Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Gluten Sensitivity Intolerance Self Test. Diagnosing Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Disease"

I've been eating gluten-free for 8 months now. I decided to try it for a variety of reasons. I wanted to address certain issues and possibly alleviate some symptoms. I will not mention all health issues but I will say that my focus was my struggle with depression. I've dealt with depression since as far back as I can remember and I am glad to say that I've reached a level of stability with medication. "Stability" in no way translates to "cured."Living Gluten Free has assisted with my health, assisted in lifting sluggishness and increased my ability to concentrate.

I don't know where I first heard that a gluten free way of living could assist with mood, but the more I read the more I thought I should try it. Below is an article that I believe explains the motivation for gluten free living on a very basic level.

An important article from Gluten Free Society.

February 12, 2012

Gluten Sensitivity Intolerance Self Test. Diagnosing Gluten Sensitivity & Celiac Disease

gluten intolerance quiz

The proper tools must be used to accurately diagnose gluten sensitivity.  This is where a lot of people and doctors get confused.  Traditionally lab testing is only designed to diagnose celiac disease.  Remember that celiac disease is only one medical condition caused by gluten.  Many people have other diseases caused by gluten.  If you doctor uses a test to diagnosed celiac disease on you and it comes back negative, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have gluten sensitivity.  The intestinal biopsy and serum blood tests are examples of inaccurate medical tests for gluten sensitivity.  Genetic testing offers the greatest degree of accuracy and when combined with a patient’s history and examination a diagnosis can be made early and accurately.  Gluten Free Society offers genetic testing and educational services about gluten.

Gluten Free Diet is Not a Trend

Because going on a gluten free takes a great deal of education and commitment, it is recommended that proper testing be performed to identify whether the diet is right for you.  Remember going gluten free is not a trendy diet; it is a permanent lifestyle that should be taken very seriously as even small amounts of gluten exposure can cause problems.  To accurately diagnose gluten sensitivity, the right lab test must be used.
Genetic testing is the gold standard for diagnosing gluten sensitivity.  Unfortunately, many doctors still use antiquated and inaccurate tests.  Examples of these include
  1. Anti-gliadin antibodies – this is a blood test that measures for antibodies to one of the types of gluten found in wheat.  It is not very comprehensive and often times gives false negative results.
  2. Anti-tissue transglutaminase – this test is only specific for celiac disease and also has a tendency to come back falsely negative.
  3. Intestinal Biopsy – this test is also only specific for celiac disease and comes back with a lot of false negatives.

 Am I Gluten Intolerant?

Some people feel so much better after going gluten free, that they forgo any testing and just stick to the diet.  Some people need a black and white answer – Am I gluten sensitive or not?  Without a solid answer, they have trouble justifying the diet and usually cheat on a frequent basis.  The problem with cheating is that gluten can cause damage to the body in very small amounts (20 ppm).  The best way to get this black and white answer is to have genetic testing performed.  If you cannot afford to have genetic testing performed, the following is a quick self test that you can use to help determine whether or not you are gluten sensitive.

Take The Quiz…

Gluten Sensitivity Self Test:
Check the symptoms you are experiencing.
Gut Symptoms:
  • Craving baked goods (cake, cookies, brownies)
  • Craving high sugar foods
  • Frequent intestinal bloating or gas especially after eating
  • IBS – irritable bowel syndrome
  • Acid reflux – GERD (aka heartburn)
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Frequent nausea and or vomiting
  • Difficulty gaining weight (children under the growth curve)
  • Iron deficiency anemia
Head &Nervous System Symptoms:
  • Frequent headaches
  • Sinus congestion
  • Migraine Headaches
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty recalling words
  • Brain fog
  • Poor concentration
  • Been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD
  • Suffer with frequent vertigo (dizziness)
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irrational irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s
Muscle and Joint Symptoms
  • Frequent joint pains with or without activity
  • Chronic muscle aches
  • Migrating joint pain (without injury)
  • Frequent muscle spasms (especially in the legs)
  • Diagnosed with Fibromyalgia
  • Diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis (RA, lupus, psoriatic arthritis, reactive arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Sjogren’s)
  • Bone pain
  • Growing pains
  • Osteoporosis or osteopenia
Hormonal Symptoms:
  • Fatigue
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Infertility
  • History of miscarriage or spontaneous abortion
  • Menstrual problems – PMS
  • Thyroid disease
  • Diagnosis of hyperprolactinemia
  • Diagnosis of Diabetes (type I or type II)
  • Hypoglycemia
  • PCOS (polycystic ovary disease)
  • Endometriosis
Immune Problems:
  • Chronic urinary tract infections
  • Chronic respiratory infections
  • Asthma
  • Vaginal, oral, or nail bed yeast infections
Skin Problems:
  • Fever blisters or mouth ulcers
  • Skin rash
  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatitis Herpetiformis**
  • Vitiligo
Other Internal Diseases/Problems:
  • Gall bladder problems
  • Elevated liver enzymes
  • Non alcoholic fatty liver
  • Autoimmune hepatitis
  • Lymphoma
  • Platelet disorders
  • If you checked 1 to 3 items, you should be genetically tested for gluten sensitivity
  • If you checked 4 or more items, you are most likely gluten sensitive.  Genetic testing is still recommended to confirm the need for a permanent diet change.
  • If you checked any red item you are most likely gluten sensitive.  You should be genetically tested for gluten sensitivity immediately.  Remember that recent research has discovered that ignoring gluten sensitivity leads to early death by 20 years or more.
**Dermatitis herpetiformis is a skin condition known to be caused by gluten.  If you have been diagnosed with this disease, you are gluten sensitive.

