As of late, many of you may be hearing a lot more about gluten allergy. I’ve heard “I’m allergic to gluten” more times in the past couple of years than any time before that. Why is there a sudden surge of individuals who are claiming to have it? Is it a fad and simply a reason to avoid carbs? Or is there some truth to the condition?
Gluten intolerance can range from celiac disease to wheat allergy. Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where an individual cannot tolerate gluten. Gluten—a protein found in foods like wheat, rye, and barley—causes the lining of the person’s small intestine to become inflamed and damaged. Thus, the cilia in the intestine cannot absorb nutrients, which can have detrimental effects including weight loss and malnutrition. Patients may also suffer from symptoms common to individuals with wheat allergy, including diarrhea, abdominal pain, and bloating.
In order to diagnose for celiac disease or gluten sensitivity, tests detecting the presence of certain antibodies are conducted. AGA-IgA and AGA-IgG are antibodies that specifically fight a toxic fragment of the wheat gluten. If individuals test positive for these antibodies, they are diagnosed with celiac disease. However, many complain of symptoms similar to those indicative of celiac disease but may have what’s known as “gluten sensitivity.”
So why has there been a rise in individuals exhibiting these symptoms? Researchers hypothesize that it if it is not genetic predisposition, it may be due to damage to or imbalance in gut flora as a result from inappropriate antibiotic use or from consumption of foods that you cannot digest. Low-nutrient diets may also be a cause, since they can suppress the body’s ability to restrict immune cells from attacking the gluten proteins.
If you believe you may be suffering from gluten intolerance or the more extreme celiac disease, visit a doctor to get blood tests done. If you indeed suffer from some sort of gluten sensitivity, adhering to a strict gluten-free diet may be necessary. No medications are available to cure the allergy, but it may be beneficial to get routine blood tests to monitor the progress of production of gluten-specific antibodies.
- Gluten Intolerance, Sensitivity, & Gluten-Free Diets from WebMD by WebMD, LLC <http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/celiac-disease/features/gluten-intolerance-against-grain…>
- Celiac Disease from the Celiac Disease Foundation <http://www.celiac.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3&Itemid=9>
Article by Nikita Rathaur
Feature Image Source: Bon et Biotea