Gluten intolerance or insensitivity is a fairly common problem. In this condition, a strong reaction is characterized by ingesting gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. A severe form of gluten intolerance can cause an autoimmune disease called, celiac disease. For celiacs, if they consume gluten varying from a minor to major quantity, their small intestine reacts massively to the food, causing indigestion & other symptoms. According to a study at AIIMS, Delhi, it is said that around 6-8 million Indians are affected by celiac disease. Some people can also suffer from non-celiac gluten insensitivity, which is a milder form of gluten intolerance.
Here are symptoms of both the forms of gluten intolerance:
- Belly Pain
- Abdominal pain
- Constant tiredness
- A headache
- Joint or muscle pain
- Smelly feces
- Skin Problems
- Unexplained Weight loss
- Iron Deficiency
- Autoimmune disorders
The symptoms may also depend on instances such as:
- The amount of consumption of gluten
- The age at which gluten is consumed by the person
- The intensity of damage to the small intestine
- The duration of time a person was breastfed since symptoms tend to appear later in those who were breastfed for longer.
Following foods contains gluten in them:
- Wheat (the main gluten food)
- Other grass-related grains
- All Bakery Items like Cake, Pastry etc.
- Wheat Starch
- Beer (Malt based)
- Some Spices & many more items that do not label their products as “Gluten Free”
The precise cause of gluten intolerance or celiac disease is unknown. However, certain trigger factor can provoke the onset of this ailment. Usually, a large number of celiac patients enjoy a normal childhood with a normal diet without any sensitivity to gluten-containing foods. But with time, they experience a massive change in their body. Or children also diagnose Celiac at the age of 4-5.
Interaction of genes, gluten-containing products, and other environmental factors can also cause celiac. The trigger factors can be emotional stress, surgery, pregnancy, childbirth or viral infection.
The development of celiac disease can be a result of the body’s immune system overreacting to gluten in the food. Due to this reaction, the tiny, hair-like projections (villi) on the lines of small intestines gets damaged. The role of Villi is to absorb vitamins, minerals and other nutrients from the food we eat. So, if the villi are damaged, the absorption of nutrients isn’t taking place, no matter how much you eat.
Celiac disease can also be developed through infant feeding practices, gastrointestinal infections, and gut bacteria.
Getting a proper diagnosis is very important. The diagnosis is generally based on the signs and symptoms that could signal gluten intolerance. Your doctor (gastroenterologist) may ask you for any wider signs and symptoms to rule out other potential problem like celiac disease.
Screening the blood is the most common type of test for further diagnosis. And the most accurate test for celiac disease is a small intestinal biopsy. While undergoing tests, the patient has to continue eating gluten, to find traces of gluten intolerance.
Preventive measures/ Alternatives:
Currently, the only alternative to get rid of this problem is to avoid gluten for life!
There is no full proof measure to treat gluten intolerance except gluten-free diet. When the gluten is avoided, the intestines will normally heal and symptoms disappear. However, eating gluten, again and again, will totally damage the small intestine, meaning it won’t be able to absorb any nutrient at all! Untreated Celiac or Being on a Gluten diet for Celiacs can cause Infertility, Miscarriage, Malnutrition, Osteoporosis, Neurological disorders & Cancer!
A person has to be well-aware of the foods which contain gluten and which do not. Nowadays, many food products have hidden gluten. Therefore, one can even take help of a qualified dietician or gluten detection in food laboratories.
To go for gluten-free labeled products, individuals must check the label carefully before buying or consuming them. Even manufacturers are required to provide information about the ingredients used to make their food. No product contains a total absence of gluten, ‘gluten-free’ indicates a harmless level of gluten.
Other than the above-mentioned food products, some foods containing gluten are:
- Processed foods like canned soups, salad dressings, ketchup and mustard, soy sauce, seasonings, ice cream, candy bars, canned meats, and sausages.
- Some medicines, Cosmetics, Toothpaste & Lipsticks can also contain gluten.
Here is a list of food that is naturally gluten-free:
- Rice, wild rice
- Millet, brown millet
- Cornito Nachos
- Eggs (Some restaurants use pancake batter to make scrambled eggs)
- Make a chart which contains a list of foods eaten and any symptoms that occur
- Increase the amount of liquid used while cooking
- Use washed utensils while cooking/having food.
- If at your home Wheat Bread/Chapati is cooked, make sure your chapati using Gluten Free Flour is cooked prior to other chapatis
- If you eat out frequently, learn about the places which don’t use wheat or anything related to gluten.
- You have a win-win situation by eating fruits and vegetables since they’re chock-full of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
- It is better to make your own sauces and dressings since they’ll taste better and healthier. You’d be better off using soybean oil, unnecessary sugar, and preservatives in bottled salad dressings and pre-packaged dips.
- If you can’t give up bread, get a bread machine of your own. Save money instead of buying store-bought gluten-free loaves. There are some great recipes on the internet.
- Take extra care of cross-contamination.
- Lastly, enjoy and appreciate your food. Don’t be upset about the foods you can’t eat. Besides, there are a lot of gluten-free options available these days.
Click Here to buy a variety of Gluten Free Products online. Also, there are many offline retailers who are supplying branded Gluten-Free Products with a huge variety of biscuits, flour, cakes, pastries, snacks, cake rusk, pasta/noodles, savories, breakfast cereal, chocolates & much more!
Folks, do not think about what people will talk about you & celiac. You just have one life, don’t bother about what people may think of!
Go-gluten free, enjoy life & make it a memorable one!
More than anything, just Be Happy & Be Peppy! LivePeppy. 🙂
Article Credits: Hafsa Zamindar | Mumbai | India