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    Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance

    David Greenberg
    Celiac Disease vs. Gluten Sensitivity or Gluten Intolerance
    Caption: Photo: CC--Andy G

    Celiac.com 11/13/2012 - Going gluten-free seems to be the newest dietary trend that many people are following, even if it is not mandatory for one’s health. This trend was brought on by an increased number of cases of celiac disease, and gluten sensitivity, also referred to as gluten intolerance. Both diagnoses come with the recommendation of avoiding gluten-containing foods (wheat, rye, barley), however both are different in the way the body is affected.

    Photo: CC--Andy GCeliac disease, also known as gluten sensitive enteropathy, is an autoimmune disease that affects the small intestine causing it to become inflamed when gluten is digested. The immune system then generates an abnormal response to gluten and attacks its own intestinal tissue.  This leads to the wasting away of the villi that line the small intestine, malabsorption of nutrients and thus malnutrition. Symptoms may include anemia, osteopenia, lactase deficiency, diarrhea, constipation, delayed growth, and weight loss due to malabsorption of nutrients. Other symptoms that may present are arthritis, dermatitis, infertility, muscle weakness, and constant fatigue. A series of tests and evaluations are performed including an examination of one’s family history as genetic predisposition is common, blood tests, and the final confirmation of an intestinal biopsy. Once confirmed a strict adherence to a gluten free diet is necessary.

    Non-celiac gluten sensitivity is often interchanged with gluten intolerance. There are cases where symptoms are less severe, which may be considered gluten sensitivity, whereas severe cases would be labeled as gluten intolerance due to the intensity and length of time symptoms last. Gluten sensitivity differs from celiac disease in that the body views gluten as an invader causing a direct response in the form of inflammation inside and outside of the digestive tract, and with this disorder one's own tissue (lining of small intestine) is not attacked, as we see with celiac disease. Once gluten is removed from the body, the inflammation goes away unlike the symptoms associated with celiac disease. Symptoms include bloating, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea due to the inflammation of the digestive tract. Headaches, lethargy, attention-deficit disorder, hyperactivity, muscle weakness/disturbances and joint pain may present as well. Tests performed for a diagnosis of celiac disease are usually done with the findings not showing the indicators necessary, leading to a trial gluten-free diet. With the diet, symptoms will disappear, and a diagnosis of gluten sensitivity will be given.

    Unfortunately celiac disease and gluten sensitivity are becoming increasingly prevalent. Thus it is important to know how each diagnosis affects the body, and the reasons for being put on a gluten free diet. With more research being done, there may soon be more answers as to why more cases continue to emerge.

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    Guest Brenda Llanas

    Posted

    Thank you for this site. Since I am relatively new at this, help is needed. There are so many good articles and recipes that choosing what to peruse first is a little bit difficult, but doable.

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    Guest Suzanne

    Posted

    Thank you for this site. Since I am relatively new at this, help is needed. There are so many good articles and recipes that choosing what to peruse first is a little bit difficult, but doable.

    I agree completely. Such a wealth of information is almost overwhelming, but in a good way. It's so nice to find answers.

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    Guest Paula Jack

    Posted

    I appreciate all the info. I recently learned I am intolerant to gluten so have had to make some big changes in my diet. Lots to learn.

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    Guest Tammy

    Posted

    Thank you for this site. Since I am relatively new at this, help is needed. There are so many good articles and recipes that choosing what to peruse first is a little bit difficult, but doable.

    Thank for the info. To Brenda and others, I have found 3 favorite cooking sites on line that are of great help besides this one. I really like the biscuit recipe here. The Gluten Free Goddess is a great site to learn the properties of the different flours you can use to cook with as well as fantastic recipes. The Baking Beauties is wonderful as well and one I use a lot. Elaina's Kitchen is my 3rd choice and a favorite of my friend. Once off of gluten, it is easy at home, less so in public, because of cross contamination. How kind of a famous sandwich place to have gluten-free bread, but a celiac can't eat there because of cross contamination. Many don't see the importance of this. Even buying from bulk bins at grocery stores is prohibited for the same reason. So buy packaged baking goods to guarantee gluten-free. Make it an adventure in cooking, not a "I can't have....anymore".

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    Guest Louise

    Posted

    I appreciate all the info. I recently learned I am intolerant to gluten so have had to make some big changes in my diet. Lots to learn.

    Just starting to read all the info on 'gluten intolerance' which I THINK I may have... I'm going to try to eliminate the cereal I have every morning! Do the 'digestive enzymes' help when trying to figure it all out?

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    Guest Senior Sal

    Posted

    Excellent post. My hubby is a severe celiac, diary and soy free. So when I needed to go on the gluten-free diet, it was pretty easy for me. After a week I could go up and down stairs and do the laundry WITH NO PAIN! And gas leaks stopped! It was a miracle. I could go places again. The digestive enzymes hide the stomach pain. I only take them now if I have gut pain and then re-read the box and there it is: may contain. Enzymes do not break down food, they are supposed to help digest, but they don't seem to work with wheat and dairy... Thank you for this post.

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    Guest Chris

    Posted

    Hi. My wife has been diagnosed with gluten intolerance / celiac disease (it was done in the 80s). Since then she has been on the diet (on and off really - allowing herself to eat gluten stuff every now and then). She had always had some of the listed symptoms after she had eaten gluten.

    Now the good news: after switching to a 100% (maybe 99%) diet for her pregnancy in 2010, and then giving birth to our daughter in 2011 she has been declared as cured. And the professor who was treating her said that she had self-healed herself.

    So keep up the hope.

     

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    Hi. My wife has been diagnosed with gluten intolerance / celiac disease (it was done in the 80s). Since then she has been on the diet (on and off really - allowing herself to eat gluten stuff every now and then). She had always had some of the listed symptoms after she had eaten gluten.

    Now the good news: after switching to a 100% (maybe 99%) diet for her pregnancy in 2010, and then giving birth to our daughter in 2011 she has been declared as cured. And the professor who was treating her said that she had self-healed herself.

    So keep up the hope.

    To Chris, whose wife has been declared "cured": if your wife was diagnosed with celiac disease via biopsy, then she has celiac disease for life. Celiac disease is an incurable autoimmune disorder. Even if she does not seem to be having symptoms, if her original diagnosis was indeed correct, she will still be causing serious damage to her body when ingesting gluten.

     

    If she is gluten sensitive or intolerant, it is possible that her body has changed over time and no longer has a poor reaction to gluten. I hope your wife gets herself checked out by a knowledgable GI doctor before returning to gluten for good. It would be a shame for her to be damaging her body by ingesting gluten if she believes that she has been cured, but in reality, is not.

     

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    I have recently determined, by an elimination diet, that I probably have a wheat sensitivity. My dad is also sensitive to wheat. My problem is finding food substitutes that don't cost an arm and a leg. I haven't yet had chance to check out the companies you list on this wonderful website. I plan to have my physician run two blood tests: IgG ant-wheat and Anti-gliadin. These tests should provide definitive answers. Again, thanks for this website.

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    Guest kam g

    Posted

    I appreciate all the info. I recently learned I am intolerant to gluten so have had to make some big changes in my diet. Lots to learn.

    My wife has been on a gluten free diet now for three years and we have discovered that even makeup and some shampoos have gluten. Yes there is a lot to learn.

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  • About Me

    David Greenberg graduated from NYU with a degree in economics. He has since joined the Good Greens team and become passionate about healthy living and healthy eating. Good Greens is a gluten-free and vegan protein bar company. David partners with other health writers and professionals to share healthy insight around the web. His web site is: http://www.goodgreens.com/.

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