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Does Gluten Always Cause A Reaction?
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I just have a few questions re the mechanisms of coeliac disease. I'm a zoology student with coeliac disease (and associated conditions....gluten really reaked havoc on my body!) so am interested in the science, but I've always struggled with  comprehending the biology of the immune system. Maybe it's because mine's so rubbish, ha :P

Do we ALWAYS react to ingested gluten? Or does it sometimes 'slip through the net'? Obviously most of the time the body does react to glutenings (and boy do we suffer!), but could there be occassional times where the immune system doesn't respond?

ie., are antibodies produced immediately upon every exposure to gluten? And does some level of damage always ensue?

Don't worry, I'm not considering 'cheating' on the diet, I'm just interested in the mechanisms. :)

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Hi Hala,    I wondered the same thing.

 

I had procastinated going back on gluten to do the blood tests for fear of a wave of pain.

But it didn't happen like when I tested it 2 months after going gluten free +2 years ago. 

 

Now I'm consistantly eating bread everyday but the pain isn't consistant so I don't know what is going on.

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This is not an area of celiac knowledge that I have spent a lot of time on, so my thoughts may not be 100% informed. They have, however, guided me through almost thirteen years of being diagnosed with celiac disease and following the gluten-free diet.

Some people with celiac disease do not experience any detectable symptoms, even though there is damage to the villi. These "silent celiacs" never notice a reaction.

Celiac disease is a contest. Gluten causes the immune system to react. The more gluten, the larger the reaction. The reaction produces antibodies. Sensitivity, and therefore production levels, vary from person to person. The tests have limits and are not able to reliably detect antibodies at low levels.

Our bodies want to heal, and the villi slowly regenerate. How quickly this happens varies with many factors. Key ones are that younger people seem to heal faster, and that the more serious the damage originally was, the longer it may take.

So what does that all mean? It seems to me that as long as your healing rate is moving faster than the damage is being done, you are winning the game.

 

But if you want blood tests to be accurate (your insurance will only pay once), don't play around. Eat lots of gluten (a slice or two of regular bread a day) over a period of several weeks prior to testing.

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Hi Hala,    I wondered the same thing.

 

I had procastinated going back on gluten to do the blood tests for fear of a wave of pain.

But it didn't happen like when I tested it 2 months after going gluten free +2 years ago. 

 

Now I'm consistantly eating bread everyday but the pain isn't consistant so I don't know what is going on.

 

Hiya :). Back when I was eating gluten I didn't have particularly consistent symptoms either, although if I ate a gluten-heavy meal I definitely suffered heavily afterwards! But sometimes I wouldn't feel much of a reaction at all, or would feel crap after a non-gluten meal. Maybe some of the symptoms have time-lags? Or perhaps whilst the antibodies are always present, the symptoms come in waves? Tbh I felt so awful so much of the time I'm not sure the symptoms ever truly subsided!

Good luck with the testing, I hope you can say goodbye to gluten soon :)

 

This is not an area of celiac knowledge that I have spent a lot of time on, so my thoughts may not be 100% informed. They have, however, guided me through almost thirteen years of being diagnosed with celiac disease and following the gluten-free diet.

Some people with celiac disease do not experience any detectable symptoms, even though there is damage to the villi. These "silent celiacs" never notice a reaction.

Celiac disease is a contest. Gluten causes the immune system to react. The more gluten, the larger the reaction. The reaction produces antibodies. Sensitivity, and therefore production levels, vary from person to person. The tests have limits and are not able to reliably detect antibodies at low levels.

Our bodies want to heal, and the villi slowly regenerate. How quickly this happens varies with many factors. Key ones are that younger people seem to heal faster, and that the more serious the damage originally was, the longer it may take.

So what does that all mean? It seems to me that as long as your healing rate is moving faster than the damage is being done, you are winning the game.

 

But if you want blood tests to be accurate (your insurance will only pay once), don't play around. Eat lots of gluten (a slice or two of regular bread a day) over a period of several weeks prior to testing.

Thanks for the info :). I've actually already been diagnosed (very positive blood tests and completely destroyed intestines...the gastroenterologist said they were the worst he'd seen :/) and have been gluten-free for 6 months now, so I don't need to worry about testing or whatnot (which is free in the UK anyway, lucky us!). I was just curious about the science behind the disease.

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I know from doing two gluten challenges and several accidental glutenings in the past year that my mileage really varies. Not only was the severity of my reactions quite different, so were the symptoms. I had a mild anaphylactic type reaction one time, and the next, I was terrified that eating pure wheat crackers would kill me, but they didn't. Just had the usual post-gluten stuff a few days later.

 

So in my experience, yes, it varies a lot.

 

And of course, in no way am I recommending experimenting with this for yucks, I just did it under my doc's supervision because we had such a rough time getting a diagnosis.

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I know from doing two gluten challenges and several accidental glutenings in the past year that my mileage really varies. Not only was the severity of my reactions quite different, so were the symptoms. I had a mild anaphylactic type reaction one time, and the next, I was terrified that eating pure wheat crackers would kill me, but they didn't. Just had the usual post-gluten stuff a few days later.

 

So in my experience, yes, it varies a lot.

 

And of course, in no way am I recommending experimenting with this for yucks, I just did it under my doc's supervision because we had such a rough time getting a diagnosis.

It'd be interesting to find out what causes the variation! Maybe it depends on the strength of our immune system at the moment of ingestion? Or the region of the intestines targetted?

Yep I would never experiment for 'yucks' :P. The destruction celiac disease reaped on my body led to me being hospitalised for several weeks on end this year. I'm still recovering from the awful damage and malabsoprtion, no way would I ever purposely make it worse!!! I want to feel better :(

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