Take This Gluten Sensitivity Self-Test That Could Save Your Life
In a recent episode of The Doctor Oz Show, Dr. Oz and special guest Dr. Neal Barnard, a nutrition researcher and MD, tells viewers that the cause of a range of maladies that often goes undiagnosed or misdiagnosed may be due to your having gluten sensitivity. While there is no medical test for accurately diagnosing gluten sensitivity, by answering a few questions in a self-test you can find out whether the cause of your health problems may be due to the gluten in your diet.
Gluten is a natural protein found in varying concentrations in many varieties of wheat, barley and rye. Not only does it help bread rise in the oven, but it is often used in sauces and many processed foods as a thickener. While gluten is typically normally broken down in the digestive system of approximately 90% of the population without any noticeable side effects, for people with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity it can result in an allergic reaction that can be the cause of multiple major health problems.
People who are allergic to gluten often experience symptoms such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, bloating, fatigue, irritability, depression and difficulties with thinking clearly (brain fog). Gluten presents to the gut as a foreign substance that then leads to an overreaction by the digestive system. In the worst case scenario with celiac disease, this overreaction destroys the villi lining the intestinal tract responsible for absorbing nutrients from digested food.
While celiac disease can be diagnosed by searching for antibodies via blood tests and by taking a biopsy of the intestine, determining whether a milder form of a sensitivity reaction to gluten exists is a hidden problem. Experts on gluten sensitivity are finding that the disease can result in many conditions that are typically attributable to other disease states, and thereby makes accurate diagnosing difficult.
“A recent study shows that there are over 50 different conditions that can be attributable to gluten, things like anemia, osteoporosis. A person gets one test after another. They start getting treatment for depression, and they are getting side effects—and it’s all related to the foods they are eating. And when they get away from it, the symptoms vanish,” says Dr. Barnard.
Dr. Barnard explains that gluten sensitivity is a “chameleon disease” that hides the true source behind multiple medical conditions, which in turn often leaves people misdiagnosed and suffering for many years.
To help viewers become aware of gluten sensitivity and determine whether they may be suffering from it, Dr. Barnard offers on The Dr. Oz Show a simple self-test for detecting gluten sensitivity where a person can ask him or herself whether they have the following digestive, neurologic, skeletal, hormonal and immune system symptoms:
For Digestive Symptoms
• Do you have frequent bloating or gas?
• Have you been diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux?
• Do you experience daily diarrhea or chronic constipation
For Neurologic & Skeletal Symptoms
• Do you suffer from migraines or headaches?
• Do you have joint pains or aches?
• Does your brain feel like you are in a fog?
Hormonal & Immune Symptoms
• Do you suffer from depression or anxiety?
• Do you have ongoing fatigue?
• Do you have chronic eczema or acne?
According to Dr. Barnard, having four or more of the symptoms listed above indicates that gluten sensitivity may be impacting your health. The next step is to follow the two recommendations:
1. Consult with your physician about your results of the self-test.
2. Try going on a gluten-free diet for 2-4 weeks and see if your health problems resolve.
If it turns out that you do have gluten sensitivity, Dr. Oz explains that this does not mean that you have to turn to buying the approximately tens of thousands of gluten-free foods available today at your local grocery store. According to him, packaged gluten-free food is a multi-billion dollar industry that not only is a waste of your food budget by having to pay more, but it also typically is higher in calories and contains more sugar and less fiber than many naturally non-gluten foods.
“My personal opinion is that getting gluten free foods is a bad idea if you have a gluten friendly diet, because you don’t need to go there. You don’t need to pay a price. And that’s often what you are doing to get that trade-off. It’s a mediocre idea I think…if you are gluten sensitive, because you have better ways of getting those dietary needs that you have into your daily regimen,” says Dr. Oz.
Dr. Barnard concurs with Dr. Oz’s advice and tells viewers that going gluten-free does not mean that you have to deprive yourself of foods that you like. He states that while wheat, barley and rye are to be avoided due to their high gluten content, that single-ingredient foods such as fruits, veggies, meat, fish, dairy, lentils, nuts, rice, corn, wine and pure chocolate are allowed.
The difficulty is in looking at processed foods and reading the labels to determine whether they contain gluten, or while eating out at restaurants. Dr. Barnard suggests that viewers wanting to try a gluten-free diet go to gluten diet-related websites such as those by the Celiac Disease Foundation for their Gluten–free Resource Directory.
Image Source: Courtesy of MorgueFile
Reference: The Dr. Oz Show: Is Gluten Secretly Destroying Your Health?