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Thursday, October 18, 2012

Celiac, gluten intolerant or Gluten Sensitive?

 Celiac disease, Gluten Intolerance or Gluten sensitive are often used interchangeably, there is a difference between them.

With Celiac and Gluten Intolerance there is internal damage however, the difference is smaller than that between the two.  Those with Celiac will have a reaction in the immune system.  For example I have issues with my IG-A levels.  That means that Gluten intolerant or Celiac can both lead to changed intestinal permeability as well as damage to the linings of the intestinal tract.  The outward symptoms of all of these issues can be exactly the same which can often lead to confusion about if it is celiac, Gluten sensitivity or if it is Gluten intolerance.

  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorption—e.g., low iron levels
  • Gastrointestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Fat in the stools (due to poor digestion)
  • Aching joints
  • Depression
  • Eczema /rashes
  • Headaches
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability and behavioral changes
  • Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage
  • Cramps, tingling and numbness
  • Slow infant and child growth
  • Decline in dental health
These can show up equally in all 3 types of gluten issues.  However, there is only true intestinal damage in Gluten Intolerance and Celiac and only immune issues with Celiac. 

All three of these issues can lead to further issues such as Diabetes, anemia, and osteoporosis and if you have any of the above symptoms of the listed issues it might be a good idea to get checked for a reaction to gluten.  

Issues often misdiagnosed as celiac are Crohn’s disease, chronic fatigue, iron deficiency, irritable bowel syndrome and intestinal infections can all have similar symptoms. A few recent studies have shown that there is a correlation between gluten issues and the listed issues.  A correlation and not yet any causation however, the studies are still young.

How are these issues developed?

That is a good question that is still being worked out.  Some studies have shown that Stress can cause this issue, others have shown that it has to do with the amount of gluten that was eaten by the mother during pregnancy or how early a child is introduced to gluten.  Other studies have suggested that there is a strong genetic link to those who can tolerate gluten and those that cannot.  

My personal beliefs are that there is a genetic link.  The reason for this thought is the massive amount of those with celiac, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity in my family.  I have one of those strange families that would take a very long time to explain so I am not going into details however; almost every female and enough males in my family have the issues with gluten.  

It also may be a combination of things which is the reason finding the true cause of this is so hard. 

So much is still not known about Celiac, gluten intolerance, and gluten sensitivity since it is still in its infancy of being understood.  All of the above information is as correct as of the time of writing this post.  However, six months or a year from now this may change.  There is still so much to learn about gluten issues and those that suffer from them. 

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