Can you Suddenly Become Gluten Intolerant?

1303297840_c14c1ac098_o

So its been an interesting month for me. Over the past few months I’ve been feeling very fatigued, and no matter how much sleep I got I couldn’t get energy. I thought that I was just getting older, trying to do too much, or just not sleeping well (i’m a very light sleeper). Then about a month ago my joints started to be really painful, stiff and cracking a lot more. I also noticed that I kept feeling like my body needed water, even though I was drinking enough (I wear contacts so my eyes are a good judge of if I need water as they dry up faster). I had zero energy and my mind couldn’t focus and felt clouded.

So I started reading into these symptoms myself online, got some blood work done, talked to health care providers and naturopathic doctors and the end result is that I have suddenly developed a gluten intolerance. Now this came as a shock since I’ve loved my gluten all my life and never had an issue, but the symptoms explained it. The only way to get better was to cut gluten out of my diet.

From that day I worked on eating completely gluten free. I also went dairy free and refined sugar free to help with the joint inflammation (for now – I really like my milk).

Its been a hard road, totally changing my eating style. I was the person who ate a homemade breakfast sandwich or cereal for breakfast, salad or sandwich for lunch and lots of gluten-filled things for dinner (pasta and whatnot). So its a total change in our household now.

I’ve also experimented with gluten to see what it does and what it effects once i’m off it for a few days. After the first 3 days of non-gluten I feel a lot better. No grogginess, joints feel better, head’s clearer. But as soon as I touch gluten, I’m out. This past weekend I had gluten-filled pizza and beers (birthday party where that was the only food). By the next day I was hurting, and it took three days to get back to feeling better again. So now I know my timeline for recovery is about 3 days.

I know that it could take months for my body to ‘heal’ itself from the gluten attack. Essentially, my intestines need to recover to work better and get more nutrients into me. I’ll explain my new diet in following blog post, but I’m going as nutrient-rich as I can to help push be back to normal.

But enough about me. Here’s a bit of an explanation on how you can suddenly become gluten intolerant.

What is a Gluten Intolerance?

Essentially, gluten intolerance could be three things: the onset of celiac disease, non-celiac gluten allergy, or a basic wheat allergy. Overall, these are all a response to eating gluten and your body not liking it. Gluten itself is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. People who are gluten intolerant have an abnormal immune response when the gluten is broken down through digestion.

When you’re gluten intolerant, your body sees gluten as the enemy, and when its in your digestion, your body goes to war on it with a number of antibodies. In this process, the walls of your intestines can’t absorb as many nutrients as normal. In cases of Celiac Disease, the walls of your intestines can then allow bad things to go through them, which cause more problems. When we’re talking about non-Celiac intolerance, this ‘leakage’ allows antibodies to escape your intestines and they go onto attack things that they shouldn.  This then causes the rest of the body to react as if its been infected, which causes the joint pain, fatigue, inability to concentrate and more.

Genes

That’s right. Blame your parents. If you’re finding yourself on the losing side of gluten, there’s a good chance its been passed down to you. This doesn’t mean your parents are suffering too, it sometimes needs a ‘trigger moment’, but its likely that they carry the gene that can make you gluten intolerant.

What does this mean for your own (current or future) children? Get them eating healthy from the start. Keep gluten out of the diet or just as a minor part, unless they show signs of the intolerance as well.

Trigger Moment

For sudden onset gluten intolerance, normally there was a trigger point that caused your body to change. This isn’t literally a moment in life, but can be a number of things put together. Bad eating habits, stress, sudden worry (ie: losing a loved one), a relationship change, illness, etc, are all possible causes for your body to wreak havoc on itself as it tries to adjust to whatever is happening. There is also a chance in pregnant women to develop gluten intolerance.

For myself, I believe it was a month of travelling that I did in May – not sleeping well in weird beds, not eating healthy (you have to try all the local foods!), long days of walking, etc. My body had to cope with these stresses and most likely this is when my trigger moment happened.

