Gluten intolerance is a fairly common condition in our country. In fact, some studies show that it affects around 15% of the American population. It is characterized by the inability to treat gluten-containing foods.
So what exactly is gluten? Gluten is a compound of the two proteins gliadin and glutenin. The word gluten comes from the Latin word for “glue”. Gluten is a mixture of starch, gliadin and glutenin and is found in grains linked to grass such as wheat, rye, barley and sometimes oats. Most types of bread, pasta, crackers and biscuits contain gluten since they are typically made with wheat flour.
Gluten intolerance is classified as an autoimmune disease, which means that the immune system attacks the tissues of its body. When a person with a sensitivity to gluten eats, say, a plate of spaghetti, the cells in the small intestine misinterpret wheat molecules as a foreign invader. There is therefore an interaction with consequent programmed cell death and an immune response, which causes the typical symptoms of gluten intolerance. It is important to identify a gluten intolerance and act accordingly because over time when someone with a gluten intolerance continues to ingest gluten, damage to the small intestine occurs. In its most severe form, gluten sensitivity can manifest itself in the form of celiac disease, which can be not only uncomfortable for a person, but also dangerous.
A food sensitivity to gluten can bring with it a variety of symptoms which unfortunately are often misdiagnosed since the symptoms are also common to other diseases and ailments. Gluten sensitivity or intolerance is not usually the prime suspect and people often spend years and years without a correct diagnosis. As expected, the initial symptoms of gluten intolerance are mainly gastrointestinal symptoms, although other external symptoms also occur. The good news is that this is easily treated by simply removing gluten from your diet.
Symptoms of gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance:
1. Digestive symptoms – Digestive symptoms are the most common. This includes abdominal pain, bloating, cramps, constipation or diarrhea, constipation and (alternating) diarrhea, weight loss or weight gain.
2. Inflammation – Inflammation is an immune response to gluten.
3. Lactose intolerance, sensitivity to dairy products or other food sensitivity: this is a secondary condition that derives from damage to the small intestine (leaky intestine) from the main problem of sensitivity to gluten.
4. Malnutrition and / or anemia: since the small intestine can be damaged in case of gluten intolerance and because food can be excreted quickly as waste, the body often has difficulty absorbing nutrients, leading to the development of this symptom. In particular, a low iron level is common.
5. Chronic fatigue, tiredness and dizziness.
6. Muscle and joint pain.
7. Frequent infections: the small intestine makes up 70% of the immune system and since gluten sensitivity causes damage to the small intestine, infection is a common symptom of gluten sensitivity.
8. Steatorrhea – This is the presence of excess fat in the stool. This can lead to further embarrassing and painful complications, such as anal discharge or incontinence. Fat is present in the stool due to poor digestion.
9. Pain in the head.
10. Depression, irritability and mood swings.
As mentioned above, the treatment for gluten intolerance is easy. Simply eliminate gluten-containing foods. This means that cereals containing gluten such as those found in bread, cereals and pasta must be completely eliminated, as well as drinks such as beer, since they involve the fermentation of cereals containing gluten.
If some or all of the above symptoms occur, it is recommended that you get tested for gluten intolerance. The answer could change lives.