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The Big Deal About Gluten–Part 3, Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance

file0002014167620Over the past two weeks here at High Desert Blogging, we have asked “what’s the big deal about gluten?” and shared information about the most common gluten related illnesses.  This week, we will look at the sometimes surprising symptoms of gluten intolerance.

As previously discussed, gastrointestinal distress is often a symptom of gluten intolerance.  These symptoms may include abdominal pain, bloating,  nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and even constipation.  These symptoms aren’t entirely unexpected when you have an allergy or an intolerance to something that you eat.

According to an article at Health.US , there are a many other symptoms which individually might not indicate a problem with gluten, but when they occur in combination, it should cause one to suspect gluten intolerance.

1.  Anemia:  Irritation of the gastrointestinal walls from gluten affects absorption of nutrients from food.

2.  Skin Rashes:  Extremely itchy skin rashes that appear on your face, hairline, torso, arms, elbows, or buttocks.

3.  Migraines:  Headaches can be symptoms of many medical problems.  When migraines are accompanied by daily diarrhea, a low iron count and a rash, it may point straight to gluten sensitivity.  Especially if your migraine starts one to two hours after eating a food that contains gluten.

4.  Joint pain:  Since gluten causes an auto-immune response in the body of those who are gluten sensitive, it may cause an inflammatory response in the body.  That inflammation will make itself known in various ways.  Joint pain is one of these ways.

5.  Lactose intolerance:  Because gluten compromises the stomach lining and affects the body’s  lactase, many people who are gluten sensitive are also lactose intolerant.

6.  Chronic Fatigue:  By itself, Chronic fatigue is not a strong indicator of gluten intolerance; however, when combined with frequent diarrhea and other gastrointestinal problems, it may be related to gluten sensitivity.  Fatigue is sure to become a problem when the body is not absorbing essential nutrients and vitamins.

7.  Fibromyalgia:  The inflammation caused by the autoimmune response described in regards to joint pain can occur any where in the body, and there are some medical experts who believe that fibromyalgia is a symptom and not a disease.  Some people have reported that their fibromyalgia symptoms improved when they removed gluten from their diets.

There are other symptoms attributed to gluten intolerance which include brain fog, dizziness, and feeling off balance, as well as psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety, depression, mood swings, and attention deficit disorder.  In addition, there are those who attribute hormone imbalances such as PMS, PCOS, or unexplained infertility to gluten sensitivity.

If you are interested in a Gluten Sensitivity Self Test, check out this one from the Dr. Oz Show.


**Patti is a frequent contributor at, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

The Big Deal About Gluten–Part 2, Gluten Related Illnesses

file2021258087420Last week’s post on High Desert Blogging asked the question What’s the Big Deal About Gluten?  We are continuing this week with information about celiac disease as well as non celiac gluten sensitivity.  These are two health problems which are related to ingestion of gluten and are becoming increasingly prevalent in our society.

Celiac disease is a severe form of gluten intolerance with intestinal complications.  For many years, it was believed that celiac disease occurred in about 1 in 5,000 individuals in this country.  Some experts stated that the prevalence was as low as 1 in 10,000.  These statistics are proving to be far from accurate, and a new condition referred to as non celiac gluten sensitivity is being diagnosed with increasing frequency.

In a study published January 2000 in the Journal of Pediatrics, 1200 children aged 6 months to 20 years were screened with blood tests and, in some cases, small intestinal biopsy.  The researchers reported that the prevalence of celiac disease in these patients ranged from 1 in 57 to 1 in 33.  This is significantly higher than the 1 in 10,000 that the medical community had espoused for years.    As a result of this misconception about the prevalence of celiac disease and gluten intolerance, many people are diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome, or other conditions, when the actual culprit is the gluten in their diet.

Donna at Simply Healthy Eats was recently diagnosed with non celiac gluten sensitivity after months of experiencing troubling health concerns.  She feels that her condition should  probably be considered pre-celliac and strongly believes that if she had not heeded the instruction of the nutritionist working with her, she would have continued to experience deteriorating health and progressed to full blown celiac disease.   She also believes that our standard American diet of highly processed foods, many containing hidden gluten, may be behind the increased prevalence of the condition.

According to  Joseph Murray, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist,  celiac disease is becoming a public health issue, and he states that it is a disease that hides in plain sight. Studies show four times the incidence compared to 1950, with fatal complications if it goes untreated.  The Mayo Clinic has found a four times higher risk of death for people with undiagnosed gluten intolerance.

“Celiac disease was rare, but it’s now more common in all age groups,” Dr. Murray says. Although the cause remains unknown, celiac disease affects about one in 100 people.  He estimates, however, that approximately 83% of these people are either misdiagnosed or underdiagnosed.    Diagnosis is often complicated by the fact that in recent years, the condition has been found to cause a much wider array of symptoms that are not all gastrointestinal in nature.


 Next Week:   Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance–they may surprise you


**Patti is a frequent contributor at, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.



What’s The Big Deal About Gluten?–Part 1

IMG_4241Everyone has seen it.  Products labeled “Gluten Free” are popping up in all of the stores in the high desert community.  These labels are on hamburger helper, cereals, frozen dinners and even on boxes of brownie mix.   Why should I care that a product is Gluten Free?  More importantly, what is gluten and why are all of these products suddenly telling me that they are free of it?  Is this just the latest fad diet?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a mixture of two proteins that are found in cereal grains such as wheat, rye, barley, and oats.  These proteins give dough it’s elastic texture.    Without gluten, pizza dough wouldn’t be stretchy, bread wouldn’t be spongy, and many of our soups and sauces wouldn’t be thick.  So, if gluten does all of these wonderful things, why would anyone want to buy products without it?

Gluten Allergy or Sensitivity

Gluten is the major allergy producing protein present in wheat, spelt, rye, barley and oats.  In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of people who are being diagnosed with gluten sensitivity, intolerance, or  allergy.  For those people, the same adhesive properties that hold bread and cake together interfere with the breakdown and absorption of nutrients.  This includes the nutrients from other foods ingested during the same meal.  What results is a glued together and constipating lump in your intestine instead of an easily digested and nutritious meal.  This may cause symptoms like nausea, abdominal pain, and diarrhea or constipation. For those who develop  full blown celiac disease, the presence of the undigested gluten, may cause your immune system  to attack the lining of your small intestine..  As your small intestine becomes increasingly damaged,  it becomes less able to absorb nutrients such as  vitamin D, iron, and calcium.  This inability to absorb vital nutrients from your food can lead to medical conditions such as anemia, osteoporosis, and other health problems.

So there you have it.  That’s the big deal about gluten.

 Next Week:   Gluten Related Illnesses


**Patti is a frequent contributor at, a website dedicated to helping people make healthy food choices.  It features recipes,  many of which are gluten and dairy free.  She can also be found at where she tries to limit her blogging to stocking a pantry, budgeting, and recipes.  She isn’t always successful.

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