What Exactly Is Gluten Sensitivity?
Gluten Sensitivity is an autoimmune reaction in the body to
the consumption of the proteins contained in wheat, barley and
rye. Gluten is the common name given to the protein part of
these grains. It gives the dough the elasticity necessary for
making things like bread.
It is the protein in wheat that gives bread it's structure.
In wheat there are two components of this protein on
the molecular level that can cause problems. They are called
gliadin and glutenin. Glutenins are in wheat starch, and some
people do react to them. It is gliadin that causes most
reactions though. In barley the protein is hordein, and in
rye it is secalin.
In those people who are born with the genes associated with
gluten sensitivity, these molecules cause an immune reaction in
the body. The body begins to produce anti-gliadin antibodies,
which can be measured on tests.
If they inherited the genes for celiac disease, the
antibodies will cause the person's own immune system to attack
the lining of the small intestine, destroying the little
finger-like projections, (villi), that absorb nutrients from
food. This damage will lead to malabsorption of nutrients and
cause vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
What About Oats?
Wheat, barley, and rye definitely must be avoided. Oats raised
commercially are also processed on the same equipment as
wheat, barley and rye, and therefore they are cross
There is some controversy about oats in the diet as some
people with celiac disease seem to tolerate them, while others
It is best to avoid them at least until you have healed, and
then only to consume them in limited quantities, provided that
they are certified gluten free, and as long as your doctor
approves. You may need monitoring for antibody levels to see
if you are having an immune reaction to them.
Recent studies show most celiacs are able to tolerate them
after healing, in moderate amounts (up to 3/4 cup for adults,
and 1/4 cup for children per day). There is still a certain
percentage of celiacs that do have an immune reaction to
the avenin protein in oats, even those certified as gluten free.
A recent test has shown that a high percentage of oats labeled
as pure or clean are still cross contaminated at various
There is no cure for celiac disease or a gluten/gliadin
sensitivity. There is only control. The only way to stop the
immune reaction is by complete avoidance in the diet.
The gluten free diet must be maintained for life. Even a tiny
amount of wheat, barley or rye can cause an immune reaction, and
create more damage. For the person with celiac disease or gluten
sensitivities, eating it is like swallowing a toxic substance.
The Spectrum Of Gluten Sensitivity
Gluten Sensitivity can provoke all sorts of
that are not even intestinal. Some people get headaches, memory problems or even
rather than abdominal pain. Others can be hyperactive, or have
gait problems. The spectrum can range from no symptoms at all to
those that are so severe the person cannot function. These
reactions are not limited to those with the genes for celiac
Most people who are sensitive to gluten but do not carry the celiac
gene tend to have more neurological symptoms than the typical
gastrointestinal ones. Because their symptoms present in other
parts of the body, the connection to gluten is not easily made.
A home gluten sensitivity test
might be necessary to get an answer.
Share YOUR Story About Gluten Sensitivity.
Do you have a personal story about discovering the role of gluten sensitivity in your health?
Share it and help others learn what to look for.
What Other Visitors Have Shared
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
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