There are hot debates on whether or not non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) is real. In fact, science downplays that NCGS exists despite the fact that double-blinded, randomized, and placebo-controlled experiments showed the strongest pieces of evidence to date that non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS), is a genuine condition. Arrogantly, science says people who have gluten sensitivities are whiners. So, can 0.6 to 6 percent of Americans who suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity be wrong? I decided to test the theory myself.
Firstly, I've been tested for gluten intolerance by an MD and truth be told, my blood results show that I am not intolerant to it. That being said, it is a fact that in my case blood tests weren't telling a true story.
Hashimoto thyroiditis affects 1 to 2 percent of people in the United States and I am one of them. When symptoms related to Hashimoto's thyroiditis were at their peak, I switched my gluten-heavy diet to a plant-based diet, which excluded among other foods, wheat and gluten. As a result, I experienced more than two glorious years of great success in elimination of symptoms as well as lowering my anti-thyroid antibodies (ATA) out of an "autoimmune range."
However randomly, I decided it was time to re-introduce gluten into my diet for 48 hours to monitor the results, and was careful to take notice of recurring symptoms. Here are a few of the immediate physiological reactions that occurred after eating gluten:
- Indigestion - Within minutes finishing my meal, I belched -- indigestion was instantaneous. Belching has not occurred for me since I began practicing proper food-combining and eating a highly plant-based diet. My symptoms of indigestion persisted and led to reflux, heartburn and hiccups for 48 hours.
- Fatigue - When we eat a proper diet we are usually not fatigued. However, when eating a meal that requires work to digest--and gluten is difficult to digest when there's autoimmune disease-- there's an immediate reaction. After eating gluten I had a strong and genuine desire to nap. I ate gluten on two different days just to confirm this feeling. The drowsiness was overwhelming. Concentrating was difficult and I felt a continual and nagging feeling that only closing my eyes and resting could resolve.
- Brain Fog - It is an amazing feat to write once you are symptomatic. My lack of concentration was so off that I found it difficult to compose a sentence. I also felt myself staring off into space or as it's called feeling "spaced out" hours after eating gluten.
- Blurry vision - Blurred vision was an unexpected symptom. I found it difficult to focus my vision an hour or so after eating my first gluten meal in two years. The delayed ability to focus although fleeting, was very disconcerting.
- Dark circles under the eyes. The day after reintroducing gluten back into my diet I woke to see something in the mirror that I hadn't seen in two years -- and it was noticeable. The signs of aging that had been removed with my plant-based diet had immediately returned. Dark circles around the eyes were a prominent indication of food intolerance. If I wasn't certain about my gluten reactions before, this is what sealed the deal for me. There was no questioning the eyes, since eyes do not lie. The skin around my eyes was noticeably darker the day after eating gluten.
- Puffy eyes - another cosmetic and immediately noticeable eye symptom that hadn't appeared in the two years since going plant-based was puffiness under the eyes. However this 'puffiness' returned the day after eating gluten.
- Ruddy complexion - Ever hear of gluten face? It's a noticeable reaction of redness of the cheeks, nose and chin and especially aggravates those that have rosacea. Yeah, I had that.
- Joint pain - Gluten inflated my joints like a balloon. This wasn't an unknown feeling to me. It was one of my biggest symptoms of improper diet and what lead to me correct my diet in the first place. That being said, I was not surprised that joint pain resurfaced hours after eating gluten. Join pain returned in the hips, knees, shoulder and TMJ had returned.
- Cravings - This was by far the most disturbing symptom -- craving more gluten. I opened Pandora's box by stimulating the reward centers of my brain by eating wheat. After forty-eight hours after eating gluten the cravings for more carbohydrates are unrelenting.
- Headaches - Cravings because ignored are being followed up by a mild but consistent headache in the front of the skull. This indicates to me that I have a wheat/gluten addiction. No surprise there.
- Irritability/Anxiety - Becoming irritated with things that wouldn't usually bother me was the most important symptom I experienced. These feelings began one day after reintroducing gluten into my diet. I felt extremely peeved and sensitive to normal situations around me. This made me feel jumpy and "on edge".
- Weight Gain - There was an immediate and unwelcomed weight gain of exactly three pounds on the scale the following morning. This was not unexpected, since eating wheat and gluten are proven in studies to be the cause of weight gain.
A return of the above symptoms was a strong indication for me that gluten intolerance is real. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms I encourage you to re-evaluate your diet, make eliminations and monitor your symptoms. Always, listen to your body and advocate for yourself. Symptoms and the disappearance of them are your body's means of communication. Pay close attention to how your feel, make temporarily eliminations of suspect foods --this is the only way to determine if there's an intolerance since the resulting flare up of symptoms when reintroduced, will be noticeable and instantaneous.