BHealthy Blog

Is Gluten to Blame?

Bloating. Gas. Inflammation. Brain fog. If you’re one starchy meal away from any of these symptoms, you could be experiencing gluten intolerance. 

Gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity is a condition where your body reacts poorly to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley grains. You may also experience diarrhea, abdominal pain or constipation. Not all symptoms affect the digestive tract, some may experience neurological symptoms such as headaches, neuropathy, anxiety, depression and joint pain. 

How gluten intolerance is different from celiac disease

Gluten intolerance shares the same symptoms as celiac disease, however, the symptoms subside once you remove gluten from your diet. 

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically predisposed people and is triggered by eating gluten and leads to damage in the small intestine. People with a first-degree relative with celiac disease (parent, child, sibling) have a 1 in 10 risk of developing celiac disease, according to the Celiac Disease Foundation

Long-term health conditions associated with undiagnosed or untreated celiac disease include:

  • Osteoporosis
  • Heart disease
  • Infertility
  • Malnutrition 
  • Type 1 Diabetes
  • Multiple Sclerosis

It’s important to talk to your primary care provider about your symptoms. Doctors often use blood tests or biopsies of the small intestine to diagnose or rule out celiac disease. Currently, the only treatment for celiac disease is lifelong adherence to a strict gluten-free diet. 

Foods to avoid

People living gluten-free must avoid foods with wheat, rye, farro, couscous, and barley, such as bread and beer. This includes breads, tortillas, crackers and pasta unless they are labeled “gluten-free.” But gluten is not only found in baked goods, it can also be in condiments like barbecue sauce and salad dressings. Some spice blends and gravy mixes can also contain gluten. 

Many processed foods like cheese, lunch meat and egg substitutes, as well as bottled drinks such as chocolate milk, premade coffee drinks and wine coolers also contain gluten. 

Foods to eat 

When it comes to eliminating gluten from your diet, fresh is best. Fruits and vegetables are naturally gluten-free, as well as beans and lentils. Meat and poultry that aren’t prepared with products containing gluten are also safe for those with sensitivities. 

If you are experiencing gluten sensitivity, it’s important to pay close attention to the ingredients on the labels of food you purchase. While some products may be labeled “gluten-free,” others may have ingredients you wouldn’t expect. Check out this “Gluten-Free Diet and Food Label Reading Guide” to help educate yourself on making the right choices in the grocery aisle. 

Try these gluten-free recipes to get started. If you think you may be experiencing gluten-intolerance or sensitivity, make an appointment to talk to your doctor about what you can do to relieve your symptoms and if you need to see a specialist. 

To find a primary care provider near you, click here