As we all know, there are plenty of reasons to significantly change a diet, and some of the sadder motivators are health issues. There are tons of great foods out there to enjoy, and it's tragic to think that there are some people who can't digest beef properly, or feel ill when they have a cheesy pizza.
Just one of the food-related health issues around is gluten intolerance. It has been the subject of increased awareness in recent years, but with an estimated 15 percent of people suffering from that particular sensitivity to wheat, barley or rye, there's a fair chance you're gluten intolerant and had no idea. With the help of Dr Amy Myers from LSU Health Sciences Center, here are just a few small-but-weird health problems that might be a sign you're gluten intolerant.
1. Digestive issues
If you're constantly suffering from bad gas, diarrhea or even constipation, this could be a sign you're gluten intolerant that's pretty easy to ignore. There are many reasons to suffer from digestive issues, but Dr Myers has some words for the parents out there: "I see the constipation particularly in children after eating gluten."
2. Chicken skin
No, not the crispy kind that you get with a bucket of KFC. You definitely don't want to eat this: keratosis pilaris, or "chicken skin", gives your skin a weird, rough texture, characterized by little bumps on the skin that look like the skin of an uncooked chicken. Dr Myers says "this tends be as a result of a fatty acid deficiency and vitamin A deficiency secondary to fat-malabsorption caused by gluten damaging the gut", and although they're totally harmless, it's definitely worth checking out that gluten intolerance.
3. Fatigue after a meal
If you find yourself feeling foggy and struggling to stay awake after having lunch at work, it might be the first signs of a food coma. More likely, though, it's an indication that the meal you ate (whether it's a burger or a whole load of Pringles) contains gluten, and that you're body isn't reacting well to that gluten. This is where a food diary may come in a little bit handy. Keep track of everything you eat and how you feel, and if you're concerned, book an appointment.
It's never fun to feel off balance. If at any point, you find yourself inexplicably feeling like you're about to fall over, then it might be a sign you've got a gluten intolerance. Of course, dizziness could be the symptom of a lot of things, so I'd steer of self-diagnosing yourself after dizziness in isolation.
5. Hormone imbalances
Ladies: if you're finding yourself suffering from particularly bad PMS and PCOS, or if you're struggling with infertility without really knowing why, have a look at the food you're putting into your body. These problems can be the result of hormone imbalance, and that imbalance could be down to gluten intolerance.
6. Swelling in your joints
If your hip, knee or finger joints are constantly stiff, suffering from swelling and generally not how they used to be, it could be a sign that you're getting old. But if you're only in your mid-20s and that swelling weirdly coincides with certain parts of the day, then it's a sign your immune system is reacting to the gluten in your body, causing inflammation.
7. Mood issues
If you're finding yourself feeling not yourself, or if you're finding that your mood is all over the place for what seems like no reason, then gluten intolerance could be a sneaky culprit. If you're body isn't great at processing gluten, your brain will process that badly-absorbed gluten, and your brain will not like it one bit. This will result in a ton of mental health issues, like anxiety, depression or even ADD.
Well, folks, there you have it! Should you read this and suspect out you do have gluten intolerance, then Dr Myers hs a pretty good course of action for you to make sure: "The best advice that I share with my patients is that if they feel significantly better off of gluten or feel worse when they reintroduce it, then gluten is likely a problem for them."
There are so many people out there suffering with gluten intolerance who have no idea. Don't be one of them.