How to Tell If You Are Gluten Intolerant

Dr. Jolene BrightenPublished: Last Reviewed: Food Leave a Comment

In this article I want to help you identify how to tell if you are gluten intolerant.

More and more patients are coming to me wanting to know if they have a gluten intolerance or sensitivity. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) is a condition in which you experience symptoms when eating gluten, but do not have an autoimmune response like that of celiac disease or an allergy to wheat (1).

How to Tell If You Are Gluten Intolerant

Although the symptoms people experience are very real and sometimes debilitating, determining if going gluten free is necessary isn't always black and white for the following reasons:

  1. Standardized Testing Does Not Exist. Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity is a recently classified condition for which standardized testing has not been established. The current testing that does exist is not all encompassing, meaning that results may show no sensitivity when you are in fact experiencing symptoms due to gluten (false negative).
  2. Symptoms Can Vary from Person to Person. Not everyone experiences gluten sensitivity the same way. Sensitivities can manifest anywhere in the body and aren't limited to your digestive system. In fact, many people have no digestive symptoms at all.
  3. Symptoms Can Take Several Days to Show Up. Sure some people may eat gluten and within hours experience symptoms, but for others, symptoms may not arise for several days. This can make it very difficult to determine if gluten alone is causing symptoms.

Do You Experience Any of These Symptoms?

If you have 3 or more of the following symptoms, you may have a gluten sensitivity.

  1. Fatigue
  2. Headache or Migraines
  3. Brain Fog
  4. Stomach pain, Reflux, IBS, Gas and Bloating
  5. Joint Pain or Muscle Aches
  6. Eczema, Dandruff or Hives
  7. Dizziness, Numbness or Tingling
  8. Anxiety, Depression
  9. PMS, Infertility, Irregular Menses
  10. Nutrient Deficiencies
  11. Sleep Disturbance
  12. Frequent Colds and/or Flus
  13. Thyroid Condition
  14. Autoimmunity: Hashimoto's, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Lupus, Crohn's or Ulcerative Colitis and others
  15. Difficulty Gaining or Losing Weight

How to Determine If You Have A Gluten Sensitivity:

Elimination Diet with Reintroduction:

One of the best ways to determine if you have a gluten sensitivity is to remove it from your diet for at least 3 weeks followed by reintroduction. For some people, 3 weeks is not long enough to feel the effects so the results may not be obvious. I recommend that patients take note of how they feel off of gluten and what they experience with reintroduction.

Because gluten can cause leaky gut, there may be other food sensitivities that would need to be removed from the diet in order to experience a change in symptoms. For many of my patients, elimination diets are recommended in conjunction with gut repair therapies to help heal leaky gut and to give their body an opportunity to recover from the inflammation and damage caused by food sensitivities.

When doing an elimination diet you must avoid gluten 100%. If you continue to eat even a small amount of gluten during the elimination period you will continue to activate your immune system and as a result, will not be able to determine if gluten is a problem for you.

Gluten hides in many places. Here are some of the common hidden sources of gluten:

  • Soy sauce
  • Salad dressing
  • Teas
  • Soup mixes
  • Supplements
  • Envelopes, stamps
  • Play dough
  • Lipstick, makeup and personal care products

IgG and IgA Food Sensitivity Blood Test:

A simple finger stick can help you measure your antibodies to not only gluten and gluten containing foods, but also other common food sensitivities. This test will allow you to have a more targeted approach to an elimination diet and may detect foods that you wouldn't suspect to be causing your symptoms.

Determine if You Have a Gluten Sensitivity Today!

Determining if you have a gluten sensitivity could help you find relief from your symptoms and improve your quality of life. Imagine being free of headaches, having more energy or even being able to lose unwanted weight.

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About The Author

Dr. Jolene Brighten

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Dr. Jolene Brighten, NMD, is a women’s hormone expert and prominent leader in women’s medicine. As a licensed naturopathic physician who is board certified in naturopathic endocrinology, she takes an integrative approach in her clinical practice. A fierce patient advocate and completely dedicated to uncovering the root cause of hormonal imbalances, Dr. Brighten empowers women worldwide to take control of their health and their hormones. She is the best selling author of Beyond the Pill and Healing Your Body Naturally After Childbirth. Dr. Brighten is an international speaker, clinical educator, medical advisor within the tech community, and considered a leading authority on women’s health. She is a member of the MindBodyGreen Collective and a faculty member for the American Academy of Anti Aging Medicine. Her work has been featured in the New York Post, Forbes, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, Bustle, The Guardian, Sports Illustrated, Elle, and ABC News. Read more about me here.