What is gluten|Celiac’s disease & Gluten Intolerance

Posted on September 16, 2009


gluten is evilLiving gluten- free (GF) is a big part of my life & has been since May of this year when I learned I had a gluten intolerance. There is volumes of info to share about Celiacs’ & Gluten Intolerance, so I’ve broken up my articles into more manageable bites. In this post, you will learn about gluten, Celiac’s disease & gluten intolerance.

Gluten is a protein found in many cereal grains & is the main protein found in wheat. It’s what makes dough soft & chewy & is vital to making bread in the traditional recipes. The major grains that contain gluten are: wheat, barley, rye & oats*. A complete list of the grains containing gluten is found below. Gluten is made up of amino acids, which are like building blocks for that protein. Gliadan is one form of gluten, and is generally recognized as the problem for those who have gluten intolerance or Celiac’s disease- which are very different forms of a similar problem.

Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance, recognized by villous atrophyin the lining of the stomach. The simple way to understand this is that Celiac patients are classified by a specific majormalabsorption issue in their small intestine. Gluten intolerance (non-Celiac) is a just as serious but not as severe. A gluten intolerant patient will not have the villous atrophyof a Celiac but will have symptoms that will limit their quality of life & could eventually become Celiac’s disease.

When a person ingests gluten regularly – which means they eat anything that comes from wheat/barley/rye/oats (like breads, pastas, muffins, cereals, baked goods) or is made with gluten (including some coffee creamers, lunch meats, soy sauce, dry seasoning packets, some personal hygiene products & the list goes on and on), their body has to try to digest & absorb that large protein, gliadin. Since it cannot digest the gliadin, the body sends out antibodies to attack this offender which sets off an immune reaction in the body. See my post on a complete list of symptoms of this disorder for more details on this immune reaction.

 Gluten intolerance/Celiac’s disease are auto-immune disorders, which means if you are diagnosed with it, family members should also be tested because there is a high likelihood that 1 or more of them are carriers as well. These disorders lead a person to have serious malabsorption issues – since their small intestine is where vitamins & minerals are absorbed by the body – a person with either disorder can begin to have serious problems as they absorb less & less vitamins – specifically vitamin B12 absorption is seriously affected in patients. B12 play a major role in cellular function & since you are made up of cells that need to function, this is a problem that can affect your entire body.

*Oats do not contain gluten on their own, but are commonly mixed with gluten-containing grains, thereby making them contaminated & a no-go for someone with gluten intolerance. If your doctor is ok with it, Certified GF(Gluten Free) Oats can be an option for porridge but some people also have an allergy to oats, and must avoid those as well.

Gluten-containing grains: Wheat, barley, rye, oats*, durum wheat, kamut, spelt, einkorn, triticale, semolina, bulgur, wheat germ, couscous, farina, emmer, matzoh, graham……*remember that there are a vast majority of processed & packaged foods out there that also have wheat gluten in them so you have to read labels.

Link to “safe” foods for gluten intolerant:     http://www.celiac.com/categories/Safe-Gluten%252dFree-Food-List-%7B47%7D-Unsafe-Foods-%26amp%3B-Ingredients/

(Healthier Without Wheat, Dr. Stephen Wangen)