Awareness of gluten intolerance has risen substantially in the past few years, with many people finding that eliminating gluten from their diets improves their health.
In this blog, board-certified Manhattan gastroenterologist Dr. Anthony S. Borcich explains how you can find out if you’re gluten intolerant.
What is gluten intolerance?
Gluten is a protein that’s found in foods such as wheat, rye, and barley. It acts as a glue that helps hold foods together. Many foods contain gluten, including noodles, breads, pastries, granola bars, French fries, candy bars, and processed lunch meat.
If you’re gluten intolerant, your body will react badly when you eat a food that contains this protein. You may have celiac disease, an autoimmune disease triggered by your body’s reaction to gluten. It can cause damage to villi, which are finger-like parts of your small intestine that help you absorb nutrients.
What are signs that you may be gluten intolerant?
If you experience abdominal symptoms such as the following after consuming foods that contain gluten, you may be gluten intolerant:
- Upset stomach
- Abdominal pain
- Pale-looking, foul-smelling stool
In addition, gluten intolerance can affect much more than your digestive system. It can also cause other symptoms that include the following:
- Joint pain
- Tingling in the hands and feet
- Canker sores inside the mouth
How is gluten intolerance diagnosed?
The following two methods can be used to diagnose gluten intolerance:
Your doctor can administer a blood test to help determine if you’re allergic to gluten. He or she may also sometimes recommend an intestinal biopsy to detect any changes.
The elimination/reintegration diet
Eliminate all gluten for two to four weeks to see how you feel. It’s very important to consume no gluten during this time, so you’ll need to learn about hidden sources such as salad dressings and sauces.
After eliminating gluten, reintroduce it into your diet. If you feel bad or experience any of the symptoms of gluten intolerance, that’s probably the cause of your issues.
This step should only be taken after you’ve had a blood test. Otherwise, your immune system may no longer be making the antibodies that the blood test checks for.
How is it treated?
Gluten intolerance is treated by completely avoiding products and foods that contain the protein. Reading complete ingredient labels is very important, and you’ll also want to look for the increasing number of products labeled “gluten-free.”
If you’re experiencing any symptoms of gluten intolerance, make an appointment today for an evaluation with Dr. Borcich. He’ll talk with you about your symptoms and medical history and will recommend any necessary testing in order to reach an accurate diagnosis. This is the first step toward treating gluten intolerance and eliminating your symptoms