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What is Gluten Allergy; How to Deal With It


gluten intolerance

What is the buzz about gluten these days? Every other person is talking about gluten intolerance or gluten sensitivity. What is it?

Over 20 million Americans experience stomach problems from gluten. A number of people also complain of celiac disease (CD), which is an autoimmune disorder caused by gluten sensitivity or intolerance. 

However, gluten doesn’t rattle the guts of each one of us, but only affects people with celiac disease. This means gluten isn’t all that bad for everyone. It is not good for people with CD.
In CD patients, these proteins are absorbed in the small intestinal walls. As a result, the immune system mistakes these proteins as intruders, starting a furious, tissue-damaging inflammatory response.

In normal human beings, small bowel comprises villi or finger-like projections, which produce digestive enzymes. However, in celiac disease patients, the misguided response from the immune system attacks these villi. As a result, these fingerlike projections produce fewer digestive enzymes while absorbing less nutrients. Such reaction of the immune system can damage the intestinal tract, leading to various digestive problems, nutrient deficiencies, and increased risk of diseases.

In celiac disease, small intestine is inflamed and gluten causes it to leak, resulting in diarrhea, anemia, weight loss, and osteoporosis. There is also a risk of bowel cancer.

Celiac Disease Symptoms

Though the exact cause of CD is still not clear yet, it is known to be a genetically inherited disorder. Some of the most common CD symptoms in kids may include:

  • abdominal bloating
  • constipation
  • chronic diarrhea 
  • foul-smelling or fatty stool 
  • chronic gas
  • nausea
  • stomach pain 
  • vomiting
Contrarily, adults are less likely to experience digestive problems from celiac disease. Their symptoms may include
  • depression
  • bone/joint pain
  • anemia 
  • anxiety 
  • extreme tiredness
  • infertility
  • itchy skin rashes
  • dermatitis
  • canker sores in the mouth 
  • missed menstrual periods 
  • recurrent miscarriage seizures 
  • headches
  • osteoporosis
  • ulcers
  • intestinal blockage

What is Gluten

Gluten is derived from the word glue, as it has glue-like properties.

It is a term used for the proteins found most commonly in grains, such as wheat, barley, and rye. In simple words, gluten acts as glue that helps foods maintain their shape. The two sub-proteins, including gliadin and glutenin, form strands when it comes in contact with water, which strengthen dough. It gives elastic properties to dough and allows breads to rise upon baking.
These proteins create pockets in the dough that trap air released from leavening agents.
 

Risks
  • ·         Gluten can cause intestinal problems and inflammation and degeneration of intestinal lining.
  • ·         It may have compromise the barrier function of the small bowel, thus raising the risk of leakage of unwanted substances into the bloodstream. However, it is still unclear whether this condition only affects people with celiac disease or also those with no celiac disease but gluten intolerance.
  • ·         It may raise the risk of irritable bowel syndrome.
  • ·         It may cause a leaking gut.
  • ·         Many neurological problems may result from gluten sensitivity in some patients – known as gluten-sensitive idiopathic neuropathy.
  • ·         Cerebellar ataxia is a serious disease of the brain that is claimed to be partly caused by gluten. In this condition, the patient is not able to coordinate movements and balance and experiences communication problems.
  • ·         Gluten ataxia is directly linked to gluten intolerance, which involves irreversible damage to cerebellum.
  • ·         Epilepsy, autism, schizophrenia are known to respond well to a gluten-free diet.
  • ·         Gluten may have opioid-like effect on some people and cause cravings for wheat and related cereals.
  • ·         It is related with many autoimmune diseases, such as Hashimotos thyroid, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, among others.

Gluten Intolerance Symptoms
Some people with no celiac disease may also get gluten intolerance. In such patients, there is no attack on the body’s own tissues. But many symptoms are similar to that of celiac disease. The patient may experience fatigue, bloating, diarrhea, stomach pain, ands pain in the joints and bones.
  • ·         Skin rashes
  • ·         Fatigue
  • ·         Diarrhea
  • ·         Headache
  • ·         Bloated stomach

Wheat Allergy or Wheat Intolerance
You may be intolerant or allergic to wheat if you have any of the following symptoms. However, having these symptoms does not indicate a confirmed wheat allergy. This could be due to other medical conditions. Always check with your doctor to understand the cause of your symptoms:
  •  Diarrhea
  •  Bloated stomach
  •  Arthritis
  •  Depression
  •  Chest pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Eczema
  • Mood swings
  •  Feeling dizzy
  •  Palpitations
  •  Joint pain
  •  Skin rashes
  •  Psoriasis
  •  Sneezing
  •  Fatigue
  •  Swollen throat
  •  Irritable bowel syndrome
  •  Unexplained cough
  •  Watery or itchy eyes
  •  Runny nose

Wheat is listed as one of the top food allergens, besides milk, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, shellfish, fish, and eggs.

