Gluten is the term used for a protein which is found in wheat, barley, rye, and triticale. Everyday products may contain gluten, for example, bread, pasta, flour etc. Gluten sensitivity and intolerance are faced by a significant amount of people who choose to stick to a gluten-free diet. Gluten can also be found in less obvious foods such as sauces, salad dressings and soups. Common reasons for gluten allergy can be:
- Celiac disease
- Gluten intolerance
In Celiac disease, which is an autoimmune disorder, an intolerance to gluten can damage the small intestine, leading to intestinal damage, poor nutrient absorption, and physical pain. Some people with celiac disease do not experience any symptoms. Celiac disease may also be linked to a higher risk of iron deficiency anemia. They are strictly advised to follow a gluten-free diet.
People with gluten sensitivity might experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headaches, and fatigue after consuming gluten. Eliminating gluten from the diet may improve these symptoms. There is a possible immune system involvement in people with gluten sensitivity. Gluten sensitivity does not result in intestinal damage, characteristic of celiac disease, but may cause intestinal inflammation.
Celiac disease can be diagnosed by serology tests and genetic testing. However, gluten sensitivity cannot be diagnosed except for the symptoms that can happen after consuming gluten.
Signs and symptoms of celiac disease:
1. Diarrhea and constipation
3. Skin conditions: A blistering skin condition called dermatitis herpetiformis is one manifestation of celiac disease.
4. Depression and anxiety
5. Weight loss
6. Iron deficiency anemia
7. Joint and muscle pain
8. Autoimmune disorders
2. Abdominal pain
3. Diarrhea and constipation
6. Brain fog
If you have any doubt about being sensitive to gluten, you should refer to a doctor and get an accurate diagnosis. Doctors advise you to stick to gluten-free products and eliminate them as much as you can from your daily intake of foods. It is hard to consume an entirely gluten-free diet as everything is full of gluten, and if not outright, they have additives which may contain gluten. Apart from this, whole gluten-free products can be very expensive too. It can be very hard, especially when you are dining out and do not know what exactly is in your food. Always look at food labels in grocery stores and enquire the waiter about the ingredients on your plate. Terms like wheat, rye, barley, malt and maltodextrins on food labels should alarm you about gluten. All pre-packaged foods have gluten unless specified otherwise. Even medications and supplements may contain gluten as a binder. Choose whole plain foods that are naturally gluten-free, such as fruits, vegetables, milk, yoghurt, nuts, legumes, poultry, fish and eggs. If you want to consume grains, look for corn, brown rice or some old grains, such as amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and millet, which are all gluten-free.