Is gluten really Public Enemy #1? It seems that everyone is eliminating gluten from their diet for one reason or another. Restaurants and supermarkets offer a wide variety of gluten-free foods. Years ago, physicians advised a gluten-free diet only for individuals who had celiac disease (CD), which is an autoimmune disease that largely effects the small intestine.
Gluten are proteins contained in wheat and other grains.
We are learning more about how gluten can irritate the digestive system of people who do not have CD. Some patients simply have difficulty tolerating gluten-rich foods and rarely, patients can have an actual allergy to gluten and wheat products. Unlike actual celiac disease, we do not have accurate tests to determine the presence of these other gluten disorders.
Symptoms of gluten intolerance and wheat allergy can mimic those of CD, lactose intolerance, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease. All of these conditions can have bloating, cramps and diarrhea. Gluten intolerance is much more common than celiac disease. And, these symptoms could also be a side effect of one of your own medicines!
Finally, there are patients who have none of these gluten conditions, but yet feel better on a gluten free diet. When I see such a patient, even if I can’t explain it, I accept that the patient knows best since no one knows your body better than you.
Do you suspect that gluten might be your ‘enemy’? I would be pleased to discuss this with you personally.
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