Gluten Sensitivity

September 30, 2014
Baked goods contain gluten.  Gluten is a protein.

Baked goods contain gluten. Gluten is a protein.

Nothing says comfort like a big plate of pasta or some warm bread before your meal.  For those of us that suffer from gluten sensitivity, bread and pasta made with wheat can wreck havoc on our emotional well being and health.  So you ask, what is gluten anyway?  Isn't this gluten-free diet the latest craze everyone is talking about?  Gluten is a protein composite that acts as glue to hold together baked products.  Gluten is found in wheat, rye, barley, spelt, kamut, and bulgar.  It's one of the most common additives used in processed foods, personal care products, supplements, and medications, just to name a few.

Much like dairy, many people can have an allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance to gluten.  An allergy usually indicates the presence of celiac disease.  Celiac disease is an auto-immune disorder where gluten causes damage to the small intestine. 

A sensitivity and/or intolerance to gluten can result in a host of symptoms in children, which include:

  • Constipation and/or diarrhea
    Chicken skin (Keratosis Pilaris)

    Chicken skin (Keratosis Pilaris)

  • Gas
  • Emotional labilty (very sensitive one minute and aggressive the next)
  • Fatigue
  • Hyperactivity
  • Bloated stomach
  • Chicken skin (Keratosis Pilaris)
  • Dark circles under the eyes (shiners)

** Some of these symptoms are in the literature, and others we have observed over time as clinicians. Children have a difficult time indicating where they have pain, or they may not be able to identify when something isn't right.  Children with gluten sensitivity are all over the board.  They can display these symptoms up to a week after being exposed to gluten. 

A sensitivity and/or intolerance to gluten can result in the following symptoms in adults:

  • Fatigue
  • Bloated stomach
  • Joint aches
  • Dizziness
  • Chicken skin (Keratosis Pilaris)
  • Lower stomach cramps
  • Chronic ear ringing (Tinnitus)
  • Migraines
  • Hormonal imbalance
A little wired.

A little wired!

Unfortunately, all the symptoms listed can actually be linked to other illnesses and diseases.  This is one of the reasons food sensitivities/intolerances are so hard to pinpoint.  Another reason is that because there is a delayed reaction, it can take up to 3 days for the reaction to occur (some of our parents report that behavioral changes can last up to a week in those children who have been "glutened").  The reaction can be behavioral, physical, or emotional, it really is specific to the individual.  Gluten causes internal inflammation.  Over time, if we are sensitive or intolerant to gluten, our guts become leaky and eventually we can develop many food sensitivities and intolerance as the proteins leak into the blood stream. 

If you suspect your child (or you) has a sensitivity to gluten, it is recommended you remove gluten from the diet for 2 weeks.  Some of our parents have seen changes within 1-2 days of removal of gluten.  Keep in mind, your child may actually be addicted to gluten, so initially you might see some aggressive behaviors, as they're not getting their "fix".  It will get better.  One last thing...we all crave the thing(s) we are most sensitive too.  What does your child crave?  We never know what is causing various behaviors in our children.  One thing I always say to parents is that behaviors are forms of communication - what is your child trying to tell you? 

Click here for a list of foods containing gluten.

Thanks for reading!

The information contained within this blog is for informational purposes only.  If you suspect your child may have a food allergy, sensitivity, or intolerance, talk to you doctor about dietary interventions and research the various options available. 

185 S. Marley Rd. New Lenox, IL 60451