If you’ve just been diagnosed with gluten intolerance, or think that you may be suffering from a reaction to wheat or gluten containing grains, take a look at our FAQ. We’ll cover the basics of gluten intolerance, the symptoms, diagnosis and recommended diet.
Q: What is gluten intolerance?
A: Gluten intolerance is an adverse reaction to gluten which is a protein found in some grains such as wheat, barley and rye. In severe cases gluten can cause intestinal damage and can disrupt the ability to absorb nutrients.
Q: How is gluten intolerance diagnosed?
A: There are several methods for diagnosis. The best gluten intolerance test is a combination of a series of blood tests along with an easy to perform intestinal biopsy. This type of test will determine the type and severity of your gluten intolerance. Another method of celiac disease diagnosis is to remove all gluten from the diet for approximately 6 months to determine if symptoms disappear. Some doctors then reintroduce gluten to see if symptoms recur. If so, a complete diagnosis can be made.
Q: What are the symptoms of gluten intolerance?
A: Typical gluten intolerance symptoms include diarrhea, stomach pain or cramping, fatigue, weight loss and other symptoms related to nutritional deficiencies. Some patients report issues with mental fogginess, moodiness and inability to concentrate.
Q: What is a gluten intolerance diet?
A: A strict gluten intolerance diet requires that no gluten be consumed. On the surface this is relatively easy to achieve as there are many foods (vegetables, fruits, meats, dairy products) that do not contain gluten. However, there are many hidden sources of gluten found in commercially processed foods and in nearly all restaurant prepared foods.
Q: What is the best method of achieving a gluten free diet?
A: The first step is to not get overwhelmed. Make a diet plan and as you learn more about gluten intolerance you’ll be able to expand your foods list. Remember that the majority of available food does not contain gluten. When in doubt eat fresh fruit, vegetables and meats. Most grocery stores carry gluten-free baked products as well – so don’t feel like you will have to give up breads and pastas. It’s best to start out by cooking your own foods, avoiding eating at restaurants and also avoiding processed foods. Then slowly introduced processed foods after giving yourself time to learn how gluten can be “hidden” in processed foods.
If you’re concerned that you may have gluten intolerance, in addition to seeing your doctor, why not try avoiding gluten for a period of time? You may find that your symptoms dissipate and you will have an increased sense of health and well-being.