There is a big difference between celiac disease and gluten intolerance, and while they are both serious conditions, celiac disease can be a lot more severe. Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten, and can cause a sudden and violent allergic reaction in sufferers. The basic science behind the disease is that the proteins (glutelins and prolamins) allow the cells in your small intestine to open a little too much which allows gluten and toxins to enter the bloodstream. This is often called leak}’ gut syndrome. In the most acute cases a reaction can be caused simply by eating something that has been prepared on the same work surface as something containing gluten which hasn’t been completely sterilized.
Celiac disease is essentially an auto-immune disorder, however it is also a mal absorption disorder as it prevents the body absorbing essential nutrients from food. One of the most damaging side effects of celiac disease is malnutrition. This is because it actually attacks the body itself, damaging the inside of the small intestine. The small hair like lining of the small intestine, known as villi are essential to help increase the surface area of the intestine and maximize the absorption of nutrients. The auto-immune response to the foreign bodies being released into the bloodstream damages these tiny hairs and can completely flatten them in acute cases, rendering them all but useless.
Gluten intolerance tends to have a slower onset than celiac disease, and is often hard to diagnose as it has a broad range of symptoms and causes, many of which are overlooked as just being part of the stresses and strains of modern day living.
Both celiac disease and gluten intolerance can be greatly exacerbated by mental, physical or emotional stress, which means that many people are managing to live with either celiac disease or gluten intolerance without realizing. It is only when they suddenly find themselves getting run down that their symptoms flare up, however they are commonly overlooked as there are other issues that are more prominent and will more than likely get the blame.
What foods is it in?
Many people think that gluten is only found in foods such as bread, bagels or breaded meats and fish, however this is far from the case. Gluten has found its way into a huge range of foods thanks to its ability to thicken. You will find gluten in food stuffs such as soups, sauces, ready meals and even salad dressings or marinades. Wheat flour is the main source of gluten in most of these foods, however you may well be surprised at just how many things list gluten in the allergens section of their labels as it is present in an ingredient other than wheat flour. If you are serious about cutting gluten out of your diet then you will need to start religiously checking labels to see if it is hidden in there somewhere. Thankfully nearly all products will list gluten in the allergy advice section, however it is all too easy to just sling something into your trolley assuming that it will be gluten free when in fact it isn’t.
Just to give you an idea of where you might find gluten unexpectedly:
Ketchup; Brown Sauce; Mustard; Soup; Cous cous; Sausages; Soy sauce;
Instant gravy powders;
As you can see, gluten is being used in many of our everyday foodstuffs, so unless you get into the habit of carefully reading labels you may well find you are inadvertently consuming it on a daily basis. Now if you don’t suffer from celiac disease you might not think this is a problem, however many people suffer from an intolerance, sometimes only mild, without realizing.
Making a conscious effort to remove gluten from your diet completely could leave you feeling like a new person.