There has been lots of talk about gluten intolerance and a growing number of people who appear to be sensitive to foods containing wheat. I want to assure you that it is real, and not just another health trend. Wheat products, in North America especially, have changed dramatically in the past 100 years, where the wheat as we consume it is structurally and immunologically very different than it used to be. These changes have made it difficult for many people to digest, and it can lead to a whole spectrum of health issues.
In this article, we’re talking about a condition that has been labelled as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” meaning we do not find the hallmark features of celiac disease, an autoimmune condition which is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. An estimated 5-13% (1, 2) of people may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which is a milder condition in terms of digestive system damage, but it can affect many body systems.
The important thing to note, is that you may have a significant gluten intolerance without having any digestive symptoms. For many people, gluten-containing foods create inflammation which can affect many body systems. Here are a few of the more surprising signs that may point to gluten sensitivity:
1. BLOATING THAT’S HARD TO TRACK TO ANY ONE FOOD
The most common symptom that I see in practice, is persistent lower abdominal bloating that is hard to track to any one food. One study showed that 87% of people who had suspected non-celiac gluten sensitivity experienced bloating (3).