The following article is being reproduced with permission of its author, Kate Towell. Kate is a holistic wellness counselor who supports individuals to create the balanced, vibrant life they imagine.
Are you gluten intolerant?
I recently returned home from a trip to Costa Rica where I was helping out with a yoga teachers’ training. It was a great trip and I had the pleasure of meeting a fantastic group of women and was able to teach some Ayurveda, which I loved. One unexpected discovery of the trip, well post-trip, was that I am gluten intolerant! Let me back up a bit.
While in Costa Rica, I was treated to some amazing food. The cook at the Goddess Gardenwas fantastic. For two weeks I ate a mostly raw, nearly vegan diet. We had some cheese and the occasional egg but the rest was a feast of fresh fruits and veggies. It was basically an elimination diet and I didn't realize it until I returned home to my usually diet, which is pretty good I might add. I don't eat junk, processed foods and eat lots of fresh fruits and veggies.
So what happened?
Let’s talk gluten. Gluten is the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. Gluten is also an inexpensive and widely used source of protein that can be consumed directly from wheat products or as an additive to increase the protein value of processed foods. More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten. It’s estimated that 99% of the people who have either gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed. It is also estimated that as much as 15% of the U.S. population is gluten intolerant. And I am one of them.
Here are some of the symptoms I experienced when I reintroduced gluten in my diet.
- Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea. Constipation can also occur but I didn't experience that.
- Fatigue and feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten. I totally crashed on the couch several nights by 8:30 p.m. after having a meal that contained gluten.
- Chronic headaches.
Here are some other signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance:
- Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease, chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia.
- Hormone imbalances such as PMS or unexplained infertility.
- Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
- Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.
How to test for gluten intolerance?
I have found the single best way to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to do an elimination diet —taking gluten out of your diet for at least two to three weeks and then reintroduce it back in. If you feel significantly better off of gluten or feel worse when you reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem for you. In order to get accurate results from this testing method you must eliminate 100% of the gluten from your diet.
The good news is that there are lots of yummy grains that are gluten free—including quinoa, brown rice, wild rice, millet, teff and most oats. Also there are lots of flours such as rice, almond and even coconut that you can use as an alternative. It just takes some time to read packages and switch to non-gluten grains. I will miss pizza though, but I am on the hunt for a gluten-free crust recipe.
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