How do I know if I am sensitive to gluten?
There are a number of things you can do to test if you have a gluten sensitivity:
- Elimination Diet
This is where you eliminate all gluten for a short period of time (2 to 4 weeks) and see how you feel. But, for this test to work you MUST eliminate ALL (that’s 100%) of gluten from your diet–no exceptions, not a single crumb.
Then after the elimination period is up, try reintroducing gluten. Eat it again and see what happens. If you feel bad/sub-optimal/have any sort of reaction at all, you need to stay off gluten permanently. It will also teach you about the impact gluten has on your body.
- Medical Testing
There are gluten sensitivity/celiac disease tests that are available through your doctor (or through referrals). These tests help to identify the different forms of allergy/sensitivity to gluten:
- IgA anti-gliadin antibodies
- IgG anti-gliadin antibodies
- IgA anti-endomysial antibodies
- Tissue transglutaminase antibody (IgA and IgG in questionable cases)
- Total IgA antibodies
- HLA DQ2 and DQ8 genotyping for celiac disease (used occasionally to detect genetic susceptibility).
- Intestinal biopsy (rarely needed if gluten antibodies are positive)
But remember – like when testing for an autoimmune disease, any elevation of antibodies is significant and worth trying gluten elimination. Doctors may consider elevated anti-gliadin antibodies in the absence of a positive intestinal biopsy showing damage to be “false positives”, meaning the test looks positive but really aren’t significant. However, positive is positive and, as with all illness, there is a continuum of disease, from mild gluten sensitivity, full-blown celiac disease, and other autoimmune diseases.
Without sounding too extreme – wheat and other gluten containing grains really should be avoided at all costs for us suffering from autoimmune diseases. And trust us, after a while, you don’t feel like you are missing out – and there are plenty of yummy grain-free recipes out there!