What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein that holds bread together and gives it its elasticity.
Where do you find gluten?
Gluten is found in wheat and wheat varieties including bulgar, semolina, spelt, kamut, farro, durum as well as rye, barley, triticale and oats. Gluten is also found in any product that contains ingredients derived from these items such as barley malt, beer, etc.
What is the difference between Celiac disease and gluten sensitivity and wheat allergy?
Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease where gluten causes a person’s body to attack itself. Specific anti-bodies are released by the body causing a number of symptoms affecting different areas of the body.
Gluten intolerance is not caused by the immune system or antibodies but may include gastrointestinal symptoms such as stomach upset, gassiness, abdominal pain and/or distention, and diarrhea.
Wheat allergy is when the body has an allergic reaction to wheat. This causes histamine to be released and may affect the skin, mouth, lungs, and gastrointestinal tract. This is a different system than the one that is deployed with an auto-immune disorder.
Can you still eat a little gluten if you have celiac disease?
No, eating gluten will cause damage to the small intestine and, among other unpleasant side effects, will substantially increase the risk for developing lymphomas.
How do I know if I have celiac disease?
Celiac disease is typically genetic, however, if you suspect you have celiac disease talk to your Copeman physician who can order a screening blood test and then refer you onto a gastroenterologist for an endoscopy, if necessary, to confirm the diagnosis.
What are the symptoms of celiac disease?
Symptoms of celiac disease include, but are not limited to the following:
- Unexplained iron-deficient anemia
- Excessive bruising
- Canker sores
- Itchy skin rash (dermatitis herpetiformis)
- Depression and/or anxiety
Is there a cure for celiac disease?
No, but there is treatment. Those diagnosed with celiac disease must adhere to a strict gluten free diet for life.
If you suspect you may have celiac disease, please speak with your Copeman Healthcare team who can help diagnose your symptoms. If you are found to have celiac disease, your Copeman team can help you manage your new gluten-free lifestyle with ease.
This Q&A has been adapted with permission from a recent client seminar presented by Dr. Hister at the Copeman Healthcare Centre in Vancouver.
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