Gluten sensitivity, also known as gluten intolerance, is rapidly reaching epidemic proportions. Recent estimates are showing that it may be affecting as many as one in ten people! What’s worse is that when left untreated, gluten sensitivities can wreak all extremes of havoc on the body, especially in the long term. Gluten can cause permanent organ damage, severe tissue damage, and a hyper activated immune system. The good news is that while gluten affects so many people, and although most don’t even know they are affected and can feel better, there is a solution. Here’s how to find out if you, or someone close to you, is affected by gluten sensitivity. It’s a simple solution to improve your health.
Ask yourself, or someone you know, if any of these following symptoms are present.
- diarrhea, constipation, gas, stomach pain, or bloating
- headaches or migraines
- itchy skin, rashes, blisters, or mouth sores
- bone, joint, or muscle pain
- unexplained fatigue, weakness, or weight loss or gain
- behavioral issues, depression, or irritability
If any of the above symptoms are true, it may very well be that gluten sensitivity is the underlying cause. Gluten sensitivities are very, very tricky. They can be hiding beneath any number of problems, making it very difficult to detect, even by some of the best health care professionals. If you suspect that you have an intolerance to the protein, eliminate gluten from your diet completely. It is the simplest answer of all – eliminate any food or products containing wheat, barley, rye, and all of their derivatives. By eliminating gluten for a few weeks, you will see for yourself if you begin to feel better and the symptoms go away.
However, you may or may not want to decide to get tested for a gluten sensitivity before you try the diet. For most tests, you must continue a normal gluten containing diet for up to four weeks before getting tested. Otherwise, the test results may not be accurate and conclusive. Most doctors will actually test for celiac disease, the most extreme and damaging scale of gluten intolerance, when testing for a sensitivity. This will usually involve a referral to a gastroenterologist specialist, with either blood tests, genetic tests, a biopsy of the small intestine, or all three. Although, these tests won’t actually tell you if you have a lesser reaction to gluten and suffer from just a minor sensitivity. Many individuals who get tested for celiac disease test negative, but do in have an intolerance. Instead, you may want to get tested for gluten sensitivity, which comes in two forms: a stool test or a saliva test. Each of these tests will provide an absolute definite answer as to whether or not you have some degree of intolerance. EnteroLab provides stool testing for $99 through the privacy of your own home, without a doctors order required, and does not require gluten to be reintroduced to a diet if you have already eliminated the protein.
Finding out that you’re gluten sensitive, or that you have celiac disease, means you must obtain a lifelong commitment to following a strict gluten free diet. This is easier said than done, but the benefits far outweigh the risks, and it is not the end of the world. Trust me! It may be a difficult diet to start for some people, as they suddenly realize the food that they love so much now must be strictly avoided. For others, it is simply just a problem of constantly having to read food labels and search for completely hidden sources of the protein, especially on packaged or manufactured food. EZ Gluten provides testing strips that can detect gluten in food, which is a great tool for those moments that you’re not sure. Not to mention, it is almost impossible to go out to restaurants to eat, and some family members or friends may have to adapt with you. Anger, frustration, and depression are just a few emotions that are probably going to be experienced – I’ve been there right along with you. Don’t deprive yourself of company, because maintaining good relationships and having a support system will help you through the gluten free process. Transitioning into a gluten free diet can be done by taking it one step at a time. Take it slowly. Living gluten free is certainly like living a new adventure. However, if you’re carefully staying on track and complying with all advices to stay gluten free, then you will surely be safe and healthy. Yes, living gluten free is a sacrifice in some ways, but all sacrifices end with a blessing, and it is a worthy process to go through.