Gluten Intolerance

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The inability of the intestinal tract to digest gluten properly, which, in sufferers with the condition, results in a number of symptoms and conditions whenever gluten is ingested, such as bloating, cramps, and diarrhea. Gluten is the protein that gives dough its elasticity and strength and makes the dough rise. It is present in a number of grains and grain products, as well as in many non-grain foods in which gluten may be an additive. Wheat has a high level of gluten. Other grains that contain gluten are barley, rye, and triticale. Grains related to wheat, such as spelt and kamut®, also contain the proteins necessary to form gluten.

There are special antibody screenings available to determine whether a person, suffering from various symptoms and conditions associated with gluten intolerance, indeed has an intolerance to gluten. Other symptoms may include stomach pain, malabsorption, skin rashes, muscle and joint pain, headache, and fatigue.

Gluten intolerance differs from the usually less serious allergy to wheat in that gluten intolerance is associated with the digestive system and a wheat allergy is triggered by the immune system. Gluten intolerance, however, is less serious than another wheat/gluten sensitivity known as celiac disease in which ingestion of gluten can destroy the small intestine, whereas this does not occur in gluten intolerance sufferers.

When all sources of gluten and any products containing gluten are removed from the diet, the troublesome symptoms associated with gluten intolerance should disappear. It is important to read the labels on all food products to ensure that the item does not contain gluten or that familiar products have not been reformulated to include ingredients that now may contain gluten.

It is also important to guard against cross contamination that may occur during food preparation. This is equally important in restaurants as it is at home. Make sure to ask questions about menu items when dining out to ensure that gluten containing foods have not been prepared in conjunction with the gluten free foods you wish to order.

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