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Know the difference between Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance and Wheat Allergy

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What is Gluten?

Gluten is a combination of two proteins called gliadin and glutenin. Both are found in the endosperm of the wheat, barley and rye plants, and sometimes oats. Gluten is the protein that nourishes wheat during germination from seed to plant. The glutenin in the wheat flour gives dough its elasticity and allows leavening; glutenin also contributes to the chewiness of baked goods. For many people, these proteins do not digest appropriately and the body reacts with a variety of symptoms.

Difference between Celiac Disease, Gluten Intolerance and Wheat Allergy

Celiac Disease, wheat allergy and gluten-intolerance are treated similarly as they have very similar signs, symptoms and treatment. However, there is a difference between these three medical problems. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition, which puts people with celiac disease at risk for malabsorption of food, which causes nutritional deficiencies.

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease is the most severe form of gluten intolerance/sensitivity. However, you can be gluten intolerant/sensitive and not have celiac disease. People with wheat allergy or gluten-intolerance usually do not have such severe intestinal damage, nor are they at risk for developing other autoimmune conditions and nutritional deficiencies, it is very important to be properly diagnosed.

Gluten Intolerance

Gluten intolerance is non immune medicated and is considered to be an inability to tolerate or digest gluten, while gluten sensitivity is an immune reaction and intolerance to the protein gluten. This means that sensitivity to gluten can be linked to both and intolerance and an allergy to gluten proteins. People who are gluten sensitive (GS) cannot tolerate gluten and may develop gastrointestinal symptoms similar to those found in celiac disease; however these symptoms are generally less severe.


Wheat Allergy

A wheat allergy may sometimes be confused with celiac disease, but these conditions are different. A wheat allergy is an immune mediated response which generates an allergy-causing antibody to proteins found in wheat. This means that your immune system reacts to the gluten proteins. The allergic reaction involves at least one of the following proteins found in wheat: albumin, globulin, gliadin, and glutenin.
The easiest way to diagnose a wheat allergy is to eliminate foods containing wheat. After a few days wheat is then reintroduces in intervals. Carefully keeping track of each item consumed and the symptoms felt, a patient can then identify which particular foods are causing problems.
The other clinical way to discover whether wheat or gluten is causing your immune system to react is to get an IgG blood test. We prefer Alletess Lab’s finger stick blood spot test that we can do in the office.

Check out Alletess website for more information regarding these tests: http://www.foodallergy.com

Resources:

Life Without Bread; Christian B. Allan, PhD & Wolfgang Lutz MD
Dangerous Grains; James Braly MD & Ron Hoggan MA
Wheat Belly; Williams Davis MD
Hidden Food Allergies; James Braly MD & Patrick Holford

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