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Gluten intolerance: causes, symptoms and treatment

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Gluten intolerance: causes, symptoms and treatment
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Gluten is created while forming a dough with four and water.  It is the mixture of starch and water that forms gluten. Gluten combines glutenin and gliadin, two proteins found in cereals such as wheat, barley or rye. Gluten intolerance is a condition that must be taken seriously as it can have negative effects on intestinal health.

What causes gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance is an auto-immune condition.  The immunity system detects substances contained in gluten as dangerous for the body.  This damages the intestinal surface, disrupting its capacity to absorb essential nutrients and foods.  We don’t know the precise reasons why some people can develop a gluten intolerance although genetic factors could play a part.

What are the symptoms?

Gluten intolerance is defined as an abnormal physiological reaction caused by the poor digestion of cereal protein.  It causes intestinal difficulties as the gluten destroys the folds in the lining of the small intestine causing a chronic inflammation of the intestine.  As a result nutrients are no longer absorbed correctly.

Here are some of the main symptoms:

  • Eye fatigue,
  • Digestive problems (diarrhea, abdominal pain, gas, constipation, heartburn …),
  • Keratosis pilaris (goose bumps on the back of the arms),
  • Feeling tired after eating foods containing gluten
  • Sometimes: rheumatoid arthritis, colitis or lupus,
  • Neurological problems (vertigo, loss of balance),
  • Hormonal irregularities (abnormal hair growth, late menstruation …),
  • Frequent migraines,
  • Pain and swelling of the joints,
  • Sudden changes in mood (anxiety, euphoria),
  • Difficulty concentrating …

In any case of doubt you can contact you GP who can take your blood sample on an empty stomach.  Depending on the results of the blood test, your doctor can decide whether or not you need an intestinal biopsy which involves taking a tissue sample from the upper small intestine.

What foods should you avoid?

Any dishes, products and prepared foods that are cereal or wheat, rye or barley flour based contains gluten.

Here is a list of foods that you should avoid if you suffer from a gluten intolerance:

  • Beer,
  • Cereals,
  • Bread,
  • Cakes and biscuits,
  • Fried foods,
  • Pasta,
  • Soy sauce
  • Prepared dishes or products made with rye, barley or wheat flour. 

Rice and corn are also cereals however they don’t contain gluten.

How can you treat gluten intolerance naturally?

The best way to avoid symptoms connected to gluten intolerance is to avoid all products and foods that contain gluten. This way your small intestine can reestablish itself to a good working order.  However your small intestine can’t get back on track until you have completely excluded gluten from your diet.

If an person intolerant to gluten does not follow a strictly gluten free diet, their intolerance to gluten can become chronic or they could develop chronic celiac disease.

After two weeks, a gluten free diet can help to reduce symptoms however you will need to wait 6 to 12 months for all symptoms to disappear.


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