In recent times, we have heard more and more people asking specifically for gluten-free food items. Have you ever wondered why?
Gluten is a protein found primarily in wheat, barley, and rye. If a person has a gluten intolerance, ingesting this protein can cause digestive problems such as bloating, abdominal pain, or diarrhea.
Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance. It is a serious autoimmune disease that occurs in genetically susceptible people where the ingestion of gluten leads to damage in the small intestine. It is estimated to affect 1 in 100 people worldwide.
However, 0.5–13% of people may also have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, a milder form of gluten intolerance that can still cause problems.
Both forms of gluten intolerance can cause widespread symptoms, such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, abdominal pain, headaches and in some cases depression.
Don’t get confused gluten intolerance with a wheat allergy. When a person has a wheat allergy, their body reacts to a protein in wheat, and this protein is not necessarily gluten. While an allergic reaction requires urgent care, intolerance is not immediately dangerous. However, it can cause discomfort and may affect a person’s overall health.
Products such as bread, cookies and biscuits, pasta, and some beers are made from wheat and barley. They contain gluten.
Gluten may also be in products that are not obviously cereal-based, such as seasonings, sauces, soups, canned foods, and spices. Foods that do not contain gluten include, fruits and vegetables, plain meat, poultry, and fish products, pulses, rice, and potatoes. A person looking to avoid gluten should be sure to check food labels carefully. Many fast foods contain gluten, but some major chains are now offering gluten-free options.
If you think you have either intolerance or allergy do not hesitate to consult a doctor.