Are you feeling weighed down by your every day aches and pains?
Feel too young to have as many as you do?
You’re not alone.
I can tell you it is one of the things I commonly hear. I guess that’s not overly surprising, considering I do talk about inflammation a lot.
But there is one mysterious ingredient in the modern diet that may be contributing to your every day symptoms. And cutting it out may in fact be a cure for your aches and pains!
So what is it?
Really? Could it be gluten?
Yes it could be, so let’s dig in to explain this a bit more.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye and all products that contain them.
The main proteins in them are:
• Wheat (gliadin and glutenins)
• Barley (hordeins)
• Rye (secalins)
It is unclear exactly why people have a reaction to gluten but there is a condition called non celiac gluten sensitivity and you will be surprised to learn that it could be this sensitivity that causes your every day aches and pains.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
With all the hype around gluten free products you’ve no doubt heard of celiac disease. It’s where a person gets an allergic and autoimmune reaction to gluten and the lining of their intestine gets affected, flattening out the villi and causing lots of digestive issues.
Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not an allergic or autoimmune reaction and it doesn’t affect the intestinal lining in the same way as it does with celiac. But it does cause a variety of symptoms.
The symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity are similar to celiac and include gastrointestinal symptoms and symptoms that are not related to digestion as well.
Symptoms of Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivty
Diarrhoea, abdominal pain and discomfort, flatulence, constipation, bloating, and nausea.
Behavioural changes, joint and bone pain, tiredness, muscle cramps, leg, arm or finger numbness, weight loss or gain, chronic fatigue, depression, anxiety, eczema, headache and brain fog.
As you can see, joint, nerve and muscles problems are symptoms of non-celiac gluten sensitivity. And in fact, lots of symptoms could possibly be related to gluten consumption.
Other names for non-celiac gluten sensitivity include gluten intolerance, gluten sensitivity, gluten hypersensitivity, or non-celiac gluten intolerance.
So how does this reaction happen?
Whether it is celiac or non-celiac gluten sensitivity the response is an immune mediated one, meaning your immune system reacts to the gluten. Generally it’s the immune system reacting to the proteins in the wheat, barley, and rye mentioned above.
In celiac disease, both innate and adaptive immunity are affected. With non-celiac gluten sensitivity only the innate immune system is affected.
Out of all 3 gluten grains the protein in wheat (gliadin) is the biggest offender.
There is a test called IgG deamidated gliadin peptide (DGP) antibodies, and in non-celiac gluten sensitivity, people have elevated IgG of 56.4%, in celiac it’s up around 94%.
There’s also another component of wheat called Wheat Germ Agglutinin (WGA) that has been identified in studies to promote increased production of pro-inflammatory molecules.
But Surely It Couldn’t Be Gluten?
Well if you eat gluten on a regular basis you won’t know if it is the gluten causing the issue because your body will just be having an ongoing immune / inflammatory reaction to it. And this may contribute to your symptoms.
It’s interesting too because the symptoms of non celiac gluten sensitivity can appear immediately after eating gluten, but more often the symptoms don’t appear until hours, or perhaps even days after gluten consumption, which does make it difficult to pin point gluten as a possible causative factor.
You’ll be eating it and have no idea it is causing our aches and pains.
Many studies reveal that patient’s symptoms mysteriously disappear when they remove gluten from their diet.
Sure, it may not be gluten. BUT it sure doesn’t hurt to give it a try. Remove it from your diet for 3 weeks to one month and see how you feel.
Just maybe it will be a cure for your aches and pains!
Do you already follow a gluten free diet and have found it helps?
Nutritionist & Health Counsellor
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- Czaja-Bulsa G Non coeliac gluten sensitivity e A new disease with gluten intolerance. Clinical Nutrition xxx (2014) 1e6.
- Catassi et al Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity: The New Frontier of Gluten Related Disorders. Nutrients 2013, 5, 3839-3853; doi:10.3390/nu5103839.
- Nijeboer et al. Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity. Is it in the Gluten or the Grain? J Gastrointestin Liver Dis, December 2013 Vol. 22 No 4: 435-440.