Gluten is a protein found in wheat products such as bread, pasta, and cakes. In recent years, it has been popularized as the cause of some adverse symptoms. Many people all over the world have removed gluten from their diets completely in the interests of health and well-being. But is this really necessary, or is gluten intolerance simply another food fad?
Gluten intolerance is when sufferers experience delayed discomfort when eating products containing gluten. Unlike food allergies, gluten intolerance is not life-threatening but can be uncomfortable for people suffering from the condition.
The symptoms of gluten intolerance can vary in severity, from mild gastric discomfort, to cramps, migraines, nausea and even fatigue. These symptoms are usually delayed by up to 72 hours after ingestion of gluten. These symptoms typically disappear within a few weeks after gluten has been removed from the diet.
Many people confuse celiac disease with gluten intolerance. However, these are two very different conditions in both the way that they are caused and the way that they are tested for. Celiac disease is an auto-immune disease, meaning it is a disease where the body’s immune system reacts negatively and attacks the body. Celiac disease is triggered by gluten, and the body’s immune system, then targets and attacks the gut. While medications for celiac disease exist, the best cure is prevention by not eating products containing gluten.
Similar to celiac disease, a gluten intolerance is also a delayed biological response, but it produces mild symptoms that are not life-threatening. Gluten intolerance can result in an inflammatory response, but this response does not directly attack the gut and doesn’t require medication to control.
A common misdiagnosis, it’s estimated that up to 95% of people who think they're gluten intolerant are actually not. What's more likely to be happening is that they're sensitive to some other compound found in the foods that they’re eating that they've yet to identify.
Food intolerances usually make themselves known long after the food has been eaten. Some people who are intolerant to a fruit may find that they feel fine on the day that they ate the fruit, but may feel sick in the days after. This means that deciding if you’re gluten intolerant isn’t as easy as thinking: ‘I’ve eaten bread, and I feel sick, so it must be the bread that’s causing it,' as it could be something that you’ve eaten a couple of days before.
The most reliable way of testing for food intolerances is to have an IgG (FC Fragment Specific), Antigen, Antiserum, Control test to determine a your food sensitivities. If it reveals that you are gluten intolerant, cutting out gluten can have a very beneficial impact on your health. And, if you’re not intolerant to gluten, knowing this will help you avoid the pitfalls of the gluten-free fad!