Celiac disease, commonly referred to as gluten intolerance, is a chronic illness brought on by consuming foods that contain gluten.
What is gluten?
Gluten is a protein that comes exclusively from grains, all of which contain it. Gluten gives grains their agglutinating or binding properties, which is why it is often found in bread, muffins, crackers, sauces (for example soy sauce) and prepared foods.
Gluten contains two types of proteins: prolamin and glutenin. The risk of allergic reaction is directly proportionate to the percentage of prolamin. For example, wheat contains 69% of alpha gliadin, a type of prolamin, whereas rice contains only 5% of orzenin, another form of prolamin. In descending order, here are other grains that are rich in prolamin: spelt, kamut, rye, barley, corn, sorghum, millet, oats, teff, acha and rice.
Given the negligible concentration of prolamins in teff, fonio and rice, they are considered harmless. But for the most sensitive people, it is better to use flours that do not come from grain sources, for instance potato, chickpea, chestnut, lentil or buckwheat flour.
Who is the most affected by gluten intolerance?
An estimated 30% of adults are gluten intolerant, but the rate may actually be much higher, simply because very few people make the connection between their health and gluten intolerance (celiac disease). The frequency of the disease varies depending on the region of the world and the person's ethnic background. Caucasian people (Europeans, white North Americans and Australians) are the most affected, with prevalence ranging from 1 person in 100 to roughly 1 in 300.
The disease appears to be less common among people of Asian and African descent. According to Health Canada, 300,000 Canadians could have celiac disease, and studies suggest that nine out of ten cases are undiagnosed.
What are the gluten intolerance symptoms?
Celiac disease causes a range of symptoms, such as:
- Chronic diarrhea, sometimes alternating with constipation
- Recurring abdominal pain
- Difficulty writing, problems at school
- Growth delays or short stature
- Delayed puberty
- Loss of appetite
- Mood swings and irritability
- Dental enamel defects
- Chronic diarrhea or constipation
- Abdominal pain, gas and bloating
- Weight loss
- Fatigue and irritability
- Pallor, in cases of anemia
- Feeling depressed
- Bone and joint pain
- Muscle cramps
- Infertility or missed periods
- Numbness or neuropathic pain in limbs
- Skin rash
- Canker sores or mouth ulcers
Both children and adults may experience the following additional symptoms: negative effects on memory and learning, dyslexia, low self-esteem, problems sleeping and difficulty regulating body temperature.
Why all these reactions to grains such as wheat, when people have been consuming them for thousands of years?
Part of the explanation is that with the use of intensive agricultural methods, in particular the self-pollination of fields and the genetic selection of species, the wild grains of bygone days have changed. Grains have evolved faster than the human body's digestive capacity can adapt. In other words, the enzymes required for digesting grains are different because these "new" grains are different.
As well, refined or processed wheat is often overconsumed. In people who are gluten intolerant, this creates an immune response over time, which in turn provokes a chronic inflammation in the tissues. The more lesions there are on the tissue, the greater the degradation of intestinal villi. This results in many nutrients being improperly absorbed, especially iron, calcium and folic acid.
What is the effect of gluten on the nervous system?
According to studies by the University of Oslo’s Dr. Karl Reichelt, a urinanlysis called peptiduria, which determines gluten sensitivity, revealed the presence of large quantities of gluten opioid peptides and casein in children who suffer from autism and schizophrenia.
When someone consumes food they are allergic to, it is poorly digested. In people who suffer from celiac disease, gluten creates lesions in the villi of the intestinal wall, and the intestines become porous. This increased intestinal porosity then lets gluten opioid peptides pass intact—one molecule of gluten contains 16 molecules of opioids. These attach to the opioid receptors of the brain, changing people’s behaviour and certain physiological responses.
If you think you suffer from gluten intolerance...
If you think you may suffer from celiac disease, you first need to ask for a peptiduria to confirm the diagnosis. If the result is positive, you need to avoid gluten in all forms. See the links below for a list of products with and without gluten.
Second, repair and rebuild your intestine and intestinal flora by consuming prebiotics and probiotics. Prebiotics help repair damaged tissue while providing a better environment for the survival of probiotics. A.Vogel Molkosan is an excellent product to start repairing intestinal tissue and rebuilding the intestinal flora.
Third, Bio-Strath may help make up for certain deficiencies caused by celiac disease. Bio Strath is a nutritional supplement of highly bioavailable plasmolyzed yeast, which includes the B vitamins along with several other nutrients essential to the natural production of good intestinal bacteria and to maintaining the energy and health of the nervous system.
Fourth, to help control symptoms of digestive discomfort, such as gas and bloating, try A.Vogel’s Digestive Health, which is rich in carminative, stomachic and antispasmodic plants. The formula is composed of peppermint, turmeric, fennel, coriander, star anise and galangal root. Consuming these substances in the form of spices or herbal tea can be beneficial as well. If you suffer from constipation, Linoforce and Boldocynara products may also help.
Lastly, support your immune system with Echinaforce as you change your eating habits, because any form of detoxification (in this case, from gluten) requires greater immune effort by the organism.
By Julie Barbeau Capruciu, NDA
http://fqmc.org/ Fondation québécoise de la maladie cœliaque
Association STELIOR www.stelior.com
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