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Gluten intolerance

Symptom

You can be severely intolerant to gluten (celiac disease) or you can have a non-celiac gluten intolerance, aka non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), which can come with some of the same symptoms. But let's back up: gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, barley, and rye. If you have a gluten intolerance, this protein can cause digestive problems such as gassiness, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. NCGS is sometimes confused with IBS or celiac disease or thought of as a food allergy, but it's a separate (yet sometimes related) issue. With NCGS, you can still react to gluten pretty strongly—we’re talking abdominal pain, bloating, headaches, fatigue, skin issues, and brain fog—but unlike celiac disease, it doesn’t damage the lining of your small intestine. Diagnosing NCGS is tough because it can mimic so many other GI troubles. But if you’re having symptoms like those we mentioned, it’s important to rule out celiac, so talk to your practitioner about getting tested before you go on a gluten-free diet. The reason: going gluten free could skew your blood test, making your results seem normal. Eliminating or reducing gluten can help relieve symptoms if you have NCGS—and we’re all for feeling better!—but there are reasons to be cautious about making such a significant change in your diet. Although a lot of people think it’s super good for you, getting rid of gluten isn’t always a healthy move, especially when you consider that it can reduce your intake of a variety of important nutrients, including fiber, calcium, iron, and several B vitamins. So if gluten isn’t your problem, you not only may be spending more on your food bill—those gluten-free foods tend to be pricey!—but you could be inadvertently harming your health. That’s why it makes sense to seek out a nutritionist who can help you decide what the right move is for you and, if it’s going gluten free, guide your food choices to make sure you don’t miss out on the nutrients your body needs to get and stay healthy.

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