A Gala of Gluten
It’s true: Gluten is everywhere. Stop at a coffee shop and you will be presented with many eye-catching treats, breads and pastries that are guaranteed to have it in there somewhere. Fortunately, for those of us with gluten intolerance, gluten-free options are becoming more common. Gluten is a protein found in wheat. It causes extreme inflammation for some people once they ingest it. The largest source of gluten is wheat, although it is also in brewer’s yeast, spelt, farro, barley, rye and malt.
What Qualifies as Gluten Intolerance?
Originally, those sensitive to gluten were thought to have celiac disease. While all people with celiac disease are gluten intolerant, not everyone with gluten intolerance has celiac disease. You do not have to have celiac disease to have issues with gluten. Celiac disease involves an exaggerated immune response to the wheat protein gluten. This is the most severe type of gluten intolerance and can lead to gut and intestinal damage. The symptoms of celiac disease and gluten intolerance often overlap. Some also refer to gluten intolerance as gluten sensitivity, in which the symptoms are milder than those of celiac disease. Mild gluten intolerance symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, fatigue and even depression. If you suspect there is a gluten issue at hand, definitely consult with your doctor.
Diagnosing Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance
Non-celiac related problems with gluten do not stem from an auto-immune condition, so they can be difficult to diagnose and easy to overlook. While celiac disease is genetic, non-celiac gluten sensitivity is not inherited and can develop at any stage in one’s life.
Good Grief, Gluten
Getting diagnosed with a non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not have to be a cause for grief. It may be difficult for you to adjust, especially if this condition developed later in your life. However, breaking a habit and replacing it with a new habit can be extremely beneficial to one’s health if done right. It is actually quite common to develop gluten intolerance during middle age. It might be hard to be strictly gluten-free at this point in one’s life, but it is absolutely vital that you do so, so that your symptoms do not become exacerbated.
A Late Diagnosis
Our dietary systems do change as we age. However, if you were diagnosed with gluten intolerance during middle age, it might be possible that you struggled with gluten intolerance your whole life and just were not aware of it. Even so, the gut microbiome changes as we age. Over time, the gut can become more sensitive and vulnerable to damage. Avoiding gluten can encourage the growth of a healthy microbiome, reduce inflammation and promote longevity in those who suffer from non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Digestion as We Age
We all know that things begin to lose their luster with age. Everything also begins to lag. The digestive system is not immune to this. As we age, our hormones change and, as a result, so do the inner-workings of the digestive system. Digestion can also become significantly slower with age. Just because age might be a factor in your gut issues, it does not mean that the issues should be ignored or shrugged off. Luckily, your digestion can be improved no matter what stage of life you are currently in. Eliminating gluten might make you feel better than ever.
Growth After Gluten Intolerance
Getting a diagnosis does not mean that you can’t still have fun or get creative with your food. You can still go out to eat; you just have to be more careful with your selections. Do your research! Some restaurants exist solely to cater to those who cannot consume gluten. Instead of filling up the pantry with a bunch of wheat products, stock it with nuts and gluten-free flours like almond flour. A quick internet search can also provide you with a plethora of ideas for gluten-free baking. Aging is not so bad after all!
If your gut is giving you grief, please contact your doctor or other licensed medical professionals immediately.