Gluten sensitivity or intolerance can develop at any age. When it develops in seniors it can cause more problems. Seniors are often on special diets due to other conditions or they have developed dietary habits that are difficult to change after so many years. The sensitivity can include celiac disease which is an auto-immune disorder which attacks the small intestines. Quite often the sensitivity goes undiagnosed, especially in seniors.
What are the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance?
- The most common symptom is having a problem with digestion. Bloating, diarrhea and constipation are usually experienced by those who have problems with gluten.
- Fatigue after eating a meal which includes gluten.
- It often goes hand in hand with auto-immune diseases such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, thyroiditis and colitis.
- Neurological symptoms are common. If you feel dizzy or off balance this can be a sign of gluten sensitivity.
- Migraines, anxiety and depression, mood swings or ADD.
- Inflammation and swelling in the joints.
- If you have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia and the doctor can find no cause for it, gluten intolerance could be the reason for your symptoms.
Going gluten free means learning to check labels and understand which items contain gluten. Look first for labels which state the item contains barley, malt, oats, wheat, rye, soy or brewer’s yeast. Also ask about your prescription medications. Many of these contain gluten. For seniors in assisted living or long term care communities, you will need specific dietary needs. Not all communities have this available so check first before moving into one.
Awareness of the sensitivity is growing and while living a gluten free lifestyle can be difficult it’s not impossible. Learn as much as you can and which foods contain it as an additive. Stick to whole foods as much as possible. To read more about seniors and gluten free living, click here.