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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Three Reasons to Avoid Wheat

Naomi Coleman of the The Daily Mail tries to sort out the various ways that wheat and gluten can affect systems. Here's a shortened version.

What is gluten intolerance?

Gluten intolerance - otherwise known as coeliac disease - is an inflammatory condition of the digestive tract, caused by gluten - a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. It is not a contagious illness but is often genetic.

Coeliac disease affects one person in every thousand. Most people are diagnosed between the ages of 30 and 45. Classic symptoms include lethargy, weight loss, vomiting and diarrhoea.

The condition causes Gluten to damage the lining of the small intestine which greatly reduces the ability of the gut to absorb adequate nutrients from food. In the worst cases, this can lead to severe malnutrition. ... The only treatment available to sufferers of Coeliac disease is a gluten-free diet.

What is a wheat allergy?

A sensitivity or allergy to wheat can produce a variety of symptoms in the body such as sneezing itching, rashes, watery eyes, runny nose, coughing, hay fever, headaches, nausea, digestive problems, swollen limbs or general aches and pains.

When someone is allergic to a certain food, their immune system reacts as if the food were an invader and produces antibodies. ...

Unlike classic allergies, if you are allergic to wheat you will usually be allergic to more than one food. On average, sufferers react to four or five different foods.

Sufferers are advised to eliminate wheat from their diet altogether and replace with rice, corn, millet, buckwheat or potatoes.

What is wheat intolerance?

Wheat intolerance does not involve an immune response. The reasons why people suffer from wheat intolerance are not entirely understood. Some experts believe it occurs when some people are short of the enzymes necessary for the proper digestion of wheat.

Symptoms of wheat intolerance can include bloating, headaches and joint pains. ...

The only proper diagnosis for wheat intolerance is a test called a food challenge, carried out in a hospital. The patient is blindfolded and tested for wheat under controlled conditions.

The patient is then monitored over three days to see if they develop any symptoms. Depending on which foods they react to, a food elimination programme is carried out under strict supervision.

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