If you’ve started eating gluten-free because you often feel sick to your stomach, you may have celiac disease, non-celiac gluten sensitivity, or another chronic health condition you’re trying to get under control with this diet.
If you’re still feeling sick on a gluten-free diet, you may think it doesn’t work and you might as well just give up.
Hold out for a little while longer, and discover some common reasons you’re still getting sick even though you follow a gluten-free diet.
1. You’re Still Eating Gluten (By Mistake)
If you’re just starting a gluten-free diet, you may not realize it’s not only about cutting out bread, cookies, pasta, and other foods with “obvious” gluten in them. There are hidden sources of gluten that you may never have thought of. For example, gluten might be concealed in barbeque sauce, ketchup, mustard, and soy products, as some of these condiments may use gluten as a preservative or thickener.
Another overlooked source of gluten is prescription and over-the-counter medications. Talk with your pharmacist or get in touch with the manufacturer of the medications you take to determine if gluten is used as a binding agent or filler or if there could be a possibility of cross-contamination during production.
Similarly, it is important to check your vitamin supplements to be sure they are not the hidden culprit.
2. Your Food Is Being Cross-Contaminated
If you’re following a gluten-free diet, but you’re still getting sick, you might be overlooking cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when a food that ordinarily does not have gluten in comes into contact with a food that does contain gluten.
This could be from hands touching wheat flour and then touching your gluten-free flour, a spoon used to stir wheat pasta also being used to stir your gluten-free pasta, or a knife that has just been used to spread butter on wheat bread now being used to spread jam on your gluten-free toast.
If you’ve ruled out all possible sources of hidden gluten, talk with your spouse, partner, or housemate. It’s possible that they are accidentally cross-contaminating your food but are just not aware of it.
In addition, clearly label your gluten-free food and avoid sharing pop-up toasters (use a toaster oven instead).
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3. You’ve Haven’t Been Gluten-Free Long Enough
If you’re gluten-free but still sick, it could be that your intestines haven’t yet recovered from the damage they’ve sustained.
Many people make the mistake of quitting a gluten-free diet within weeks or months of trying it believing that the diet does not “work”.
The truth is, it can take six months to a year for a severely ravaged digestive system to heal completely from chronic inflammation, especially if that inflammation has been present for decades.
Keep plugging away. You should notice a difference soon.
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4. You’re Allergic/Sensitive to Other Foods
If you don’t notice a difference, you might be experiencing an additional food allergy. For example, maybe you’re lactose intolerant, sensitive to soy, allergic to food dyes, or intolerant to corn, just to name a few.
If you’ve only been following a gluten-free diet for a month or so, you might want to wait a bit longer until your gastrointestinal system has calmed from the chronic inflammation.
However, if you just want to get started right away, begin by cutting other common food allergens from your diet, as well.
These foods include:
Nuts and Seeds
So the food elimination process doesn’t become overwhelming (and you get more accurate results), choose one food at a time to cut out along with gluten. Avoid the food for one month to check for an improvement in your symptoms, then add the food back in.
Do this once each month with a different food to discover which food(s) are causing a reaction.
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5. You Have Poor Digestion
People with gluten intolerance experience chronic inflammation in their gastrointestinal system when they are exposed to the protein. This inflammatory process affects the ability of your gut to properly absorb nutrients.
If you are still experiencing brain fog, stomach cramps, sinus issues, muscle aches, and other symptoms of gluten sensitivity even though you’re following a gluten-free diet, it could be due to poor digestion in a gut that has been ravaged by disease.
Adding a digestive enzyme supplement to your diet can help improve your digestion, reduce inflammation, and ease troubling symptoms. You might also consider adding a probiotic to your diet to increase “friendly” bacteria in your gut.
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6. You Have Leaky Gut Syndrome
Another common issue that can develop among those with gluten intolerance is leaky gut syndrome. Leaky gut syndrome means the lining of your intestines are more permeable than they should be, allowing the entry of undigested food particles, bacteria, and viruses into your blood, which can trigger an inflammatory response.
Leaky gut syndrome can be treated naturally with turmeric, digestive enzymes, and probiotics.
Learn more about leaky gut syndrome by reading Dr. Axe’s best-selling book, Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be the Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It . Click on the link below to get your copy!
7. You Have Another Digestive Disorder
If you’ve ruled out all of the previous issues, an additional digestive disorder is what might be making you sick. You could be suffering from acid reflux, parasites, Crohn’s disease, diverticular disease, or inflammatory bowel disease.
Some of these conditions are very common in gluten-sensitive individuals, so it’s a good idea to do an additional check-up to rule them out or add to your treatment plan.
To give an example, if you discover you have diverticular disease or colitis, seeds, nuts, and berries could be causing you to still feel sick even though you’re strictly following a gluten-free diet.
If, after all this, you still feel sick, go back to your gastroenterologist or seek a second opinion. You might need some additional stool and blood tests to understand why you’re not feeling better.
Chronic stomach pain, nausea, and other gastrointestinal symptoms can be incredibly frustrating to deal with, and their cause difficult to pinpoint.
Don’t give up.
A gluten-free diet isn’t always the only answer to these issues. You may need to dig a bit deeper, but with each cause you rule out, you’ll get closer to the truth, and a healthier, happier version of you.