Gluten Intolerance Symptoms

What is gluten and what foods to avoid?

Many gluten intolerance symptoms can be mild and are so common that they can be accepted as normal everyday feelings, and therefore go relatively unnoticed.  

Gluten intolerance, or gluten sensitivity, or even celiac disease to give it its correct name, is an immune system response in the small intestine. 

It happens in response to gluten and other similar proteins found in certain gluten containing foods. The body's response to the gluten is to cause damage to the lining of the small intestines and render them unable to absorb nutrients. 

Common Gluten Intolerance Symptoms

gluten intolerance symptoms
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  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal distension
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fatigue
  • Bone pain
  • Irritability
  • Muscle cramps
  • Floating stools
  • Weight loss

Common symptoms in children include abnormal stools, slow growth or slow weight gain, weight loss and abdominal distension.  Symptoms will often appear in babies within 6 months of introducing gluten-containing foods.

What Is Gluten?

Gluten is a component of wheat, rye, oats and barley and other related grains such as kamut and triticale.  When our body attempts to digest the foods that contain gluten, the gluten itself causes the villi (the microscopic hairs in the gut that are responsible for absorbing nutrients) to become damaged and defective.  This then leads to the classic gluten sensitivity symptoms mentioned above.

What Gluten Containing Foods Should You Avoid?

The following foods should be avoided:

  • Wheat products including flours, bread, pasta, batter, cakes and biscuits
  • Any foods that use wheat flour as a thickening agent
  • Processed meats such as salami, sausage and some ham
  • Barley based drinks such as beer

Other tips for avoiding gluten include:

  • Read food labels carefully and watch for hidden sources of gluten such as hydrolysed or textured vegetable protein.
  • Avoid all derivatives of wheat, rye, oats and barley including malt, modified food starch, grain vinegars, binders and fillers.
  • Avoid gravies and other sauces that contain thickening agents.

What Foods Can You Eat That Do Not Contain Gluten?

list of gluten free foods
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  • A proven list of gluten free foods includes:
  • Fresh vegetables such as lentils, peas and beans
  • Salads (without bottled salad dressing)
  • Fruits such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Cheese
  • Milk (providing there is no dairy intolerance)
  • Eggs
  • Lean meat
  • Poultry
  • Fish
  • Potatoes
  • Rice (white and brown)
  • Corn

Use corn flour, rice flour or soya flour to thicken sauces.  

listRead food labels carefully and find as many gluten free products as possible.

People showing gluten intolerance symptoms need foods that are high in fibre and foods rich in iron and the B vitamins.  

Damage to the intestinal walls caused by gluten intolerance can be reversed if a strict gluten free diet is observed.  Given time the damaged villi can recover and normal absorption of food can be resumed.  Changes in health and wellness can be become apparent within weeks.

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