Gluten-Free Diet

Gluten-Free Diet for Gluten Intolerance

(Wheat-, Spelt-, Rye-, Triticale-, Oat-, Barley, Kamut-Free)

Background

Gluten is a water-insoluble protein fraction present in some cereal grains. One of gluten’s component proteins, gliadin, is the cause of some individual’s intolerance or sensitivity reactions to grains such as wheat, spelt, rye, triticale, oats, barley and kamut. The cause of this intolerance or sensitivity is still theoretical.

One possible explanation is that the deficiency of an intestinal enzyme results in the incomplete breakdown of gluten (gliadin) protein, forming toxic peptides (smaller molecules than the original protein) that accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract and eventually damage intestinal villi—where nutrient absorption normally occurs. Another theory implicates abnormal gluten (gliadin) protein-binding sites or receptors on the surface of intestinal cells, resulting in the abnormal binding of these proteins to the cells, then causing the cells’ destruction. Other explanations involve immunological defects or viral infections that result in the inactivation of gastrointestinal cells.

Whatever the mechanism of the intestinal cell damage following gluten (gliadin) intolerance, the resulting condition is a primary chronic intestinal malabsorption that typically and most severely involves the part of the small intestine that comes directly off the stomach (i.e. the duodenum etc.). This pathological process can be acute, subacute or insidious (occurring gradually over time). The intolerance usually presents in the first three years of life (usually when solid foods are first introduced) and may reappear again at any time. However, it may appear for the first time at any age and is never “outgrown”, requiring lifetime and total (continuous) avoidance of gluten (gliadin) in order to control the condition. Even a small amount of ingested gluten (1 gram) may induce a reaction that can be delayed for 1-2 months. Thus, a gluten-free diet is essential for management of this intolerance and the subsequent disease that results.

Many of these patients are also lactose intolerant with milk ingestion producing symptoms similar to those from gluten (gliadin). Early intolerance to cow’s milk lactose may increase sensitivity to gluten (gliadin) later in life. It has therefore been suggested that gluten (gliadin) intolerance can be a sequel to lactose intolerance.

Classically, these patients suffer with chronic diarrhea or constipation, vomiting (sometimes), bloating and cramping. Stools are usually loose, foul smelling, frothy, gray, greasy and floating. Adults often present with increased appetite, weight loss, weakness and fatigue, though some patients have few, if any, symptoms.

If untreated, this chronic malabsorption can contribute to hypertension, heart irregularities, bone derangements, amenorrhea, infertility, spontaneous abortion, diabetes, dermatitis herpetiformis, neurological disorders, intestinal ulceration and cancer.

Springs Natural Medicine offers gluten intolerance lab testing and solutions for those affected. Phone consultations are also available. Contact Springs Natural Medicine today!

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