20 Signs of Gluten Intolerance

11. Unexplained Weight Gain One of the many side effects of celiac disease is unexplained weight gain. The gaining of weight might not be a direct… Simi - October 20, 2017
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11. Unexplained Weight Gain

One of the many side effects of celiac disease is unexplained weight gain. The gaining of weight might not be a direct result of gluten intolerance, but rather a side effect of a malfunctioning gut. Apart from the digestive system causing problems, the body also doesn’t take in all the nutrients found in the ingested food and before you know it, things spiral out of control.

People who are gluten intolerant poison their bodies without actually knowing it. As they consume gluten-rich foods, the inner lining of the small intestine starts to become inflamed. When the small intestine is inflamed, tiny fissures appear and bacteria and other food molecules escape into the bloodstream. These foreign molecules are seen as foreign substances in the bloodstream and the white blood cells start to attack the molecules, causing more inflammation.

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The biggest problem with gluten intolerance is that people are unaware that they have it and poison their bodies on a daily basis. The symptoms that only manifest 72 hours after ingestion also don’t help in the detection process. Thus, with time, the damage to the intestines is done repeatedly and inflammation spreads through the body. This makes for the perfect environment to pick up weight.

The easiest way to determine if it is gluten that is the cause of weight gain is by the process of illumination. If you gradually decrease or cut the gluten out of your diet, you detox your body of gluten. If your body weight starts to drop, chances are you are gluten intolerant. To be sure, however, you need to reintroduce the gluten-rich foods, one at a time. When you do this, you will be able to see if you gain weight again.

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12. Depression and Anxiety

It really is hard to think that food can influence your state of mind. There are certain foods that seem to lift a person’s spirits and others that seem to bring a person down. It just so happens that gluten can be a depression-inducing food, even though it might just be a secondary side effect.

Only one percent of people in the US have celiac disease, the most extreme form of gluten intolerance. There are a number of other people who live with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, and these people can experience digestive problems that are related to depression and anxiety. Gluten is also a major allergen that can cause unwanted brain reactions.

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A study was done in 2014 where 22 people with non-celiac gluten sensitivity were given a gluten-free diet for three days. After three days, the gluten was worked out. They then received either a gluten-rich, whey rich or a placebo diet to follow for a further three days. The researchers assessed the candidates after the three-day period and calculated their depression scores. The candidates who received the gluten diet showed much higher depression scores than the candidates who had either the placebo or the whey diets. This strong correlation pointed towards how gluten could actually make you feel depressed.

Another study published in 2007 also showed that people with celiac disease were 80% more likely to suffer from depression than those who were gluten tolerant. The study was performed on 1400 candidates. Furthermore, a Swedish study that was done in 2011, showed that people who had celiac disease also had a higher risk of committing suicide. Although the correlation between gluten and depression might not be a direct correlation, the effects are still quite alarming. If you suffer from depression, you might want to consider cutting down on the gluten.

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13. Leg and arm numbness

One of the more surprising symptoms of gluten intolerance is peripheral neuropathy. This condition can manifest itself in a number of different ways, including numbness, tingling, burning and in some cases pain in the arms, legs, and feet. The condition is very common, but most doctors would not jump to gluten as the culprit to induce neuropathy.

The sensations associated with peripheral neuropathy are usually rooted in some form of nerve damage in the hands and feet. These symptoms generally start in your hands and feet due to the fact that neuropathy starts in the longer nerves. The sensation usually travels from the furthest point and works itself inward towards the body, hence the sensation traveling up your limbs. The number of nerves that are affected also differs from a single nerve to multiple nerves.

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When you are gluten intolerant, your body sometimes starts to produce anti-gluten antibodies. When these antibodies attack the gluten, it occasionally also causes nerve damage. A study was done where 215 patients were screened for axonal neuropathy and the results showed that none of the patients had any medical reason for the neuropathy.

However, when these candidates were tested to see if they were gluten intolerant, the study showed that 34% had high amounts of anti-gluten antibodies. Surprisingly enough, however, 80% of all the candidates showed that they had the celiac disease gene. A clear indication that there had to be a connection between neuropathy and gluten intolerance. According to the University of Chicago, it is actually quite common to show signs of neuropathy and not show any of the other gastrointestinal signs of gluten intolerance. Physicians recommend that you follow a gluten-free diet to alleviate and even remove any signs of neuropathy.

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14. Iron deficiency anemia

Anemia is a rather common condition that results from the decrease in size and number of the red bool cells, or the red pigment in the cells. Red blood cells are responsible for the transport of oxygen throughout the body, which means if you have a deficiency, you cannot transport enough oxygen to all the different parts of your body. The result is chronic fatigue due to the fact that oxygen is vital in changing the food we eat into energy.

