What is gluten sensitivity and how do you know if you have it?

Categories: Articles, Gluten-free

People may have noticed in the last few years, more and more gluten-free products have been making there way to grocery store shelves. First of all, gluten is the protein found in wheat, barley, oats, and rye. Anyone can develop gluten intolerance at any point in their lives. Common triggers include stress, surgery, pregnancy, or illness. The important thing to remember is, gluten and casein (the protein found in milk) are two of the most difficult to digest proteins we encounter. It is hard on everybody to digest these proteins. Certain people find it even more difficult and problems ensue. It is not just gastro-intestinal; chronic fatigue, brain fog, depression, pain, migraines have all been dramatically alleviated with the removal of gluten from the diet. Also, it is common for kids on the autistic spectrum to be on gluten-free casein-free diets, as this diet has been demonstrated in many cases to effectively treat autism.

To find out if you are sensitive to gluten, you can either have your doctor do a blood test or try an elimination diet. The blood test must include testing for IgA and IgG antibodies. Because gluten sensitivity is not a true allergy, it will not show up with traditional IgE allergy tests. With IgG sensitivities, the effect is cumulative and takes anywhere from 3-72 hours to manifest. US Biotek is a laboratory which offers food sensitivity panels which can tell you if you are sensitive to gluten or a host of other foods: www.usbiotek.com. If you are not able to get a blood test right away, or, just want to see if your health will improve by eliminating gluten, try an elimination diet. Most people for whom gluten is a problem will notice positive changes within days of avoiding all gluten products, however, it is best to stay on the diet for at least a month. It is imperative to be very strict and research the hidden sources of gluten. Items on nutritional labels–artificial color, brown rice syrup, hyrdolyzed vegetable protein, modified food starch, natural flavors–to name a few, can all be made from either wheat or barley. Unless you call the manufacturer, you don’t know. There is a lot of hype and information out there. www.gfcfdiet.com has free and comprehensive lists of products that do not contain gluten. The real test will be when you re-introduce gluten back into the diet. It is important to re-introduce in an intentional way and consume a relatively large amount of the protein and then monitor yourself closely for any re-emerging symptamology.