The gluten free diet has been brought to our attention due to the increased number of people diagnosed with gluten sensitivity or celiac disease, numbers that are approaching epidemic proportions. Symptoms ranging from bloating, stomach cramping, diarrhea and fatigue plague those affected. The conditions stem from the inability to tolerate gluten. The condition can cause damage to the villi in the intestines leading to mal-absorption of nutrients in foods or supplements (can eventually lead to anemia). This in turn opens the door to other health-threatening problems.

Gluten sensitivity can also manifest as skin disorders, digestive disorders, neurological disorders and others making it difficult to diagnose. In some individuals there are no symptoms, while others experience migraines and tingling in the arms or legs. The only known way to prevent the damage and symptoms of gluten sensitivity or celiac disease is to eliminate gluten from the diet. No small task considering gluten is found in wheat, barley, and rye; it is often a hidden ingredient in the most unlikely foods. Sensitive individuals need to scan labels diligently to prevent accidental exposure to gluten. Sometimes the level of sensitivity is such that even a minute amount of gluten in a personal care product is enough to cause problems; in some cases as severe as if a gluten-containing food had been consumed.

It is believed a large number of autistic individuals or individuals with behavior problems are sensitive to gluten. In this group the symptoms are often more serious than in the general population with gluten-related health issues. In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, autistic or behavior challenged individuals might also suffer from digestive disorders, constipation and leaky gut syndrome. In the case of autistic individuals many studies have proven that gluten produces opiate-like effects, causing many of them to self-limit their diet to gluten-containing foods. They usually experience withdrawal type symptoms when gluten is removed from the diet. To these individuals gluten is toxic to their brains.

Years ago being on a gluten free diet was very difficult. The lack of quality products and the difficulty in finding gluten free items made it quite a feat. Finding baked goods was especially difficult. Breads were often dense and spoiled easily. Not to mention the fact the texture was often strange and so was the taste. Those on the diet had to make many of their own foods. Baked foods meant mixing different flours to achieve a wheat-like consistency. Currently it is easier to implement a gluten-free diet due to the influx of new products on the market. Many tasty choices abound whereas years ago it was hard to find anything considered edible. Vegan and products labeled gluten free are readily available. Gluten free restaurants have sprung up all over the US, some with many favorable reviews. Gluten free bakeries have also appeared on the radar with scrumptious confections that rival gluten-containing baked goods. With the onset of resources geared to those on a gluten-free diet, being on the diet is no longer an anomaly.

Upon implementing a gluten free diet, many people often report an immediate elimination of symptoms and some experience a lifting of what they considered ‘brain fog’. In the case of the autistic or those with behavioral problems, marked improvement is observed in behavior, attention and mood. In many eye contact is again established and they become more sociable. Other health conditions improve or are eliminated while on the gluten free diet. To gluten has also been attributed the high incidence of inflammatory issues, some of which can lead to disease. If one experiences symptoms that they cannot find a source of, eliminating gluten from the diet is a good start. Since there is a considerable delay in the diagnosis of gluten sensitivity, eliminating gluten from the diet is worth a try to see if one’s symptoms improve.

Author's Bio: 

Hilda is a mother of three who embarked on a journey to improve her daughter's health. She implemented the diet to improve the prognosis after her daughter was diagnosed as autistic. Please visit her website