Tag: healthy lifestyle

Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease

illustration of girl holding her chest in pain from eating gluten

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a family of proteins mainly found in wheat, rye, and barley. Of the gluten-containing grains, wheat is most commonly consumed. The two main proteins in gluten are gliadin and glutenin.

When flour is mixed with water, these proteins bind into a sticky substance that’s glue-like in consistency. The word “gluten” comes from these glue-like properties. Gluten makes dough elastic and allows bread to rise when heated by trapping gas molecules inside. It also provides a satisfying, chewy texture we all tend to crave.

Gluten Sensitivity vs. Celiac Disease

Gluten sensitivity, or gluten intolerance is a disorder where your body reacts badly to eating gluten. Gluten intolerance has some of the same symptoms as celiac disease, but doesn’t cause permanent damage to your small intestine.

Celiac disease is a lifelong, genetically inherited autoimmune disorder that when triggered, causes the body to attack itself, damaging the lining of the small intestine and preventing proper absorption of nutrients.

You may be surprised to learn just how many people suffer from celiac disease or some degree of significant gluten intolerance. Research conducted by Dr. Alessio Fasano, Medical Director of the University of Maryland’s Center for Celiac Research, and Dr. Peter Green, Director of the Celiac Disease Center and author of Celiac Disease: A Hidden Epidemic, indicates that between 5% and 10% of all people may suffer from a gluten sensitivity of some form.

What Causes Gluten Intolerance?

1. Genes

Unfortunately, if someone in your family has celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, the chances of you getting these conditions are pretty high. Not all people will inherit this, but genetics do play a vital role in developing the condition.

2. Eating Glutenous Food

While the main cause of the two conditions is not yet identified, eating foods with gluten can play a major role in the upscaling of the disease. If you have high sensitivity towards gluten, adapting to a gluten free diet will be most beneficial to manage this condition and symptoms.

Symptoms of Celiac Disease

People with celiac disease tend to experience significant gastrointestinal symptoms. Here are some of the symptoms associated with celiac disease.

• Bloating. This is the most common symptom in both of the two conditions. When you experience bloating, your stomach will feel overly full which may make you feel pretty uncomfortable.

• Headache and abdominal pain. While it might be a common ailment that tends to affect most everyone from time to time, persistent or severe headaches along with abdominal pain might be a sign that you need to schedule an appointment to get evaluated and rule out the possibility of the disease.

• Diarrhea. It’s estimated that around half of adults with celiac disease experience diarrhea, sometimes severe. Keeping properly hydrated is important so that you don’t become dehydrated. 

Symptoms Associated with Gluten Intolerance

  • Constipation
  • Tiredness, fatigue, lack of energy
  • Headaches
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea

Gluten intolerance can also cause iron-deficiency anemia.

Foods To Avoid If You’re Gluten Intolerant

  • Pasta. Including but not limited to macaronis, rigatoni, fettuccine, gnocchi, spaghetti, whole wheat pasta, and refined white pasta.
  • Beer. Most beer contains gluten, but some such as Shiner Bock are safe to drink.
  • Soup. Ask before you order soup, many are thickened with starch or flour.
  • Baked goods. Most decadent desserts will hit you where it hurts if you don’t process gluten well.
  • Oats. While oats are gluten-free, most are processed in plants where gluten grains are all over the plants and might cross-contaminate.
  • Bread. Rye bread, barley bread, whole grain bread, 9-seed bread, white bread. The list of gluten offenders is a long one for this dietary staple.
  • Flour Tortillas. Skip the tortilla, save the calories, and protect your intestines, because this is a no-go for celiacs.

Living with celiac disease and gluten intolerance used to be pretty challenging. But with the continued widespread understanding of the disorder, it doesn’t have to wreak havoc on your lifestyle. Thanks to the growing popularity of gluten-free diets, vast improvements upon gluten-free food products, and a growing understanding of the bodily mechanics behind celiac flare-ups, living with celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be reasonably managed.

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