difficult to maintain, nutritionally insufficient, and extra expensive. Because of this, you should get a diagnosis from your doctor before committing to a gluten-free diet. Here are 10 signs that may indicate it is time to get tested for a gluten intolerance:
Bloating is a common sign of gluten intolerance. It can be caused by the body’s inability to properly digest proteins, leading to an accumulation of gas in the intestines.
Abdominal pain and cramping are also often reported by people with gluten sensitivity. The pain may range from mild discomfort to severe and sharp pains.
Diarrhea or Constipation
Irregularity in bowel movements is another common symptom of gluten intolerance. Diarrhea or constipation can both arise from consuming foods containing gluten. These bowel movements may also smell unusually strong or even contain traces of undigested food.
Fatigue that lasts for days after consuming a meal with gluten can indicate a problem digesting it correctly. This fatigue could be due to inflammation in your gut caused by eating gluten.
Itchy and painful rashes are another sign of gluten intolerance. People with celiac disease often experience a condition called dermatitis herpetiformis, which is an itchy skin rash caused by consuming gluten.
Joint or Muscle Pain
Pain in your joints or muscles that persists or worsens after eating foods with gluten could be indicative of a sensitivity. This pain can last for hours or even days after consuming wheat-based products.
Depression & Anxiety
Studies have found that people with undiagnosed or diagnosed gluten intolerance are more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. If you find yourself feeling unusually down or anxious after eating, it could be a sign of an underlying issue with your body’s ability to digest gluten.
Low levels of iron can often accompany a gluten sensitivity due to issues with nutrient absorption. This can cause symptoms such as dizziness and fatigue, and should be checked by a doctor if suspected.
Unexpected Weight Loss
Since gluten intolerance can affect your gut’s ability to absorb nutrients, it can cause unintended weight loss. Unexplained weight loss is a sign that something else may be affecting your diet and should be discussed with your physician.
Other Autoimmune Disorders
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder and, therefore, can be associated with other autoimmune diseases. People with gluten intolerance may have a higher risk of developing conditions such as Type 1 Diabetes, thyroid disease, and rheumatoid arthritis.