If you often feel bloated, have a sensitive digestive system or even have a child with behaviour problems, excluding gluten may be the answer.
What is gluten?
Gluten makes up part of the protein found in wheat, rye, and barley. In the traditional gluten free diet oats are also excluded although current scientific evidence supports the use of oats in 95 % of those with Coeliac disease. It is however important to take note that oat products may often be contaminated with wheat or other grains, and this contamination may not easily be detected.
Who is likely to be Gluten Sensitive?
Gluten intolerance has a strong genetic component. Prevalence of the condition is specifically high in individuals from Irish, Danish and Finnish decent.
The condition usually starts to affect susceptible individuals in childhood, but can begin at any age. Sometimes symptoms appear only in adulthood – despite the condition having been “dormant” since childhood.
Other factors that may play a role in the development or onset of celiac disease include the following: viral infection, pregnancy, emotional stress, physical trauma, and surgery.
In addition to classic Gluten intolerance or Coeliac disease, a disease entity called non-coeliac-gluten-intollerance has emerged during the past couple of decades. In individuals who suffer symptoms after they have ingested gluten, this condition is often diagnosed. Unfortunately, to date, a single diagnostic test to confirm the diagnosis of non-Coeliac-gluten-intollerance is currently not available. Coeliac disease may be diagnosed through use of specific diagnostic criteria and biochemical markers.
What are the symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity and intollerance?
Symptoms associated with GLUTEN intolerance may vary from mild intestinal discomfort (cramps, slightly loose stools and bloating) to severe cramping and/or diarrhoea after meals containing gluten.
Other non-specific symptoms that may occur include: fatigue, an “irritable and unforgiving bowel” that constantly reminds one of its existence and intestinal gas. Recurrent infections and colds, allergies and bad skin (thin, reddish, prone to blotches) as well as joint pain when products containing gluten are regularly ingested, are also symptoms of this condition.
Bone defects osteopenia and osteoporosis (bone mineral loss), depression or irritability, dental enamel defects, anaemia or iron deficiency, folate deficiency, infertility problems in women, failure to thrive in children and weight loss or wasting are also mentioned as possible symptoms of celiac. These symptoms are likely to be secondary to nutrient losses due to diarrhoea.
Gluten intolerance has also been linked to behavioural problems as well as autism and attention deficit and hyperactivity disorders.