Gluten. How can such a cute-sounding protein cause such mayhem within some of our bodies? In some, it can aggravate their autoimmune disease, in some people it flares up an allergic reaction while in others, it’s a culprit ruining their diet plans. Coming back to our question-how can this particular protein cause such distress in people? How does it harm our health? Why are some allergic to it? Am I one of them?
Well, these questions and thoughts had intimidated us too until we did our research and got to know more about what gluten is and what it can do to our bodies. So, we decided to share the information we found with you lovelies!
What is gluten and is it always bad?
Gluten, a protein found in certain cereals like wheat and barley, is a binder protein. Meaning, it holds the food together and adds a ‘stretchy’ quality to it. Without gluten, the dough would rip and fall off easily. Though negative media attention has placed gluten and wheat in a bad place, gluten does have certain health benefits. However, that outweighs the damage it can do to people with inherent conditions like Celiac disease and other diseases like gluten allergy and wheat allergy.
Why does Gluten cause an allergy?
But why does gluten cause allergy in some and not all? Well, gluten allergy, like any other allergy, happens when the body mistakenly considers it as a foreign substance or an allergen. The body then produces antibodies to these and uses coping mechanisms to fight this. But in people with Celiac disease, gluten causes an abnormal immune system reaction. The anaphylactic reaction in some people includes swelling and tightness of the throat, chest pain, severe difficulty in breathing, dizziness and or fainting. The immune system can also fight the natural structures in the gut wall, severely harming it. Since the body attacks itself is why gluten intolerance and Celiac disease are categorised as auto immune diseases.
Do I have a gluten allergy?
This can be a tough question to answer. It is so because, Celiac disease, gluten allergy, wheat allergy and irritable bowel syndrome are often very similar. Therefore, if you notice certain symptoms after eating any cereals pasta, or bread-for example, and if you develop any symptoms like stomach ache, rashes, hives, or stuffy nose, it is best to consult a doctor. The doctor, with the help of necessary investigative tests, can determine what exactly your condition is and will treat and guide you accordingly. So, the key is never to self-diagnose. Self-diagnose can sometimes even prove to be fatal.
Celiac disease or gluten allergy?
Though gluten plays a prominent role in both these health problems and they both are considered autoimmune diseases; the effects of these diseases are very different. The aftermath of a person with Celiac disease consuming gluten are long-term and sometimes, life-threatening because his or her immune system will attack against its body tissues. Whereas, the effects of gluten in a person with a gluten allergy can be short-term like belly ache or bloating and it is usually treatable and not life-threatening.
Is wheat allergy and gluten allergy the same?
Not exactly. A person with a wheat allergy is allergic to several food proteins found in wheat, and that includes gluten as well. Upon consumption of wheat, they experience a response from their immune system which, unlike Celiac disease, is temporary. It also does not cause any damage to the small intestine like in Celiac disease, unless the allergic reaction causes anaphylaxis. And the good news is, on the contrary to celiac disease and gluten allergy, wheat allergy can be outgrown with time.
As we said earlier, the best way to remove any misconceptions and apprehensions is to research and to get familiar with something. The same applies to gluten and the conditions associated with it. Getting diagnosed with a condition can be scary, we know. Or you might be wanting to switch to a healthier lifestyle. Whatever the case is, reach out, either speak to your doctor about your concerns or support groups who can help to guide you in this. There are hundreds of reliable blogs and pages (like ours), who went through such a struggle and are sharing the story of their journey with reliable and trustworthy information. So, remember, nothing is too scary or bothersome until you let it be.