Over the last several years, gluten has received a lot of attention. Numerous gluten-free products have been introduced, and more and more people are embracing a gluten-free lifestyle. Gluten can cause problems in many people. Whether you have a gluten sensitivity or suffer from Celiac disease, gluten can cause a number of symptoms including gluten belly. Here we explore more about gluten and the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, malt, and rye. Products like pasta, bread, tortillas, crackers, cereal, croutons, baked goods, some sauces, meat substitutes, beer, and salad dressings may contain gluten. Because it is used in so many products, it is essential that you read food labels.
Why Has Gluten Sensitivity Increased?
Many people think that gluten sensitivities are just a marketing fad; however, gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and celiac disease are real problems that affect real people. So why have gluten sensitivities increased? Beginning in the 1950s, researchers began experimenting with the DNA of wheat to try to create wheat that required less maintenance and could be grown in a smaller space.
The wheat created today is half as tall and more productive than what was grown 70 years ago. Unfortunately, the hybridization and modification done to wheat have caused other results. For example, wheat is lower in fiber and higher in substances like agglutinin, amylopectin, and gliadin, which are all found in gluten. These changes have had a drastic impact on the health of men and women around the world. Today, you will find gluten as an ingredient in almost every type of processed food. It is also found in lotions, makeup, medications, and much more.
What is gluten belly and how does it impact your life? Gluten belly results in excessive, painful bloating that occurs when an individual who has a gluten sensitivity, gluten intolerance, or a gluten allergy eats foods that contain gluten.
What does gluten belly look like? Gluten causes inflammation throughout the entire gastrointestinal tract. This GI inflammation causes the belly to become distended from the upper abdominal region all the way down to the bottom abdominal region. The distended belly feels hard to the touch. Because bloating and excess gas can build up in the gastrointestinal tract, the abdominal region becomes rounded.
Simply put, gluten belly is the visceral fat found around your abdominal region. This type of fat is dangerous as it can encase your vital organs and lead to a number of serious health conditions like heart disease and diabetes. Visceral fat from a gluten belly impacts your brain health, your hormones, your immune system, and much more. It is important to get rid of the excessive weight in your midsection.
Does Gluten Make You Bloated?
Many people wonder does gluten makes you bloated. The short answer is bloat from gluten does occur in individuals with gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, or a gluten allergy. Those suffering from celiac disease and non-celiac disease sensitivity should avoid gluten to help relieve bloating.
Bloating occurs when the gastrointestinal tract fills with gas or air. When you are bloated, you may feel like your stomach is overfull and tight. Bloating can be uncomfortable and cause your stomach to appear bigger and your clothing may fit tighter. You may burp frequently, your stomach may gurgle, and you may experience abdominal discomfort or pain.
Most Common Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
Gluten intolerance causes a number of adverse symptoms when gluten is consumed. The symptoms of gluten intolerance and celiac attack symptoms can be almost unbearable. The most common symptoms experienced with gluten intolerance include-
- Abdominal Pain – Abdominal pain is another common complaint experienced by those who eat gluten. The pain can be due to a build-up of gas, inflammation in the intestines, and digestive upset.
- Anemia – Iron deficient anemia is often one of the first symptoms of gluten intolerance or celiac disease. When the small intestines become impaired, your body can have difficulty absorbing iron from the foods that you eat.
- Brain Fog – Brain fog is used to describe the inability of thinking clearly. People often describe brain fog as having a cloudy memory, forgetfulness, difficulty thinking, and mental fatigue. When an individual with a gluten sensitivity consumes foods containing gluten, antibodies are produced which can cause brain fog.
- Bloating – Bloating is one of the key symptoms of gluten belly. Sufferers often report feeling as if their belly is swollen and overfull. Bloating occurs when gas builds up in the digestive tract. As gluten is digested, gas begins to build and causes an unpleasant amount of gas to develop in the digestive tract.
