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Gluten Sensitivity, Intolerance or Celiac Disease?

Celiac disease is an immune response which occurs when an individual eats any products containing wheat, rye, oats and barley. Eating the protein particles in these foods results in an immune reaction that, over a time period, causes inflammation in the intestinal tract. Repeat exposure to gluten proteins produces damage in the small intestine’s lining, prevention and absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption). It is important to note that not all individual experiencing reactions to gluten have celiac disease. There are 2 sub-levels of this condition: gluten sensitivity and intolerance. In most cases gluten sensitivity in which the individual experiences symptoms when exposed to gluten proteins. This is not usually a life-long condition; however, it can lead to chronic illnesses including inappropriate immune response, chronic inflammation, and nervous system imbalances. The following list include some of the symptoms associated with gluten sensitivity, intolerance or celiac disease:

  • Abdominal bloating or pain
  • Chronic diarrhea
  • Pale, foul smelling, or fatty stools
  • Iron deficiency anemia
  • Peripheral neuropathy
  • Missed menstrual periods
  • Recurrent miscarriage
  • Dermatitis herpetiformis
  • Constipation
  • Joint pain
  •  Arthritis
  • Bone loss
  • Depression
  • Infertility
  • Vomiting
  • Weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Seizures
  • Osteoporosis
  • Anxiety
  • Canker sores
  • Anorexia
  • Dental enamel hypoplasia
  • Short stature
  • Irritability
  • Delayed puberty

Sensitivity often resolves when gluten is removed from the diet. Sometimes,  gluten can be reintroduced to the body after a period of avoidance. On the other hand, gluten intolerance occurs when such symptoms as abdominal pain (similar to irritable bowel syndrome), fatigue, headaches and a “foggy mind persists without positive antibodies for celiac disease. A definitive diagnosis  for celiac disease usually requires either testing for gluten antibodies and/or an intestinal tissue biopsy. Although there is no “cure” for celiac disease, a strict gluten free diet helps to alleviate the symptoms. There are also a few natural treatments that can help to decrease the underlying intestinal inflammation. Glutamine has demonstrated the ability to restore healthy gut barrier function and permeability. It also enhances immune function and tissue repair in the digestive tract.

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