General Symptoms

As I stated above, my symptoms included severe fatigue, joint pain and stiffness, dryness and lack of focus. These are fairly common symptoms of a gluten allergy. There are an estimated 300 different symptoms that can be associated with gluten intolerance. Beyond what I experienced, here’s a few more symptoms that are most common:

  • ‘foggy mind’
  • bloating
  • constipation
  • consistent diarrhea (especially in the days after eating gluten)
  • headaches or migraines
  • sudden weight loss or weight gain
  • depression-like symptoms
  • ADHD-like symptoms
  • irritability
  • lack of muscle control
  • and the list goes on.

 

Testing for Yourself

If you think you may have a gluten intolerance, its best to check with your doctor, nutritionist or a naturopath, but if you have to wait, the easiest way to test is to totally stop eating anything that contains gluten and see how you feel. This could take a few days to a month to really feel better. If you can do it for a full month and you’re feeling better, then test by consuming gluten and seeing if you react to it. If your body goes back to the same symptoms then it is a gluten intolerance. Because of the severity of Celiac Disease, be sure to get tested by your doctor. Especially if you’re experiences severe stomach pains, bloating and diarrhea.

Final Steps

Research, research, research. There is a lot of great Gluten Free Reading Resources available. And a lot of websites that list what foods contain gluten. There is a really big push in society to make things gluten free, and you’ll find that most supermarkets have a full gluten-free section. Restaurants also now include a gluten free menu (or symbol on their menu).

Starting a good, balanced diet is key here. You don’t have to limit yourself to just eating celery for the rest of your life. You just need to be conscious about what you buy and eat. There are many gluten-free websites that list great recipes, and a lot of good alternative foods are now available to help with the cravings for bread and cookies.

 

 Update: I’ve written a few more posts about my journey going gluten free and healing your gut while gluten intolerant:

4 Essential Ways to Heal Your Gut After Going Gluten Free

A Gluten-free Diet and Unexpected Weight Loss

 

 

I’d love to hear if you’re new to gluten-free eating, and what your experience has been. Or if you think you may be gluten intolerant and you’re planning your next steps. Let us see your comments below!

 

 

Header image by Sonja Pieper

Note: The article above may contain affiliate links to Amazon.com. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

15 Replies to “Can you Suddenly Become Gluten Intolerant?”

  1. A good digestive enzyme and glutamine can help. Good luck!

  2. This is actually similar to my story. I had two children 14 months apart. By the time my youngest was one, I felt just sick all the time. Got blood work done and it turns out I’m not only allergic to wheat (so, not celiac disease) but also dairy, eggs, fermented products, fungus,
    yeast along with several nuts.
    Sometimes I slip up and there’s always hell to pay, lol.

  3. I am going through this right now. It is also a big mind thing for me. I feel so deprived not eating my favorite gluten filled foods but I always feel so crappy after eating them. I need to get past it!

  4. This certainly rings a bell with me too. I am dairy intolerant, but my husband started to get ill in his 60s. Tired all the time and almost constant stomach issues. He cut gluten out of his diet and started to feel much better. Not got a test done, but we are pretty sure he his gluten intolerant. Prior to this he had no health issues.

