Gluten intolerance affects up to 15% of the current US population, although some medical doctors believe it is as much as 30-50% of the world population. While some people show antibodies in their blood indicating an immune system response to the presence of gluten, others merely show signs and symptoms of sensitivity and intolerance. While some people may show signs of gluten allergy and celiac disease, others will merely have any one or several from the following list of indicators. But first, a deeper look into gluten intolerance.
Why is gluten intolerance so widespread?
There are many theories about gluten intolerance. The main idea is that our digestive tracts are degenerating because of the vastly improper diet that many of us worldwide are now exposed to.
Fast foods and highly processed foods destroy our digestive integrity and wear away at the tissues that line our inner world – from teeth to stomach to small intestine to large intestine. Many people talk about this in terms of leaky gut syndrome. Another global concern is the degeneration of our soil, and subsequent depletion of its probiotic health-promoting micro-organisms and nutrients. Mass production of food grown in depleted soil, as well as genetic modification of crops and widespread over-use of antibiotics in our foods and in our bodies all render our systems incapable of optimal performance.
In her book Nourishing Traditions, Sallie Fallon discusses the importance of pre-soaking and sprouting our grains in order to digest them properly. How many of us know about these methods nowadays, let alone practice them? It is truly no wonder that up to 50% of the global population show signs of gluten intolerance.
Read on to find out the most common signs of gluten intolerance.
The 10 most common (and sometimes sneaky) signs of gluten intolerance are:
1 – Skin rash – Skin rashes are common and the source of them is often undiscernable. If your child breaks out in a rash within a few hours of gluten consumption, or within 24-36 hours after an increased gluten consumption, it may be a signal that his or her body is challenged by it. If the skin is red, peeling, or itchy, it often indicates eczema which is an indicator of food intolerance.
2 – Digestive issues, including gas, bloating, and constipation – The digestive tract is often the first indicator that the body is challenged. People who have difficulty breaking down the proteins in gluten will often show signs of gas, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation that improve greatly when gluten is eliminated from the diet.
3 – Keratosis Pilaris – Keratosis Pilaris is a result of fatty acid deficiency and Vitamin A deficiency. This often occurs due to malabsorption of fats, especially when gluten has damaged the digestive tract lining.
4 – Fatigue & brain fog – Unprocessed gluten essentially gums up your body and creates a gluey sticky residue in the digestive tract. When this occurs, it blocks the body’s mental and physical energy. Your kid’s body also expends extra energy trying to fend off what it senses as a foreign invader.
5 – Dark circles under his or her eyes – Dark circles are a sign of food intolerance. The body becomes worn down when it is constantly fighting against foods we can’t digest. This in turn taxes the adrenals and inhibits proper absorption of nutrients, both of which lead to dark circles under the eyes.
6 – Frequent colds & flus – When the small intestine and colon become gummed up with undigested gluten, the body has a less than optimal flora environment. Couple this with a depleted adrenal response and you’ve definitely got a vulnerable kiddo’s immune system.
7 – Runny nose that doesn’t clear up with the end of a cold or flu – Often the body will attempt to discharge excess mucus build up on-goingly. This build-up is from the undigested gluten and other sludge your darling sweetie’s little body has been accumulating in the face of a dietary intolerance.
8 – Dizziness & loss of balance – Gluten intolerance can lead to inflammation in the nervous system, which then can lead to symptoms such as tingling fingers and toes, dizziness and loss of balance.
9 – Headaches & joint pain – While there may be many causes of an ongoing joint pain or headaches, inflammation throughtout the body from gluten intolerance is common. Essentially the body is heating up in response to the irritants, and as a way to attempt to fight off the offending invader.
10 – Mood issues, including anxiety, hyperactivity, emotional lability, depression, and ADD –
Many kids show signs of gluten intolerance in their subtle or not-so-subtle behaviors. If your child has really big mood swings (what’s really big? – it’s up to you as a parent to decide; if you sense that the highs and lows are sudden, disproportionate to what has occurred on-goingly, or if your child seems anxious or depressed, it may be worth testing him or her for gluten intolerance. Difficulty concentrating and a frequent inability to follow any programs or tasks may also be signs of gluten sensitivity.
If one or more of these sound familiar, you may be dealing with gluten intolerance.
If you have a hunch your kiddo may not be digesting gluten well, try him or her on a month of gluten-free eating and see if the symptoms clear up. After a period free of gluten, you can test the skin with some wheat flour mixed into a paste with water. If your child’s skin does not react to the flour paste, it is safe to begin slowly introducing it again in small amounts. To find out more about this, read this this book that I recommend.
Remember, contrary to popular belief, dietary allergies & food intolerances are reversible! With proper knowledge and care, we can help our kids to heal from their food sensitivities and to grow into a full diet again. If you’re ready to learn more, check out my friend Ann Marie’s (of the popular blog CHEESESLAVE) Reversing Food Allergies – ebook and online class – both devoted to helping you reverse your family’s food allergies.
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