Protruding Abdomen and Depression are Signs of Gluten Intolerance

protruding abdomen and depression may mean gluten intolerance.
Protruding abdomen can mean gluten intolerance.

Protruding abdomen? If you or your child has an enlarged, swollen gut that seems to have it’s own internal pressure, you are likely suffering from distention. Your waistline may expand and you may look like you’ve gained several pounds overnight with your protruding abdomen. To the touch your stomach feels hard as a rock. There isn’t that flabby feeling that’s typical for someone who’s a few pounds overweight. You are not sure what is causing these stomach swelling symptoms.

The swelling may come and go, and you may get a few days in a row when it seems to shrink some.  But it always returns, with a vengeance, sometimes at the most inopportune times like a holiday party or special dinner event. It’s a common symptom of a digestive disorder.

I had a protruding abdomen on and off for several years before I realized I needed to go gluten free. It’s actually fairly common and often seen in 10% of the general population. I was already in my 30s and had given birth to three boys when the symptoms really got uncomfortable on a regular basis. One day my stomach would look fine. The next day after eating a few slices of bread I could look 5 months pregnant. I had no idea my protruding abdomen was a sign of anything serious. At one time I even joked about it. A distended abdomen has to be the most frustrating and uncomfortable symptom resulting from gluten intolerance.

Sometimes bloating is caused by air swallowing while eating or even by constipation and it’s only a temporary issue that will soon pass. Sometimes it’s due to a serious digestive disorder and needs proper treatment by a physician. It can be caused by a candida infection, bacterial infection, or even lead to discovering a hidden food allergy, and eventually an autoimmune condition like celiac disease.

If you suffer from ongoing symptoms of a protruding abdomen, gas, cramps, and bloating you may be having difficulty digesting your food. While distention can have many causes, food being one of them, sometimes the symptoms are due to an underlying condition. You may have gluten sensitivity, you may have lactose intolerance, or you may have additional food allergies that you are unaware of such as corn or soy. And you may just be suffering from a malabsorptive autoimmune condition like celiac disease and not know it.

This is what we discovered with our oldest child. He started having stomach issues when he was very young, about 2 1/2. He had a protruding abdomen and a lot of abdominal pain. Now when I look back I clearly see those serious digestive health issues. But for a long time we didn’t recognize them. If you or your child has a protruding abdomen and signs of irritability, consider testing for gluten intolerance or celiac disease. It’s possible this could be an underlying cause. And if you are not careful, ignoring that protruding abdomen, also known as a wheat belly, may lead to an even more sinister condition: celiac disease.

Protruding Abdomen and Depression, May be Celiac for Some

In our case things came to a head finally after my son’s routine vaccinations when he was 3. This was when his digestive issues became neurological too. We didn’t know it at the time, but he was suffering from celiac disease. That’s an autoimmune disorder that causes many symptoms. The only cure for it is to avoid gluten, a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley.

Until that time we just passed off his many symptoms of gluten intolerance, including his protruding abdomen, to normal toddler development. Now when I look back I can clearly see that his large, extended, sore, bloated belly was not at all normal. It was caused by a leaky gut which all started because of a diet full of flour, processed foods, and sugar.

Common Foods that Can Cause Protruding Abdomen

The following common foods are known to cause bloating and gas, especially if you have digestive issues:

  • grains (wheat, corn, soy)
  • artificial sweeteners
  • carbonated beverages
  • lactose
  • sugar
  • broccoli
  • beans

If you have a child with a protruding abdomen, low weight, and dark circles under the eyes, consider testing for gluten intolerance or celiac. It can also contribute to poor performance in school, and to symptoms of depression. You need to also consider testing for that little known blood hemoglobin condition called pyroluria or pyrrole disorder.

Healing a Protruding Abdomen

Probiotics that have Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in them can help with bloating and gas symptoms. Stomach distention is common for people with gluten intolerance and dairy intolerance. So it can help to avoid gluten and dairy to see if that helps aid in your symptoms. Sometimes your distention is actually caused by an infection. Intestinal parasites and bacterial overgrowth can both lead to leaky gut syndrome. To rule out these two conditions you’ll need to see a physician. In the case of a bacterial infection like giardiasis, the treatment is antibiotics. But it’s also important to note that patients with celiac disease have dysbiosis, which means their bacteria levels are out of balance in the gut. So if you do have a bacterial overgrowth issue, you probably want to go gluten free to keep your system in balance after treatment.  If candidas is the culprit, a GAPS diet is a good way to alleviate your symptoms.

Why Gluten Intolerance Can Cause Depression

  • Studies have shown that parasites and bacterial overgrowth can affect mental health in patients.
  • Gluten is known to inhibit the absorption of tryptophan and can lead to low levels of serotonin in some people.
  • Wheat contains exorphins which can cause addictive behavior and stimulate your appetite.

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