What's the fuss about gluten?

Gluten: "1. The mixture of proteins, including gliadins and glutelins, found in wheat grains, which give wheat dough its elastic texture. 2. Any of the prolamins found in cereal grains, especially the prolamins in wheat, rye, barley, and possibly oats, that cause digestive disorders such as celiac disease."

~ free dictionary

Gluten sensitivity is complicated. It's a broad term under which falls a few different conditions. The most severe form of gluten sensitivity is Celiac disease (also called celiac sprue, nontropical sprue, or gluten sensitive enteropathy). Aren't you glad you asked! It is a chronic, genetic disease associated with the HLA-DQ2 or 8 gene,  affects twice as many women as men, and is primarily found in people of northwestern European descent. The most recent numbers show that it affects about 1 in 100 people. Doctors can test for celiac, but it might require several tries. Even then, it’s not always successfully diagnosed. Celiacs cannot digest the gliadin in gluten. In fact, gluten acts like sandpaper going through the intestines of celiacs, destroying the tiny villi. The longer it goes untreated, the more damage is done to the intestines, leading to leaky gut syndrome and more food allergies. 

Many people have similar symptoms as celiacs, but are actually gluten intolerant or allergic to gluten. In fact, 1 in 4 people are believed to have some sort of gluten intolerance. Symptoms can include: recurring attacks of diarrhea and constipation, gas, bloating, muscle weakness, joint pain, anemia, gray or tan stools, depression, fatigue, brain fog, cramps, mouth sores, and skin rashes. Some research has shown a connection between schizophrenia and gluten intolerance. 

As research continues, there’s been new evidence that suggests it might not be the gluten in foods that are the problem, but rather the FODMAPs. Like I said, there’s still much debate about this even among alternative doctors. My guess is that there are those who are most sensitive to gluten or at least the FODMAP foods that also contain gluten and others who are sensitive to all FODMAPs. 

Read my latest short essay on FODMAPs. I’ll be adding more information to that page and this one, as we understand more.


© Bobbi Mullins 2011, All rights reserved. FOOD FITNESS FAITH™