Iron deficiency anemia goes hand-in-hand with anemia. Iron is a vital component of hemoglobin (the red pigment) to enable the transport of oxygen. The symptoms that accompany iron deficiency anemia are fatigue, irritability, headaches, brittle nails and a decreased appetite.

So what does gluten have to do with it?

As mentioned before, celiac disease can cause damage to the small intestine and restrict the absorption of iron. During the early stages of the disease, the upper two parts of the small intestine can get damaged. This is exactly where iron is mostly absorbed. When you receive iron deficiency treatment and don’t react positively to the treatment, the chances are that you have celiac disease.

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If you have been suffering from chronic anemia and medication has not alleviated the issue, it is recommended that you have yourself tested for celiac disease by your physician. The same can be said if you have been taking iron supplements and have not seen any improvements in your iron count.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however. Once you have been diagnosed with celiac disease and you start with a gluten-free diet, you will notice a change in your energy levels seeing that your intestine begins to heal and absorbs more iron. However, this is not a sprint quick fix. You need to give the diet between 2-8 months to correct the imbalances that occurred.

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15. Canker sores

Canker sores are little lesions or sores that form around the gums, the inside of the cheeks and underneath the tongue. A person typically has one to six canker sores at a time and they usually last about 10 days. These pesky little sores are quite common and can be triggered by a number of things. They typically start to form between the ages of 10 and 20 and tend to resolve or fade away during a person’s 30s. These tiny ulcers can be quite painful and irritating, seeing that they are extremely sensitive and make eating a chore rather than a pleasure.

When these sores occur repeatedly, the condition is known as Recurrent Aphthous Stomatitis, or RAS. Doctors wanted to find out if there was a correlation between gluten and RAS and found 247 patients who were screened with the IgA antibody test, IgA and IgA anti-tissue transglutaminase. Seven random patients that tested positive for at least one of the sets were then sent for further biopsies and the results showed that they had gluten-sensitive enteropathy.

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These seven patients did not respond to the normal canker sore medication and were, therefore, put on a glutted-free diet for six months. During that time, four out of the seven patients showed a remarkable reduction in canker sores. The researchers concluded that when a person is diagnosed with RAS, he should consult a physician and test for celiac disease.

Although canker sores only occur once or twice a year, they can become quite an inconvenience and it is worth going on a gluten-free diet a go if you are the stubborn type and don’t want to go to a physician. The worst thing that can happen is that you miss out on your favorite pastry for a while.

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16. Low Immunity

When your immune system is depressed, you seem to be sick all the time. At the slightest exposure to a germ, you’re the first one to get sick. A cold that won’t go away is a sign that your immune system isn’t happy. A functional immune system is essential to fight off the bacteria, viruses, and germs we come into contact with daily. Your immune system should fight these attackers off without you even knowing about it.

A depressed immune system is a few soldiers short of the army you need to ward off infection. If you’re gluten intolerant, your immunoglobin A (IgA) levels may be affected. These antibodies attack invaders that seek to infect the mucous membranes which line the airways, mouth, and digestive tract. A deficiency makes you prone to ear infections, sinus infections, colds, flu, ear infections, and pneumonia. It is the most common immunodeficiency disorder among Caucasians, with an incidence of about 1 in every 600.

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As long as you’re feeding your body gluten, your IgA levels won’t improve. The IgA in your body seems to want to fight off the gluten you’re eating. Your immune system perceives gluten to be a foreign body that must be repelled, just like a germ. IgA levels are depleted from this constant fight against gluten, leaving them unable to respond adequately to real threats.

That means one sneeze from a nearby commuter on the train will result in a visit to the doctor’s office for an infection that could be avoided. If you’re worried that your immune system is struggling to cope with the invaders around it, see your doctor. You can ask to be tested for gluten intolerance. A change in diet could see your IgA levels return to normal.

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17. ADHD

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a condition that’s becoming more prevalent. It’s possible that the rise in reported cases is due to the far more accurate diagnosis. 30 years ago, a child displaying symptoms would have been dismissed as badly behaved. The parents would be sent away with a flea in their ear about their failure to instill discipline in their child.

Today, people know a lot more about ADHD. It is more frequently diagnosed. It has initially been treated using medications. There are still children and adults who take medication for ADHD today. Some complain that the medicine makes them feel sluggish. They say the drugs make them struggle to feel any emotion at all.

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Over the years, a new school of thought has emerged. One of its proponents is Dr. Ron Hoggan, Ed.D who wrote the book ‘Cereal Killers.’ He cites several studies that link the symptoms of ADHD to gluten intolerance. Instead of placing children on medication unnecessarily, he advocates first trying a gluten-free diet. He says, “The concept of drugging a child to facilitate learning is upsetting to me, especially when there is cause to suspect that, on the gluten-free diet, she may improve without intervention.

