Do you have gluten intolerance

DR ROHAN FONSECA | OCTOBER 31, 2021, 12:24 AM IST
Do you have gluten intolerance

Gluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat, rye and barley. It has the unique property of helping foods hold their shape and hence it is used widely in the food industry.

Today, I will focus on gluten intolerance, symptoms of gluten tolerance, how to differentiate it from wheat allergy and some surprising foods where you might unexpectedly find gluten.

 

WHEAT ALLERGIES

 

Wheat is known to be a common allergen. So what is an allergy? The body's immune function is to protect itself from foreign pathogens by causing an immune response. Sometimes, the immune system responds or even over responds to substances that are not pathogenic to our body. This over response of the immune system is known as a hypersensitivity reaction or in simpler words, an allergy.

Common symptoms of wheat allergy include nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, irritation of your mouth and throat, hives and rash, nasal congestion, eye irritation, difficulty breathing. Sometimes in extreme cases, it can even cause anaphylactic shock which is a serious life threatening condition.

 

CELIAC DISEASE

 

Gluten intolerance is associated with celiac disease. There is of late also a trend in people having non-celiac gluten intolerance which we will talk about a little later.

Celiac disease is an autoimmune disease where your body reacts abnormally to gluten. On consumption of gluten, the cells of your immune system begin destroying the lining of your intestine. Celiac disease can have serious health consequences including permanent damage to your intestine.

If you have celiac disease, you might experience the following symptoms on consumption of gluten. These symptoms may include abdominal bloating and gas, chronic diarrhoea, constipation, pale, foul-smelling stools, stomach pain, nausea and vomiting.

Unaddressed celiac disease leads to various conditions such as malnutrition, fatigue, anemia, depression and anxiety, osteoporosis, joint pains, headaches, sores inside the mouth, infertility or frequent miscarriages, missed menstrual periods, tingling in the hands and feet.

 

NON-CELIAC GLUTEN INTOLERANCE

 

In non-celiac gluten intolerance, the person has symptoms which are gluten related but is neither celiac related or allergic. It is often difficult to diagnose as there are no tests available. A successful diagnosis can be made only by following an exclusion diet where you exclude wheat and related products from your nutrition.

Some of the symptoms of non-celiac gluten intolerance may include brain fog, fatigue, gas, bloating, abdominal pain and headache.

 

EXCLUSION

 

You might have realised until now that wheat allergy, celiac disease and non-celiac gluten intolerance have very close symptomatology. So if you suspect yourself having any gluten related problems do exclude it from your nutrition for a while and do contact your doctor for his advice.

Since gluten is present in wheat, barley and rye, avoid things like bread, pastas and cereal. Some of the surprising foods you might find gluten in are salad dressings, soups and food colourings. So, always make a habit to ensure to read the food labels carefully before products off the supermarket shelf. Some alcoholic drinks like beer and vodka may also contain gluten.

 

(Dr Rohan Fonseca is a clinician and proprietor of Dr Fonseca's Pathology Laboratory and Clinics, Panaji. A health and fitness enthusiast, he has started "drrohanfonseca", a lifestyle and weight management clinic. Find him on youtube.com/drrohanfonseca)


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