Do You have Gluten Sensitivity? by Bita Badakhshan, M.D.
Do you wake up every day eating a “healthy” breakfast containing some whole-grain cereal or toasted wheat bread? Do you often experience symptoms of digestive disorders, low energy, weight gain, moodiness, joint pain or general achiness, memory problems, brain fog, and/or other nagging health issues that just won’t go away? Have you gone to get it checked out and the doctor does a blood panel, and maybe a few additional tests, and then reports that the results are all normal?
Then what is the problem?
Celiac disease is probably the first thing that pops into your mind. However, certain individuals who do not have celiac disease still have a hard time processing wheat. Food allergies or sensitivities are among the most common sources of health problems. One food in particular is turning out to be the source of multiple conditions – wheat. Experts estimate that as many as 20 million Americans who do not have celiac disease are sensitive to gluten.
Until recently, whole grains were considered some of the healthiest food sources. However, today’s wheat looks different than the classic grain, and it no longer contains the same beneficial nutrients. Even worse, wheat, like sugar and high-fructose corn syrup is used in some form or another in products where you would least expect it. Wheat is now found in everything from frozen French fries to skin lotions and it uses a variety of names such as hydrolyzed wheat protein or wheat starch.
If your blood test shows that you do not have celiac disease and your doctor reports that you are normal, but you still don’t feel quite right, I recommend trying a gluten-free challenge diet.
This means getting rid of all products containing gluten – commonly found in wheat, rye, and barley. To determine if you are sensitive to gluten, you need to completely eliminate it from your diet for a minimum of 30 days.
Does that mean giving up all carbohydrates? Of course not. I recommend getting one-third of your calories from complex carbs, including gluten-free, organic grains, such as:
- Rice, both regular and wild
- Montina flour for baking (Montina is a rice grass favored by native Americans)
- Oats (Be sure they are not contaminated with gluten during processing; look for “gluten-free” on the label)
Focus your diet on gluten-free whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and lean protein. Also take natural supplements like curcumin or omega-3 to counteract inflammation throughout your body. After 30 days, see how you feel after 4 days. Are your symptoms improving? Did you gain or lose weight? How is your memory? Then, reintroduce yourself to one form of gluten in your diet such as a slice of wheat bread and then see if you have any reactions to it or if your symptoms change within the next 4 days. This pattern of eating a possible problem food every four days is known as “the rotation diet”, and it has been shown to be very useful for identifying food sensitivities.
So, again, if at the end of the 30 days you find that a gluten product gives you symptoms of digestive disorders, low energy, weight gain, moodiness, brain fog, and/or other nagging health issues you would probably be better off avoiding gluten entirely. Some people with gluten sensitivities find that they can eat gluten occasionally, but not every day. That’s fine, if it works for you.