Gluten intolerance is not an uncommon condition. According to studies, this medical condition affects about 15% of the entire US population. As the name clearly suggests, people who are unable to digest gluten or handle the consumption of gluten are said to be gluten intolerant.
Wrapping your head around gluten intolerance is impossible without a basic understanding of what gluten really is. Gluten can be considered as a composite of two different proteins, gliadin and glutenin. The word gluten comes from the Latin root word for “glue”. The reason for that is because gluten is responsible for the stickiness and the mushiness that is present in baked goods and other forms of food. Certain researchers describe gluten as a mash up of starch, gliadin and glutenin. The most common primary sources of gluten include the grass related grains such as wheat, barley and rye. Oats are known to contain gluten to a certain extent as well. Since breads, pastas, crackers and cookies are typically manufactured with wheat flour, you can expect to find a significant amount of gluten in these foods. People who suffer from gluten intolerance are therefore recommended to avoid the consumption of such foods unless there are gluten free versions of these food items available.
An Autoimmune Disorder that Can Impair Your Health
Gluten intolerance is one of the many autoimmune disorders that can affect the body. As the term suggests, autoimmune diseases are the ones where the body’s own immune system attacks the body’s tissues. The bodies of people suffering from gluten intolerance are unable to interpret gluten as food. Therefore, when a gluten intolerant person eats gluten containing pasta, the small intestine misreads the gluten molecules as a foreign particle. The following reaction leads to programmed cell death and an undesirable immune response. This response is what gives rise to the usual symptoms of gluten intolerance. It is of utmost important to identify the particular type of gluten intolerance that you are suffering from. If you continue to disregard the problem and eat gluten containing foods, then your small intestine will sustain severe damage over a period of time. In its most severe form, gluten sensitivity turns into celiac disease. Celiac disease causes more than just discomfort. It forces the person to endure severe pain and jeopardizes his or her long term health.
Symptoms to Look Out For
People with a dietary sensitivity to gluten can exhibit a wide range of symptoms. The sad news is that many of the symptoms of gluten sensitivity are often misdiagnosed because they are quite similar to the symptoms of other diseases and disorders. When these symptoms are brought to the attention of a medical counsellor, gluten sensitivity or gluten intolerance is usually not the first suspect. As a result, people go years and without receiving a proper diagnosis. Therefore, it is advisable to seek the counsel of a specialized medical professional who has all the experience and expertise necessary to determine whether you are suffering from gluten intolerance or not. The initial symptoms of gluten intolerance are basically gastrointestinal symptoms. That being said, there are other outside symptoms that you need to be wary of as well. The good news for you is that gluten intolerance can be treated by simply eliminating gluten from your diet. It is much easier to live a gluten free lifestyle today than it was a decade or two ago. Some of the most common symptoms of gluten intolerance are listed below:
a) Digestive Symptoms: These are very common and include abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, constipation, weight loss and weight gain.
b) Inflammation: This is basically an immune response to the gluten.
c) Lactose Intolerance, Dairy Sensitivity and Other Forms of Sensitivity: This can be described as a secondary condition. It stems from the damage sustained by the small intestine. The damage itself is a primary problem of gluten sensitivity.
d) Malnutrition: Since the function of the small intestine is compromised, the digestive system finds it difficult to absorb nutrients at an efficient rate. This leads to the development of malnutrition. It is very common for people with gluten intolerance to have a low iron level.
e) Body and Joint Aches: Gluten intolerant individuals often complain about the pain they suffer in their joints and muscles.
f) Infections: The small intestine contains around 70% of the immune system. Once the small intestine starts to get damaged, the immune system begins to fail as well. With an impaired immune system, it becomes easier for infections to take place in the body.
g) Chronic Fatigue, Dizziness and Exhaustion: It is not uncommon for a gluten intolerant person to have low stamina and frequently suffer from dizziness. These conditions can be considered as secondary effects of gluten intolerance (caused by the primary effect of malnutrition).