Many people choose to go on a gluten free diet as part of a healthy lifestyle. However, some people have bad reactions to gluten. These include: allergies (wheat allergy), autoimmune diseases (celiac disease) and possibly immune-mediated reactions (gluten sensitivity). So, what is non-celiac gluten sensitivity or gluten-related disorders and how do they differ from celiac disease?
In a food allergy, a protein causes an allergic reaction, known as an immune response. An “allergen” is a protein that causes a food allergy. Allergens themselves are not harmful substances. Most people can be exposed to them without any adverse effects. They are called allergens because they affect some people by triggering a response in their immune system. A food allergy can sometimes lead to a severe and life-threatening allergic reaction to certain foods, known as anaphylaxis, or anaphylactic shock.
Gluten sensitivity or intolerance
Gluten Sensitivity is a condition in which individuals may experience abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, headache and fatigue after consuming gluten. Those with gluten sensitivity will not experience the small intestine damage that a person with celiac disease will. Although non-celiac gluten sensitivity does not cause the same intestinal damage, it may result in similar symptoms as various digestive problems, bone or joint and so on. Food intolerance can cause adverse reactions that are severe and extremely unpleasant, but they are rarely life-threatening. Elimination of gluten may improve these symptoms. Researchers are recognising that non-celiac gluten sensitivity is an immune reaction, although not an allergic reaction, and with some differences from the immune reaction in Celiac Disease
Celiac Disease is an autoimmune disorder in which someone is genetically predisposed to have a reaction to gluten that damages the small intestine.When a person with celiac disease eats gluten – a protein found in wheat, barley and rye – their immune system attacks the villi of the small intestine. When the villi are damaged, the body has difficulty absorbing nutrients, which can lead to malnutrition, poor nutrient absorption and physical pain.
A person with celiac disease must consume a completely gluten-free diet for the whole life as there is no cure.
Celiac disease can cause symptoms ranging from digestive problems, bone or joint pain, osteoporosis, fatigue, skin rashes, headache, “brain fog”, depression, anemia, nerve problems, leg cramps, and more (You can read more about gluten symptoms here).
Celiac disease can affect everyone differently, meaning it can be tricky to diagnose.
Read more: How to Be Tested