• Shanelle Butler

All About Gluten Intolerance

How can you tell if you have a gluten allergy? If you have experienced symptoms of gluten intolerance, you may have a sensitivity or an allergy to gluten.

I can remember the time I had to give up gluten, it was a terrible time of my life. Mainly because I was constantly bloated, gassy, acid reflux, and severe indigestion. I felt very miserable and uncomfortable with a big bloated stomach in front of me, which was very embarrassing. I remember having to induce vomiting 2 hours after eating because my food didn’t even begin to digest, and I believe it wouldn’t have either.


After some time I visited a gastroenterologist only for him to advise me I needed a colonoscopy, I ignored him as I do with most doctors (not that their evaluation or diagnosis is irrelevant to me, but sometimes it just doesn’t make sense). In my opinion, I showed no symptoms that required me to have a colonoscopy that cost $3500 BBD. I spoke to a friend who is a doctor and he said to me it is probably something in my diet causing these symptoms, he said I should do an elimination of certain foods like dairy, gluten and sugar, but not to take them out of my diet all at once but one at a time for 2 weeks or more then reintroduce and see how I felt. This way you can see which ones are causing the symptoms to occur.


This very simple advice saved my life!


I can use gluten now but I use it in moderation, if I over do it I get bloated and uncomfortable but it actually makes me look puffy in my abdomen area, which no one really likes.


But why did I have gluten intolerance for a period in my life?


A few years later I reflected on this time in my life and wondered why I became intolerant to gluten and grains for a period of time. Before this started, I was very stressed, something very traumatic happened in my life. Along with the stress, anxiety and depression I smoked and drank a lot of alcohol. Stress affects your body in unbelievable ways, ways that make you feel you will die, it weakens your immune system and disrupts your digestive system and the effects go on from there. Smoking and drinking on the other hand tears down the lining of your intestines and decreases stomach acid among other dangerous threats to the body.


Where does intolerance to gluten and grains come in here?


Gluten, grains, legumes and dairy can be difficult to digest especially with a digestive system that isn’t working properly. These foods can create low level inflammation which causes other health concerns over a period of time. Some people rather live with their discomforts than give up a food or particular lifestyle, but most of the time it is just for a short period until you feel much better, then you can begin to reintroduce the some foods you eliminated into your diet but use in moderation to prevent a complete disruption again.


Moving on…..


So unless you have been living under a rock, you have undoubtedly seen or heard many people saying they are reducing their gluten or giving it up altogether. In some cases, people actually have allergies or a condition called Celiac disease, which is causing gluten to make them ill. Others simply have a sensitivity or intolerance to gluten. The latter is more common, so that is what we are going to talk about.


What is Gluten?


Gluten is a type of protein that is found in a variety of different grains. Many people think about wheat as being gluten, but it can also be found in rye, oats, and barley. The gluten protein is made up of other proteins, including glutenin and gliadin. These are often more closely linked to people that have negative reactions in the form of a gluten allergy or Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune condition of the small intestine. The symptoms are slightly different when comparing an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten as opposed to actually being allergic to it.


Common Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance


When you have an intolerance to gluten, your symptoms can range from mild discomfort and abdominal pain, to some of the more common signs of being allergic to gluten. First of all, you might find that you have abdominal discomfort or indigestion when you consume foods with a lot of wheat or rye. There are actually many regular food items that contain wheat or other grains, that you would otherwise think are harmless. You may eat a simple sandwich with wheat bread and suddenly find that your stomach is hurting and you might even have diarrhea or nausea. Some other common symptoms include bloating, headaches, skin changes, and allergy symptoms like coughing, sneezing, and runny nose.


Lifestyle Changes


If you are found to have a gluten sensitivity, you don’t have to completely give up all gluten, but you do need to decrease it as much as possible. The more foods you eat with gluten, the worse you are going to end up feeling. They might not cause serious illness like if you had Celiac disease, but gluten can definitely make you feel ill. If you want those stomach aches and migraines to go away, stay away from foods with wheat, rye, or barley. This includes most breads, grains, pasta, and a wide range of packaged and processed foods. You should try to stick to a diet consisting primarily of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein like meat.



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