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The Gluten Free Report: PART II

Six friends sit down to eat dinner at a wonderful restaurant, and five of them order gluten-free meals. Does this mean all five have celiac disease?

No. In fact, each one of the five out of the six friends might have a completely different gluten based problem. In today’s blog, the Center for Natural and Integrative Medicine continues its gluten-free report with an explanation of each of the major types of gluten sensitivities, so that you can differentiate among them.

In the first place, there is no such thing as a gluten allergy, not exactly. One of the friends in the scene above might say she has a gluten allergy, but medical science doesn’t use the term, and most gluten reactions don’t involve true allergic reactions anyway.
Don’t worry! Your friend isn’t lying when she says she has a gluten allergy.
She is merely using a popular misnomer or slang, “for one of the recognized medical conditions that involves immune system reactions to gluten.”
These reactions are not allergies, but immunology disorders.

1. Celiac disease:  This is the most well-known form of “gluten allergy,” In spite of the fact it is absolutely not an allergy. Celiac disease “is a serious autoimmune disorder for which the only current treatment is lifelong avoidance of gluten-containing foods.” We explained Celiac disease, in Part I of this report, of our most recent blog. By the way, you might find it helpful to review Part I, before continuing with this one. If your friend with celiac disease eats gluten (a protein found in the grains wheat, barley and rye), the gluten triggers her immune system to take a very destructive action.

Her (or his) immune system will attack the lining of the small intestine. Sooner or later, the triggering “will eat away the lining of the small intestine and villus atrophy will occur.” The condition often causes symptoms in your digestive system but can affect other parts of your body, too.

2. Non-celiac Gluten Sensitivity:  Gluten Sensitivity is also known as “non-celiac gluten sensitivity.” someone who doesn’t have celiac disease and says she has a “gluten allergy,” probably has been diagnosed with non-celiac gluten sensitivity. The condition imitates celiac disease, and causes difficulty in diagnosis. There is no clear-cut test for this condition. The treatment is to cut gluten out of the diet completely.

3. Gluten Intolerance. Gluten intolerance is another expression used in previous times for patients who tested negative for celiac disease but could not eat foods with gluten in them. You will find this in many Google searches. What is confusing is that, some people use the term to actually mean they have celiac disease. But these days, the term “non-celiac gluten sensitivity” is replacing the old-fashioned and vague expression, “gluten intolerance,” for people who don’t have celiac disease. “Gluten intolerance” can be viewed as a term that is just going out of style.

4. Dermatitis Herpetiformis: This is condition is also called the “gluten rash.” The major symptom is, of course, a terribly itchy skin and rash which is contracted and irritated by eating gluten. Allergies also manifest in rashes, so it is not surprising that dermatitis herpetiformis is mistakenly classified as a form of “gluten allergy.”

It is important to note, that like celiac disease, “dermatitis herpetiformis is autoimmune in nature (indicating an attack by your own immune system in response to gluten ingestion).” Some people are diagnosed with both dermatitis herpetiformis diagnosis and they have a positive reaction to celiac blood tests.

This indicates that they have celiac disease and the treatment is to avoid gluten. If you suspect you have dermatitis herpetiformis,you might check out this convenient site with photos, but you should also report to your doctor for an authentic diagnosis.

5. Gluten Ataxia:  With this gluten triggered reaction, a patient’s immune system attacks the brain and neurological system. As you might guess, it happens when the patient consumes foods containing gluten. This auto-immune condition is rare, but some scientists believe the number of people suffering from it are growing. Naturally, people with gluten ataxia must follow a gluten-free diet to prevent or avoid more neurological damage. Gluten free cooking has developed, as public awareness of the dangers of gluten has grown over the last few years. Fear not a lack of flavor!

Elana’s Pantry boasts a range of delicious gluten-free recipes and nutritious choices, no matter which of the five kinds of gluten sensitivities you or your friends have. She has even written a book about gluten-free cupcakes.

A Friendly Reminder For Your Calendar! We hope you have marked your calendar to spend some time with us May 22, at The Center For Natural and Integrative Medicine, for a very informative, even life-changing seminar on “Combating Diabetes.”  We will begin at 6:00 PM and you will be empowered to control this disease as opposed to letting it control you. Please call 407-355-9246 for your free reservation.

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