There has been a lot of buzz in the media recently about Gluten. There are many terms being used that many people are not familiar with. These may be confusing to some people.
What is Gluten INTOLERANCE?
What is GLUTEN SENSITIVITY?
And the one that most people may be hearing more than any other; What is CELIAC DISEASE?
What causes it? And maybe some people will be wondering, “How can I protect myself from getting it?”
Gluten is the protein that is contained in many kinds of grain. As the name implies, it is the substance that makes wheat sticky. It gives these grains the ability to stretch and hold air, allowing it to form fluffy cakes, decadent pastries and crispy pies. Without gluten oatmeal would not be gooey, rice pudding would be like sand and your breads would not bounce back when you squeeze them.
GLUTEN SENSITIVITY (propensity for allergy)
For unknown reasons, some people develop allergies to gluten. Much like how some people develop allergies to lactose in milk or you know you can’t handle pollen in the spring time. Gluten sensitivity is not a disease in itself. It is having the propensity to be sick from gluten. One can be allergic to penicillin, but if they never take penicillin they would never get sick from it.
GLUTEN INTOLERANCE (allergic reaction)
Gluten intolerance occurs when a gluten sensitive individual encounters gluten, and the immune system puts up a defense in order to protect the body. Reactions are not usually acute reactions like sneezing or runny nose as in the case of pollen allergens, but they can be chronic, building up from repeated exposure to gluten One may not notice reactions or illnesses for a long time. Gluten allergies manifest themselves in many ways. Studies and research suggest that they can be associated with many autoimmune diseases, as well as some inflammatory diseases.
Most of the immune responses to foods occur in the gut and the digestive system. The immune system goes into action to prevent the digestion and absorption of gluten. Various undesirable activities in the gut lead to various conditions that together constitute celiac disease.
WHAT CAUSES GLUTEN INTOLERANCE?
It is not clear why some people cannot digest gluten. Some theories suggest that the recent reconstitution of the genetic make-up of some grain may be responsible.
One theory in the case of young children who develop multiple allergies is the introduction of these foods before the body is capable of digesting them.
WHAT CAUSES CELIAC DISEASE?
Celiac disease results from damage to the intestinal walls because of undigested food. Overgrowth of bad bacteria, and perforation of the intestinal walls allowing other foods to pass through.
The villi that should absorb the food are damaged and shut down. Undigested food therefore lies in the system, and creates undesirable bacteria over growth.
SYMPTOMS OF GLUTEN INTOLERANCE
This is not clear, but it is believed that it could be related to many inflammatory conditions as well as the trigger for other auto immune conditions. These are separate from celiac symptoms and are termed non-celiac symptoms.
SYMPTOMS OF CELIAC DISEASE
The villi that should absorb the food are damaged and shut down. Undigested food therefore lies in the system and creates undesirable bacteria over growth.. Because food is not digested properly, this leads to malnutrition, and several other conditions that result for insufficient supply of vital nutrients.
IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A GLUTEN CONDITION
The best option is to do your own investigations. Many medical tests are designed to detect damage and reactions to celiac conditions, and are usually not conclusive in nature, because of the complexity of the disease and its symptoms.
Subtract gluten from your diet and note the changes.
WHAT IS A GLUTEN FREE DIET? IS IT A WEIGHT LOSS DIET?
Gluten free can be a diet if one understands what it entails and how to manage it. Gluten free means that you take out all the gluten grains from your diet. Traditionally, these were thought to be wheat, barley and rye. It is now being discovered that rice, corn, and other grains do contain different forms of gluten, which one may, or may not, be allergic to as well.
Being gluten-free is primarily a way of life for individuals, who have allergies to wheat, and for whom eating foods with gluten is dangerous to their health, and elicits one or more immune responses.
Many people on a gluten-free diet replace wheat, barley, and rye with other grains such as rice, sorghum, millet and others. These grains have less gluten than wheat and so they do not stretch and pull, and hold air. Breads and other foods made with these wheat alternatives are therefore denser, and will therefore contain more carbohydrates and calories by volume.