Gluten can be a cruel and cruel mistress—it’s part of the best things in life (cake! donuts! pasta!), but ultimately makes some people feel like crap (there’s an ex-boyfriend reference here, but I say. resist ).
ICYMI: Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that can be really hard for some people to digest, says Rabia De Latour, M.D., a gastroenterologist and advanced endocrinologist at the New York City School of Medicine.
The most prominent group are those with celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder in which eating gluten causes permanent damage to the small intestine. According to the Celiac Disease Foundation, it affects about one in 100 people.
MORE ABOUT WOMEN’S HEALTH
But there is another group: people who are “intolerant” to gluten, that is, non-celiac gluten sensitive (NCGS).
According to two recent studies published in Gastroenterology and The Psychiatric Quarterly, these people, who make up 0.5 to 13 percent of the general population, have many of the symptoms of celiac disease, but no physiological changes such as lesions. small intestine and malnutrition, says De Latour.
But unlike celiac disease, which can be accurately diagnosed, you can’t know for sure if you have gluten intolerance, De Latour says.
“Gluten intolerance is not well understood in the medical community, but it shouldn’t be dismissed as psychological or just a fad,” she says. “It’s really a diagnosis of exclusion — once we’ve ruled out celiac disease with blood tests and endoscopy, we’re left with NCGS.”
There are symptoms of gluten intolerance, but you can’t ignore them – here are the symptoms of gluten intolerance.
Or bread. Or cupcakes. That’s because stomach pain, nausea, and abdominal pain after eating something containing gluten are the most common symptoms of NCGS, De Latour said.
But it can be difficult to connect the dots between what you eat and your pain. De Latour recommends keeping a detailed food diary to better identify triggers.
- You are too bloated.
Bloating can be caused by a lot of things, from hormones to beans. But if you don’t digest gluten well, your stomach can start to feel swollen and tender, especially after eating sticky foods, De Latour says.
- Your skin is dry and flaky.
Although there is no scientific research to support this, many people with gluten sensitivity experience skin conditions such as extreme dryness, rashes, acne, and eczema.
- You’re losing weight without even trying.
Compulsive weight loss is one of the main symptoms of celiac disease because when your gut is damaged, you can’t properly digest the food you eat, says Megan Patrick, M.D., a family medicine physician at UCHealth.
NCGS doesn’t damage a person’s gut, but by associating a lot of food with pain, it causes them to eat less, which in turn leads to weight loss, De Latour said.