What To Do If You Suspect You Have An Intolerance Or Sensitivity To Gluten
Prevention and Treatment Gluten sensitivity and intolerance is becoming more and more prevalent — here are some things you need to know.
If you suspect you have an intolerance or sensitivity to gluten, the first step is to ask your doctor to be tested for Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease is an autoimmune condition estimated to affect one in 133 Canadians. It occurs when gluten— a protein found in wheat, rye, triticale and barley — damages the inner lining of the intestinal tract.
Know your body
This can impact your ability to absorb important nutrients and lead to symptoms such as diarrhea, gas, bloating, and weight loss, to name a few. Your doctor will likely first send you for a simple blood-screening test; however, a biopsy is needed to truly confirm a Celiac Disease diagnosis.
If your test results are negative and you do not have Celiac Disease, then it is wise to consider the factors that could potentially contribute to your symptoms. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity could be to blame; however, this phenomenon is not yet fully understood by researchers and there is no valid diagnostic test available to prove its existence.
"If your test results are negative and you do not have Celiac Disease, then it is wise to consider the factors that could potentially contribute to your symptoms."
Once you have been confirmed to not have celiac disease, many individuals will try a gluten-free diet for four to six weeks and see if symptoms subside. Start by educating yourself about the foods that contain gluten — some are more obvious, like pasta, bread, and crackers, while others are less obvious, like canned soups, condiments, and deli meats.
Once you know which foods have gluten, begin to replace those foods with healthy gluten-free alternatives, like quinoa, brown rice, and teff, for example. Try not to head straight to the gluten-free cakes and cookies! Just because it’s labeled “gluten-free” does not mean it is healthier. It is important to keep a food and symptom log — where you record your meals, snacks, drinks, as well as how you feel - so you can better determine if gluten is truly an issue for you.
Dieticians can help
A registered dietitian can certainly help you with this entire process as well as support you in identifying what else might impact how you are feeling. She can then give customized suggestions according to your specific needs, habits, and lifestyle.