How to know if you have a food intolerance to wheat or gluten

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Is going wheat or gluten-free the secret to a healthy diet? We give you the lowdown...

What do Gwyneth Paltrow, Victoria Beckham and Zooey Deschanel all have in common? They each adhere strictly to a gluten-free diet in order to improve their health.

And it seems the rest of us are jumping on the bandwagon with an estimated 40% of us believing that we are are in some way allergic to or intolerant to gluten and wheat.

But how can we tell if we have an intolerance to wheat? Here's the lowdown...

Gluten is a protein that makes dough rise

Gluten is found in wheat and other grains, including barley and rye. Confusingly, gluten is not naturally occurring in corn, rice, or oats, but is often cross-contaminated by factories that also process wheat, barley, or rye products.

Easy ways to tell if you're gluten intolerant

You need to be aware that the term gluten sensitivity applies to the whole spectrum of disorders where gluten has an adverse effect on the body. Broadly, these can be categorised as follows:

Gluten intolerance:

Coeliac disease affects about one person in every 133. Classic symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, lethargy and weight loss.

Wheat intolerance:

Although it's not entirely understood, experts believe it occurs when people are short of the enzymes necessary for proper digestion. Symptoms include gas, bloating, abdominal cramping, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and fatigue after eating.

The only proper diagnosis for wheat intolerance is to head to your GP who is likely to ask you to keep a food diary. You might also have to go on an elimination diet where you can work out which foods are causing problems.

The health benefits of a gluten free diet

If you are sensitive to gluten or wheat cutting them out will alleviate your symptoms. But experts warn that there is nothing inherently healthier about a gluten-free diet. You can't just wave a magic gluten-free wand and expect to lose weight.

Are you on a gluten-free diet? Tweet us @handbagcom



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