- Digestive Disturbances – Consuming gluten often causes a number of digestive disturbances, which are often referred to as gluten belly. Gluten can cause inflammation of the small intestines, which can cause alternating diarrhea and constipation. Because of the inflammation and damage to the digestive tract, many people experience extremely smelly feces after eating gluten.
- Fatigue – Fatigue is another common symptom of gluten sensitivity. When the digestive tract becomes inflamed and damaged from gluten, it can cause poor nutrient absorption, which can lead to nutritional deficiencies. When your body does not get the nutrients it needs, unrelenting fatigue can occur. One of the best ways to counteract nutritional deficiency fatigue is to take a multivitamin supplement along with eating a healthy diet.
- Headaches – Headaches and migraines are often experienced in individuals who are gluten intolerant. If you experience regular headaches with no apparent cause, you may have a gluten intolerance.
- Joint and Muscle Pain – When you have gluten sensitivity, it can cause systemic inflammation. This inflammation can spread to the surrounding muscle and joint tissues, causing debilitating pain. If you notice an increase in joint stiffness or pain after eating foods that contain gluten.
- Mental Illness – Individuals with digestive problems like a gluten belly are prone to depression and anxiety. Gluten intolerance can cause serotonin levels to decrease, which raises the risk of depression. The microbiota in the digestive tract can become altered which can cause an alteration of the neurotransmitters in the body.
- Neuropathy – Celiac attack symptoms also include numbness or tingling in the arms or legs. Chronic inflammation throughout the body and the presence of certain antibodies can increase the risk of experiencing the symptoms of neuropathy.
- Skin Conditions – Gluten can affect your skin. One manifestation of celiac disease is dermatitis herpetiformis, which is a blistering skin condition. In addition to this, gluten consumption can lead to psoriasis characterized by red, scaly skin, alopecia areata characterized by hair loss, and chronic urticaria characterized by red or pink itchy lesions with pale centers.
Do You Have a Gluten Sensitivity or Celiac Disease
There are a few ways to determine if you have a gluten sensitivity. One such method is the elimination diet. With this method, you remove all traces of gluten from your diet and then slowly introduce them into the diet once again. If you experience symptoms during the reintroduction stage, you may have a gluten intolerance and need further testing.
The other method used to verify a gluten sensitivity is a blood test. This blood test checks for antibodies in the blood. If it is determined that you have gluten sensitivity, your doctor will make recommendations to help ensure that you are protecting your body from damage. A customized gluten free diet and meal plan may help improve your health.
Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that affects the immune system. When you ingest products containing gluten, the immune system begins attacking the intestinal tract. This can lead to debilitating symptoms, including diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, anemia, edema, excessive bruising and vitamin K deficiency. If gluten is not avoided, the condition can cause long-term health consequences, including osteoporosis, damage to the intestinal walls and even cancer.
Food allergies occur when the body thinks a food is a foreign invader. This causes the immune system to flare up and fight off the “invader.” This flare up can cause a variety of symptoms, such as swelling, itching, hives and even life-threatening symptoms, including difficulty breathing, loss of consciousness, low blood pressure, difficulty swallowing and anaphylactic shock can occur. The most common food allergens include peanuts, milk, wheat, eggs, fish, shellfish and soy.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity, often referred to as gluten sensitivity, is neither an autoimmune response nor an allergic reaction. This disorder often mimics the symptoms of celiac disease; however, the gastrointestinal tract is not damaged and there are no immediate severe reactions to contend with. Most often, patients with this type of sensitivity will experience gastrointestinal disturbances, such as diarrhea, upset stomach, bloating, gas and abdominal pain.
Ready To Seek Help
If you have the symptoms of a gluten belly, i.e. bloating, abdominal discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, excess gas, and systemic inflammation, help is here. Functional medicine clinicians understand that all systems must work together to maintain optimal health. When you consume gluten, it can cause adverse health effects throughout the body. Removing gluten from your diet and following an anti-inflammatory diet filled with whole foods can help heal your gut and relieve your symptoms.