Wheat harvestDo I have gluten allergies?

That’s a question we get nearly every day.

You may not even realize the symptoms of gluten sensitivity. Sometimes there aren’t any that are particularly noticeable or it has never occurred to you that a pain or feeling you are having is related to gluten.

Gluten sensitivity or allergy should not be ignored. Gluten allergy and/or sensitivity symptoms can include autoimmune disorders such as celiac disease (inflammation of the small intestine), diarrhea, heartburn, any kind of pain anywhere in the body, abdominal pain, nasal allergies, anaphylaxis, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, dermatitis, eczema, endocrine disorders, hypertension, infantile autism, lymphoma, migraine headache, myositis, neuropathies, mouth ulcers, anemia, hair loss, trouble focusing and sitting still during class especially for children, short term memory problems, brain fog, tension, anxiety, stress, fatigue, irritability, and depression. Gluten allergies can contribute to malnutrition, intestinal damage, osteoporosis, weight gain or loss.

Still, because gluten (and its accompanying fiber) is such a large part of the American diet, symptoms can go unnoticed for years, or until a serious symptom surfaces.

I take gluten allergies very seriously because mine went undiagnosed. From kindergarten until just a few years ago, I had great difficulty staying focused for more than a half hour and sitting still in a setting such as taking a class or listening to a lecture. I was edgy, restless, irritable, and tight. I got headaches. As a result, school was more or less miserable and painful for me no matter what I was studying. Today I enjoy school.

Gluten can appear in less obvious places than breads. You can find them in canned soups, ice cream, salad dressings, and instant coffee, among many others. Reading labels and knowing that gluten exists naturally only in wheat, barley, and rye takes care of this problem.

I’ve since discovered that most people have some sensitivity to gluten — whether it’s mild or severe. My feeling is that we can all feel better if we either stop eating products containing gluten or at least lighten up on them and not eat low quality types of wheat, barley, or rye. For many of us gluten makes us feel too poorly to make eating it worth it.

If you’re just curious and want to try finding out on your own if gluten is keeping you from feeling well, try going completely gluten-free for two months and see what you notice. Feel free to write to me and let me know how it feels to be gluten-conscious!