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The Degrees of Gluten Intolerance April 15, 2011

Posted by Melonie Gallegos in Living It.
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It’s black and white with shades of grey. There is one prescription for preventing gluten triggered illnesses. Don’t eat it.

It gets fuzzy when we question how much? It depends on an individual’s root condition and on the level of sensitivity their body has developed to ingesting gluten or wheat.

1. Wheat Allergy
People who have a physical allergy cannot have any wheat in their diet without quickly feeling symptoms. As with any allergy like peanut or shellfish they can experience hives, rash, belly ache and so on depending on their allergy level. You can test for this with your doctor and even get details on how allergic. This is where there is high concern for cross contamination when eating in a restaurant.

3. Celiac
A person with Celiac Disease cannot ingest gluten without it having long term affects on their health and digestive system. Depending on how damaged their system is, one person may be able to eat wheat with no noticeable symptoms, while another will get sick immediately. Your doctor can test for Celiac and it often goes undetected for years in people.

3. Intolerance
…Can be among others things a lack of enzymes in one’s digestive system to process gluten making it uncomfortable if not intolerable. This condition is not well studied by the medical community. Diagnosis starts with an elimination diet, then by ruling out allergy and Celiac. Tolerance levels will vary and it’s not likely that a speck of wheat flour flying around the kitchen will lay you out as it would an allergic person.

I would like to see a movement in the medical community and in the food service industry to better categorize gluten free menus, nutritional information and levels of intolerance. In the end empowering us to better understand our own bodies and make our own food choices in an informed manner. Case in point, I am intolerant yet find myself arguing with food servers that I can handle a speck of flour dust in my salt from their combined kitchen, because I’m not allergic. It’s not a diet fad. There are medical reasons for gluten free living. It’s the learning and understanding of this that is the latest fad. So jump on the wagon.

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