Taking on a gluten-free diet has become a recent trend, but for many people it is more than just a fashionable fad diet. There are claims that a gluten-free diet can boost your energy levels, help you lose weight, and even lessen the symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and autism, but strong scientific evidence to back up these claims is not yet conclusive. However, for those with celiac disease and unmanageable gluten sensitivity symptoms, adopting an entirely gluten-free diet is a necessary way of life.
Gluten is a protein that is found in wheat and other similar grains. It is found in just about every kind of food it seems (like breads, pasta, and cookies), and even many that you probably would not expect (like beer, chocolate, salad dressings, sausage, and even some toothpaste). It is generally not harmful when ingested and the average individual has no medical reason to avoid it. However, for whatever reason, some people are born with an intestinal sensitivity to it. The only treatment is to avoid gluten completely, so, given its overwhelming presence in every day foods, those with celiac disease must follow very strict and limited diets.
Gluten sensitivity symptoms can affect you in several ways. When a celiac eats something containing gluten, it damages the lining of the small intestine. It becomes inflamed and its ability to properly absorb vital nutrients is compromised. This leads to malnourishment and unhealthy weight loss. Celiac sufferers may also experience abdominal pain and cramping, bloating, diarrhea, fatigue, hypoglycemia (low blood sugar), nausea, and general stomach upset and discomfort.
Gluten sensitivity symptoms are similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), so celiac disease is often mistaken for IBS and therefore not properly treated. If undiagnosed and untreated, the inability to absorb nutrients over time can lead to many other serious health issues. Calcium deficiency will lead to bone, joint, and tooth problems. The patient will not be able to maintain a healthy weight. Those with undetected celiac disease tend to stay very sickly and spend a lot of time (and money) in and out of the hospital with various ailments and health problems until the problem is correctly diagnosed.
Upon diagnosis and the adoption of a gluten-free diet, gluten sensitivity symptoms will subside as the small intestine repairs itself and normal nutrient absorption resumes. It is difficult to follow, but there are still tons of food options and companies dedicated to providing gluten-free products for celiac patients. With a little patience and practice, you will find a diet with plenty of variety that works for you.