Understand Gluten Intolerance, Celiac Disease or Wheat Allergy?

[Related Blood Test: Full Body Check Up – Executive]

With the growing popularity of gluten-free food at supermarkets and restaurants, celiac disease has also come into the spotlight in the past few years. However, there’s often confusion between celiac disease, being gluten-intolerant or having a wheat allergy. And we aren’t surprised, as we also had to do our bit of research before sharing these thoughts and facts with you. So here it goes!

Gluten-related disorders

are those related to problems with ingesting gluten-containing food, which may include many types of cereal, bread, and baked goods? The conditions associated with gluten-containing food are markedly different though, as compared to wheat allergy and celiac disease.

Wheat Allergy

Wheat allergy

is commonly mistaken with celiac disease or gluten intolerance, but is completely different. A wheat allergy is an adverse reaction to wheat protein; your immune system could overreact to wheat in the same way as it might to seasonal or any food allergy. A wheat allergy may manifest in the form of sneezing, headaches, and hives. Nausea and diarrhea are also common.

Celiac disease

is an autoimmune condition. If you have celiac disease, you would react to a group of proteins called gluten, found in wheat, barley, and rye. For reasons not well understood yet, ingesting gluten makes your body see the intestine as a foreign substance, attacking it with an inflammatory reaction. So for most people, being gluten-free will clear celiac disease but for few, going gluten-free doesn’t help with the inflammatory reaction and side effects. Other symptoms include chronic diarrhea, abdominal pain, weight gain or loss, and bloating. Join pain, trouble concentrating, fatigue and fertility are among many other symptoms that can also crop up. That makes detection of this condition difficult. A history of autoimmune disorders or a family history of the celiac disease should be a trigger for a physician. The only treatment available at the moment is a gluten-free diet, allowing your intestines to heal.

So what is gluten intolerance and how does it differ from these two conditions?

If you are gluten intolerant or are sensitive to it, you have what’s called non-celiac gluten sensitivity. As the name itself suggest, this condition is different from celiac; it would also rule out wheat allergy. The tricky bit is that symptoms can be similar, including bloating, abdominal pain, joint pain, and muscle cramps. In fact, these symptoms are often very similar to those that come with an irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) experience. The only way of diagnosis is to go off gluten for a while and see how your body responds. However, it’s advisable you do so under a physician’s guidance. As if you don’t have gluten intolerance and it’s some other underlying condition, you would be depriving your body of necessary vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B and iron.

With an influx of gluten-free diet options in the restaurants, the lives of people living with these conditions have become easier. One concern though is that restaurants may not be very careful with cross-contamination, that is mixing of gluten food fragments with the non-gluten delicacy. Those with gluten intolerance may be able to digest it without sometimes even having any signs of discomfort, unlike those with celiac disease.

Many people claim to follow a gluten-free diet to aid weight loss, but without any evidence to support the claim. For those who don’t have any of the conditions related to gluten, this may negatively affect their gut bacteria.

Make an appointment with your doctor if you feel you may be suffering from any of these conditions. Don’t self-diagnose or go gluten-free just by intuition.

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