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These days everyone is talking about gluten this and gluten that. Most of what you hear and read about gluten sounds pretty terrible and the word alone is enough to conjure up negative thoughts. While it may have an undeservedly bad rap, one thing is for certain, that gluten intolerance can in fact be miserable.
Gluten is a type of protein that is commonly found in wheat, rye, oats, and barley. It’s part of what allows dough to rise and gives foods like bread a chewy, more airy and fuller, texture. The problem with gluten arises when your body is or becomes intolerant to it and you have celiac disease. For the majority of gluten intolerant people this means that their immune system reacts badly to it and becomes inflamed. Over time this inflammation leads to the lining in the small intestine being damaged and other medical complications. In many cases the body is unable to adequately absorb nutrients and so people need to do their best to avoid gluten if they are indeed intolerant to it.
If you are intolerant to gluten your body will tell you via the most common physical symptoms and signs that are associated with it. With that in mind, if you have experienced any of the following you should consult your doctor further in order to determine whether or not you are indeed intolerant to gluten:
1) Chronic Fatigue: When your immune system is constantly inflamed and acts as if under attack, it wastes a lot of resources and energy. That in turn can make you feel depleted and drained. Over time it adds up and before you know it long-term, chronic fatigue sets in. If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia, which is marked by muscle aches, bodily pain, weakness, sleep problems, and more, then gluten intolerance could very possibly be a source of the associated chronic fatigue you are feeling.
2) Dizziness: A common symptom associated with gluten intolerance is frequently feeling disoriented, off balance, and lightheaded. Oftentimes the abnormal dizziness and mental fogginess comes after eating foods that contain gluten. By simply keeping track of what you eat and trying a gluten-free diet for a few weeks, you can gauge your bodies reaction and see if the dizziness fades away.
3) Frequent Headaches: People with gluten intolerance often experience chronic headaches and migraines, some of which are ocular, meaning your field of vision is disrupted in some way but there is no accompanying pain. The onset of these headaches tend to be shortly after eating gluten and when it’s eliminated from the diet they go away.
4) Chicken Skin: Tiny hard, whitish-red bumps that look rash-like and appear randomly, most often on the backs of arms, are called chicken skin. The medical term for this skin condition is keratosis pilaris and it’s named after the keratinization of hair follicles on the skin which happens when our bodies produce excess amounts of keratin, a skin protein. That extra keratin begins to clump together around hair follicles and causes a bump to form. Many cases are also attributed to vitamin A and fatty acid deficiencies, brought on by a gluten inflamed gut that causes malabsorption.
5) Itchy Skin: In addition to the chicken skin bumps mentioned above, which are normally not itchy, gluten intolerance can lead to skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema that can be extremely itchy and even painful. Our skin is easily affected by internal conditions in the body and so when your insides are inflamed it can lead to itchy dry skin outbreaks.
6) Stomach Pain: Gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation that is painful and chronic are all clear signs of gluten intolerance that should never be ignored if they go on and persist for days at a time. As mentioned previously, foods with gluten can hurt and damage the small intestine and cause them to become inflamed. In addition, it can lead to other related digestive issues that include malabsorption of vitamins and minerals, which can result in anemia.
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