How does living with gluten intolerance affect my diet and overall health?

Gluten, a protein found in most cereals like wheat, barley and rye, is one of the top allergens that people react to these days.

While not generally harmful by nature, gluten can adversely affect people whose immune systems are intolerant to it. Unimaginatively called ‘gluten intolerance’, this syndrome can make life difficult for kids and adults alike, by severely restricting the things that you can safely eat. 

In extreme cases, this allergy can morph into the much more serious celiac disease, which requires great caution in diet, since even small quantities of gluten can trigger gluten attacks that cripple your small intestine and cause debilitating stomach aches.

Are You Gluten Intolerant?

Chances are, you have often reacted badly to certain meals, it chalked it up to food gone bad or the overbearing sun. While that may be true at times, it is also possible that there is a subtle allergy hiding beneath.

The first thing is to make sure that you do not suffer from gluten intolerance. There are many symptoms that can help guide your way. But simply reading about symptoms is not the most reliable method. Symptoms can be missed, or worse, confused with celiac disease.

For the sake of your health, it is best to get confirmation by carrying out a proper gluten intolerance test.

Dealing with Your Gluten Intolerance

Since there is no treatment for gluten intolerance, it ultimately boils down to restricting your diet. And it’s not only cereals that you have to avoid, as gluten is present in many food preparations, knowingly or inadvertently. It is up to you to watch what you eat.

It is no secret that packaged and processed foods contain many more things than specified, including gluten and other allergens.Where possible, it is best to consume fresh food items. Fresh fruits and dairy products are good, as are meat and poultry products.

Avoid canned fruits, flavoured milks, or even coated meats, as they all contain gluten in some amounts. Basically, the trick is to stay away from processed or preserved food, but rather go for fresh produce.

On the issue of cereals, you may think that by going for cereals like oats or rice, you can avoid gluten entirely. You are wrong.

Oats are often processed on the same facilities as wheat, and end up with trace quantities of gluten, too little to be tasted (or listed in the label), but sufficient to trigger a response from your immune system.

Be sure to check for ‘Gluten Free’ declaration on the food label to be sure that the food item you are buying is safe to consume for gluten intolerant people.

As we have seen, gluten intolerance is no laughing matter. It can seriously affect your digestive system, besides upsetting your nutritional balance by forcing you to avoid many common foods.

That being said, it is not impossible to cope with, provided you take some basic precautions in your eating habits. The key is to discover the problem in time, and implement the correct diet as soon as possible. Who knows, if you do it right, you may actually end up getting fitter.