MyHealthChecked’s registered UK nutritionist Isabela Ramos Podboi first clarified what gluten is, which foods it can be found in, and the symptoms it can lead to.
“Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye that plays a crucial role in the texture and structure of baked goods, giving them elasticity and chewiness,” said Isabela.
“It is commonly found in foods that contain flour such as breads, pasta, cereals, cakes and biscuits.”
Gluten can also be found in some:
- Stock cubes
- Soy sauce
“For many individuals, the consumption of foods containing gluten is associated with adverse intestinal and extraintestinal symptoms,” Isabella added.
Gastrointestinal symptoms can include:
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Flatulence (excessive gas)
- Diarrhoea or chronic diarrhoea
Extraintestinal symptoms can include:
- Joint pain
- Mood changes (irritability, depression, anxiety)
- Skin problems (rashes, eczema)
- Neurological symptoms (such as numbness or tingling).
Those who are intolerant to gluten may experience symptoms within an hour of eating foods containing gluten.
However, other people could experience a delayed gluten reaction, where symptoms can take up to 12 hours – or more – to surface.
What causes a gluten intolerance?
Isabella said: “Variants in specific genes known as HLA-DQ are associated with a substantially increased risk of being intolerant to gluten.
“Taking a genetic gluten intolerance test may help determine whether you carry the genetic variants that could lead to the potential development of gluten intolerance.”
The test could also reveal if you have the genetic variations that put you at increased risk of developing coeliac disease.
Coeliac disease is the “most severe type of gluten intolerance”, which is an autoimmune condition.
Isabella explained: “Coeliac disease, an autoimmune condition whereby the consumption of gluten triggers an inappropriate immune response and the production of antibodies that damage the small intestine.
“This can lead to inflammation, improper digestion and the malabsorption of nutrients.”
If you discover you have a genetic risk for a gluten intolerance, Isabella said to “consult your doctor for additional tests”.
MyHealthChecked at-home health and wellbeing tests are available online and in-store at Boots.