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Gluten Intolerance - How Do You Know?

Gluten intolerance and gluten allergies have become much more common in this generation. Many people are learning that their bodies don’t process gluten as well as they hoped. It can leave you wondering whether you might also have a gluten intolerance as well. There are a variety of ways to find out. Here are ways to check for gluten intolerance.

Ways to Check for Gluten Intolerance

Start with your doctor

While some doctors may not fully understand food allergies and intolerances, they will order tests if you request them. Talk to your doctor about testing for gluten sensitivity or allergy. Another option would be to ask for a referral to an allergist to get a better look at whether you have a gluten allergy. Starting with your doctor will give you the opportunity to discuss your overall health and see which parts of your health might be impacted by gluten.

Questions to ask your doctor

  • Will you order a lab to check for the possibility of celiac? - There is a lab test that can test for the possibility of celiac disease. If this test comes back at a certain level, most doctors will do an endoscopy to take a biopsy and confirm this finding.
  • Could my symptoms be related to a gluten allergy or intolerance? - While not every doctor will be as confident in answering this question, many can sit down with you and rule out other possibilities before moving to gluten sensitivity.
  • Do I need to speak with an allergist? - Dealing with a gluten allergy or intolerance is not always the specialty of a general practitioner. Ask your doctor about a referral to a qualified allergist who can better diagnose this and educate you on your options going forward.

What are the gluten allergy symptoms?

When you suspect a gluten allergy, it can help to look at the symptoms to see if they rule out an allergy in your situation. While sensitivities and allergies are not the same, some of the symptoms will overlap. Taking some time to look through the symptoms won’t give you a diagnosis outright. That said, looking at these symptoms can help you to decide what the next steps are in your gluten journey. Here are a few symptoms to be aware of.

Gluten Allergy Symptoms

  • Diarrhea and Constipation - One of the bigger indicators of gluten sensitivity or allergy is a gastro disturbance. Frequent diarrhea and constipation can be symptoms of other conditions but are often associated with gluten intolerance or allergy.
  • Fatigue - Fatigue is a common symptom of gluten sensitivity.
  • Skin Reactions - Skin reactions can be a symptom of a gluten reaction. These can vary from rashes to skin conditions that are eased with the removal of gluten.
  • Depression and Anxiety - Mental health-related issues can be tied to an immune reaction to a gluten allergy or sensitivity. Speak with your doctor to find out if gluten may be playing a part in your mental health-related struggles.
  • Joint and Muscle Pain - Because of the way the body defends against a gluten reaction, joint and muscle pain can be part of the symptoms. Consuming gluten with an allergy or sensitivity can increase joint and muscle pain.
  • Bloating - Due to the autoimmune reaction to gluten, you may feel some bloating and overall discomfort.

Try an Elimination Diet

An elimination diet is one where you remove all gluten for a period of time. This will allow your body to heal and see how gluten impacts you. With a gluten elimination diet it is important to note that it can take up to three months for gluten to fully leave your system. While you may start to see results in as little as two weeks, it is important to give it a longer trial to see how it impacts your body. Here are some foods that contain gluten to look to remove.

Foods Containing Gluten

  • Gluten Containing Grains - This includes wheat, barley, rye, farina, spelt, farro, and couscous.
  • Most Bread, Crackers, Pasta, and Wraps - With the exception of gluten-free bread, gluten-free crackers, and gluten-free wraps, many of these items will include gluten. Take some time to look at the ingredients before buying.
  • Select Condiments - Items such as soy sauce, salad dressings, gravy, BBQ sauce, and even ketchup can contain gluten.
  • Baked goods - Items such as cookies, cakes, and pastries are often made with gluten-rich ingredients. While you can find gluten-free desserts, it is important to look carefully at the ingredients.
  • Snack Foods - Many snack foods will include gluten. You will see gluten in items such as pretzels, chips, cereal, and energy bars.
  • Processed Foods - Many processed foods will use gluten-containing ingredients in the recipe. Look at ingredients when purchasing these items to confirm that they are safe for a gluten elimination diet.

Try Gluten-Free Foods

One of the great things about making a move to gluten-free living now is that it has become very common. With the move to more people understanding gluten intolerance and allergy, there are more food options available. Many big brands have worked to add in gluten-free food options. Always check ingredients to confirm the item is truly gluten-free. Here are a few gluten-free food options to consider:

  • Gluten-Free Pizza - Gluten-free pizza crust is available and can let you enjoy your favorite pizza recipe while using a pizza crust that won’t cause any gluten reactions for you.
  • Gluten-Free Desserts - There are many gluten-free desserts on the market now such as gluten-free brownies, cookies, and cakes. Picking out a gluten-free dessert can let you enjoy foods you might miss on a gluten-free diet.
  • Gluten-Free Oats - Oats are one of the items that is a higher risk food for gluten contamination. Using gluten-free oats can help to avoid any health risks from consuming oats.
  • Gluten-Free Ingredients - Using items such as gluten-free flours, baking ingredients, and other ingredients to help you make gluten-free recipes you are sure to enjoy. Using alternative flours can be a great way to consume foods you might love and have to avoid with a gluten allergy or intolerance.