Going “gluten-free” is becoming increasingly prevalent these days. Some people suggest that gluten is bad for everyone and that we should all eliminate it from our diets. It’s unclear if that’s true, but it is certain that gluten intolerance is more common than previously thought and that several other conditions, like autism and Crohn’s Disease, can also benefit from a gluten-free diet. Twenty years ago, very few people had even heard of gluten, but now almost everyone has an extended family member or acquaintance who is avoiding it, if not someone closer. More than 55 diseases have been linked to gluten, the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. It’s estimated that 99% of the people who have either gluten intolerance or celiac disease are never diagnosed. Could you be one of them?
If you have any of the following symptoms it could be a sign that you have gluten intolerance:
1. Digestive issues such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and even constipation. I see the constipation particularly in children after eating gluten.
2. Keratosis Pilaris, (also known as ‘chicken skin’ on the back of your arms). This tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut.
3. Fatigue, brain fog or feeling tired after eating a meal that contains gluten.
4. Diagnosis of an autoimmune disease such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, Rheumatoid arthritis, Ulcerative colitis, Lupus, Psoriasis, Scleroderma or Multiple sclerosis.
5. Neurologic symptoms such as dizziness or feeling of being off balance.
6. Hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS or unexplained infertility.
7. Migraine headaches.
8. Diagnosis of chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. These diagnoses simply indicate your conventional doctor cannot pin point the cause of your fatigue or pain.
9. Inflammation, swelling or pain in your joints such as fingers, knees or hips.
10. Mood issues such as anxiety, depression, mood swings and ADD.
Foods containing, or possibly containing, wheat Bread and baked foods
All loaves, including pumpernickel, and rolls unless specifically stated. Many “rye” and “corn” loaves contain some wheat. Pitta, crumpets, muffins, tortillas, and tacos (should be corn but mostly wheat in UK), doughnuts, cakes, cookies, biscuits, crackers, croutons, packet snacks, rusks, waffles, pancakes, crepes, pizzas, pretzels, breadsticks, communion wafers, pasta and pastry. Also yorkshire pudding, suet pudding and many other puddings. Cereals
Most cereals will contain some wheat. The exceptions are porridge oats, corn flakes, rice krispies and granola. Always read the labels. Flour and pasta
All of these will contain some wheat unless stated to be wheat free or buckwheat, which is not from the wheat family. Meat and Fish
Burgers, rissoles, salami, sausages, corned beef, luncheon meat, liver-sausage, continental sausages, pates, meat and fish pastes and spreads, ham, fish and scotch eggs coated with breadcrumbs. Vegetable products
Vegetable pates and spreads, vegetables coated in breadcrumbs, e.g. onion rings, vegetables tempura, tinned beans, (also tinned spaghetti, often grouped with vegetables), soups and tinned and packet snack or ready prepared foods. Sauces and condiments
Gravy, packet and jar and bottled sauces, casserole and ready-meal mixes, stock cubes and granules, ready prepared and powdered mustard, stuffing, baking powder, monosodium glutamate, some spice mixes (check label). Desserts
Most puddings, pastry, yogurts containing cereal, ice cream, pancakes, cheesecakes and others with a biscuit base. Beverages
Malted milk, chocolate, Ovaltine and other powered drinks. Beer, ale, stout, larger, Pils lager, whisky, malt whisky, gin, most spirits and many wines. Confectionery
Liquorice, chocolate, chocolate bars and most wrapped bars. Other sweets (check labels). Medication
Many prescribed and over the counter drugs contain wheat. Check with your pharmacist. Do not stop prescribed medication without discussing with your doctor. Other
Glue on labels and postage stamps.
How to test for gluten intolerance?
I have found the single best ways to determine if you have an issue with gluten is to do an elimination diet and take it out of your diet for at least 2 to 3 weeks and then reintroduce it. Please note that gluten is a very large protein and it can take months and even years to clear from your system so the longer you can eliminate it from your diet before reintroducing it, the better.
The best advice that I share with my patients is that if they feel significantly better off of gluten or feel worse when they reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem for them. In order to get accurate results from this testing method you must elimination 100% of the gluten from your diet.
How to treat gluten intolerance?
Eliminating gluten 100% from your diet means 100%. Even trace amounts of gluten from cross contamination or medications or supplements can be enough to cause an immune reaction in your body.
The 80/20 rule or “we don’t eat it in our house, just when we eat out” is a complete misconception. An article published in 2001 states that for those with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity eating gluten just once a month increased the relative risk of death by 600%.
There are many foods which are gluten free. Check out www.naturehomesamui.com. All their products are gluten free unless otherwise stated.
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