Over the last years, gluten has attracted so much attention of nutrition experts and food gurus. But what exactly is it? Gluten is a type of protein that is found in wheat, barley, rye and other food items. In fact, it is found in most of the food you can buy in the supermarket, so avoiding it is quite a challenge considering how common it is.
By its intrinsic nature, gluten is not toxic or harmful. However, it can cause problems indirectly to people by activating an autoimmune response in the body. This is the body’s defense mechanism and it is triggered when the body suspects that the newly entered compound is potentially hazardous to the body. As a result, numerous problems are caused to the body. These problems range from more noticeable ones like eczema, rashes and paleness, to problems that can’t be spotted by other people like: brain fog, depression, chronic fatigue and digestion problems.
There are two categories of gluten disease: celiac disease and light gluten sensitivity. Celiac disease is the more serious case. It takes tremendous toll on the body and people who suffer from it are most often found in hospitals, only to find that doctors don’t really know what’s wrong with them because gluten disease is something they are not familiar with. The autoimmune response triggered in the sufferer of the celiac disease causes damage to the thin lining on the small intestine, rendering it unable to absorb nutrients. This in turn leads to countless other complications.
Gluten sensitivity, on the other hand, is a lighter form of the disease. Some medical professionals don’t even accept it as a disease, while others do claim that it is a lighter form of celiac disease that doesn’t damage the small intestine but still triggers a noticeable response in the body.
Studies show that one in every hundred people suffers from some form of gluten-related disease. And even more shocking is the number of people who are not conscious of the fact that they are sufferers -95%. Testing for the disease is quite tricky. The only sure way to test is to cut the person up and inspect the small intestine. Since this way is understandably not acceptable, most people will rather choose to test by excluding all gluten rich foods from their diet and document how their body reacts. After a couple of weeks on a non-gluten diet, the subject is introduced to gluten once again. If his pretreatment symptoms return, than that is a sure sign that he has celiac disease.
Fortunately, the world is growing conscious of gluten intolerance and numerous gluten free products are available in most markets now.