Although a gluten free diet surely has a positive impact on an individual’s health, the transition from gluten full to gluten free can be a tedious task. Like alcohol, withdrawal symptoms are also experienced when starting a gluten free lifestyle. Wondering what are the symptoms of gluten withdrawal & how long do they last? Read the following article to know more.
Gluten Withdrawal Symptoms
There are certain people who experience very few or no withdrawal symptoms on restricting their gluten intake. Further, there are others who experience graver and more debilitating symptoms, which can last for weeks before showing any signs of improvement. Below mentioned are some commonly experienced gluten withdrawal symptoms.
Emotional Disturbances: On discontinuing Gluten, many individuals have reported emotional disturbances like anger outburst, irritability, nervousness and heightened anxiety. These may be the result of the many biochemical changes that are triggered in the body owing to the discontinuation of gluten.
Constipation and Bloating: The uncomfortable experience of swelling in the abdominal area or bloating is experienced during gluten withdrawal, which subsides eventually. Some people also become constipated once they stop gluten intake, because of their lack of dietary fibre. It is advisable for these people to consume a more fibre rich diet containing fruits and vegetables like berries, broccoli, etc. to control bloating and constipation effectively.
Stomach Aches: The elimination of gluten from the regular dieting triggers changes in the digestive system of the body. These can further cause stomach aches. However, by increasing the fibre intake in the diet, one can keep these aches in check.
Weight Changes: Gluten withdrawal commonly triggers a fluctuation in the individual’s weight. Whether it causes a decrease or an increase in the weight totally depends on what the person replaces the gluten-based foods in their diet with. Most people, however, tend to shed some extra pounds post gluten withdrawal.
Cravings: In the early stages of gluten withdrawal, the most common symptom experienced by most people is cravings. These cravings tend to be most severe in the first few weeks post gluten withdrawal, but eventually subside fully. It should, however, be remembered that these gluten foods should well substituted with healthy alternatives in the daily diet as hunger or lack of nutrition can heighten the cravings.
Headaches, Dizziness & Light Headedness: The lack of gluten affects the brain through certain neurological mechanism. This can trigger headaches, slight dizziness accompanied by light headedness. However, these uncomfortable symptoms are not too severe in nature and subside in a week or two.
Nausea & Vomiting: Nausea is a commonly reported symptom of gluten withdrawal. This further leads to vomiting and lack of appetite. These are mild symptoms that fade away in some weeks. However, if the individual starts vomiting frequently, it is advisable for them to consider cutting off the gluten intake at a gradual rate.
Depression & Mood Swings: Gluten exorphins have a mood boosting effect on the mind. Once the gluten intake is restricted, the person automatically becomes more moody, sad, confused and depressed. They begin to lack mental clarity, attention and focus. The depression may stay for a while, but the mood eventually stabilizes over a period of time.
Fatigue: Fatigue is the most noted symptom of gluten withdrawal. It is only experienced in the early stages and can be very debilitating for individuals as it makes them feel weak, less energetic and sleepy all the time.
Flu-Like Symptoms: People who react severely to gluten withdrawal can also develop influenza like symptoms. They also experience hot flashes or sudden changes in body temperature.
Joint Pain: Many people report health issues like increased body aches and joint pains post gluten withdrawal from the diet. This generally occurs in the initial stages of the gluten free lifestyle and can be taken care of by eating a gluten free but nutrient rich diet. It should be remembered that pain tolerance and stamina also decreases in the initial stages of gluten withdrawal.
How Long Do The Gluten Withdrawal Symptoms Last?
There is no specific answer to this question. The duration for which the gluten withdrawal symptoms last differs from person to person depending on their lifestyle, gluten consumption, physiology and the time period over which they consumed gluten. It also depends on whether they curtailed their gluten intake or cut it off from their diet completely. Some do not come across any notable major symptoms when they stop consuming gluten, while some experience gluten withdrawal symptoms that get better in 2 to 4 weeks after the total discontinuation of gluten. There are other people who experience protracted cravings and joint aches and other symptoms that are severe and can last for months.
To sum it up, a gluten free diet is an effective mantra for good health and overall well-being. If one can intelligently replace gluten with healthy alternatives and also include dietary supplements like magnesium, sea salt and probiotics in their diet, they can mitigate the symptoms of gluten withdrawal successfully. A generous intake of water is also a very essential part of a healthy gluten free lifestyle.
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