“Gluten-free” is everywhere—from menus at Chili’s, to gluten-free Pop-tarts and yogurt (however, wasn’t yogurt always gluten free?)…
But what is “gluten” in the first place?
Are YOU gluten intolerant?
And should YOU go gluten-free? Let’s dig…
Gluten is a protein found in wheat that is one of the top most allergenic foods in the world.
Many human guts have a difficult time breaking down gluten “antibodies”—seeing gluten as a “foreign invader” to your body and consequently “attacking it” instead of digesting it and triggering an inflammatory response.
Common side effects from eating gluten include:
- Loose stools
- Headaches & Migraines
- Stuffy Nose
- Seasonal Allergies
- Popping & Clicking Joints
- Hormone Imbalances
- High Cholesterol or Blood Pressure
—Just to name a few.
If you are allergic or sensitive to gluten, and eat it frequently without knowing it, health imbalances may become your norm.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I AM ALLERGIC OR SENSITIVE TO GLUTEN?
It’s important to recognize the DIFFERENCE in gluten-ALLERGY (Celiac Disease) and gluten-sensitivity and intolerance.
Allergies are often EASIER to recognize as they Allergies to foods or environmental exposures typically trigger an IMMEDIATE response (such as loose stools or diarrhea, vomiting, hives, itchy skin or watery eyes). Although this is NOT always the case with Celiac. In fact, approximately 1 in 2 people with Celiac do NOT report “gut symptoms” at all…making them look more like a “sensitivity” or “intolerance” to gluten…
Food Sensitivity or Intolerance:
Food sensitivities or intolerances are SILENT and often mask themselves in the forms of other “normal” imbalances such as: Constipation, bloating, IBS, headaches and migraines, skin breakouts, stuffy nose, allergies, popping or clicking joints, high blood pressure or cholesterol markers. In short: inflammation.
While ONLY 1-percent of the world’s population has Celiac disease (gluten-allergy) an un-calculated amount struggle with “gluten intolerance” (since many symptoms are masked as “other problems”).
And BEYOND gluten, many people are actually allergic or “intolerant” to other gluten cross-contaminating foods, including: Soy, casein (dairy), nuts, coffee, chocolate, rice, sorghum, tapioca, and other foods even used in many gluten-free products!
So how do YOU know if YOU are “allergic” or intolerant to gluten?
The “gold standard” for figuring out how a food makes YOU feel comes down to experimentation—experimenting with eliminating or taking out certain foods from your diet for a time, then re-introducing them one-by-one to see how you feel.
After all, if you have a dirty windshield and you get a speck of dirt on that windshield…you probably won’t see it. However, if you have a clean windshield and you get a speck of dirt on that windshield, you’re more likely to see it.
Beyond self-experimentation, a food intolerance test can be insightful. However, keep in mind NOT ALL food allergy, intolerance or sensitivity tests are equal.
While a traditional allergist will typically run a “gluten allergy” panel (to diagnose Celiac), many do NOT screen for sensitivities or intolerances to gluten.
And while you can purchase your own “food sensitivity” tests through a variety of companies out there, it’s important to recognize that many of these companies sell tests that are:
A.) Not replicable (i.e. you don’t get the same results each time)
B.) Do NOT screen for all forms of food sensitivities or intolerances (IGA and IGG and IGE antibodies), and lastly…
C.) Do NOT test for foods in the state or form that you consume them (i.e. A test may assess for you sensitivity to UNCOOKED eggs…But who typically eats their eggs raw?)
In other words: Don’t waste your money on just any test.
To date, Cyrex Labs is the only testing lab on the market for food sensitivities and intolerances that meets these standards to screen accurately and you can connect with a practitioner through their website to learn more.
THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION: TO GLUTEN OR NOT GLUTEN?
You never know how good you can feel until you feel good, and only you can be your best determinant for answering that million dollar question.
However, keep in mind that while many folks may not be “sensitive” or allergic to gluten directly—they are actually more sensitivity or “allergic” to gluten cross-contaminating products (some mentioned above), including:
- Casein & Dairy
- Instant Coffee
If you find you continue to experience “gut issues” after a trial of eliminating gluten or wonder if there’s something more, experimenting with other cross-contaminating foods, or testing (Cyrex Array 3 and Array 4) can help you get to the bottom of your wonder.