I keep getting questions about the gluten-free diet.  So for the next week I will be talking about the different aspects of a gluten-free lifestyle.

So, you’ve been told you need to be on a gluten-free diet, or you are having medical issues, but don’t know why and someone told you to eat gluten-free.  But what is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that is found in all wheat products and flours. It is the rubber band like substance which binds your food together.  Hence the name glu-ten.   It is not just wheat that contains gluten. Gluten can be found in rye, barley and some oats.  To find out why I say “some” oats read this blog post.

Wheat is a relatively new food for humans and unfortunately many people cannot digest this food properly. This inability to process gluten in your body can lead to a host of health problems.

People who have difficulty processing gluten in their bodies can suffer from headaches, stomach cramps, feeling bloated, nasal drips and heart burn. There are more side effects than these but the most common is dealing with stomach problems.

Unfortunately there is no test to see if you are gluten intolerant. A trip to the doctor will have you taking a blood test. If it is suspected that gluten is the culprit then you will be tested for having Celiac Disease.  And just as an aside, you MUST be on gluten to test for gluten intolerance.  To confirm a suspicion a small intestinel biopsy must be performed.

Many individuals who have Celiac Disease without knowing it can experience joint pains and could be lactose intolerant. There is a difference to having Celiac Disease and having a gluten sensitivity. When your body is sensitive to gluten the results will not show up in any tests.

The only true way to know if gluten is causing you problems is to stay clear of any foods containing gluten. If gluten is the cause of your symptoms you will feel better within days. Doctors recommend avoiding gluten foods for one week as an experiment. You can then slowly re-introduce gluten into your diet, if your symptoms reappear then you know you are gluten intolerant.

Chronic Fatigue has also been associated with gluten. This mysterious illness can be extremely difficult to diagnose. Some medical professionals even refuse to admit that it is a disease!

For many patients suffering from chronic fatigue, a gluten free diet has been shown to be beneficial. The true root cause of chronic fatigue has not been identified yet. Many teenagers suffer from this condition and it is thought to be linked to the nervous system and an immune deficiency or imbalance.

Characteristics of CF include having low iron levels, extreme tiredness, suffering from allergies, sleep problems and dealing with low blood pressure.

If you think you or someone you know is suffering from health issues it might be worth taking the gluten test for a week. Avoid gluten foods and keep a food diary to help you track your results effectively.  Just remember, if you want to get a medical diagnosis, you MUST be eating gluten to test positive for Celiac Disease.