Do I Need to Cut Out Gluten? Determining Your Digestive Issues

Do I Need to Cut Out Gluten? Determining Your Digestive Issues
Do I Need to Cut Out Gluten? Determining Your Digestive Issues

Do I Need to Cut Out Gluten? Gluten has been the source of much debate in the health world in recent years. Products pop up left, right and center that boast about their lack of gluten, and folks are beginning to equate that with being healthier. The truth is, for many people, gluten is not the enemy. But for those of us who suffer from gluten intolerance or other gluten-related issues, cutting out gluten can be the key to better health.

This article will explore some of the most common digestive issues and help you decide if gluten is the right thing to cut out of your diet. In some cases, banning it from your household may be the only recourse. Still, you may be fortunate enough to be able to continue to include gluten in your life with the help of digestive health supplements. So let’s explore the topic a little more closely and see where you may fit in.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein that’s found in many grains, including rye and wheat. It helps baked goods to rise and gives them their texture. Other common foods with gluten include pasta, bread and certain breakfast cereals. While it’s important for the texture and consistency of many foods, gluten doesn’t provide any essential nutrients that we require to live.

Recently, gluten-free diets have become popular because many people believe that cutting out gluten can help to improve their digestive issues. However, this is not always the case, and it’s essential to determine what is causing your discomfort before you make any drastic changes to your diet.

Investigating Your Digestive Issues

For people with gluten intolerance, eating foods that contain gluten can cause digestive problems. These problems can range from mild, such as gas and diarrhea, to more severe, such as malnutrition and intestinal damage. Gluten intolerance is not the same as celiac disease. This autoimmune disorder causes the body to attack itself when gluten is ingested. We’ll discuss this more a little further down.

When we eat, the stomach breaks food down into particles that will be absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to each part of the body. But in cases where a person has a gluten intolerance, the small intestine can’t absorb these particles properly, resulting in various issues. In addition, in the case of celiac disease or a wheat allergy, the body may also view these particles as a foreign invader and launch an all-out assault. This can lead to several problems such as:

  • Gas and bloating after eating gluten-containing food.
  • Diarrhea or constipation on a regular basis.
  • Weight loss or weight gain that isn’t related to dieting or exercise.
  • Extreme fatigue and tiredness, especially after meals.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it may be time to cut out gluten from your diet. But before you throw that loaf of bread in the bin or dump your favorite cereals into the garbage disposal, start out by keeping a food journal. This will allow you to carefully track which foods seem to be giving you problems. It will help provide you with a better idea of what to avoid. This way, you can see which foods seem to make it worse and narrow down what might be triggering your discomfort. Here are some common non-gluten culprits:

  • Sugar: Sugar can cause digestive problems all on its own, especially if you are intolerant to gluten. This means cutting out sugar will help your digestion whether or not you have a gluten intolerance.
  • Lactose: Many people are lactose intolerant, meaning they can’t digest lactose present in milk and other dairy products. If you suspect this might be the case for you, try eliminating dairy from your diet for a week to see if your symptoms improve.
  • Food additives: Food additives like sulfites, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and artificial sweeteners can also trigger digestive problems. Try avoiding foods that contain these ingredients and see if you feel better.
  • Alcohol: Alcohol contains sugar, so it can also be an irritant to your digestive system, especially if you’re already suffering from gluten intolerance. If drinking is part of your daily routine, try to stop drinking altogether for a few days and see how it affects your symptoms.
  • Stress: While this isn’t a food or ingredient, it’s worth mentioning. When we’re stressed, our body releases a hormone called cortisol. Cortisol can interfere with the digestive process and make it harder for your body to absorb food properly. If you’ve been feeling particularly stressed lately, try taking some time for yourself each day to relax and de-stress. This could be something as simple as taking a walk around the block, meditating or talking to your favorite person on the phone.

If you do discover that gluten is an issue for you, it’s a good idea to speak with your doctor, a nutritionist or a qualified dietitian before you make any drastic changes to how you eat. These folks can help determine the severity of your issue and whether you have a gluten intolerance, celiac disease or a wheat allergy. Then, they can help you develop a meal plan and diet that’s nutritionally complete but that meets your personal needs.

Gluten Intolerance, Celiac Disease and Wheat Allergy: What You Need to Know

Gluten intolerance, celiac disease and wheat allergy aren’t the same, but they all involve gluten sensitivity.

Gluten intolerance is the mildest of the three and simply means that your body has trouble digesting gluten. This doesn’t mean you have to give up gluten altogether. Just be mindful of how much you’re eating and avoid eating it too often. If you’re in this category, you’ll likely benefit from adding gluten intolerance supplements to your routine for better gut health and digestion when you encounter gluten, purposefully or by accident.

Celiac disease is a more severe issue and involves the immune system. People who suffer from celiac disease must altogether avoid eating gluten. However, suppose they do come in contact with it. In that case, their body will attack its own tissue, causing damage to the small intestine and preventing the absorption of nutrients. The symptoms can vary from person to person. Still, they may include fatigue or weakness due to nutrient deficiencies, diarrhea or constipation, bloating, nausea and vomiting.

Wheat allergy is different from both celiac disease and gluten intolerance. People who have a wheat allergy experience an immune response after eating wheat, which causes their body to release histamines to fight the allergen. Wheat allergies also may present differently and include rashes, hives, itchy eyes or throat, nausea, stomach cramps and vomiting. In some cases, anaphylaxis can result in a severe, potentially life-threatening reaction.

Can I Ever Eat Gluten Again?

If you have a simple gluten intolerance, you may be able to eat gluten on occasion without having a reaction. The key is being mindful of your body’s response and listening for any warning signs. You can also help your body by taking special gluten digestive enzymes before eating food you suspect contains gluten. If you have celiac disease or a wheat allergy, then the answer is no. You must avoid gluten at all costs to prevent more damage to your digestive system.

When it comes down to it, if you’re experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, it’s a good idea to get tested for gluten intolerance. It’s possible you don’t have an issue with gluten, but there’s no harm in cutting it out of your diet to see if your symptoms improve. Speak with a health professional to determine the best course of action for you.

 

 

 

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