What is Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten is a category of prolamins, or storage proteins, that naturally occur in grains like barley and wheat. 1 There are multiple reasons why people might have a negative response to products containing gluten, including wheat allergy, celiac disease, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. 2
Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition that is triggered by gluten. 3 A wheat allergy is not an intolerance of gluten, specifically, but of wheat itself. Because gluten and wheat are so closely linked, many people confuse being sensitive to gluten with a wheat allergy. 4 Little is known about why non-celiac gluten sensitivity occurs, but many people who experience symptoms find that they can be relieved by removing gluten from their diet. 5
While less than 1% of the U.S. population has celiac disease, gluten sensitivity is more common. 6 Wheat allergies tend to occur in children and often clear up by adulthood. 7
Signs of Gluten Sensitivity
64% of participants in one study reported experiencing fatigue as a result of their gluten sensitivity. 8 While fatigue can be the result of several underlying issues, if you find that your fatigue is particularly triggered after eating gluten-heavy meals, you may have a sensitivity to gluten. 9
The most common symptom of gluten sensitivity is frequent abdominal pain. 10 Approximately 83% of people with gluten sensitivity experience stomach pain, gas and bloating. 11 However, keep in mind that this can be a symptom of many different conditions.
Headaches and migraines have been linked to both gluten sensitivity and celiac disease. 12 13 If you experience frequent headaches with no clear cause, gluten may be the culprit.
Experiencing “brain fog,” or feeling forgetful, having trouble concentrating, and feeling in a mental haze, is a common symptom of gluten intolerance. 14 Approximately 40% of gluten-sensitive individuals experience brain fog as a result of ingesting gluten. 15
The above are common signs of non-celiac gluten sensitivity, but may also occur with wheat allergy or celiac disease. If you experience one or more of these symptoms and suspect that you may have some type of gluten intolerance, experiment with removing gluten from your diet and speak to a naturopathic doctor to determine the right health plan for you.
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