May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. Because of this, I wrote a blog called Celiac Disease: Are You 1 of the 83% of People Who Have it But Don’t Know? I posted that blog yesterday as a tribute to my sister who was diagnosed with celiac disease in the late 90s.
This blog is dedicated to the estimated 18 million Americans with non-celiac gluten sensitivity and those who have a wheat allergy, one of the eight most common food allergies in America.
What is Gluten Sensitivity?
Individuals with a gluten sensitivity cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease but lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in celiac disease patients.
What is a Wheat Allergy?
A wheat allergy is an overreaction of the immune system to the protein found in wheat. Wheat allergy is most common in children, and is usually outgrown before reaching adulthood, often by age three.
What are the Symptoms of Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten sensitivity and celiac disease share many symptoms even though symptoms for gluten sensitivity typically appear hours or days after gluten has been ingested. Individuals with gluten sensitivity have a lot of non-GI symptoms, such as headaches, “foggy mind,” joint pain, and even numbness in the legs, arms or fingers.
What are the Symptoms of a Wheat Allergy?
When wheat is ingested, in can trigger an allergic reaction that includes a range of symptoms from mild symptoms like watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, rashes, hives, itching, headaches, swelling… to severe symptoms such as trouble breathing, wheezing, loss of consciousness…
How do I know whether I have Gluten Sensitivity or Wheat Allergy?
Experts recommend that you first get tested for a wheat allergy and for celiac disease. There are currently no tests that properly diagnose gluten sensitivity. If both of those tests are negative, your doctor will most likely recommend a gluten elimination diet. If symptoms improve on a gluten-free diet, then you likely have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
To be perfectly honest, we should all avoid gluten. It is a highly genetically-modified organism (GMO) in this country. For further reading, check out Wheat Belly by cardiologist, Dr. William Davis.
According to Davis, “over 80% of the people I meet today are pre-diabetic or diabetic. In an effort to reduce blood sugar, I asked patients to remove all wheat products from their diet based on the simple fact that, with few exceptions, foods made of wheat flour raise blood sugar higher than nearly all other foods. Yes, that’s true for even whole grains. More than table sugar, more than a Snickers bar. Organic, multigrain, sprouted–it makes no difference. “
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, talk to your doctor about the next course of action.
If you want to begin replacing the gluten in your diet, check out My Favorite Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free Foods for some delicious gluten-free options.