You may choose to remove gluten from your diet in hopes that it will clear up some of your digestive complaints or even your neurological symptoms. Other people may choose to remove all grains from their diet to improve digestion during a complete detoxification. And yet others may be under medical orders to remove gluten indefinitely, because of a diagnosis of celiac disease. Regardless of why and how long gluten is removed, you may experience a range of symptoms---positive and negative. No collection and intensity of symptoms will be exactly the same. As with any major dietary changes, consult your health care provider first.
Consumption of gluten triggers production of exorphins, which are opiate chemicals with similar results as endorphins—promoting feelings of calm. Pamela Compart and Dana Laake explain how in some people, gluten and/or casein can mimic opiates, such as morphine and heroin. When these foods are removed, intense cravings and even drug withdrawal-like symptoms can result. 2”
- Consumption of gluten triggers production of exorphins, which are opiate chemicals with similar results as endorphins—promoting feelings of calm.
Atkins and Rashes
Weight gain or loss may result from removing gluten. Consuming allergenic food can result in water weight gain or edema as the body utilizes fluid as a protective barrier to the allergen. However, in others gluten induces weight loss from malabsorption of nutrients as a result of damage to the villi of the intestine.
Toxic Release and Skin Conditions
The worsening or development of a skin condition, such as rashes, hives, and acne signal that toxins are coming out through the skin as part of detoxification. As the burden on the liver diminishes and digestive capabilities improve by removing food allergens/sensitivities, the body may start to release and eliminate other toxins.
Elimination of problematic foods may eliminate or improve the skin condition.
Muscle and Joint Pain
Lucky Charms Cereal & Gluten
When gluten is consumed with an allergy or sensitivity present, immune complexes are formed that get deposited in the joints, which results in painful inflammation, achy joints or arthralgia, rheumatoid arthritis, and other forms of arthritis such as:
- inflammatory polyarthropathy,
- Behcet’s syndrome
Headaches are a common symptom from food sensitivities that commonly disappear with elimination of gluten. Brostoff and Gamlin report that 70 percent of patients with migraine headaches stop getting them with removal of allergenic foods. Once the trigger foods were removed, the migraines stopped. Consuming nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs for the pain of headaches will result in the same cycle of pain, inflammation, and intestinal permeability as explained in the muscle and joint pain section.
- Headaches are a common symptom from food sensitivities that commonly disappear with elimination of gluten.
- Brostoff and Gamlin report that 70 percent of patients with migraine headaches stop getting them with removal of allergenic foods.
According to Dr. Maios Hadjivassiliou, an internationally recognized gluten researcher, gluten intolerance is manifesting as neurological symptoms instead of digestive complaints in more and more patients. Just as with physical symptoms, these may clear up with removal of the suspect food/s.
Bed-wetting and Incontinence
Consuming problematic foods induces smooth muscle contractions, including those on the wall of the bladder. Therefore, Brostoff and Gamlin contend that eliminating problematic foods may eliminate bed-wetting and incontinence.
Removing allergenic foods frees up the immune system to fight other attackers, such as unwanted bacteria, viruses, mold and parasites. Eliminating gluten may improve the body’s ability to deal with environmental allergens and get rid of or prevent colds.
Brostoff and Gamlin note that fatigue may be one of the most common and earliest symptoms to develop from food intolerances 1. Fatigue can be a result of an overextended immune system draining the adrenals.
Hot and Cold Flashes
According to Lipski, one-third of Americans experience “heartburn” frequently, but food allergies and sensitivities are rarely considered.
Atkins and Rashes
Lucky Charms Cereal & Gluten
What Are the Phases of Withdrawal from Gluten?
No Wheat or Dairy Diet
Thyroid Disease & Food to Stay Away From
Weight Gain, Gluten Intolerance and Constant Hunger
Is Monosodium Glutamate a Gluten?
Is Soy Protein Isolate Gluten Free?
Wheat Gluten & Heartburn
Does Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Contain Gluten?
- “Food Allergies and Food Intolerance: The Complete Guide to Their Identification and Treatment”; Jonathan Brostoff, MD, Linda Gamlin; 2000
- “The Diet Cure”; Julia Ross, MA; 2000
- “The Kid-Friendly ADHD & Autism Cookbook: The Ultimate Guide to the Gluten-Free, Cassein-Free Diet”; Pamela Compart, MD, Dana Laake, RDH, MS, LDN; 2009
- “Digestive Wellness”; Elizabeth Lipski, PhD, CCN; 2005
- “Lancet” journal; Treatment of Active Crohn’s Disease by Exclusion Diet: an East Anglian Multicentre Controlled Trial; Riordan AM et al.; 1993
- “The Lancet Neurology” journal; Gluten Sensitivity: From Gut to Brain; Marios Hadjivassiliou MD, David S Sanders MD, Richard A Grünewald phD, Phil, Nicola Woodroofe PhD, Sabrina Boscolo PhD, Daniel Aeschlimann PhD; March 2010
- Ye, E. Q., Chacko, S. A., Chou, E. L., Kugizaki, M., & Liu, S. (2012). Greater whole-grain intake is associated with lower risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and weight gain. The Journal of Nutrition, 142(7), 1304-1313.
- Bizzaro, N., Tozzoli, R., Villalta, D., Fabris, M., & Tonutti, E. (2012). Cutting-edge issues in celiac disease and in gluten intolerance. Clinical Reviews in Allergy & Immunology, 42(3), 279-287.
Katie Bauer has been a writer for more than 13 years. Her work has appeared in “Edible Front Range,” “Live Well 2” and “Green Frog Walking: Holistic Medicine and Natural Cures Health Magazine." Bauer is a certified Nutrition Educator from Bauman College, a certified Clinical Herbalist through the Academy of Scottish Herbalism, and a certified Healing Foods Chef through the School of Natural Cookery.