Nowadays you see hundreds of gluten-free diet (GF) products & ads everywhere, even in pet food! You hear that one of the celebrities announces that he is going for (GF) diet.. There are hundreds of blogs specialized in (GF) diet recipes.
What is gluten?
It’s a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. This protein gives the dough the elasticity, and helps it to rise and gives the bread its desired chewy texture.
What is Celiac disease (CD)?
It’s an inherited autoimmune chronic disease, which means when you eat food containing gluten, your body releases antibodies to fight the unknown substances in the villi in the intestine, so the body will damage its owns tissues. Scientists and doctors still don’t know what the cause of the disease. It can happen at any age, so it can attack children, adults and elderly.
How can you know if you have (CD?)
It’s a bit hard to diagnose (CD) because the symptoms are similar to other intestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease and irritable bowl syndrome (IBS) and others. The symptoms can vary from:
- Bloating, gases, constipation alternating with diarrhea
- Unintended weight loss to headaches and migraines,
- Bone and joint pain in the elderly.
First, you should exclude the possibility of suffering from Crohn’s or IBS or any other intestinal diseases. Then you should go tested before start eliminating gluten from your diet, because if you started to eliminate gluten, this will give you a false negative result, so you should consult a Dr. or Registered Dietitian (RD) before taking any major changes in your diet. Now blood tests are done to test specific antibodies and it’s accurate and if the tests are positive, intestinal biopsy is the next step.
What if (CD) left untreated?
Malnutrition will occur because the malabsorption of vitamins and minerals because it just passes to the large intestine. Osteoporosis, pancreatic disease and organ diseases like gallbladder and liver. Also it can cause stunted growth for children if left untreated. There are some studies started before 10 years to link (CD) with unexplained infertility in women and men but till now there are no conclusive results.
Is the damage caused by (CD) for intestine permanent?
No, because the intestine generates its own cells every 3 days, maybe it took years to heal completely. This depends on how bad was the damage in the beginning.
What is gluten sensitivity (GS) or intolerance?
According to the University of Maryland Center for Celiac research; http://www.celiaccenter.org/gluten_faq.asp It’s a reaction to ingesting gluten in the intestine; symptoms can range from mild stomach pain and foggy brain to depression and joint pain. There is no specific test for (GS) so far, so you should first get tested for (CD) and wheat allergy, if you aren’t positive for neither of them, you should consult (RD)
(GS) and brain function
This is a very controversial issue; many scientists now claimed that gluten sensitivity may lead to autism and schizophrenia, depression or mood swings but till now there are no conclusive results.
For further reading:
Gluten Sensitivity and the Impact on the Brain http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-david-perlmutter-md/gluten-impacts-the-brain_b_785901.html
Celiac Disease, Gluten Sensitivity and the Gluten-Free Diet https://glutenfreediet.ca/handouts.php
Q & A with Alessio Fasano, MD, The latest on gluten sensitivity and celiac disease