small intestines

One of the symptoms of gluten intolerance, it turns out, is malnutrition. Yup, you read that correctly.

The definition of malnutrition is: The lack of adequate nutrition resulting from insufficient food, unbalanced diet, or defective assimilation. Defective assimilation? What is that and how can that make someone lack adequate nutrition? You may think to yourself, “But I’m eating really healthy, non-processed, clean foods – aren’t I reaping the benefits of all that healthy food?”

Turns out, no, you aren’t. No matter how healthy you may be eating, if you are still ingesting gluten, chances are you may be malnourished and not know it.

So what does defective assimilation really mean? It means that the process of converting absorbed food in the substance of the body is defective. In very generic terms, for those with gluten intolerance, ingesting gluten causes the small intestines to become damaged by the gluten protein. In other words, the disease causes poor absorption by damaging the lining of the small intestine, and stimulates the immune system, which creates an inflammatory reaction. This disorder also causes hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), diarrhea, slow growth in children, and autoimmune diseases such as thyroid disorders and Crohn’s disease.

One of the reasons I sought out a specialist was because of inflammation in my body that was showing up on some blood tests. Previously my OB-GYN had ordered a standard blood test and my CRP (Cardio Reactive Protein) came back as elevated. He didn’t pay much attention to it at the time but then the following year we tested it again and it was even higher. So the specialist ran some nutrition tests on me to see if she could find out what may be causing the inflammation. The nutrition tests came back indicating that I was not absorbing all of the nutrients I was eating in my very healthy food diet.

The next step was to test for food allergies. Yikes, I was “sensitive” to 14 of the 15 foods tested with wheat being one of them. Needless to say, after performing the challenge test and getting tested for gluten intolerance, I had to give up gluten for the rest of my life. As for the other foods I’m sensitive to, I try and limit my intake on most of them. No more corn and very limited potato (some potato starch in gluten-free products).

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