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Signs You May Have a Gluten Intolerance: Physical and Mental Symptoms

Individuals in Western societies live surrounded by an infinite number of grain-based food choices: bread in various shapes, sizes, and flavors, pasta, pastries, cakes, and pies are now a part of almost every meal and snack-time, leading to a number of health crises in America and increasingly, all across the globe.

The over-consumption of grains is problematic for many, not only because of skipping more nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich, fresh produce, or packing on a dangerous amount of excess weight. For many, the mere consumption of certain grains leads to a vast array of confusing and alarming symptoms, making it not only difficult to find the right dietary choices in a world where most processed food contains some grains but also leading to severe difficulties when it comes to maintaining a normal life, holding down a job, or engaging in free time activities. The culprit is the grains are often refined and genetically modified.  Wheat, for example, is one of the most heavily consumed grain. Its molecular structure has been genetically modified so that its’ protein: gluten is now becoming extremely difficult to digest at such high consumption rates. Wheat seeds are also heavily sprayed with pesticides causing them to be even more toxic.

What is Gluten Intolerance?

Wheat, barley, and rye are different types of grains that contain different amounts of gluten.  Gluten is a protein that attaches to the starchy material of the grains and serves as a glue to hold the grain together. High consumption of these grains, especially wheat, often leads to some level of gluten intolerance in all individuals.  The digestive system eventually cannot easily digest gluten and instead develops an acute immune reaction against these grains. After the consumption of these grains, the immune system will perceive the protein gluten to be a foreign protein and demand this invader to be eliminated. This immune reaction results in the lining of the stomach and small intestine being attacked, leading to the typical and uncomfortable symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity or intolerance.

Gluten intolerance is, unfortunately, fairly common: more than ⅓ of the U.S. population has a certain degree of gluten sensitivity. It is highly likely that gluten intolerance is underdiagnosed, causing various symptoms to individuals who may not even realize the core of their physiological issues.

Understanding the signs of gluten intolerance, therefore, is crucial. Since there is a wide variety of symptoms associated with this disorder, it is wise to keep an eye on frequently occurring problems, especially if they somehow seem to be related to grain consumption, and tend to co-occur, pointing to a chronic, persistent problem.

Physical Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

The most common physical signs of gluten intolerance include:

When the lining of the small intestine is attacked, the absorption of nutrients becomes increasingly difficult, leading to many vitamin and mineral deficiencies and the start of developing disease. When the diet is not corrected in a short amount of time, malabsorption becomes a chronic issue, causing the worsening of all associated signs.  People now find themselves getting sicker and sicker, for seemingly no reason.

Mental Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

The most common gluten intolerance symptoms in relation to mental health are:

Tragically, a large number of individuals suffering from gluten intolerance symptoms are diagnosed with various mental health disorders and receive psychiatric care, including medications. These are not only unnecessary but could add insult to injury, further harming an already weakened body.

It is incredibly important to seek the care of a highly-trained physician to help when complex, seemingly confusing physical or mental symptoms occur together. Only with the assistance of a good integrative physician may it be possible to pinpoint the original cause of a multitude of signs that may point to gluten intolerance. It is crucial to address the symptoms appropriately to promote healing and recovery.

Questions to Ask an Integrative Physician About Gluten Intolerance

When gluten intolerance is suspected, a prompt visit to an integrative physician is strongly advised. The most important questions to focus on during the initial visit — as well as during the follow-up appointments — should aim for understanding one's specific condition, treatments, and lifestyle changes that may be required. These questions could include:

Book an Appointment at Advanced Health

Gluten intolerance is a complex problem, affecting various systems of human physiology once the intestinal lining is damaged. Once gluten intolerance is successfully pinpointed as the central cause of symptoms experienced, with the help of an integrative physician, treatment becomes reasonably straightforward. While the elimination of gluten-containing grains and processed food is likely to become the backbone of medical treatment, integrative physician Dr. Payal Bhandari MD will help manage all related symptoms and restore an overall sense of physical and mental well-being. Book an appointment here!

Dr. Payal Bhandari Dr. Payal Bhandari M.D. is a leading practitioner of integrative and functional medicine in San Francisco.

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