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gluten intolerant

Understanding Gluten Intolerance

basics-of-gluten

Image is from Doctor Doni

Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye, kamut, spelt, and other grains. A gluten intolerance does not necessarily mean you have Celiac disease. There are many people who cannot tolerate gluten that do not test positive for Celiac disease. Tests for Celiac disease include:

  • Biopsy of small intestine
  • Reticulin antibody test
  • Endomysial antibody test
  • Transglutaminase antibody test

Many of the patients who tested negative for Celiac disease do have results that indicate they are gluten intolerant, however, which is a good starting point to receiving proper treatment.

How to Test for Non-Celiac Gluten Intolerance

The Gliadin antibody test is often positive when other tests, such as those above, are negative. While Gliadin antibodies will not result in a diagnosis of Celiac disease, they do indicate that your immune system is reacting against the Gliadin, which is a part of what makes up gluten.

Celiac disease is just another name for a condition called villous atrophy, which causes visible changes in the lining of your digestive tract. While villous atrophy can result from an immune reaction to gluten, it is only one possible result. In a nutshell, Celiac disease is just one type of gluten intolerance.

Other Tests for Gluten Intolerance

IgE and IgG are antibody tests for allergic reactions that can include numerous foods and food components. In this case, these tests are run to determine gluten intolerance. Most non-Celiac gluten sensitivity patients have elevated antibodies to:

  • Gluten
  • Gliadin
  • Barley
  • Rye
  • Wheat
  • Spelt

These patients usually feel much better after eliminating the foods they test positive for. In addition to several GI symptoms such as IBS, constipation, diarrhea, heartburn, bloating, or gas, patients with gluten sensitivity can also experience:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Eczema or other skin rashes
  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Arthritis

What if You Already Know You Can’t Gluten?

According to Dr. Stephen Wangen, co-founder and Medical Director of the IBS Treatment Centers in Seattle, WA, and Los Angeles, CA, there are many patients who determine, through trial and error, that they can’t eat gluten. And if you have already found this to be true and have stopped eating gluten, it is highly likely that any tests run will come back negative.

Treatment

The treatment plan for any type of gluten intolerance is as simple as it can be complicated: avoid gluten. It is complicated, because gluten hides in many foods that you would not think contained any gluten. One example of this is corn syrup. Corn syrup contains gluten and it is a very common ingredient in so many of our processed foods today. It is even most sodas, condiments, sauces, and ice creams.

Avoiding the list of grains above is the easy part, however, in order to maintain a gluten-free diet, you must read labels on every product you buy. It sounds daunting, but after a few trips to the store, you will have a good working knowledge of what you can and cannot digest. Then you will just have to read the labels on any food product you have never eaten before.

More and more grocery stores are now carrying a gluten-free line of foods and many of them are quite tasty. Again, you will go through a process of trial and error trying these new foods and determining whether you like them or not, but it is definitely worth it.

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