Food sensitivity expert, Dr. Doni Wilson, shares three ways you can determine whether you have gluten sensitivity.
While awareness of gluten-free eating has increased, there are still many people suffering from symptoms that could be resolved by following a gluten-free diet. Unfortunately, it can be very difficult to identify whether or not you have gluten sensitivity for the following reasons:
a) Not everyone experiences the same symptoms in the same parts of the body:
The symptoms of gluten sensitivity can show up basically anywhere in the body depending on your susceptibility.
b) Symptoms might not come on immediately after eating gluten
It could take days, or even a week, for the symptoms to occur, by which point you’ve likely eaten several (if not many) servings of gluten as well as other kinds of food and so wouldn’t be able to tell that gluten was the cause.
c) Gluten has an addictive nature
This means that once you eat it, you are likely to crave more, and are therefore not so apt to give it up easily.
d) A standard test does not exist
Researchers only recently (in 2011) named gluten sensitivity and have not yet determined a standard test for diagnosing it. It is not diagnosed with the same tests that are used to diagnose Celiac disease.
To choose to avoid gluten requires diligence because it is used in so many common foods and meals, and exposure is highly likely unless you are on the look-out for it. It is only with a goal of health improvement that most people start down the path of eating gluten-free.
To help you know whether gluten may be an issue for your health, I am sharing three ways to tell if you may have gluten sensitivity.
1. Do you experience these symptoms?
Having three or more of the symptoms and health issues listed below indicates that you may have gluten sensitivity. Even if you have one of these health issues, it would be worth considering gluten as an underlying cause. Of course not everyone with these symptoms is sensitive to gluten, but if your symptoms continue despite what you’ve tried, eating gluten-free is one possible solution.
Some but not all patients with gluten sensitivity experience digestive symptoms, such as:
- Stomach pain
Other patients only experience symptoms in other areas of their body, such as:
- Frequent infections (viruses, bacteria, and/or yeast) in any location (sinuses, bladder, skin, or other location).
- Pain such as headaches, migraines, joint pain, muscle aches, fibromyalgia, and/or pelvic pain.
- Neurological symptoms like dizziness, tingling, numbness, and weakness.
- Mental/emotional symptoms such as brain fog, decreased memory, lack of focus, anxiety, depression, PMS, mood changes, and sleep issues.
- Skin rashes such as hives, eczema, acne, rosacea, dandruff, warts, and psoriasis.
- Autoimmunity such as Hashimoto’s, Lupus, M.S., Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Crohn’s, and others.
Other common health issues association with gluten sensitivity include:
- Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
- Hair loss
- Nutrient deficiencies (iron, vitamin D, B vitamins, and others)
- Fertility issues
- Thyroid issues
2. Try avoiding gluten and see how you feel
You can try avoiding gluten for at least three weeks to see how you feel. I say “at least” because for some people it can take as long as six months to feel a difference. During this time of elimination, take note (and even journal) about how you feel.
Keep in mind that gluten causes leaky gut, which leads to other food sensitivities, so it is quite likely that if you are reacting to gluten, you are probably reacting to other foods too. And you may only feel significantly better if you eliminate all the foods that are triggering a response. The best way to determine all your food sensitivities is with option 3 below.
Following the Stress Remedy Program, which I designed, is one way to implement a gluten-free diet. The program also helps you to avoid sugar, dairy products, soy and eggs and is designed as a 7 or 21 day program, but you could certainly extend it for longer.
Then, after avoiding gluten for a period of time, have a serving of food containing gluten (or up to three servings that one day) and notice how you feel over the following two to five days. Do symptoms that had disappeared reappear? Do other symptoms occur?
If you have symptoms upon reintroducing gluten, that is considered to be a positive gluten sensitivity.
3. Do an IgG and IgA food sensitivity panel
Gluten sensitivity can show as IgG and/or IgA antibody responses to gluten, and gluten-containing grains. It may also show as anti-gliadin antibodies, but not always.
You can get your antibodies checked in a blood test – done either by blood draw or with a finger poke. There are even ways that you can order this type of test online and do it at home – click here to find out more.
I suggest checking for food sensitivities to other foods as well, because with gluten sensitivity, and the symptoms mentioned above, it is quite likely that you may also be reacting to such foods as dairy products, eggs, beans, and other grains.
Note that gluten sensitivity will NOT show with an intestinal biopsy. That is considered to be the standard way to diagnose Celiac disease, but does not show gluten sensitivity.
Once you know whether you have gluten sensitivity, the next step is to adjust your diet to ensure that you avoid gluten and enjoy continued good health. I’d be happy to help you with that – click here to make an appointment.
For gluten related resources and support from me, check these blog posts:
- Could a little gluten really be all that bad?
- What is gluten and why is it an issue
- Starting out on a gluten-free quest
- What the heck is leaky gut and how to heal it?
- 5 success tips for avoiding food sensitivities
Discovering that you have a gluten sensitivity could change your life – for the better! It could mean losing the weight you’ve been trying to lose, increasing your energy, getting rid of pain and other un-resolving symptoms, and simply moving forward with your goals, whether that is pregnancy, a project that requires focus, or simply enjoying life without infections and a need for medications.
That seems worth figuring out to me. What do you think? Please do share your thoughts below.
8th May 2014