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Discussion on Gluten intolerance, Celiac disease & Gluten sensitivity

Gluten intolerance, Celiac disease, Gluten sensitivity

In this article, we discuss the differences between Celiac disease and Gluten intolerance or Gluten sensitivity. We also look at their relative symptoms, remedies and the causes thereof in modern society.

What is gluten?

Simplified, it is a protein commonly found in certain foods we eat, like wheat, rye and barley. Examples include bread, biscuits, cereals, pasta, spices and beer.

Who Should avoid gluten?

• People with Celiac disease – Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease that is triggered by consuming gluten. When a person with Celiac disease consumes gluten, their immune system will attack it’s own body’s tissue. Over time, as gluten triggers the immune response, the small intestines lining becomes damaged, resulting in its inability to absorb nutrients into the bloodstream. Symptoms of Celiac disease include, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, constipation, headaches, fatigue, itchy skin, mouth ulcers and seizures to name a few.

• People with gluten intolerance – Also known as non-celiac Gluten sensitivity have many of the same symptoms as Celiac disease, mostly being gastrointestinal like stomach pain and bloating. However, the difference lies in that the response to gluten intake does not have the same longevity or consequence that affects the lining of your gut and gluten intolerance does not cause any long-term harm to your body. Symptoms that are unlikely to result from gluten intolerance as opposed to Celiac disease include mouth ulcers, seizures and itchy skin.

How common is Celiac disease and Gluten Intolerance?

Celiac disease affects about 1 in 100 people worldwide, however, many remain undiagnosed. Gluten intolerance is sitting at a much higher 6 in 100 people.

Why is Celiac disease and Gluten intolerance so common now vs 50 years ago?

• Our wheat has changed. Wheat is now being altered to be more resistant to drought and bake more easily. With the population consuming more wheat than ever, our stomachs have not had time to adapt to these changes.
• Over consumption of gluten. Wheat cereal for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pasta for dinner. The body has not adapted to allow for digestion of the gluten particles at such a high rate.
• A cleaner environment. We’ve been less exposed to bugs and our antibodies have not been able to fend off infections. This means our body overreacts to harmless compounds (most commonly wheat and peanuts).
• Damaged gut flora due to consumption of too much antibiotics or foods we can’t digest.
• The constant diet fads that lead to vitamin deficiency that interferes with the body’s ability to suppress the immune system from attacking the gluten particles.

What’s the remedy for Celiac disease and Gluten intolerance?

• Once diagnosed with Celiac disease it is essential to follow a gluten free diet with foods that are celiac friendly. You may find that some foods are gluten free but made in a facility that uses wheat. This can cause cross contamination and seriously affect a celiac diagnosed person to respond negatively.

• People with gluten intolerance or sensitivity can find relief by reducing their daily intake of gluten and supplementing with digestive enzymes. Of course, they can also cut gluten out from their diet entirely.

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