Gluten intolerance, or NSGS, is characterized by adverse reactions to food containing gluten. Gluten intolerance, however, differs from celiac disease. Celiac disease is an autoimmune response wherein gluten prompts your immune system to attack your small intestine. Gluten intolerance symptoms, on the other hand, stems from a different immune reaction. A blood test can tell whether you have celiac disease or are just experiencing possibe gluten intolerance symptoms. From there, gluten intolerance treatment methods can be used to decipher whether or not the intolerance is indeed present. This is done by first eliminating gluten from your diet, then reinstating it to see if gluten intolerance symptoms continue. If a gluten intolerance is present, then a diet change is necessary as part of a gluten intolerance treatment.
What is gluten intolerance, and what does it look like? The following symptoms are part of this autoimmune reaction to gluten:
- Digestive and IBS symptoms, including abdominal pain, cramping, bloating, constipation or diarrhea
- Brain fog: difficulty concentrating and trouble remembering information
- Frequent headaches
- Mood-related changes, including anxiety and increased depression symptoms
- Ongoing low energy levels and chronic fatigue syndrome
- Muscle and joint pains
- Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs
- Reproductive problems and infertility
- Skin issues, including dermatitis, eczema, rosacea and skin rashes
- Nutrient deficiencies, including anemia
If you suspect you have a gluten intolerance, try these 3 steps to address the issue:
1. Try an Elimination Diet
It can be difficult to get a diagnosis of gluten intolerance from a doctor. This is because another disorder may be causing your symptoms. However, you can take matters into your own hands. Try an elimination diet, wherein you remove gluten entirely from your diet. This will need to be done for at least 30 consecutive days. However, longer is preferably, even up to three months. Then, reintroduce gluten to your diet. If symptoms improve during the elimination period, then reappear after consuming gluten again, take it as a clear sign that gluten was the culprit.
However, only test one variable at a time. In other words, don’t test dairy and sugar at the same time you’re testing gluten. Doing this can tamper with results.
2. Follow a Gluten-Free Diet
If you’ve determined your symptoms are due to a gluten intolerance, it’s time to permanently switch to a gluten-free diet. Gluten intolerance foods to avoid include those that contain wheat, rye and barley. Following a gluten intolerance diet can have its challenges, but there are plenty of gluten-free items available. Primarily, however, you’ll want to stick to anti-inflammatory foods, such as organic fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, in order to repair the damage to your gut.
This means avoiding most baked products found in stores. For example, flour-containing foods (like pizza or pasta from restaurants), most packaged foods (bread, cereals, pastas, cookies, cakes, etc.) and beer, must be eliminated from your diet. Other types of alcohol may contain gluten, as well. You must read ingredient labels carefully. Gluten is tricky—it hides in many different packaged foods.
If you don’t have celiac disease, occasional consumption of gluten likely won’t cause long-term damage. However, you’ll feel better sticking to a gluten-free diet. This is especially true the longer you stick with it!
As for baking, you have a number of options available to you. For example, instead of wheat flour, try these:
• Brown rice
• Sweet potato
• Almond flour
• Coconut flour
• Chickpea flour
If, however, your symptoms do not improve when you remove all sources of gluten, there could be something else going on. In fact, it is likely you could have another food intolerance causing your digestive issues. Dairy, nuts, shellfish and eggs are all common culprits. Try eliminating each group until you find your answer.
Additionally, many foods containing what’s called FODMAPs have also been tied to digestive issues. This includes IBS symptoms. In fact, some researches even suspect that for some, gluten might not even be the issue. They propose that FODMAPs are the real culprit factor for NCGS in wheat products.
3. Consider Having Tests Done
If you test negative for two main genes associated with celiac disease, researchers believe you are less likely to have gluten intolerance or NCGS. However, if celiac disease or gluten intolerance runs in your family, you might consider having your doctor test for these genes.
Celiac disease will show high levels of certain antibodies. However, this might not be true for people with a gluten intolerance. Either way, it’s a good idea to get the test done to know where you stand.
Furthermore, consider getting tested for other food allergies, as well as for parasites and bacteria. A test called the zolulin test will help determine the permeability of your gut.
Overtime, damage to your gut can affect how well you absorb nutrients. It is because of this reason that it’s crucial you find out the reason for your symptoms sooner rather than later.