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What is Gluten Allergy & Intolerance?

By on Nov 11, 2013

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Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, oats, rye, barley and oats. You will find gluten in foods such as bread, rolls, cakes, flour, pasta, biscuits, pastries, noodles, pizza, muffins and couscous. These are just a few examples, but you can see that gluten is present in many foods that are consumed in a western diet. We are exposed to a lot of gluten on a daily basis, which may explain why gluten intolerance and allergies are being increasingly diagnosed in the western world.

Most people who have gluten intolerance are actually not aware that they have this condition. Before we continue, it is worth noting the difference between an allergy and intolerance. A gluten allergy results in a condition called coeliac disease. If we were to eat a food that we are allergic to, the body immune system reacts in such a way as to protect itself. The immune system produces antibodies (IgE antibody), in response to the allergic food (the allergen). The IgE antibody triggers the release of histamine from mast cells, which are found in the nasal passages, throat, eyes, intestines and other body tissues. This results in the usual allergy symptoms of runny nose, swollen throat and gastrointestinal upset.

People who are diagnosed with coeliac disease should avoid gluten. You should also consult a qualified nutritionist or naturopath to help you manage the condition. There are many gluten free foods available in most grocery stores. David Reavely, author of The Big Fat Mystery has a number of practical gluten free food recipes.

Gluten damages the lining of the small intestine and can cause inflammation and swelling of the lining. The lining of the small intestine is covered with tiny villi that become damaged by the gluten. These villi are essential for the absorption of nutrients from our diet. This damage can also lead to more foods allergies and leaky gut syndrome. The symptoms of coeliac disease are general indigestion, diarrhoea, loss of weight, abdominal swelling, cramps, and depression. This disease, if left untreated can lead to various health problems such as osteoporosis, nerve damage, kidney disease and diabetes.

Gluten allergy & intollerence can cause sleepiness

Most people who have gluten intolerance are actually not aware that they have this condition. Gluten intolerance does not cause the immune system to release antibodies and cause the symptoms mentioned previously. A person who has an allergy to gluten will react very quickly to even a small amount of gluten, whereas someone who is intolerant will not notice any symptoms until a few hours or even days. Gluten intolerance can lead to tiredness, lack of energy, headaches, joint pains, fatigue, acid reflux and weight gain.

If you have been suffering with any of these symptoms, it is worth trying to cut down or totally eliminate gluten based foods from your diet. The tennis player, Novak Djokovic recently cut out all gluten from his diet and this has resulted in an improvement his energy levels and playing performance.