How I Learned the Difference Between Celiac Disease and Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS)
This is the first in a series of short articles I’ll be writing about my journey towards a gluten-free lifestyle. As I first began to experience gluten-related problems, I started researching to learn more about celiac which led me to eliminating gluten from my diet.
While a gluten-free diet is not easy, it will improve your health, well being, and happiness.
The first step in your journey is to recognize your own symptoms. Record your indicators and research possible causes. Through research, you may discover that your pains align with the symptoms of Celiac disease. These symptoms could include abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhea, constipation, fatigue, foggy mind, depression, aches, ADHD-like behavior, and headaches.
Next, start keeping a food journal, which lists what foods you ate and any unusual symptoms that follow. Take time to evaluate your food journal. Look for links between wheat-containing foods and symptoms. Of course, it’s always a good idea to speak to a healthcare professional and make them are aware of your concerns.
After consultation your doctor may recommend you for a Celiac blood-screening test. After several anxious days of waiting, your results will arrive. If you are positive for Celiac Disease, your doctor will outline the next steps necessary to protect your health, including a strict gluten-free diet. It’s also possible that you only have a gluten sensitivity, or NCGS (Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity).
People with NCGS often experience Celiac-like symptoms. While NCGS does not lead to small-intestine damage like Celiac Disease their sufferer does still have negative physical responses. One common symptom is grogginess.
Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
If you fall in the latter category, you’ll find limited medical information. Unfortunately, NCGS is a newly discovered condition, so scientists know little about it. As you begin to search for guidance on how to pursue a new lifestyle, you may become discouraged.
How are you supposed to live a happy, healthy life without any medical guidance on your condition? After scanning dozens of websites for answers, only one approach emerges . . . eliminate gluten from your diet.
Gluten Free Diet
Though not everyone has a noticeable reaction to their gluten intake, the reality is that gluten is not healthy. What does this mean exactly?
It means you will need to start looking at label ingredients for all your processed foods. The most common ingredient containing gluten is wheat but also rye, barley and malt. Depending upon the severity of your reaction you may need to be hyper-vigilante.
Unfortunately, a “Gluten-free” label does not necessarily mean zero gluten, it simply means that it tests to below 20 parts per million of gluten.
As you begin you may be shocked at how many of your favorite foods contain gluten. But take heart . . . every day great strides are being made to create gluten-free alternatives and an increasing number of restaurants offer gluten-free items on their menus.
I will be posting additional articles regarding my ventures into the world of gluten-free. I hope to learn more about healthy living and eating, and I hope you will gain some insights from my journey, as well.
Please refer to Celiac.org, the official website of The Celiac Foundation, for further details.
Some other reading you might find helpful includes: