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Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance, medically termed as celiac disease is a very commonly found genetic disorder that attacks the digestive system especially the small intestine and prevents the body’s ability to digest and to absorb nutrients. This disease is caused when the inner lining of the small intestine is damaged by the body’s own immune system after a person consumes foods that contain gluten. Gluten is a protein that is mostly found in grains like wheat, oat, barley and rye. When foods that are not completely digested reach the small intestine, there is an abnormal reaction that occurs in the inner lining of the intestine. The lining of the small intestine is made up of many villi, which are small bumps that flatten out when exposed to gluten.

As a reaction this reduces the amount of surface area of the intestine that is used to digest the food and absorb nutrients.

Gluten Intolerance Symptoms

Gluten intolerance symptoms vary from individuals to the amount of gluten that is consumed. Whereas some symptoms affect the digestive tracts and other parts of the body, some may not have any symptoms at all. Gluten allergy symptoms include excessive gas, bloating up of the abdomen, diarrhea, sever pain in the bones, weight loss and exhaustion. This disease can affect anyone but mostly runs in families that suffer with other genetic problems such as Turner syndrome or Down syndrome. It can also affect people with other conditions like autoimmune thyroid disease, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune liver disease or rheumatoid arthritis. Celiac disease can normally be diagnosed by a combination of a thorough medical history, symptoms, physical examination and blood tests. A series of blood tests can determine if the blood contains certain levels of antibodies that show a person’s gluten sensitivity. Sometimes blood tests might be normal; however, the chances of getting this disease are still possible, which is why it is very important that a doctor or a dietician be consulted with the onset of any related symptoms. If a person who is gluten sensitive continues to consume foods that contain gluten, their chances of getting and developing gastrointestinal cancer increases drastically which can seriously undermine the quality of their life.
The primary treatment method for celiac disease is to eliminate foods with gluten. This not only includes obvious foods like bread or pasta but also foods that are a hidden source of gluten like beer, gin, vodka, ale, whiskey, certain vitamins, mouthwashes, the glue on stamps and envelopes and some medications. A dietician should be consulted to get a list of foods that can give rise to gluten in the body and it is of utmost importance to avoid these foods as much as possible. The dietician would recommend a diet that would contain gluten free foods like rice, corn, soy, potatoes, tapioca, beans, fresh meats, butter and even ice cream. Studies show that a lot of people who have stuck to a diet that is gluten free experience an improvement in the symptoms. Due to this diet you very rarely need to take any medications which help in the reduction of the inflammation in the small intestine. This diet treatment also includes treating complications like vitamin deficiencies. Other treatments that help in reducing effects of gluten in the intestine are vitamin supplements and mineral supplements. Since the kidneys stop the process of absorbing nutrients from the digested food, supplements are necessary to build up on the body’s immune system to fight back the disease. Treatment with medications like steroids has a temporary effect, but for a longer lasting effect you need to stick to a diet that is gluten free.

Submitted on January 16, 2014