Gluten is a protein commonly found in rye, barley and wheat. Strong unwanted reactions to this protein are known as gluten intolerance and this is a very common problem nowadays.
Celiac disease is known as the most drastic form of gluten sensitivity. This disease can lead to problems with the digestive tract, but luckily it affects no more than one percent of the population. Another milder form of gluten intolerance is non-celiac gluten sensitivity and this disease affects a bigger percent of the population (0.5 – 13%), though it does not cause as much damage it still causes various problems in the digestive system.
However, although both these types of gluten intolerance usually attack the digestive tract and cause the most damage in that specific area of the body, most of the symptoms of these diseases are not connected to digestion.
In addition, we present you with the most common symptoms and signs of gluten intolerance.
- Constipation, smelly feces and diarrhea
Periodic constipation and diarrhea are not something to worry about, but regular occurrence of these two is alarming, due to them being among the most common signs of gluten intolerance.
Eating gluten causes inflammation in the gut for individuals who are gluten intolerant, which leads to gut lining damage that results in a decreased nutrient absorption. However, it is also not unusual for individual who do not suffer from such an intolerance to experience these symptoms.
Studies have shown that almost 25% of gluten-sensitive individuals experience constipation while about 50 % struggle with regular diarrhea. Moreover, the poor nutrient absorption of individuals with celiac disease causes foul-smelling and pale feces, whereas the frequent diarrhea can lead to fatigue, a deficit of electrolytes and dehydration.
- Feeling tired
It is not unusual to feel tired or exhausted after a long day or week, but the constant feeling of exhaustion is not something that should be looked over.
Foods that contain gluten as their ingredient can cause gluten-intolerant individuals to experience constant tiredness and fatigue after their consumption.
Furthermore, according to research 60-80 % of individuals who are gluten- sensitive reported a constant feeling of tiredness and fatigue.
The cause for this lack of energy and tiredness usually lays in the anemia which gluten intolerance causes.
- Unexplained weight loss
An unexpected and unexplained rapid weight loss can be concerning because although there may be various reasons for it, it can point to an undiagnosed celiac disease.
Studies have shown that almost two-thirds of patients who suffer from celiac disease reported a rapid weight loss during the five months before they were diagnosed.
Poor nutrient absorption among other reasons can often be the cause for the weight loss when it comes to gluten intolerance.
- Joint and muscle pain
In theory individuals with gluten sensitivity are often considered over-sensitive, with a over-excitable nervous system. Meaning these individuals may have the potential to activate the sensory neurons and cause pain in both the muscles and joints.
Furthermore, since gluten can cause inflammation in gluten intolerant individuals, the inflammation can also spread and trigger pain in the joints and muscles.
- Brain fog
The expression used to describe not being able to think clearly is commonly known as “brain fog” and it is characterized by mental fatigue, forgetting even the simplest things and feeling cloudy.
Moreover, this is a fairly common struggle for people who suffer from gluten intolerance, affecting almost 40 % of individuals.
The exact reason for this symptom is still unknown but it is believed to be caused by a specific reaction of the antibodies of gluten.
Feeling your belly is swollen and full of gas is what bloating causes and there can be various explanations for it, but it is also a common symptom of gluten intolerance.
Moreover, research has shown that almost 87% of individuals suffering from non-celiac disease reported bloating.
Anxiety is modern disease which affects almost 30 % of the worldwide population, it includes feelings of nervousness and worry. According to recent research individuals who suffer from gluten sensitivity are more prone and likely to suffer from anxiety than “normal” healthy people.
Moreover, studies have also shown that 40 % of gluten intolerant individuals reported experiencing anxiety frequently.
Additionally, we must mention that the symptoms mentioned in this article do not necessarily prove a gluten sensitivity and may have other explanations. However, if you are experiencing some of them more often than you should it is likely that your body is reacting to the gluten from your diet. In such a scenario, we recommend you consult with a medical professional and seek help about excluding gluten from your diet.