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Having a wide and expansive dietary palate when you are pregnant is one of the great ways of ensuring you receive all the necessary nutrients your body needs from as many different food sources as possible. While planning this, it is necessary to avoid food items that might trigger an allergy or you might be intolerant towards. If you have a gluten sensitivity during pregnancy, then a different set of problems come into the picture because not only will consuming gluten result in issues for you, but there are chances your baby might have to bear the brunt of it as well.
What is Gluten?
Gluten is nothing by a substance that is formed when two specific proteins combine together. This usually occurs in various grains that belong to the family of cereals, the most popular of which is wheat. It is the presence of gluten, along with a number of other protein-based composite compounds, which allow a dough made from a grain to be elastic and be moulded into a variety of shapes.
What is Gluten Intolerance?
For certain people, their body cannot synthesize the presence of gluten in the food. This results in numerous problems on consumption, all stemming from the gut and affected the digestive system in the initial stages. This starts manifesting in conditions where the immune system of the gut starts attacking the healthy tissues of the intestine itself, because of the presence of gluten in its tracts. This is also termed as celiac disease and can be quite harmful.
Signs and Symptoms of Gluten Intolerance
The signs and symptoms of gluten intolerance are not simply restricted to inside the body but can be seen in various forms in various areas of the body.
1. Skin Issues
One of the major reactions that a body undergoes on consumption of gluten is to treat it like a foreign harmful element that needs to be eliminated. The natural reaction of the body is thus to trigger the immune system to combat its presence. This can also result in the formation of a substance called as immunoglobulin A, or IgA. This begins to find its way to the upper layers of the skin and ends up creating deposit packets in that area. The result of this is the formation of various blisters on the skin’s surface that are full of water and can resemble pimples as well.
The presence of gluten in the body sets internal alarm bells ringing, and the body makes use of all the energy and resources it has to protect it from the external infection and do its best to keep the other processes intact. This tends to eat away a lot of strength from within, causing a person to feel tired or lethargic for no reason.
3. Severe Headaches
In pregnant women, headaches resembling migraine may be caused due to a variety of reasons, but gluten allergy cannot be ruled out as a factor. Various studies have indicated a presence of severe headaches in women who have had gluten sensitivity as well as in a few other women who are suffering from celiac disease. No matter the reason for sensitivity, the research has also shown a marked improvement in the headaches of pregnant women once they opted for a gluten-free diet.
4. Weight Loss
A dangerous result of gluten intolerance could be a sudden and unforeseen weight loss even when the diet and eating patterns have remained unchanged. This weight loss could deem quite harmful for the baby.
5. Dental Problems
Various studies have linked the formation of ulcers in the mouth to the sensitivity experienced towards gluten. These dental problems range from a susceptibility to the formation of dental cavities and decayed tooth, down to recurrent sores of the mouth.
6. Autoimmune Diseases
There are numerous diseases that seem to trigger the immune system in a body which begins to attack the body itself. The sensitivity of gluten has been termed to be a prime reason in this regard, where consuming gluten based products has led to an autoimmune reaction in the person.
7. Joint Pain
Many physiotherapists and bone specialists have discovered connections between pain in the joints, conditions resembling arthritis and the sensitivity of gluten within the same person. Gluten intolerance results in many inflamed joints and their pain.
8. Confused Thinking
The presence of gluten triggers the body to generate a substance such as IgG or immunoglobulin G. These act as antibodies in the first place, but also tend to affect the mental health of a person. Thus, many people with gluten intolerance complain about feeling confused or just not being able to think properly.
Complications of Having Gluten Intolerance during Pregnancy
The complications of consuming gluten while having a sensitivity for it when pregnant can be severe as well as debilitating at the worst.
- The child is at a higher risk of developing mental health problems such as schizophrenia
- Premature delivery might be triggered, leading to giving birth to a stillborn, or an anaemic child with severely low weight
- Presence of celiac disease can make it difficult to absorb nutrients from the food, affecting the growth of the baby
- Discomfort in the gastrointestinal tract might get chronic due to continued consumption
- The lining of the small intestine could be completely damaged, leading to pregnancy complications
- Constant triggering of gluten problems could even result in a miscarriage of the foetus
Gluten-Free Diet during Pregnancy
Creating a gluten-free diet is not difficult and can be achieved by including a few food items without fail.
1. Dairy Products with Low Fat
2. Meat and Other Non-Vegetarian Foods
3. Vegetables and Fruits
4. Seeds and Nuts
Wholegrains are free of gluten and options such as rice, corn, soy, sorghum and others ensure you get the strength you need to proceed ahead with your pregnancy.
Tips for a Healthy Pregnancy
A woman with gluten sensitivity can lead a healthy pregnancy without worries by keeping a few tips in mind:
- Avoid smoking and alcohol completely
- Maintain mental peace and reduce stress
- Stay away from any sauces and dips
- Stay hydrated and drink water to ease bowel movement
- Opt for natural food items that can balance the nutrients you receive from gluten
- Choose gluten-free alternatives to satisfy your pregnancy cravings
- Folic acid and other supplements should be taken only after doctor’s recommendation
- Be extremely vigilant and strict about staying away from gluten-based food products
The result of a gluten reaction is frightening enough for a person, further made worse by its effects on the baby. Sketching out a gluten-free pregnancy meal plan should be your first course of action. Sticking to it can help you avoid most of the problems that you might otherwise face during your journey.