what even is gluten & 5 signs you should be gluten-free

So, what’s the skinny on gluten? And why does it seem like suddenly everyone’s gluten-free. Actually, for starters – what the hell even is it?

According to the brainiacs over at Harvard, gluten is just a protein usually found in grains. It’s what makes pizza dough stretchy enough for the perfect toss and what keeps a loaf of bread… loafing. Think of it as like a glue… ten. Get it? Glu… ten.

Gluten’s Big 3 (not zodiac, sorry – but it’s kind of giving water sign energy)?

  • Barley (yes, as in beer and malt)
  • Wheat (breads, pastas, and a few more of our favorite things *Mary Poppins voice*)
  • Rye (self-explanatory – love a good pumpernickel)

So, gluten is found in pretty much everything we know and love (when it comes to carbs). And as Carbie Barbies, we find this to be quite upsetting. Because… should I be gluten-free?

How to Know If/When to Kick Gluten:

Believe it or not, there are actually tell-tale signs of gluten intolerance (we know, it sucks 😭). Here are a few that many people experience:

 

1). Constipation & Diarrhea

Along with other digestive issues, like bloating and gas – this is a fairly common occurrence in those of us who are sensitive to gluten. You may also notice that your poops are a tad smellier than usual (we know – no talking about poop at the dinner table, but it’s good to note)!

 

2). Headaches

We know what you’re thinking… a slice of bread causing a headache?! Yeah, sounds nuts. But, the link between gluten and headaches (in those of us that are gluten-sensitive) has literally been studied for years and now, scientists think they have a pretty good idea of the connection between the two. Keep that in mind the next time you have a post-meal headache!

 

3). Cramps

This one is fairly obvious – of course, due to the body having a hard time digesting the protein, cramping can be a pretty common symptom. Your doctor can actually prescribe medicine to help alleviate this symptom, but if it turns out the underlying issue is gluten, of course a gluten-free diet is going to be the #1 remedy.

 

4). Fatigue

This mostly relates to nutrient absorption, or lack thereof, which often results in iron deficiency anemia, which often results in fatigue.

 

5). Anxiety & Depression

Another “believe it or not” moment – people with gluten-intolerance appear to be more prone to depression and anxiety than those that aren’t. Crazy, right? There have even been studies where participants noted feeling better (mentally) after making the switch over to a gluten-free diet.

So, What Do I Do Now?

Firstly, ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

If your gut (literally) says something’s off, listen to it. Talk to your doctor about it. If it turns out everything’s okay – awesome! If you think you need a second opinion, don’t be afraid to DO JUST THAT. Your body will thank you for it, we promise.

And if it turns out you may actually need to make the switch to gluten-free, no worries – it’s not the end of the world. We’ll even lend a hand and hook you up with the yummiest gluten-free recipes on Earth.

Let us know your thoughts! And if you have any killer recipes to share, drop ‘em in the comments and help out your fellow gluten-free babe!

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