GLUTEN IS LIKE AIR.... ITS EVERYWHERE. As long as you have a beating heart you cannot avoid Gluten. Gluten is the bad boy these days. It has a lot of bad press to it. Gluten is a molecule found in grains- wheat/rye/barley. Gluten- related health issues have an estimated global prevalence of 5% that is 380 Million people. That's more than the population of Continental USA. Gluten is the major structural protein of wheat and is composed of gliadin. Gluten is used in food and is used as a binding agent.
There are 3 types of gliadins- alpha, beta, omega and glutenins.
Gluten has been related to the following health issues:
- Celiac disease (spelled as Coeliac disease in British English) This is
a condition where gluten molecule triggers an immune response that actually destroys the absorption capacity of the human gut. Remember that gluten is found in wheat, rye and barley. Symptoms include belly cramps, diarrhea, change in bowels, gassiness and is frequently associated with malabsorption of nutrients such as iron, zinc, copper, calcium, vitamin D and more. Celiac is serious and has a rare association with small bowel lymphoma and nervous disorders. There is some literature about Gluten acting as an endorphin that is, its breakdown products work on the morphine receptors and give a "brain fog" like feeling
This has to be tested aggressively ( by gastroenterologist using endoscopy and blood testing). Special DNA based testing called HLA testing is also available to check for celiac. Celiac disease needs a long-term aggressive follow up. If you get diagnosed with Celiac disease, the only way out is to have a GLUTEN FREE LIFESTYLE. You cannot eat, smell, touch, breathe Gluten or kiss person who just ate a lot of gluten. That's why Gluten Free Lifestyle has to adopted by the entire family. It keeps you motivated and safe.
- Wheat Allergy or Gluten Allergy. This is a scenario where ingestion of Gluten containing foods triggers an allergic response with fro breathing, skin itching, skin rash and hay fever like symptoms. This is driven by allergy pathway called IgE while celiac has IgG, IgA pathway. Gluten Allergy physiology behaves more like asthma physiology. Early diagnosis is the key and please be prepared for food induced reaction by having EpiPen or epinephrine shots at hand. Rarely, wheat allergies can cause allergic shocks and death.
- Non celiac Gluten sensitivity. This means that there is no celiac disease or allergy BUT instead when you ingest Gluten you get
the tummy trouble that behaves like celiac disease but doesnt cause the malabsorption or the seriousness associated with Celiac disease.
Safety and close attention to the source of gluten is the key here. Gluten is found in food, soaps, cosmetics, chapsticks and more. READ THE LABEL.
This article was written byDr. Rajiv Sharma MD of Terre Haute, IN
If you have any further questions, feel free tocontact Dr. Rajiv and his team