If food allergy testing uncovers celiac disease, wheat allergies or gluten intolerance, the only option is a gluten free diet.
Gluten is a protein-carbohydrate mix found in wheat and wheat products. Gluten intolerance, which is a type of food allergy, is becoming more common as more people are developing sensitivities to gluten. Wheat allergy in the form of celiac disease is the body’s inability to handle wheat and sometimes other grains containing gluten.
Symptoms of celiac disease can include weight loss and anemia. It is worth remembering that rye, barley and occasionally oats can trigger gluten intolerance reactions. Food allergy testing is the only way to determine if either wheat allergy or gluten intolerance is the root of the problem. If so, the answer is a gluten-free diet.
Celiac Disease and Gluten Intolerance
At one time celiac disease affected around one in every 200 people. Today, the figure is thought to be close to one in every 33. Some experts such as James Braly, MD believe it is actually more common than that.
He also believes many cases of related gluten intolerance go undiagnosed every year. Wheat is one of the seven most common allergens in a standard Western diet. In his book Dangerous Grains he reports many nutritionists, naturopaths and doctors look at wheat allergies and gluten intolerance as a first step for patients with multiple complaints. They then recommend food allergy testing and a gluten free diet. Celiac disease can often go undiagnosed as it is often mistaken for irritable bowel syndrome.
Food and Allergy Testing
A specific way to screen for celiac disease is to have an anti-endomysial, anti-gliadin and tissue transglutaminase antibodies test, according to Liz Lipski, Phd. Anti-endomysial antibodies are the most specific. Other food allergy testing should include: wheat, oats, rye, barley, gluten and gliadin with IgE and IgG antibody testing. Gluten antibodies are positive in anyone with celiac disease and gluten intolerance. IgA levels are also higher in those with celiac disease. Intestinal permeability screening is also suggested to test for leaky gut syndrome or intestinal hyperpermeability. A comprehensive digestive stool analysis and lactose intolerance testing is also advised.
A Gluten Free Diet
Any gluten free diet should obviously eliminate all gluten and gluten containing products. Grain alternatives such as corn, quinoa, rice and buckwheat are all non-glutenous. It is important to read all labels carefully. Foods such as texturized vegetable protein, desserts, processed meats, cheese, dairy and pasta often contain gluten. Some people with gluten intolerance can tolerate oats. Digestive enzymes can also be useful to aid digestive function. Specific amylast enzymes can be especially beneficial.
James Braly, MD. Dangerous Grains: Why Gluten Cereal Grains May Be Hazardous To Your Health. Penguin Putnam.
Elson M Hass, MD. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. Celestial Arts.
Elizabeth Lipski, Phd. Digestive Wellness. McGraw Hill.