Gluten, your health and your Dark Circles

December 14, 2011

glutenEarlier this year, by pure chance, I discovered I was gluten intolerant and probably had been for most of my life. It was during a meeting with a friend who told me about a new diet she had been on for several weeks. Over the years she had developed stomach problems and muscle aches that doctors couldn’t explain or treat. She had been medically screened to no avail. She turned to the Internet for answers and found herself reading about gluten and how millions of people suffer from gluten intolerance world-wide; most sufferers are unaware that gluten is the culprit. The symptoms included stomach bloating, muscle inflammation, skin rashes or lesions, mood swings, general fatigue and darkness around the eyes (dark circles).

I recognized that I had many of these symptoms and reflected on how many trips I had made to the doctor looking for answers only to be told to take asprin and antacid tablet.
There are no specific medical tests to help you determine if gluten is affecting you. The only way to find out is to go on a completely gluten-free diet for at least ten days.
For those of you who don’t know what gluten is, I found a good explanation on Wikipeda:
Gluten (from Latin gluten, “glue“) is a protein composite found in foods processed from wheat and related grain species, including barley and rye. It gives elasticity to dough, helping it to rise and to keep its shape, and often giving the final product a chewy texture.

Gluten is the composite of a gliadin and a glutelin, which is conjoined with starch in the endosperm of various grass-related grains. The prolamin and glutelin from wheat (gliadin, which is alcohol-soluble, and glutenin, which is only soluble in dilute acids or alkalis) compose about 80% of the protein contained in wheat seed. Being insoluble in water, they can be purified by washing away the associated starch. Worldwide, gluten is a source of protein, both in foods prepared directly from sources containing it, and as an additive to foods otherwise low in protein.

The seeds of most flowering plants have endosperms with stored protein to nourish embryonic plants during germination. True gluten, with gliadin and glutenin, is limited to certain members of the grass family. The stored proteins of maize and rice are sometimes called glutens, but their proteins differ from gluten.
Well, that is a lot of words if you ask me. What it boils down is gluten seems to be in almost every food. particularly bread and cereals. It impacts the body’s immune system and prevents the body from working efficiently. In fact many consider this a glue like substance that the body simply doesn’t know what to do with. Notice the Wikipeda translation from Latin. In english gluten can be referred to as glue.
When I met with my friend I was impressed with how healthy she looked. Her skin was clear and fresh-looking. Her eyes were bright and sparkly and the most noticeable difference in her face was that she did not have dark circles under her eyes. She had also dropped some weight and in my opinion looked at least five years younger.
Reluctantly, I decided to try this gluten-free approach to eating. As she explained, I would have to read every label on any food item. To watch out for the wheat, oats barley. What I discovered was that wheat seemed to be in everyone of my favorite foods. I had to make a radical change in thinking and began to eat rice and more vegetables. I found stores that sold gluten-free products including bread. In some cases these products made without gluten tasted chalky and were not fun to eat at all. However, after visiting more shops I was able to find wonderful deserts and bread that tasted quite good.
After 10 days, I became a different man. I no longer had stomach problems. My skin looked wonderful and there was a general brightness around my eyes I had never seen before. Chronic sore muscles, which I had lived with for so long and accepted as just the way things are, were much better. As time has progressed I have the occasional gluten slip but for the most part, I too, am a gluten-free person.
As I have mentioned, gluten intolerance can have a direct impact on under-eye dark circles. Let me explain what happens if you have this intolerance. The darkness occurs because the skin under the eyes becomes inflamed. This doesn’t sound like much but if you have never considered the source of your dark circles I encourage you to take a closer look. If after a meal or snack you get stomach bloating and later some muscle aches or general skin discomfort then you may be gluten intolerant. Remember there are no blood tests for this sort of thing. The only way to find out is to avoid any foods that contain wheat or other gluten.
This may only be the beginning. You may have other food allergies which may contribute to dark circles. Such as dairy, nuts and shell fish to name a few.
Begin eliminating foods that may contribute to dark circles from your diet, monitoring how the circles and your other symptoms respond. If they improve, then slowly reintroduce the foods, one by one, back into your diet. If the circles and other symptoms return, then eliminate that food from your diet.
Yes, I agree this is a great deal of work. However, be encouraged. If you are one of those with this intolerance you are not alone.  Millions of people world-wide are suffering from this reaction to gluten, with more and more people becoming aware every day.   Food manufacturers are now waking up to this increasing problem. More and more processed and manufactured foods are being made gluten-free.
Ask your grocer and check on-line. It may be well worth the effort.