Phone: 01564 33 99 55 Email: hello@andreabayles.co.uk
Andrea Bayles Nutritional Therapist
ND, Dip Nutr, Dip Herb, MBANT, MURHP, MCNHC

How do you know if you have a gluten intolerance?

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This is probably the most common question I am asked in my clinic. I am seeing more and more clients and receiving more and more enquiries asking about gluten intolerance.

Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat and other grains such as barley and rye. It is also used in many baked goods as an ingredient to thicken, bind, enhance flavour and in many protein supplements. Gluten is the ingredient in bread that makes the dough stretchy allowing the dough to be kneaded and pulled until it is smooth. Without gluten, the dough would not bind together hence gluten-free bread dough tends to be mixed into a batter for this very reason.

Coeliac disease is an autoimmune condition where the body sees gluten as an invader and reacts causing inflammation and damage to the inside of the small intestine. The intestinal wall has small hair-like projections called villi and which help with the absorption of nutrients that the body requires to stay healthy. In cases of coeliac disease, the villi become flattened and damaged causing malabsorption of essential vitamins and minerals as well as diarrhoea, abdominal pain and discomfort and symptoms similar to Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Sufferers of Coeliac disease must remain gluten free for life in order to prevent further damage to the intestinal system.

Gluten intolerance is also known as Non Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity and the reason that there has been huge increases in numbers of gluten intolerant cases is that there is so much more gluten in our diets nowadays than our ancestors. For example, many of us consume wheat based cereals for breakfast along with wheat based bread or toast followed at lunch time by more bread and cakes or pastries and coupled with that a quick and easy pasta meal in the evenings. Gluten is a staple for many people. It should be known that gluten can be damaging to your health.

So what are the most common signs of gluten sensitivity?

  1. Gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, gas, nausea, abdominal cramps, constipation and/or diarrhoea as well as stomach problems.
  2. Frequent headaches and migraines
  3. Muscle aches and pains similar to Fibromyalgia which requires a medical diagnosis
  4. Emotional problems such as irritability or sudden bouts of mood swings
  5. Many people complain of numbness and tingling in the extremities along with dizziness
  6. 'Chicken skin' on the backs of the upper arms which is caused by a deficiency in Vitamin A and fatty acids which is due to malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut lining.
  7. Brain fog, feeling spacey or unreal and fatigue
  8. Eczema and other skin conditions itchy skin is a common complaint
  9. Joint aches and pains especially in the fingers, knees or hips
  10. People who have a diagnosed autoimmune disease such as Hashimotos thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ulcerative Colitis, Psoriasis or MS are often sensitive to gluten.

How can you test for gluten intolerance?

There are a number of ways to establish if gluten is the offending food complex. The first of which is to carry out an 'Elimination Diet'. You should remove gluten from the diet entirely for 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. If you feel a lot better or some of your symptoms disappear but return with the gluten reintroduction, then it is highly likely that gluten is a problem for you. In order to get the best results from this method, you must omit gluten entirely from the diet for 3 weeks, this includes all gluten based products and bread.

Another method is to carry out a gluten sensitivity test this tests for the presence of IgG antibodies in the blood. Many of us have IgG antibodies present anyway, but when levels are elevated against a specific food, it highlights that there is clearly a sensitivity or intolerance to that food and that our bodies are reacting. These tests use pin-prick blood samples to test and results usually take about 10 days.

Cambridge Nutritional Sciences Ltd (www.camnutri.com) provide a testing service via Nutritional Therapists which use ELISA technology to detect IgG food-specific antibodies. They have a Food Detective test which provides a positive or negative result. Obviously if the test proves positive, it is then recommended that you carry out further testing for specific food groups. Tests start from £111 for 40 foods up to £291 for over 200 foods.

Results are then checked by your Nutritional Therapist and dietary recommendations are given alongside a gut healing programme to support the gastrointestinal tract and the immunity.

If you are concerned that you may have a food intolerance, please call Natural Solutions to arrange a free 15 minute consultation (telephone) to find out more.

 

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