Recent studies suggest that up to 70-80% of patients diagnosed with ADHD have gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or allergy. This is because gluten interacts with the frontal and pre-frontal lobe of the brain. This part of the brain controls aspects such as the ability to plan and our short-term memories. These so-called ‘executive’ functions are impaired in a person with ADHD. That makes it logical to cut gluten out of the diet so that you can improve the ‘executive’ functioning of the brain.

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18. Hormone imbalance

In women, a hormone imbalance manifests itself with several symptoms. They include irregular periods, sudden weight gain or loss, listlessness, changes in sleeping patterns, and hot flashes. It can be extremely uncomfortable and have an impact on your quality of life. These are the same symptoms that appear during menopause when a woman’s body goes through a hormonal change.

Doctors are finding links between female hormones estrogen and progesterone and gluten. There seems to be a connection between consuming gluten and unstable hormones, according to the research. It is particularly prevalent during the perimenopausal stage. The reproductive system is changing. Hormones are being produced at much lower levels. There may be a sudden burst of activity, and more hormones are produced. All in all, it’s a time of fluctuation and change in the body. The stress and fatigue brought on by perimenopause can lead to overeating, irritability and weight gain.

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For a woman experiencing perimenopause with gluten intolerance, things are going to be more complicated. A gluten sensitivity indicates an adrenal hormone imbalance. The most important hormone secreted the cortisol. This is a hormone that is released when the body is feeling stress. With gluten intolerance, your body is secreting more cortisol. The adrenal glands become fatigued from continually producing and secreting cortisol.

Doctors recommend that women eliminate gluten from their diet as soon as menopause commences as a measure to control the fluctuation of the hormones in their bodies. If women start to experience these types of symptoms, they need to consult a doctor. They may not be entering menopause at all. The symptoms may be the simple result of gluten intolerance. This is very likely if the symptoms manifest in a woman well before she’s due to enter menopause.

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19. Vertigo

When people hear vertigo, they assume it means feeling dizzy and light-headed. In fact, it’s so much more than that. The dizziness you feel when you have vertigo comes from a dysfunctional inner ear balance system. A person experiencing an episode of vertigo will feel either as if the room is spinning or as if they are spinning. You don’t have to be standing to have an episode of vertigo. It can happen when you’re sitting down as well.

A vertigo spell can be brought on by an external factor such as a rocking motion which causes motion sickness. Or vertigo can be caused by an actual problem in the inner ear. Meniere’s Disease is a condition that causes severe, frequent cases of vertigo. Although there is not as much research on the matter as experts would like to see, some say that there is a link between Meniere’s Disease and gluten. Meniere’s Disease has no known treatment. Its sufferers experience chronic bouts of dizziness, some pressure in the ears, nausea, vomiting, and even migraines. They find themselves unable to stand or walk when a vertigo episode occurs. They lose their balance entirely and often fall.

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A small study conducted in 2012 showed that over half of the 58 subjects showed low-level to high-level gluten sensitivity. There is vast anecdotal evidence to suggest that sufferers have seen a radical improvement in their condition when they cut gluten out of their diet. They even report that they experienced relapses as soon as they ‘fell off the wagon’ from their gluten-free diet. As it stands, the connection between gluten and vertigo is suggestive and more tentative than conclusive. But it bears further investigation. If you experience spells of vertigo, it would be a good idea to ask your doctor if you can have your gluten sensitivity checked.

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20. Excessive hair loss

Alopecia areata is autoimmune hair loss. It affects both men and women. The condition is characterized by balding patches in circular shapes across the scalp. Other autoimmune hair loss conditions cause complete baldness. They can even result in the loss of all body hair. There is anecdotal evidence of a link between gluten intolerance and autoimmune alopecia. Patients have reported a vast improvement as soon as they cut gluten out of their diets. As soon as they start consuming gluten again, the autoimmune alopecia reappears.

Autoimmune alopecia is caused by a set of antibodies called gliadin antibodies. When you have a gluten intolerance, these antibodies kick into high gear, wanting to protect your body from this ‘foreign’ substance. Going above and beyond the call of duty, the antibodies go after other parts of the body, including the hair and hair follicles. In addition to autoimmune alopecia, gluten intolerance may cause your hair to become malnourished. The result will be excessive hair shedding. The reason for this goes right back to the digestive system.

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Our hair relies on vitamins and minerals to maintain its health and vitality. When you have a gluten intolerance, your digestive system struggles to absorb these essential compounds from the food you eat. In essence, a gluten intolerance ‘starves’ your hair of the nutrients it needs to survive.

Your hair needs regular doses of protein, iron, calcium, selenium, and Vitamins B and C to maintain the health of the hair follicles and strands. Gluten intolerance also causes inflammation in the scalp. This can cause damage and ultimately necrosis (death) of the part of the hair shaft that is attached to the scalp.