It’s a type of protein found in grains including wheat, barley and rye. It makes up about 80 percent of the amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) found in these grains. Although gluten isn’t actually found in many other ancient grains like oats, quinoa, rice or corn, modern food-processing techniques usually contaminate these foods with gluten since they are processed using the same equipment that wheat is.
On top of this, gluten is now used to help make many highly processed chemical additives that are found in packaged foods of all kinds. Coupled with the fact that manufacturing can lead to cross-contamination, this means trace amounts of gluten often wind up in food products that are seemingly gluten-free — like salad dressings, condiments, deli meats and candy. This makes giving up gluten more challenging than it might initially seem.
it is estimated that grain flours (especially wheat products containing gluten), vegetable oils and added sugar now make up about 70 percent of the total calories most people consume each day! Considering the fact that quality proteins, healthy fats and vegetables/fruits only play a small part in the average meals, it’s no surprise so many people struggle with health issues and weight control.
How Is Gluten Intolerance Different than Ceoliac Disease?
Gluten intolerance is different than ceoliac disease, which is the disorder that’s diagnosed when someone has a true allergy to gluten. Celiac is actually believed to be a rare disease, affecting about 1 percent or less of adults. Some research suggests that for every person diagnosed with celiac disease, another six patients go undiagnosed despite having celiac-related damage to the gut.
Symptoms of celiac disease include malnutrition, stunted growth, cancer, severe neurological and psychiatric illness, and even death. However, even when someone tests negative for celiac disease, there’s still a chance he or she can have a gluten intolerance, which poses many risks of its own.
For many decades in the Western medical field, the mainstream view of gluten intolerance was that you either have it, or you don’t. In other words, you either test positive for celiac disease and have an allergy to gluten, or you test negative and, therefore, should have no reason to avoid gluten-containing foods. However, today ongoing research studies along with anecdotal evidence (people’s actual experiences) show that gluten intolerance symptoms aren’t so “black and white” after all.
We now know that gluten intolerance symptoms fall along a spectrum and having a sensitivity to gluten isn’t necessarily all-or-nothing. That means that it’s possible to have gluten intolerance symptoms without having celiac disease. A new term has been given to this type of condition called non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS).
People with NCGS fall somewhere in the middle of the spectrum: They don’t have celiac disease, yet they feel noticeably better when they avoid gluten. The extent to which this is true depends on the exact person, since different people can react negatively to gluten to different degrees. In people with gluten intolerance or NCGS, researchers have found that certain factors usually apply, including:
- Test negative for celiac disease (using two types of criteria, histopathology and immunoglobulin E, also called IgE) despite having similar symptoms
- Report experiencing both gastrointestinal and non-gastrointestinal symptoms (for example, leaky gut syndrome, bloating and brain fog)
- Experience improvements in symptoms when on a gluten-free diet
Common Gluten Intolerance Symptoms
Damage done by gluten-related disorders, including ceoliac disease and NCGS, go beyond just the gastrointestinal tract. Recent research over the past several decades suggests that gluten intolerance symptoms show up in almost every system within the body: the central nervous system (including the brain), endocrine system, cardiovascular system (including the health of the heart and blood vessels), reproductive system and skeletal system.
Because gluten intolerance can lead to autoimmune reactions and increased inflammation levels (the root of most diseases), it’s associated with numerous diseases. But the problem is that many people fail to attribute these symptoms to an undiagnosed food sensitivity.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance (or NCGS) are widespread and can include:
- Digestive and IBS symptoms, including abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation or diarrhea
- “Brain fog,” difficulty concentrating and trouble remembering information
- Frequent headaches
- Mood-related changes, including anxiety and increased depression symptoms
- Ongoing low energy levels and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Muscle and joint pains
- Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs
- Reproductive problems and infertility
- Skin issues, including dermatitis, eczema, rosacea and skin rashes
- Nutrient deficiencies, including anemia (iron deficiency)
- Higher risk for learning disabilities, including autism and ADHD
- Possibly a higher risk for neurological and psychiatric diseases, including Alzheimer’s, dementia and schizophrenia
Gluten intolerance can affect almost every cell, tissue and system in the body since the bacteria that populate the gut help control everything from nutrient absorption and hormone production to metabolic function and cognitive processes.
Focus on eating gluten-free grains like rice, gluten-free oats, buckwheat, quinoa and amaranth. It’s also a good idea to properly prepare grains (especially types that contain gluten) by soaking, sprouting and fermenting them. Sprouting grain helps improve nutrient bioavailability, reduces the presence of gluten and other inhibitors, and makes them more digestible. Look for sourdough or sprouted grain breads (like Ezekiel bread), which are better tolerated than ordinary wheat-flour breads.
Intolerance Testing will show me if a person has a gluten or wheat intolerance. If you wish to make an appointment to get a gluten or wheat test done please contact us at 0870573098 or send us a message here.