  5. Hey!! I am currently in the same boat. Sucks .. I have always been a gluten rich filled person.. pasta, bread, flour tortillas (being Mexicana doesn’t help at all). I started to feel sick to my stomach randomly.. this was all day stomach ache. I would always when sick force myself to eat thinking if I get food in me it will flush out with the food…. which I was growing up was told its always bread or bread like food.. WRONG!! I would be sick for days sometimes 2 weeks at a time so bad I thought I was pregnant. I would go to the doctor and they would just give me some anti acid medication and send me on my way.. the medicine eased it but didn’t take it away. I would then eat a few days of homemade soup.. no gluten bread.. it would clear up and I would always pass it off as stomach bug or acid reflux. I also have anxiety that gets heightened at random times.. I am a military spouse and as you can imagine the stress that goes along with that. My doctors would always just pass it off as anxiety triggered acid reflux. I always was embarrassingly gassy all the time and foul death smelling gas. hehehe. I never really had solid stools always partialy solid or loose. I again assumed and so did my doctors that this also came along with anxiety. I had been trying to lose weight for so long I would lose about 3 and stay there… I would do programs I never drink soda.. I always drink water, I cook everyday. I even cut out all processed foods well about 97% not counting boxed pasta and cereal. I have kids lol so I would get the whole organic anything that was pantry stored. Anyways I did a complete 180 on our inside food I cooked every meal we ate down to homemade pizza and sauce.. I did it all baking was all homemade everything. my grocery shopping was always meats dairy and veggies and fruits. still no weight loss, again this was written off as anxiety , I have heavy menstral cycles and would become anemic during them and a few days after.. I was seen by specialist who couldn’t figure anuthing out did blood work and my sugar was not even close to being pre diabetic, my good cholesterol was hig and bad was super low. on paper I looked like I was in tip top shape my docs were shocked to see that the only thing was wrong was my anemia and low in a vew vitamins.. b12 and d. I went on a no carb diet to see if I just couldn’t process carbs… I lost 6 lbs in 2 weeks… I was like omg maybe I just can lower my carbs because who can cut carbs all together I did no rice potatoes nothing.. as soon as I reintroduced them back in low amounts I gained all the weight back. I was stumped at what was going on. So my symptoms were stomach upset, acid reflux, inability to lose weight, my hands would tingle pins and needles after I ate a big amount pasta pizza or whatever,would be super tired, always sleepy, unable to lose weight loose bowels and gas,. I took it upon myself to research. bumped gluten intolerant symptoms with my own….. I am now 3 weeks in with being 100% gluten free and I am making hard firm stools, less gassy, my stomach has gone down tremendously. I do feel a bit tired but I am not sleepy more of a drained… I read its normal for a detox. I do get up at 5:30 and im tired at about 2… so not so bad. I haven’t had a stomach ache at all. Before I would go gluten free a week and convince myself it cant be that maybe its something else…. I eat and suffer for it… like a cycle but this time I have stuck with it and I feel better I am only 3 weeks in and I haven’t realy been sticking to a workout plan and I have been able to fit into jeans and upset stomach free.. I also have seen I am not as hungry. I am at peace not hungry but not full. so far so good!! I went to the doctors for more then 2 years and they couldn’t find anything wrong and would pass it off as amxiety even tho I would tell them that I have been working on my anxiety med free and I feel like I have a pretty good grip so I felt like it wasn’t it… they would say that I was used to being anxious and I didn’t realize it… If you feel like your not being heard go somewhere else.. I am military dependent so I have to be seen my military doctors unless I want to pay out of pocked monthly. Moving and finding doctors can be a pain….. so that’s my story lol. google was my help in diagnosing my gluten intolerance.. I am not sure when it was triggered im thinking it was when my husband went to korea for a year but again im not sure… could be that Alaska, japan, California,greece…. any of those lol but im happy to say so far so good.

  6. Hi,
    In 2013 i lost weight that i wanted to because i had gained kilos while eating kfc anyway i manage to reach my goal when all of a sudden i tried to drink milk and that was making me feel ill i was drinking full cream at the time for 6 months i was weary of drinking milk because in that period i was constantly throwing up like i had gastro. Then i notice my food was getting stuck in the throat and couldnt get my food down no matter how hard i chew then it developed into bad constipation sometimes diorhea felt like really bad stomach cramps and this continued for 4 years while seeing a docter and getting test after test done. I had no idea then it was gluten. I notice i was having naps more often and headaches . A week before i went and got my allergy to food test results back i took out the gluten after researching symptoms and my throwing up stop
    My blood tests to the allergy test were all normal infact all my tests were fine.
    I mention to the allergist that i had stop gluten free for a week and tried to put it back in but i started experiancing the throwing up a lot again. That was aug 9 2016 and a month and a bit without gluten and no throwing up unless im sick with the flu. I have felt so much better.
    Yes it did take a while for the docters to find out what was wrong but i was glad to know the throwing up was being caused by. I feel so much better now.

