Gluten intolerance or sensitivity has also been referred to as Coeliac Disease. However they are actually 2 different responses to the proteins found in gluten containing grains. A true coeliac has an auto-immune reaction to gluten, causing damage to the villi in our intestinal lining. These villi are little finger like projections, which allow us to absorb nutrients from food. In the presence of gluten, the body attacks itself in these individuals, damaging the villi and stopping nutrient absorption.
There are a broad range of symptoms that can occur, the most common being GIT upsets:
- Diarrhoea or constipation, which can alternate
- Bloating and nausea
- Stomach pains
- Fatigue and tiredness
- Re-occuring mouth ulcers
- Nutrient deficiencies, particularly iron, zinc, Vit D and calcium
- Weight loss or poor growth (particularly in children)
These symptoms are insidious and could be caused by many different conditions. If you suspect gluten sensitivity, a good place to start is to keep a food diary of what you eat and your symptoms.
You can do what is called a Food Detective Professional test which picks up specific IgG antibodies in your blood serum. This test is available in clinic (I perform them regularly in my clinic with good results), and involves a simple finger prick of blood. It takes roughly an hour to develop, and shows up any food intolerances present based on the antibodies reaction to the food samples in the test tray. There is some debate about whether this type of test works effectively. I can say from my own clinical experiences that patients who use this test and follow the results show
dramatic improvements to their health and wellbeing.
Another option is to try a gluten free diet, and watch your bodies’ reactions. You can slowly reintroduce gluten containing foods and record your reactions. You may find that your bloating and irregular bowel habits rectify themselves once gluten is removed. This is a good confirmation that you are having difficulties with gluten.
If you are faced with removing particular foods from your diet, this can be quite daunting. Take comfort that there are plenty of alternatives out there, and this can be an exciting time of trying and discovering new foods and tastes.
Working closely with a naturopath or nutritional expert will ensure you have lots of dietary options and information available to you.
A quick run down of gluten containing and gluten free grains:
Gluten containing grains include:
Gluten Free Grains
- Oats – you can buy gluten free oats that are not contaminated with wheat
For recipes and inspiration on your gluten free journey, please contact me for a consultation and keep an eye on Wholesome Chick for delicious meals and food options.
Yours in Health
Ally Chick :) xx