Gluten intolerance, also known as celiac disease or celiac sprue, is an autoimmune disease caused by sensitivity to the protein that is found in wheat, rye, barley and other grains. When gluten is consumed, it wreaks havoc on villi located in the small intestine and prohibits it from absorbing important nutrients such as iron and vitamins A, B12, D, and E. Learn how to manage your gluten intolerance in this article.
Many unsuspected foods are high in gluten such as:
- Salad dressings
- Frozen Yogurt
- Yogurt drinks
- frozen yogurt,
- Cold cuts
- Egg substitutes
Fortunately, gluten intolerance is treatable with adjustments that include a healthy lifestyle, proper diet as well as various holistic health options.
The exact cause of wheat intolerance or gluten intolerance is largely unknown. It is highly suspected to be a genetic trait and, in some, it is even believed to be initiated by pregnancy. In others, gluten intolerance is often triggered by severe stress or by a traumatic injury.
The symptoms of gluten intolerance include:
- Pain in bones
- Unintended weight loss
- Abdominal distension or bloating
- Dietary deficits
- Dermatitis Herpetiformis (an intense, blistering skin rash)
When symptoms are ignored or untreated, celiac disease can lead to:
- Stomach cancer
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Underdeveloped growth
- Lifelong damage to the small intestine
Celiac disease can be difficult to diagnose and sometimes takes years of testing before a definitive diagnosis can be made. Blood testing includes the endomysial antibody and the tissue transglutaminase antibody tests. If these tests positively indicate celiac disease, a physician will most often recommend a biopsy of the small intestine before ultimately confirming gluten intolerance.
An early diagnosis and lifestyle changes can help avoid a lot of the pain associated with celiac sprue as well as the onset of other diseases that are caused by untreated gluten intolerance.
Be advised, however, that doctors suggest anyone displaying the signs or symptoms of gluten intolerance to not eliminate gluten from the diet until a medical diagnosis is made. The reasoning behind this is due to celiac being difficult to diagnose and concerns that, if gluten is removed from the diet, symptoms may lessen and will be more difficult to detect celiac sprue through medical testing.
On the other hand, once a diagnosis has been made, it’s important to adhere to a strict gluten free diet as not doing so can lead to more serious illnesses such as diabetes and stomach cancer. A registered dietician will normally be prescribed to help celiac sufferers design a diet that is both tolerable and enjoyable. Because children have growing bodies that need certain nutrients and because celiac can be particularly damaging to them at an early age, it’s important that parents of children with gluten intolerance not only seek help from a dietician, but consider not buying foods such as cookies made with wheat, grain-based cereals, bread, yogurt treats, pasta and foods containing barley, rye or bran. Instead, potato breads, soy products, tapioca and treats like popcorn are good replacements for the whole household to eat, but especially for a child with celiac. Because gluten intolerance is believed to be genetic in some cases, once one family member has been diagnosed with celiac, it’s also a good idea for the rest of the family to adhere to the same dietary parameters in an attempt to keep others from exhibiting symptoms.
Numerous, healthy food substitutes exist to make adjusting to a gluten-free diet easy once a plan is in place. Today, most major grocery chains feature a section dedicated to healthy alternatives, including gluten-free foods. Also, whole food grocers are becoming more popular in large cities and, often, foods that compliment a gluten-free diet can be found in abundance at these types of markets.
Feelings of depression can sometimes occur after a diagnosis of celiac disease. However, holistic health strategies targeted at maintaining the healthy balance of a positive mental attitude, good physical health and a satisfying spiritual nature can create a whole new world for persons living with gluten intolerance. In understanding the condition and discovering new ways of eating, which include whole, organic food choices that aid in absorption, a person with gluten intolerance can live a full, vigorous life that is often much healthier than peers who may not pay as close attention to their dietary needs. Manage your gluten intolerance wisely and remain unaffected by the symptoms.