There are a lot of people who don’t have a good understanding about gluten allergies, celiac disease, or the differences between them. Some people think that a person chooses to eat a gluten-free diet for no other reason than to lose weight. Here is a quick explanation of the confusion that surrounds gluten-allergies.
Celiac disease affects about 1% of the population. It is a genetic condition that causes a person’s body to be unable to tolerate, or properly digest, gluten. It actually causes damage to that person’s intestines. The inability to absorb food can lead to other health problems, like anemia, osteoporosis, and some neurological symptoms. Both children and adults can have celiac disease.
Gluten allergies, or gluten intolerances, are slightly different from celiac disease. The children and adults who are allergic to, or physically intolerant of, gluten do not cause damage to their intestines when they eat foods that have gluten in them.
Other than that, both groups share the same types of symptoms. Those symptoms can include: fatigue, headaches, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, or gastrointestinal distress after eating foods that contain gluten.
There are also people who do not have celiac disease, and who do not have a gluten allergy, but who are choosing to eat a gluten-free diet anyway. Most of the time, the people in this group are adults who believe that a gluten-free diet will help them to lose weight.
There really isn’t any evidence to prove that assumption. In fact, choosing to go on a gluten-free diet when you are able to properly digest foods that have gluten in them can be harmful to a person’s health. There is the possibility that a person who elects to follow a gluten-free diet will not get the right amount of fiber.
Some people believe that there is no such thing as a gluten allergy. I think that misconception started when celebrities, who had no food allergies at all, began choosing a gluten-free diet for weight loss. In reality, it is entirely possible that your child could have a gluten-allergy, or could have celiac disease.
Do you think your child has a gluten-allergy? Start paying attention to how he or she feels after eating foods like toast or pasta. Speak with your doctor if you notice a trend that indicates that your child could have a problem digesting gluten. You might want to seek the advice of an allergist.
If it turns out that your child does have this particular food allergy, then you are going to need to start looking for foods that are gluten-free. Fortunately, there is a growing industry of producers of gluten-free versions of the types of food that usually would contain a whole lot of gluten.
Image by Sean MacEntee on Flickr