One can notice nowadays that the food is being labeled such as ‘gluten-free’. Here readers can learn why there is a need to distinguish between foods with gluten and foods without this substance. It all connected to a medical condition called celiac disease. The celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine and can cause severe distress. It may occur in genetically predisposed individuals, regardless of their age. The symptoms of the condition can be disturbing up to the point that the patient cannot live a satisfying life. Some of these symptoms include diarrhea, fatigue and failure to thrive which may occur particularly in children. Other symptoms may also be experienced in other organs and sometimes the disorder may even not cause symptoms at all, which is referred to as asymptomatic. It is however through that very often the diagnose established in asymptomatic individuals is simply a result of early screening due to the increased awareness towards this disorder and it is likely that while progressing it will cause symptoms.
Celiac disease appears as a result of the reaction of the body to a gliadin, a gluten protein found in wheat. The exposure to this substance causes modification of other proteins and a cross-reaction of the immune system with the small intestine tissue, causing the inflammatory reaction which will in the end lead to the symptoms. The result is that the condition interferes with then absorption of the nutrients that one ingests. One should not confuse celiac disease with wheat allergy, because although they are caused by a reaction to wheat proteins they are not the same condition and thus they are being treated accordingly.
As being an autoimmune disorder, celiac disease is not treatable but manageable and the only effective life-long treatment is a gluten-free diet. Medication that prevents the action of the gluten proteins is not available and a gluten-free diet is the only solution that these patients have. By avoiding the gluten they make sure that the small intestine has time to heal which will ultimately lead to the resolution of the symptoms. Celiac disease has been linked to higher risks of intestinal cancer, osteoporosis and sterility so starting the treatment as soon as possible is highly recommended for those who have a family history of celiac disease. In most countries gluten free products may be purchased on a prescription and then reimbursed by health insurance.
There is also a wide range of gluten free products available on online shops. They usually are replacements of the wheat products containing gluten but from which this protein had been somewhat removed or the main ingredient (wheat) has been replaced. As such, one can find gluten free bread, chocolate and so on.