If you are intolerant to wheat, you may still have some chance of returning to using wheat after a short break. Unfortunately, if you have developed wheat allergy, there is no point of return.

Gluten Free Foods

Allowed foods

The following foods are naturally gluten-free:
·         Fruits and vegetables
·         Fresh eggs
·         Unprocessed beans, seeds and nuts
·         Fresh meats, fish and poultry
·         Most dairy products

Gluten-free foods are produced with gluten-free grains, which include quinoa, corn, tapioca, rice, teff, and oats. High in iron, protein, and fiber, chickpea flour/gram flour (besan) is a gluten-free food, which is tasty and has an awesome flavor.


  • ·         Amaranth flour
  • ·         Arrowroot flour
  • ·         Barley flour
  • ·         Banana flour – made from raw, dried bananas
  • ·         Brown rice flour
  • ·         Buckwheat flour
  • ·         Chia flour
  • ·         Coconut flour
  • ·         Chickpea flour
  • ·         Cornflour
  • ·         Coffee flour
  • ·         Corn meal
  • ·         Hemp flour
  • ·         Millet flour
  • ·         Maize flour
  • ·         Lupin flour – belonging to the peanuts family
  • ·         Potato flour
  • ·         Oat flour
  • ·         Quinoa flour – belongs to the beats & spinach family
  • ·         Potato flour
  • ·         Potato starch flour
  • ·         Rye flour
  • ·         Soya flour
  • ·         Sorghum flour
  • ·         Teff flour
  • ·         Tapioca flour
  • ·         White rice flour

Who Needs To Go On A Gluten-Free Diet?

gluten free
If you have gluten sensitivity or intolerance or celiac disease, the best option may be to go on a gluten-free diet. Celiac disease causes inflammation of the lower gastrointestinal tract.

Common Foods That Contain Gluten

Noodles, Pastas, chowmein, egg noodles, udon, raviolis, breads and pastries, flatbreads, muffins, rolls, potato bread, pita, croissants, naan, cornbread, donuts, crackers, baked goods, brownies, pie crusts, cereal & granola, corn flakes and rice puffs, biscuits, waffles, pancakes, French toast, crepes, panko breadcrumbs, stuffings, dressings, flour tortillas, sauces & gravies, beer, brewer’s yeast,
Gluten free: Rice noodles, mung bean noodles, tofu, distilled beverages, vinegars, wines, hard liquor

Avoid Unless Labeled Gluten Free

French fries, energy bars/granola bars, potato chips (especially those with seasonings containing wheat starch or malt vinegar), candy, processed lunch meats, soups that use cream and flour as a thickener, salad dressings and marinades, starch or dextrin, brown rice syrup that uses barley enzymes, imitation food, meat substitutes made with seitan, soy sauce, self-basting poultry, cheesecake filling, pre-seasoned meats, beers, malt beverages and vinegars sourced from gluten-containing grains.
·         herbal or nutritional supplements
·         lipstick, lipgloss, lip balm
·         drugs and over-the-counter medications
·         play-dough

Places where cross-contact between gluten and non-gluten products can occur include

  • ·         Flour sifters
  • ·         Toasters
  • ·         Oil used for deep frying breaded products and gluten-free items
  • ·         Shared containers
  • ·         Improperly washed containers
  • ·         Condiments, including mayonnaise, jam, peanut butter, butter, mustard
  • ·         Oats
  • ·         Pizza
  • ·         French fries

People with celiac disease are excessively intolerant to gluten and develop gluten sensitivity or allergy. As a result, they must remain on a strictly gluten-free diet all through their lives.  If such persons accidentally end up eating a gluten product, they may experience severe symptoms in the form of abdominal pain or diarrhea. If you have celiac disease, you may experience severe reactions from gluten, which could even cause extreme complications, such as small intestinal cancer. 

Here are a few gluten free recipes that you may want to try:
chickpea gluten free snacks


References


Image credit
1. http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0419/3629/files/gluten-info.jpg?20038
2. http://www.outspokenonhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/Gluten-Free-Grocery-List2.jpg
3. http://www.good4u.co.uk/uploads/images/gluten-free-01.png

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