Gluten is a complex protein found in various food grains like wheat, barley, and rye.
And if you have ever wondered why dough is stretchy, why bread rises in the oven, and why cakes and muffins are so chewy, then the answer is: it's because of gluten.
Unfortunately, while most of us love eating these treats, a large percentage of the population is actually allergic to gluten (which is also called gluten intolerance) without even knowing it!
Are you one of them?
Find out by reading the signs of gluten intolerance below.
#1 You Have Constant Digestive Problems
While occasional loose motions and gassiness trouble all of us, if you have diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and gas constantly for more than 2 months, then you might have gluten intolerance.
This is because gluten intolerance leads to severe allergic reaction to gluten-products, which causes the immune system to not only attack the gluten in your food but also attack the walls of your stomach and intestines.
#2 Skin Rashes
The immune reaction to gluten is not just restricted to the gut.
It spreads to the rest of the body, including the skin, in the form of IgA immunoglobulin deposition under the epidermis.
This leads to various skin problems like psoriasis, eczema, acne, and dermatitis herpetiformis.
And since the gut is unable to absorb nutrients properly, which includes fatty acids and vitamin A, the deficiency also leads to a condition called Keratosis Pilaris (a.k.a chicken skin) along the back of your arms.
Also read - What is Psoriasis? Causes, Symptoms, and Cure
#3 Neurological Effects
Gluten intolerance also affects the brain, which leads to fatigue, brain fog, headaches, and dizziness.
In fact, those suffering from this problem often feel tired even after sleeping for 11 hours straight.
#4 Autoimmune Cascade
Gluten intolerance is an autoimmune disease that causes the body's immunity to harm its own self.
Unfortunately, this immune cascade can be triggered by other autoimmune diseases too.
Like Rheumatoid Arthritis, Systemic Lupus Erythematosus, Ulcerative Colitis, Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, Multiple Sclerosis, and Psoriasis.
So if you have any of these, then there is higher chance that your digestive problems might actually be because of gluten intolerance.
#5 Joint Inflammation
Again, this point is related to the various effects of gluten intolerance and the autoimmune crisis caused by it.
Just remember that painfully swollen knees, hip, and fingers are not the only sign of gluten intolerance. So if that's all you have, then maybe it is actually arthritis, and not the former.
#6 Hormonal Imbalance
Gluten intolerance causes severe nutrient deficiency in the body, which can lead to hormonal imbalance. This includes exacerbated PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome), PCOD (poly-cystic ovarian disorder), hot flashes, erratic sleep cycle, and even infertility.
In fact, studies have shown that gluten intolerance has a strong relationship with the female hormones progesterone and estrogen, and adrenal cortisol (the stress hormone).
#7 Mood Disorders
The cascade of systemic problems caused by gluten intolerance indirectly also causes extreme mood swings, depression, ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactive disorder), and anxiety.
#8 Unexplained Weight Loss or Gain
Gluten intolerance causes severe damage to the lining of your gut, which leads to severe nutrient deficiencies because of the gut's inability to absorb required nutrients from the food.
This malabsorption leads to rapid loss of weight as the body scrambles to gather energy from all its stored resources.
On the other hand, the immune cascade triggered by this often leads to full body inflammation, which mimics weight gain.
So if you notice either, it is a sign that you have gluten intolerance.
Gluten intolerance causes severe migraines and headaches because the body is unable to absorb the nutrients needed to sufficiently fuel the brain throughout the day.
#10 Recurrent Mouth Ulcers
Recurrent mouth ulcers are mainly caused by stress and vitamin deficiencies. That's why those suffering from gluten intolerance often complain of recurring mouth ulcers too as their gut is unable to absorb the vitamins and nutrients required to keep these problems at bay.
What Can You Do About It?
Knowing the signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance is one thing. But what should you do next?
The first line of action is to go to a physician and find out if you are suffering from celiac disease or are simply allergic to wheat.
The next step is to cut out all gluten-containing grains and products from your diet, like wheat, barley, rye, bread, pasta, cakes, beer, cookies, and pastries. And switch to gluten-free grains.
Once you have made this switch, you should start seeing improvement in your overall health in a few weeks to a month's time.
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