For more information visit Gluten Free Society.

This article explains that there is a difference between Celiac Disease, an allergy to gluten and a sensitivity to gluten. I have no idea if I have a gluten sensitivity. Sometimes I tinker with the idea of getting tested but ultimately I would continue to live gluten free regardless.

If you're going to go gluten free it's important to do it right. I don't eat gluten free desserts. For those who are just starting to eat gluten free, it can be tempting to load up on gluten free cookies and cakes. From the get-go I knew to stay away from them. Not only are gluten free products expensive but the desserts are often more caloric. It is possible to gain weight on a gluten free diet so one must be careful.

I eat mostly chicken, fish, veggies and fruit. I have greatly reduced my sugar intake and I've learned to go without bread for the most part. That was a tough one for me. Sometimes I feel that I could live on toast or good bread with butter.

Gluten free bread is scary. A loaf is more like a brick. It's heavy. I only use it if I'm in the mood for a grilled cheese. In my opinion gluten free bread tastes like thick cardboard unless it's toasted.

I've learned that there are over 200 symptoms related to a gluten filled diet. Some of these symptoms are unnoticeable but can affect your health. Being that there are so many symptoms it is hard to say that one is not affected in some way. So ultimately, living gluten free can be beneficial for anyone and everyone.

Foods that have gluten in it, are wheat, barely, rye and malt. If you are beginning a gluten free diet you'll immediately learn that there is gluten in almost everything. You really will have to learn how to cook with alternative ingredients and watch out for ingredients that are fattening.

Although, so many thing wheat is healthy, the truth is the body often has a difficult time fully digesting it. White bread is one of the worst foods you can put into your body. It turns into sugar and can be mineral depleting. Startling enough wheat flour exists within it.

You'll begin calling restaurants ahead of time to inquire about their menus. Be prepared to be met with confused voices on the other end. Some establishments are becoming more familiar with identifying gluten free foods.

My guess is that this is due to the fact that gluten free diets are starting to get some attention from the media. I find it laughable and quite strange that some consider gluten free diets to be a trend. Living gluten free is not fun! Not for me anyhow. I've become more accustomed to it over time, but there are some things I have a hard time living without.

Those who are getting on the bandwagon are most likely not eating foods that are completely void of gluten or they are not eating gluten free consistently.

Being that I do not have painful symptoms that often come along with Celiac Disease it is difficult to know if I've actually consumed the slightest bit of gluten. I have to be extra careful. To be dedicated to eating gluten free means to avoid even one crumb of gluten. I'm not exaggerating. A spec of gluten can cause discomfort if you truly have an issue with gluten. Being that I do not experience discomfort when I consume gluten, I am always on guard.

I've spent time emailing Starbucks and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to ask about their drinks. I've gotten some straight answers from Coffee Bean and around-the-bush answers from Starbucks. I tried to get Starbucks to tell me straight out if their drinks have gluten in them, but all I got in the end was, "We cannot guarantee a gluten free environment." They will say this til' the cows come home. There is a risk of cross contamination. Many food labels will state things like, "Made on equipment shared with wheat" or "May be traces of wheat." I've visited various forums which have helped me figure out what I can drink at Starbucks and Coffee Bean.

I was practically jumping up and down with excitement when I learned that I could drink Coffee Bean's Red Velvet Hot Chocolate. It debuted during the Christmas season of 2010. I was thrilled when it came back in 2011. Not only was it sold on the menu but the powder was offered for the first time.

I remember asking a barista if the powder was gluten free and I was told that it probably wasn't because the managers would have told them if it was. I wasn't satisfied with this. On another occasion I asked another barista and she went to a back room and told me that the drink was not gluten free. On yet another occasion I saw that the powder was being sold with a mug. The items were wrapped in plastic wrapping. I asked a barista if I could unwrap the items so I could read the contents of the powder. She wouldn't let me and asked a manager who said it was filled with gluten. Being that so many don't fully know what gluten is and the fact that I reeeally wanted to be able to drink this hot coca I emailed the company. The response email came with the ingredients of the powder. It is gluten free!

So, know that you're really going to have to do your home work and put in time and energy to figure what has gluten in it and what doesn't. It can be frustrated at times.

Some feel the positive effects of eating gluten free right away. For others it takes months. Ultimately, it's about health so figure out what works for you.

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