8 unexpected symptoms
Roughly 18 million Americans suffer from gluten sensitivity, and that’s just the number of folks who have solved the mystery. Larger still is the number of people (some experts estimate this is as many as 1 in 2 people) walking around who are gluten sensitive but have absolutely no idea.
Some signs of a bad reaction to gluten—abdominal pain, stomach upset, gas, bloating, diarrhea and constipation—are fairly recognizable. But even those signs could be symptoms of other common stomach ailments. In fact, the vast majority of people with gluten sensitivity have no digestive symptoms at all.
Here are other warning signs of gluten sensitivity:
- Migraine headaches. Many food sensitivities cause headaches and migraines, and gluten is no different in that respect. One showed that 56 percent of people who had been diagnosed with migraine headaches actually had an underlying gluten sensitivity. Once gluten was eliminated from their diet, the migraines resolved.
- Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia. Often a diagnosis offibromyalgia or chronic fatigue is an indication that your primary care physician hasn’t been able to nail down the cause of your fatigue or pain.
- Autoimmune diseases. Some autoimmune diseases—including lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and ulcerative colitis—are linked to gluten insensitivity.
- Brain fog. Gluten contains substances that can mimic morphine in some people, causing brain fog after a meal containing gluten.
- Keratosis pilaris. Also known as chicken skin on the back of your arms, this skin condition is usually the result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency.
- Mood disorders. Because gluten sensitivity can disrupt your ability to absorb certain nutrients like B vitamins, vitamin D, iron, omega-3 fatty acids and zinc, all essential for mood and brain health, you could experience attention deficit disorder, anxiety or depression.
- Joint pain. The body attacks the gluten and forms immune complexes that can settle in joints like the fingers, hips or knees, causing swelling, pain and inflammation.
- Hormone imbalances. Unexplained infertility, PMS or PCOS could all be signs of hormonal imbalances triggered by gluten.
There’s no accepted medical test for gluten sensitivity, so before eliminating gluten from your diet, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms. You may need to see an integrative practitioner or functional medicine physician for guidance.