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Gluten Intolerance: 5 Classic Symptoms & Tips for Going Gluten-Free

Researchers believe that somewhere between 30% – 50% of the world’s population is Gluten sensitive, and that 1 in every 133 people is gluten intolerant. So, what’s gluten intolerance and how do you know if you have it? To


Photo Credit: Dag Endresen

start, gluten is a water-insoluble protein found in grains like wheat, rye, and barley.  It is responsible for the elastic quality of dough and is found in almost every bread and cereal out there .  Now that we know what gluten intolerance is, how do we know if we or a loved one has a gluten intolerance?

Here are 5 Classic Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance:

1. Stomach Aches (Gas, cramping, bloating)/ IBS /Irregular bowel movements: perhaps the most well-known symptoms of Gluten intolerance, however, many people overlook or ignore these symptoms altogether, not knowing that they’re actually symptoms of a larger issue nor that they can easily address them.

2. Fatigue: many people with Gluten intolerance start to feel tired after consuming Gluten, some describe it as “foggy brain”

3. Headaches: a large percentage of headaches and migraines come from nutritional deficiencies and/or food allergies.  There are a number of different neurological symptoms associated with Gluten intolerance, headaches and migraines are often the first sign of a bigger problem.

4. Keratosis Pilaris: a skin condition in which the skin on the back of your arms gets dry and bumpy, from protein in the skin called keratin that forms hard plugs in the hair follicles – they look like permanent goose bumps.

5. Mood Swings: including anxiety, depression, and even in some cases ADD.  Many people have found that changing a diet to gluten-free one significantly helps address issues like ADD.

Tip 1: How to Find Out if You Are Gluten Intolerant

  1. Blood Tests: If you have the means to get a blood test from a doctor, it is one of the most accurate ways of determining whether or not you are gluten intolerant.
  2. Keep a Food Diary: keep track of what you’re eating and how it makes you feel. Figure out if any symptoms you’re experiencing correlate with certain days and certain foods you ate.
  3. Cut-out gluten from your diet for 1-2 months then slowly add gluten back into your diet.  If you notice any of the above symptoms as you’re introducing gluten back into your diet, odds are you are gluten intolerant.

Tip 2: Three Foods to Avoid with Gluten Intolerance:

  1. Grains: wheat, spelt, rye, triticale, barley, kamut, and oats
  2. Cereals Containing: bran, graham, wheat germ, malt, bulgur
  3. Pasta from Gluten grains

Tip 3: A-OK Foods for that Gluten Intolerance:

  1. Organic, non-GMO corn, hominy, rice, millet, teff, tapioca, potato, yam, arrowroot, quinoa, buckwheat
  2. Gluten-free flours: coconut flour, bean flour, almond flour, and rice flours
  3. All meat, fish, shellfish, poultry & eggs
  4. All vegetables
  5. All dried peas, lentils, and beans
  6. Fresh fruits
  7. Most organic dairy products

Tip 4: How to Adjust to Your New Gluten-Free Diet

Making the change to a gluten free diet is often the biggest challenge people face when they discover they may have a gluten allergy or are gluten intolerant. My advice would be: try not to focus on the foods you can’t have, but instead on the foods you can have.  I think this is especially important if you discover one of your children is gluten intolerant. And remember, in the long run, the benefits of cutting these foods out of your diet will far outweigh the price you have to continually pay to consume them.

Tip 5: Where to Find Gluten-Free Products & Recipes

Thankfully finding gluten-free products is becoming much easier as gluten intolerance and sensitivity is getting more and more attention in the media.  Now you can find a wide array of gluten-free products including: gluten-free baby foodgluten-free breads and tortillasgluten-free candy and desserts, and so much more.  Start exploring with different products and brands and figure out what you like, there is no shortage of foods or products to try!

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I'm a firm believer that you are what you eat and I want to be fresh, local, organic and healthy! I've spent a lifetime experimenting with natural foods, different diets and ways of eating, and have settled on the food philosophy that Michael Pollan expresses so well: Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. I'm passionate about organic foods, natural living, cooking healthy meals, and improving my health on a daily basis.

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