Tuesday, July 31, 2012
Gluten Allergy/Celiac/Gluten Sensitivity
Okay, you've been to the doctor and you've been told you have a wheat allergy, a gluten allergy or that you have celiac disease or that you may be 'sensitive' to wheat. What does this mean? Are they the same thing? And what on earth do I do now? NO, they are not the same thing. So, let's start off by defining what each term means.
Gluten allergy (aka Wheat allergy) - any allergy is when the body's immune system attacks the protein given off by a substance and attacks that substance in the body. In doing so, the body essentially is attacking itself. In other words, it is an abnormal reaction of the body to a normal substance. However, not all 'reactions' are allergies. Sometimes, these 'reactions' are 'sensitivities' such as when a person takes an antibiotic and gets diarrhea. This is not an allergic reaction. To test positive for a gluten allergy, you must have the antibody in the blood stream or have a positive skin test to have the allergy.
Celiac Disease - this is the chronic failure of the gut (intestines) to digest food triggered by hypersensitivity of the intestines to gluten (wheat protein). It slowly destroys the intestines because of it causing a variety of symptoms from upset stomach to brain 'fog' to diarrhea, weight loss, weight gain, and more. It affects about 1 in 133 people of Northern European descent mostly (Celtic descent especially) but can affect other cultures as well. If individuals continue to eat gluten, it can lead to cancer. This is also a genetic condition and is passed on in families. This can be very tricky to diagnose as well! In order to get a correct diagnosis, you must be actively EATING gluten when you are tested!! If not, the results are INVALID!!
Gluten Sensitivity - this is a newer term in the last few years. An individual doesn't test positive to the allergy testing or celiac disease testing. However, when the person eats gluten they have all the symptoms of gluten allergy or celiac and when they avoid it, their symptoms resolve. This is not fully understood yet.
There is only one treatment for all of this!! Complete avoidance of gluten!! Gluten is found everywhere!! Not just breads, cakes, pasta, and cereals but in soy sauces, creams, fillings, pastes, and so, so much more!! I have found gluten in some of the strangest places!! I went to pick up some vodka to make extracts! Guess what? Vodka is no longer just made from potatoes (known to be gluten free!)!! Nope!! It is now made from 'grain alcohol!' This could be ANY type of alcohol and could include wheat!! As a matter of fact it took me nearly a month to find a safe, gluten free vodka to make my extracts! Mark One was it and is made from corn. Another hidden place? Artificial food colorings! Yep, how about caramel coloring? Food starch is another one, Miso, smoke flavorings, stock, artificial seafoods, and more!! So, if it isn't clearly labeled as gluten free and you are on a gluten free diet - do NOT buy it!! For a list of unsafe foods, see celiac.com. They are a great resource for a gluten free diet!!
If you should have any questions, feel free to ask and I will try to answer; however as always seek the help of your medical professional if you are concerned about your health conditions!! Thank you!
I have a gluten allergy and sensitivity. I was tested while NOT eating wheat (positive allergy test, negative celiac test)! I have been gluten free for about 5 1/2 years and have done far, far better than when I was eating gluten. I actually have a rare complement cascade immune disorder that causes this. I have lots of recipes and experience in eating gluten free with a family that eats wheat!! It is possible to eat very well on a gluten free diet!! I am also allergic to rice.