  7. Nicole Miller says: Reply

    I am having a terrible time have have a casin allergy but two doctors said it maybe a gluten allergy too. So confusing what do do besides getting a biopsy to my intestines

    1. Nicole, just remove gluten totally from your diet and after a month or two (yes that long!) see how you feel.
      Its actually really hard to remove gluten, but once you do, the benefits are worth it.

  8. So gluten intolerance can come suddenly? How can one test for it? I have been feeling bloated, kept on burping and changes in bowel movements for quite some time. Sometimes the bloatedness affects my appetite, therefore im like losing weight. How can i cope with gluten intolerance? What are some recipes i could try?

    1. Hi Lainevin
      The best course of action is to totally remove gluten (ie: wheat) from your diet for at least 2 months. If you’re feeling much better, try to introduce a gluten meal and see how you feel after. If the bloating comes back, then you found your culprit.

  9. So wheat allergy can come on suddenly like it did for me as I was under severe stress for 2 years before it did. I would like to know whether I would be ‘cured’ of this allergy once i am no longer stressed. That is, can I go back to eating wheat products like I have done for all my life?

    1. Hi Chloe
      So here’s my ideas on this (and remember, I’m not a doctor so take this just as an opinion).
      There are conflicting studies that show you can heal from gluten intolerance. My personal thought is that you can heal yourself and basically strengthen your immune response to gluten through a very healthy (gluten free) diet, along with supplements like probiotics and L-Glutamine, as well as focusing on continually consuming some serious anti-inflammatory foods to stop the inflammation in your gut, enough to be able to not have reaction from small doses of gluten. This doesn’t mean you can just go back to a normal diet, as much as all of us want to.

      But you can make it so you can not have the harsh reaction to accidental gluten (or the occasional beer).

      There are reports of people that say they’ve healed themselves totally, but its not a common thing to hear as of yet. This issue is still relatively new, so science hasn’t fully caught up to it yet.

      De-stressing is a key part of healing though. Try breathing exercises, meditation, yoga, or just finding what makes you calm and happy and do more of that (along with eating a super healthy diet).

  10. Hi

    I have recently been diagnosed with MS. After being in shock and dismay at the news, a year and a half later I am coming to terms with the news.

    So being stubborn and feeling a little shocked at the lack of Dr help in my situation, I embarked on trying to understand what might be of benefit.

    2 books I read were the Wahls Protocool and the another I can’t remember, that both discussed saying good bye to Dairy products and Gluten.

    I now feel 100% better and showing signs of returning to how I felt years ago. It’s early days, as I gave up both 3 months ago, but so far so brilliant.

    So do it everyone, and don’t give in.

    Regards,

    Si

  11. […] won’t take you long to figure out if you can eat oats in your GF diet; you’ll start to feel the symptoms associated with gluten consumption in short order if your body doesn’t like the […]

  12. Boy does this hit home! In the last 3 months I have been under extreme stress and eating poorly, and about two months ago I developed severe hives that continue today. My doctor said it is probably stress related, but I seem to have much worse breakouts when I eat foods that contain gluten. She has not sent me for allergy testing yet but that will be the next step. Autoimmune diseases run in my family so I may be referred for testing for them as well. In the meantime I’m trying to reduce my stress level, eat very high-antioxidant foods (I eat blueberries like popcorn because they’re literally the only thing that keeps the itch away) and avoid gluten (which is hard because I love my bread and pasta!!). Trying to figure this out and adjust to a “new normal”.

Leave a Reply