Gluten Intolerance Symptoms

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
May 02, 2018

Don’t assume that the “gluten-free” movement is just a fad. You actually can have gluten intolerance symptoms even if you don’t have celiac disease. Learn more.

It seems silly — people have been eating bread for a long time, so why, all of a sudden, would so many say that it makes them ill?

There are lots of possible explanations, but not one that scientists now agree on. What we do know is that more people are testing positive for celiac disease, a measurable immune response to gluten, a protein in wheat and rye; and many more still say that they feel better on a gluten-free diet.


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Gluten intolerance symptoms

Thousands of Americans report gluten intolerance symptoms even after they have ruled out celiac disease or an allergy to wheat.

Abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, and gastroesophageal reflux all may be gluten intolerance symptoms.

The signs of gluten intolerance almost always show up within six to 24 hours after eating gluten, but may not be as obvious as bloating. Did you know that fatigue, headaches, achey joints and muscles, leg or arm numbness, mental fogginess, skin rashes, depression, and anxiety have also been linked to gluten?

In fact, some 60 to 82 percent of gluten-intolerant individuals commonly experience fatigue despite enough sleep. Sometimes the cause is hard-to-treat anemia. People may find that gluten puts them in a low mood. It’s also possible that gluten triggers migraines, and that a gluten-free diet could help banish them.  

Wheat allergy

Especially if you have digestive symptoms, the real problem may not be gluten, but a group of common carbohydrates called fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols (FODMAPs), which trigger irritable bowel syndrome. Wheat is one of them.

Besides gluten, another component of wheat, amylase trypsin inhibitors, can trigger an immune reaction that in turn could trigger stomach symptoms. You may actually have non-celiac wheat sensitivity.

One theory is that some people begin life with genes that make their nervous system more sensitive, and life stress can make their bodies hypervigilant, triggering migraines, irritable bowel syndrome, and reactions to gluten.

How to fight gluten allergy symptoms

The big test is to cut out foods that you think may bother you and see how you feel. If you feel better but still have symptoms like bloating and diarrhea, check out the list of  high-FODMAPs foods to see which you may be eating a lot of. There are some simple moves that could help, like switching from tea to coffee, using almond milk rather than cow’s milk, and from apples and pears to blueberries and cantaloupe.

Just don’t assume that gluten-free foods are healthy: sugar and potato and rice flours aren’t full of nutrients!


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March 26, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN