According to a recent study, in the U.S. there are as many as 1 in 7 people with a “gluten issue.”
Celiac Disease is an hereditary autoimmune disorder. The ingestion of gluten triggers an immune response that attacks, and damages, the villi lining the small intestine. This hampers the absorption of nutrients, and can lead to long-term health complications if left undiagnosed and untreated. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Celiac, but a strict adherence to a no-gluten lifestyle can help. This includes gluten-free make up, body lotions, cleaning supplies, hair care products – pretty much anything that comes in contact with the body, because as our largest organ, the skin absorbs everything!
Allergic to gluten? Probably not, but many people are allergic to one of the three gluten-protein-containing grains – wheat, barley, rye – with wheat being the most common. (The most common non-gluten grains are corn, rice, millet, buckwheat, sorghum and oats.) Young children are often allergic to all three, as well as other grains (namely oats), but most grow out of it by grade school. When those with a wheat (or any food) allergy ingest the offending food protein, the body’s immune system overreacts and can potentially be fatal. Symptoms range from mild (a small rash, hives), to moderate (swelling, itching, eczema flare ups, diarrhea, vomiting), to severe (trouble breathing, anaphylactic shock, death). Unfortunately, there are no allergy shots developed for foods at this time, so a gluten-free lifestyle – plus a good Allergist – can make it manageable. And like those with Celiac, anything that comes in contact with the body (make up, body lotion, cleaning supplies, hair care products, etc.) must be free of the allergen, because our skin is our largest organ and absorbs everything.
Having a sensitivity to gluten can mean gas, bloating, cramping, nausea and diarrhea (gastrointestinal system) after ingesting gluten-containing foods. The degree of discomfort ranges from person to person: some manage with over-the-counter medicine, some manage with prescription drugs and some manage by cutting out gluten all together.