“Gluten, Coeliac (Celiac) Disease, Wheat Allergy Classroom
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, spelt, and barley. It is also found in the derivatives of these grains such as malt and brewers yeast. Oat, although not listed as having gluten, should also be avoided unless labeled gluten free due to the high probability of cross contamination. Gluten in a sense, is a “glue” like substance that gives our bread, that chewy texture we have all grown to love.
Coeliac disease (celiac disease in the United States) is a genetically predisposed autoimmune disorder that can affect people of all ages from infancy to adulthood which affects the functioning of the small intestine. Symptoms include, but are not limited to the following; digestive track pain, constipation, diarrhea (soft stools), stools that float, anemia, fatigue and many more. Use our celiac disease symptom checklist to help determine if you should discuss the benefits of a gluten free diet with your doctor. The only known cure for celiac, is to follow a complete gluten-free diet.
Gluten Sensitivity (intolerance) is a condition that the body responds abnormally to gluten when it is consumed. Individuals can have varying degrees of sensitivity ranging from gastrointestinal to neurological responses. Here are somesigns of gluten sensitivity. Since a gluten sensitivity does not damage the interior lining of the small intestine, these individuals will often test negative when given a blood test looking for antibodies to gluten. However, maintaining a gluten-free diet will greatly improve, lessen, or eliminate these once troublesome symptoms.
How does having a gluten intolerance or Celiac Disease differ from having a wheat allergy? A wheat allergy is most common in children and typically outgrown by adulthood.* Symptoms can range from a mild reaction such as hives, to a more severe response such as anaphylaxis. To avoid a possible reaction from occurring, complete avoidance of wheat containing products, as well as all precautionary measures, when baking should be adhered to. People who have a wheat allergy can typically safely consume other gluten containing grains therefore, a complete gluten-free diet is not necessary.
Testing and diagnosing for Celiac and/or a gluten intolerance is done by a simple blood test, then typically followed by a biopsy of the small intestine to evaluate any damage caused by gluten. However, in order for the blood test to be fully accurate a patient must be consuming gluten at the time the test is taken. The reason for this is because it is measuring the individuals IGG or IGE response to gluten. In other words, what does the body do with the gluten once it is consumed.
** We have chosen to not have our children tested at this given time do to their overall positive response to a gluten-free diet. Until they are at an age that they fully understand that the gluten consumption may cause less than desirable affects, I do not see that putting them through such trauma is necessary. The treatment is the same regardless; a gluten-free diet.
Treatment of gluten-intolerance or sensitivity can be accomplished by limiting the amount of gluten consumed in the diet. However, some individuals with more severe responses to gluten consumption may in fact need to avoid it completely. My daughter cannot have any gluten; where as my two sons at this present time can safely consume the tiniest amount without causing an adverse reaction. Do you have signs of gluten-intolerance?
** Although, gluten sensitivity and reactions in children have been gaining more publicity in recent years, it is highly recommended that you consult with a physician before eliminating gluten from your or your child’s diet. As it is true thatfollowing a gluten-free diet is not necessarily better for you, and a complete elimination of a particular food can in-fact cause a ‘hyperactive’ response when later introduced to a given food.
“Hyperactive Response” is an over-reaction to a given substance.